Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Petch Family Visit

It almost didn’t happen. I got an email a few weeks back from the Great Grand Daughter of Thomas Petch. She said she was planning a trip up here with her father to see the old family home and they wanted to stop by for a visit. Naturally, I said yes.

I got a message on my machine Sunday of this week from the woman and she said there were some last minute changes, and the trip was almost canceled, but they were on their way. She gave me a cell phone number and said she’d call when she got in to town. I tried to call her back because I knew my schedule was going to be crazy on Monday and I wouldn’t be around. I tried the cell number and I got, “The number you have reached is not in service”. I sent an email hoping to catch them before they left.

On Monday when I got home there was another message with the same cell phone number. I tried calling it repeatedly and got the same “not in service message”. Then again on Tuesday the same thing. It was getting very frustrating.

There was no message on my machine today and I tried the cell phone several times and got the same message. I figured they had given up and we had missed each other. Then about 5:30 this evening I got a call from her. This time I was home. Whew! They stopped by only briefly on their way out of town.

I gave them a tour of the house and they had a family portrait from the late 1880s. Thomas is not in it, but Phyllis and the 3 boys are. It looks like a studio shot because the background looks to be painted. There is a mantel and a sideboard of some sort, but it looks 2 dimensional and not very sharp. Painted backgrounds were a popular thing back then.

It was a very nice visit and I learned that Thomas didn’t immigrate from England directly. Apparently, he was in the Royal Navy and went AWOL when they docked in San Francisco sometime in the 1870s. The census shows that both Phyllis and Thomas immigrated in 1878, but it shows Phyllis from Ireland and Thomas from England. That always seemed a little odd to me. They were only 17 or 18 at the time and it seemed odd that they would have met, got married, and moved here at such a young age when they were not from the same place. It’s not like they were wealthy and it was an arranged marriage.

The first child, Thomas Jr., was born in 1878, so maybe Thomas jumped ship in San Francisco for the love of a young woman. One thing led to another and the next thing you know there is a bun in the oven. Thomas steps up to the plate and does the right thing by making an honest woman out of her. The trouble is, ship’s captains of the Royal Navy are not the romantic types. No doubt there was a bounty on Thomas’ head for jumping ship. That must be why he high-tailed it up to Eureka, marrying young Phyllis in Williams, CA along the way. You can’t show up in a small town with a pregnant woman and no marriage certificate.

The plot thickens…

The Great Grand Daughter who came to visit today brought her daughter along for the visit. While we were talking about photos and such, the daughter swears she has seen vintage photo of The Petch House. I have poured over every photo archive I can find and never found a photo of the house. This would be beyond great to find something like this. There was also talk of a reel-to-reel tape of the Grand Father talking about growing up in Eureka! Could you imagine getting a copy of that!

She says she will get copies and send them to me. To be honest, I’ve been told this before. There was a woman about 3 years ago who said her family owned the house in the late 60s and early 70s. She showed up with her two daughters one day. I gave them a tour and she swore she would email me pictures. She even said they were all scanned on her computer. I never got squat.

Those would have been from the 1970s and by that time the house had already been cut up in to apartments and covered in asbestos siding. It’s no great loss, but still. They were on her freakin’ computer. I gave her the tour. I was more pissed about her laziness than not getting the photos.

So, I’m not holding my breath, but I’m really hoping fro an email with attachments someday, and maybe even a CD with some audio on it. That would be cool.

1 comment:

StuccoHouse said...

I have my fingers crossed for you!