This past week, I took myself on a little day trip to Dearborn County, Indiana. It wasn’t all that much fun, actually, since I went by myself, and I hate driving on the Interstate.
It was my first trip out to do some mortgage record research since the start of this COVID thing. I called ahead, to make sure I could access the records, and would be able to spend a bit of time in the Recorder’s research area without getting in the way of people who were there to do “real” work.
I was assured by Joyce Oles, (the actual Recorder!), to come ahead, and she would be available to help me get started.
Well, that was an understatement. When I got there, Joyce had already brought some of the mortgage index books I needed out their storage area, and continued to assist me in locating additional volumes. Eventually, she allowed me access to their basement storage room to review the actual mortgage record books I needed to complete my research.
I won’t say I was disappointed with the small number of mortgages I found, but…….well……maybe I will say it.
Since Dearborn County, Indiana is just across the state line from Ohio, near Cincinnati, where Sears Homes are plentiful, I was hoping for more than the eight parcels I located, where the mortgages indicated that building materials had been purchased from Sears, Roebuck.
Myself and a couple others from my research team had already located twelve probable Sears Houses in Dearborn County, so I figured the mortgages I found would just document homes we already knew about.
But actually only two of the mortgage records connected to an address we already had, so I was able to locate, and document, an additional six homes purchased through Sears, Roebuck.
None of my identifying research was completed until after I got home, but I did take myself on a quick drive through the city of Greendale while I was there to have a look at a few of the houses already on our list.
Greendale has some nice ones.
When I first saw the house above, I thought it was most likely a Sears Barrington. This design was available as a kit from other mail order catalog companies, though, and after I got home and reviewed it closely, I realized it was NOT from Sears. It is a better match to The Diana model from the Gordon Van Tine Company. It’s not unusual to find houses from different kit house companies in the same neighborhoods. The house was built reversed from the catalog offering, an option Sears, and the other companies, offered on most of their models.
I will post both catalog images below. The detail that makes it appear to be from Gordon Van Tine is the centered front door with the decorative trim board above it. The Sears model had an off set front door and a little window in what was the coat closet in the vestibule.
A couple doors down is a lovely example of a Sears Hillsboro.
The brick with stone details look great with the blue roof!
The Hillsboro was similar in exterior design to the Sears Strathmore, but the floor plans were very different. If I see a house like this from the front, I will check the side view and look for an exterior door close to the front of the house. The Strathmore had a side door also, but it was further back.
The little window on the side closest to the front is a half bath, followed by a window in a small hallway to the kitchen, then the side door, which is partially hidden by the trash bin, then the double window is the kitchen. The second side door you see goes into the garage.
I didn’t find a mortgage for this one, but it appears to be a perfect match to the catalog.
Just around the corner from the two houses on Oakey Ave., are two more homes that we had already located, a Sears Lewiston and a Sears Mitchell.
The Lewiston was a bit hard to photograph due to the landscaping, but I got good pictures of the super nice Mitchell. It has an added side porch, which gives it a different feel than other houses of that design I have seen.
I did find a mortgage record for the Mitchell, so it is now documented.
Here’s a view that shows the nice side porch. It appears to be original.
This Sears Mitchell was for sale a while back, and the Realtor photos are still available on a couple of internet websites. The listing agent was kind enough to take a photo of the original front door that shows off the distinctive Sears straps we see on many models.
My thanks to Joyce, the Dearborn County Recorder, and her staff, for their assistance during my visit. I plan on a return trip to that area to get photos of some of the other houses I located with the mortgage records, in Aurora, another small city in Dearborn County.
And as always……thanks to you all for following along.