It’s been seemingly forever since I last posted; it has been a busy time. Recently I took time off to visit the Decatur County Last Indian Raid Museum, which serves as a repository for local history, in the hopes of finding more information about the house and its history. I have much more digging to do, but was rewarded with a few photos and a better understanding of the man who had the house built, George W. Keys.

Mr. Keys came to the county in the late 1870’s and was its first elected registrar of deeds. He was involved in both real estate and banking, operating out of a wood false-front structure downtown on what is now a portion of the courthouse lawn. He married his wife Maggie in 1885 and they had one son, Edward. From what I understand now, construction on the house began in 1886.

Following are older photos of the house as well as one of the dashing Mr. Keys himself. I also found evidence of a contentious lawsuit in 1923 which appears to have stirred up sufficient animosity to prompt Mr. and Mrs. Keys to move to Seattle, Washington, in 1924…

George W. Keys c. 1890. Image courtesy of the Decatur County Last Indian Raid Museum.

Judging by what appears to be a 1903 Buick in the foreground, it seems that the addition at the rear of the house was built later than we had previously been told (1895). The addition was likely built somewhere around 1905.

Here, metal cresting is seen on the roof similar to an early drawing of the house (shown again below for reference). This photograph also clears up another mystery — a “stone wall” which I once thought was “artistic licence” in the drawing turns out to have been young trees and a hedge of some sort. Here the plants are seen at a more mature stage! Image courtesy of the Decatur County Last Indian Raid Museum.

The “stone wall” grew up! The dormer window is not shown here, but does appear in the photo above, before the c. 1905 addition.

The northwest corner of the house in 1967 — before the hideous carport and vinyl siding were installed. The house appeared on a tour of homes that year. Image courtesy of the Decatur County Last Indian Raid Museum.

A description of the lawsuit Mr. Keys was involved in. To make a long story short, the city tried to make him tear the house down after a fire on December 23, 1920. The city passed a law after the fire requiring that frame structures which had lost more than 50% of their value after a fire could not be rebuilt. Fortunately Mr. Keys did not tear down the house but repaired it instead, pointing out that not only did his house burn before the new law was in effect, but that the actual damage to the house was only about 10% and that its value was not reduced by 50%. The 1923 court case must have caused a bit of grief, however, because he and his wife moved to Seattle, Washington the next year to live near their son. The house stayed in the Keys family until 1931. Sadly, Maggie died in Seattle after only a year in their new home. Source: The Pacific Reporter via Google Books.

The tail end of the last paragraph for anyone who made it through the first page. Source: The Pacific Reporter via Google Books.

This is the only evidence I’ve found to date of the 1920 fire which appears to have started in the kitchen.

I’ll take this opportunity to show you some of the features of the windows in the house. This is a typical window latch. I’ve seen this type before, but they are not super-common. The knob at top pulls a pin which is released into the catch of the bottom sash. Some day all of these will be relieved of their paint and brought back to a cast iron finish.

Interestingly, the windows are rope-less and weightless. Rather, each sash has a piece of hardware mounted in it which is a more ornamental version of the more common sash pin. Several holes are drilled inside the sash tracks allowing the pin to hold the sash up at various intervals. These, too, will be one day relieved of paint.

I recently purchased a metal detector at the suggestion of a reader. I’ve only played researched with it once, and found nothing blog-worthy on that first try. I did, however, find several empty 1960’s vintage Hamm’s beer cans in a crawlspace. Hmmmm….

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