Surviving the Winter

The house has always been notorious for being freezing cold during the winter. The old oil burner still stood in the basement…inefficient to say the least. There had never been any insulation added to the walls. The windows are ancient, huge, with no storms, and are nowhere near air tight. So we came up with a plan to not only survive the winter but to make the house WARM.

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Taking apart the old furnace

 

We decided to do two things — upgrade to a combination wood/oil furnace that is highly efficient, and to insulate the exterior walls with spray foam. After a LOT of research, we decided on a Charmaster Furnace and using Foam-It Green insulation. We highly recommend these products!

Of course, before any of that could be done, we had to completely redo the electrical wiring throughout the entire house — from attic to basement. It was all knob and tube, and there were major malfunctions — none of the lights or outlets worked on the 1st floor at all. A shout out to RJ Logan from Design Electric for doing a great job with this huge undertaking!

We were working against the calendar — there was so much to get done before winter set in. We were trying to get the furnace and duct work done, while spray foaming, and chopping wood for the winter. Luckily, we had a great fall and a mild winter so we have been able to manage it.

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oh yeah, and there was also a giant hole in the side of the house that we had to fix

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Speaking of rotten wood, we also realized that the front porch might not survive another winter. It had been sagging badly for years, and after a little investigation we realized that it was not structurally sound. Also, the roof of the front porch had not been flashed correctly, and water had rotted out much of the wood around the porch.

The porch had to be braced and jacked up.

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The deck and old brick supports had to be torn out.

 

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Post holes had to be dug and new treated posts were cemented in, new floor joists were built, and the new cedar decking was installed (thanks Dad!)

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The hardest part was jacking the porch back up and reattaching it to the house. Then we had to deal with the rotten wood and dad re-flashed and re-shingled the porch roof. After that, we were back to operation Keeping Warm This Winter.

Dad also re-glazed all the windows on the South side, they were rattling pretty bad. Can I just say that we couldn’t do all of this without my amazing dad, Kent!

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My son, Matthew and my dad, Kent

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FedEx dropped off the huge, heavy furnace at the end of the driveway. Now, to get it into the basement.

 

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We had to take the furnace apart, roll the main part across the yard, and then we strapped it to a truck to help get it down in the basement.

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Brandon started spray foaming in the attic. This was after all the old insulation was removed (YUCK), and the new electrical wiring installed.

 

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To spray foam the walls, we had to drill holes in all of the exterior walls between the studs, and then spray the slow rise foam in sections. This took a very long time — very tedious and messy! Expensive? Yes. But like the electrical, this is a long-term investment. Nice thing is, the insulation will pay for itself with heat savings in a few years. Well worth it! Again, we used Foam-it Green and would highly recommend it. Of course, now that we are done foaming, we have to patch, sand, and re-paint every room — so we are in the process of doing that right now.

Thanks to a mild fall and winter, we were able to get the furnace put together and the duct work attached, spray foam completed throughout the entire house, and enough wood chopped to last us. It was pretty intense!

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A huge investment and lots of work, and we’re not done yet, but I’m happy to say we have been successful at staying WARM!

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The Walls

DSC_0085Fiona playing harmonica and helping mom tear off wallpaper. We started with the kitchen, dining room, living room, and parlor walls. They all needed wallpaper removed.

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The walls have been quite the process so far. It has taken us since April just to get about 5 rooms (almost) done. There were a lot cracks to patch and then Kent skim coated the walls in the dining room, living room, and parlor with drywall compound and then we sanded for several weeks. That was definitely the worst part and left a coating of drywall dust everywhere!

DSC_0059Thanks Uncle Randy for finding these old skeleton keys that were from the house! We have already found several doors that they work in, including the front doors — so cool! Note, the dust.

DSC_0056I sanded walls for weeks. Definitely my LEAST favorite job. Yuck. DSC_0062It was so much fun to finally begin painting. Here I am priming the walls and ceilings. Good thing I love painting because there is a lot of it to do!

17575132454_ef35810ff5_oOf course it helps to have a power roller!!

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We also did 2 of the bedrooms upstairs to start, since we sold our house in Janesville and had to move in quickly, we could not finish all of the bedrooms before we moved in. We obviously have a lot of work to do yet but we have enough rooms done to live here. Above are the “before” pics of the 2 bedrooms we have been working on. Below, the big bedroom the kids are sharing for now, painted and finished.

18849578014_f0418796cd_oThe kids are happy so that’s the most important thing! It’s actually really nice for me personally to be back in Brodhead and the kids are enjoying being able to ride their bikes around and go to the pool, hang out with cousins, and especially Grandpa Kent!

My Condon Ancestry

Growing up as a Condon in Brodhead, I was well aware that I was related to a LOT of people and that our family history had been traced back a long way. It was so great growing up with lots of cousins and being close with such a large extended family. Coming back now as an adult, I had to pull out my old “Condon Clan” book that was largely written by my great-uncle Arnold and published the year after I was born. It is an amazing resource and traces our family history back to Medieval times. I started with my great-grandparents Alice and Glen who lived in “The Condon House” for so many years, and I traced my direct lineage back. Here are some interesting things I found.

DSC_0002 DSC_0008Glen Harry and Alice Belle (Arnold) Condon

Their two sons are Arnold and Lyle Condon

Arnold’s son is Gregg and Lyle’s sons are Jeffrey, Glen, Randall, Kent, Brett, and Shawn

The great-grandchildren are as follows:

Gregg (Marilyn): Scott and Todd Condon

Jeff (Sandra): Casey, Corey, and Patrick Condon

Glen (Kathleen): Kyle, Ben, and Rorie Condon

Randall (Dottie): Brandon, Christopher, Candace, Katie (Condon) Porterfield, and Maggie Condon

Kent (Kathryn): Sarah (Condon) Hemm and Emily (Condon) Braukhoff

Brett (Vickie): Justin (Amber), Josh, Andrew, Israel, Elijah, and Abigail Condon

Shawn: Shawna, Chantel, Alicia, Kaitlin, and Kylie Condon

Grandma and Grandpa Condon

from the Condon Clan book p. 360:

Glen was born on a farm south of Brodhead in Rock County. He was the oldest of four sons with an older sister. He attended Oak Hill rural school plus a finishing Ninth Grade in Brodhead. He also attended Brodhead High School where he played football. He learned farming and the livestock business from his father. He also helped his mother, even learning to back bread (they used a sack of flour a week). He once said, “I would feel uncomfortable to sit down while any member of my family was still working”. He learned to hunt, trap, dive, swim, and fish since there was a creek with a large pool on their farm. He even learned to snare fish – later in life he was walking along the bank of this same creek and he spied a large pickerel. He jumped in with his clothes on and caught the fish with his bare hands. He married Alice Arnold in 1901 and they farmed on the old Condon farm for six years. Then they moved to Brodhead where he and his brother, Marion, went into partnership. They diversified and had a large business. (Editor’s note: Marion “M.J.” lived directly across the street west from Glen and Alice on 1st Center in the brick house, which is the old Bowen house). They operated livestock shipping stations. Back in the 1920s they did over a million dollar business in one year. Their top shipment in a single day was 16 railroad cars. They were the largest shippers on the Mineral Point Division of the Milwaukee Road and they were the last independent shippers on the line. They also had a large livestock sales barn in downtown Brodhead where they sold dairy cattle and also horses. They operated a poultry buying station and Arnold remembers hanging out the Wells Fargo sign for the local service to pick up the crates of poultry. They also operated a fine meat market and had their own slaughter house where they processes their own grain-fed beef and pork. They even made their own wieners, sausage, and bologna. They also operated several farms where they had their own feed lots. After many years the brothers dissolved partnership, each taking part of the businesses and farms. Glen with the assistance of his younger son, Lyle, was active in his business until his death in 1950. He was always interested in fishing, horse racing, most sports, and particularly gardening. He called his gardens of vegetables, berries, melons, and fruit his golf course. Although a charter member of the Country Club, he seldom played, preferring his gardens. He was proud of his family and was a fine family man.

Alice was born on a farm in Rock Township in Rock County. She was the ninth of ten children. Her parents were pioneers in the county where her Father, Freeman Arnold, became an extensive landowner and also operated a grocery and hardware store. Her father and mother were both very religious and helped organize the Plymouth Methodist Church. Alice played the organ in the church for six years, missing only one service. After the death of her mother, she lived with her sister, Edith, where she was also a member of a large family group. She attended dressmaking school in Beloit and became an expert seamstress. When she was in the rural eighth grade, her teacher was Effie Condon of Brodhead. Effie’s brother, Glen, drove his sister back and forth on weekends. Effie arranged the first blind date for Glen and Alice. It developed into a romance and eventually marriage. She loved music, family, sewing, and embroidering. She liked to help those less fortunate. She and Glen had spent several winters in Florida and Arizona. After Glen’s death she continued to spend part of the winters in Florida where she purchased a home. Later she lived with her older son, Arnold, in Illinois, returning to her own home in Wisconsin in 1970. She was generous, she loved her family and friends, was a keen business woman as was evidenced by her taking advantage of an opportunity to purchase a fine Victorian house while her husband was on the road. She was a very intelligent and energetic woman. She lived to be more than 94 years old without becoming senile.

Glen Harry Condon was born on November 25, 1882 and died on February 2, 1950. Alice Belle (Arnold) Condon was born on June 4, 1885 and died on May 18, 1979. They were married on November 25, 1903. They are both buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Brodhead.

DSC_0022Guernsey and Mary Randall Condon

Glen H. Condon’s parents were Guernsey Harris Condon and Mary Jane (Randall) Condon. Paraphrasing from the Condon Clan book, Guernsey had to grow up fast as he was only fourteen when he was the only son to work the farm land. Grandma Mary was only 15 when she started teaching. They met at the home of Mary’s sister Cynthia which was close to the Condon home. Their first date was only July 4, 1876. He had a horse and buggy which was unusual in those days. He took her to the Centennial Picnic on Ball Head Bluff south of Brodhead. It was a big event celebrating 100 years of American freedom. Guernsey and Mary were married the same year. The lived first on the Condon farm which was on the northeast corner of the junction of Hafeman Road and the County Line Road. But after they lost their first baby, Le Roy, at only two months old, Mary was so sick about it that Guernsey rented the farm and moved to the south side of Brodhead. Here Effie was born and Guernsey worked at the mill while in Brodhead. In the spring of 1881 they moved back to the farm and Glen and Marion were born there. Guernsey was a livestock dealer and shipped cattle and hogs to the Chicago market. Mary raised chickens and made her own chicken coops. She also made butter churned by hand. She sewed clothes for her four children and made beautiful floral pieces for funerals.

DSC_0028Guernsey and Mary’s Children Back: Effie Second: Marion and Glen Front: Gurnie

Guernsey had fun with his boys, often getting down on the floor to play with them. He had a sense of humor and was quite a clown at times, teasing the children. Guernsey and Mary took an interest in community affairs. He was Oak Hill School Clerk for many years and his receipt book is now at the Brodhead Historical Museum.

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The Condon’s new house.

In the picture, Glen, Alice, Gurnie, Emma, Guernsey, Mary, Marion, Allic, Effie. In front, Frank, Earl (about 1907).

In 1904 they moved to a thirty acre farm. Here they had built their retirement home — large enough to have room for family gatherings and overnight guests. On the north side was a large vegetable garden and a strawberry patch. The south side had a profusion of flowers. At one time, Guernsey was a deputy sheriff for the Brodhead area. Once they put ropes across the covered bridge to catch a horse thief. He hid in the rafters though, but they later caught him. Radio was new and they would go to their son Glen’s to listen to important political programs, but soon they had a radio. They were staunchly for temperance and they never missed voting. Mary filled out a ballot in bed when she was dying of cancer.

DSC_0011Mary with granddaughters Lillian and Mary in 1917

Grandma Mary delighted in giving plants to her grandchildren and having them pick the pansies and nasturtiums. She would say, “The more you pick them, the more they will bloom!”

The Condons gathered at “Grandma’s House” on Easter, Grandpa’s birthday, Grandma’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Also there would be a “Grandma’s Day” in August just for the grandchildren. Every Sunday night would be open house with dishpans full of popcorn which was eaten with spoons from bowls of milk. In Grandma’s living room hung a very large picture of Ransom, Guernsey’s older brother, who died at age 21 in the Civil War. On Memorial Day, two small flags would be crossed above it. Grandma would march with the Women’s Relief Corps, which was an organization of the women who were related to Civil War soldiers. On their bedroom walls were pictures of each of their parents in oval walnut frames. In every room, every cupboard, ever drawer there was order. If another shelf or hook was needed she put it up herself. Several pairs of scissors always hung on a bar of hooks in the dining room, by the basement door. She attached a bar with an inverted nail to the end of her kitchen cabinet on which she stabbed every advertisement sheet which had a blank side. These were used by her grandchildren for drawing pictures. Of course she requested that they label them with their names and dates. They were exhibited for awhile and later dropped into “Grandma’s Box”. This was a wood box with a removable top, all decorated with wall paper by Arnold. Paintings and greeting cards were added to the collection. At Christmas there would be a tree strung with popcorn and berries and lighted candles. Dollar bills hung from the tree and banners made from kerchiefs decorated the room. Oyster stew was the tradition with mince and pumpkin pie for dessert. After dinner the children performed and the parlor became the stage. Sometimes giving recitations of things they had learned at school, or a performance together, or all sing a Christmas Noel. Grandma Mary clapped the loudest. And we would spend some time looking through Grandma’s collection of our drawings and school work that she had saved.

DSC_0023Guernsey and Mary Condon with their children

From left: Glen, Marion, Gurnie, Effie

Guernsey Harris Condon was born on May 13, 1850 and died on January 13, 1933. Mary Jane Randall was born on July 29, 1854 and died on January 15, 1929.They are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brodhead. Mary’s parents were Alvin Randall and Rhoda Jane Burcalow.

DSC_0012Rachel Magdalene Ten Eyck and Nathaniel Bloodsworth Condon (our Ten Eyck connection)

Nathaniel Bloodsworth Condon was born on May 22, 1803 and died on May 18, 1857 at only age 54. Rachel Magdalen Ten Eyck Condon was born on July 22, 1817 and died on June 23, 1886. Nathaniel was buried on Derrick Hill, Clarence but there is a stone marker for him in the Greenwood Cemetery where Rachel is buried.

the following is paraphrased from an excerpt written by Mary Poast in the Condon Clan book

Nathaniel and Rachel are the parents of Guernsey H. Condon and are my great-great-great grandparents. Nathaniel was born in Prince William, New Brunswick. At age six in 1809, he traveled the long distance to Binbrook with his family to what is now Ontario, Canada. It must have been an exciting day for the Condons when the Ten Eyck family moved into their cabin in 1816. Their land adjoined the 500 acres which was reserved for the Condon sons. At that time there were only four cabins in the whole township. Rachel’s parents, Caspar and Lavina Springstead Ten Eyck, were both descended from early Dutch settlers in New York State. On July 22, 1817 our Rachel Magdalene Ten Eyck was born in the cabin in a forest clearing, surrounded by great tall trees. Little wonder that her father called her “My Little Paposse.” Here in the wilderness she grew up with three sisters and eleven brothers. Their names were Barent, Anna Maria, Jacob, Bathsheba, Caspar, William, Frances, Coenradt, Peter, Jeremiah, John, Eliza, Martin, and Anthony.

In 1830, Nathaniel married Eliza Ten Eyck. They had a son, Brian Lafferty, born in 1832. Sadly, Eliza died in 1835, leaving her three year old son. Later, Nathaniel married our Rachel, who was fourteen years younger. Rachel was nineteen when they drove, with horses, sixty miles to Buffalo, New York. Here they were married on February 21, 1839. They lived in the township of Saltfleet which adjoins Binbrook. Ransom was born in September 1840, Anna Maria in Jaunary 1843, and Loretta in September 1844. At the age of three, Anna Maria died and was buried in Canada.

Soon after losing their little girl, in 1846, Rachel and Nathaniel made an adventurous decision. They would move to a new frontier called Spring Grove in Wisconsin. And this is how the Condons came to Wisconsin. Rachel’s brothers Barent and Jacob had migrated there in 1839 and 1840. His sister Mary and her husband John Boslow had followed in 1844. Reports were good. So they sold their land in Saltfleet in 1846. They had to leave other brothers and sisters and most of their possessions, but they did bring dishes, silver, some furniture, and some horses. (Guernsey had descendants of these horses as long as they farmed). With their small children, they made the long journey.

They obtained land next to the Boslow’s, his sister’s family. This land was on top of the first hill west of Pine Bluff on the Sugar River, now on Highway 11. Here Clinton was born in October 1847 and my great-great grandfather Guernsey in May 1850. At some point Nathaniel moved his family to the village of Clarence, about 2 miles southwest of what is now Brodhead. It was on the stagecoach road from Beloit to Monroe. In 1853, John Sawyer became part owner of the hotel, blacksmith shop, and another store across the street. Nathaniel Condon operated the store and was probably part owner. He was also engaged in real estate and his name is the first one on some Spring Grove farm deeds.

Long ago, when Effie Condon (my great-grandpa Glen’s sister) was walking to the country school where she taught, an elderly woman called out, “So you are Nat Condon’s granddaughter. He was the jolliest man I ever knew!”

Tragically, in May 1857 Nathaniel became critically ill and died suddenly. Guernsey was only 7 when he died. The family stayed in Clarence for many years. In 1857 the railroad established in Brodhead and the stores moved there. On November 23, 1861 Ransom joined the Union forces in the Civil War. He was a member of Company 11 from Green County, 13th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. He died the following year in May and Rachel went to Leavenworth, Kansas, to bring his body back by train. He was buried on Derrick hill beside his father and half-brother Bryan. Two years later when he was seventeen, brother Clinton ran away from home to enlist as a Union soldier. This left my great-great grandfather Guernsey the oldest man at home at fourteen.

Guernsey’s mother, Rachel, had been born to a pioneer life in Canada. There she had learned to comb the wool from the sheep, spin it on a six-foot spinning wheel, loom it into cloth, and make clothing. She also learned to make candles and soap. So she was prepared for the rugged life of an early settler in Wisconsin. She had buried a small girl in Canada, a stepson who was a young man, a small boy in Wisconsin, and her husband at age 54. Later, she lost her oldest son in the Civil war and her oldest daughter, Rettie, at age 33. But with God’s help she survived and lived to enjoy four children and several grandchildren.

In spite of all the hardships, she was a talented lady. She was an excellent cook, made delicate lace, and beautiful quilts. Effie Condon Knudson remembered her as she appeared on Sunday morning going to the Methodist church. She was a true aristocrat and walked erectly. She wore a blue satin dress trimmed in lighter blue with a polonnaise drape. Her bonnet matched in the same shades of blue and was made by a milliner. Effie at five, would go along, wearing one of the lovely knit lace collars made by her grandma.

During her last year, she lived upstairs in Guernsey’s house in Brodhead with her daughter, Margie, caring for her. She had broken her hip and was an invalid for two years. Her obituary gave this tribute: “That her children grew to be loyal sons and noble women, respected in every relation of life, attests without words, the strong purpose, the tender devotion, the high womanly courage which characterized her life.”

Thomas Condon and Ruth Stewart

paraphrased from the Condon Clan book

Nathaniel’s parents were Thomas Condon and Ruth Stewart. Thomas was born in 1757 and Ruth was born in 1753. They were married in New Brunswick.  Nathaniel was their youngest son.

Thomas Condon was born in 1757 of Irish parents either in Ireland or in one of the American colonies. When he was eighteen years old, the Revolutionary War broke out.

There were 500,000 in the Colonies and one out of five were loyal to the British crown for various reasons. They called themselves the “United Empire Loyalists,” or the UEL. They were persecuted for their convictions and hundreds were forced off their property. For this reason, thousands migrated to New York City or Long Island which was held by the British from 1776-1783.

Thomas was a Loyalist. He joined the “King’s American Dragoons,” a cavalry unit, as one of Captain William Stewart’s Troop. This regiment was a crack Loyalist Corps, under the command of Benjamin Thompson, which fought and won many battles. But, by 1782 the Rebels were winning and the Loyalists had to make plans for evacuation. England made land grants in New Brunswick. In the spring of 1782, a flotilla of 32 ships left New York harbor to go to the Wilderness. The Kings Army Dragoons started a settlement in July on the west side of the harbor of St. John. But there was some conflict with those already in St. John, and the British authorities decided to move them up the river to another area.

Thomas Condon came on the fall flotilla but his land grant was on the original list of assignments. (There is a map in the Condon Clan book on p.23 that shows his land). So the KAD became the first settlers in the township of Prince William. Each family was granted 200 acres extending back from the St. Johns River. He was a single man, but probably cleared the land and built a cabin. Later, he married Ruth Stewart, a widow with a son John. Thomas and Ruth had five more children, the youngest being my ancestor Nathaniel who was born in 1803.

Thomas and Ruth were Baptists, or at least they were in 1800 when the church was organized. On the original membership list there was a Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bloodsworth who lived across the river in Queensbury. He was a sergeant in the Queen’s Rangers, another volunteer American regiment. Most likely our Nathaniel Bloodsworth Condon was named after him. There is nothing to indicate that the original Nathaniel Bloodsworth was a relative. However, this church document is the most personal record we have of Thomas and Ruth.

Thomas and his family lived for 25 years in Prince William. But the records show that they sold their properties in 1808. Perhaps the older sons wanted to leave for a new frontier in Ontario (then called Upper Canada). Sons of Loyalists were eligible for land grants at the age of 21. Thomas Jr. was 21 and the parents were in their fifties. Our Nathaniel was the youngest, at only six years old. In the spring or summer of 1809, the family made the long hazardous trip. It was 225 miles up rivers and lakes in New Brunswick, 330 miles up the swift St. Lawrence, and another 225 miles across the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Note: In the Condon Clan book there is more information, including copies of original documents and maps.

Sometime in the summer of 1809, Thomas Condon and his family arrived in York, Wentworth County, Upper Canada, later known as Ontario. The weary travelers had to camp until Thomas found them a place to live. He and his sons decided on property on a high plateau in Binbrook Township. The area below had been settled because it was accessible by boat.

On October 31, 1809, Thomas was granted 300 acres and became the first settler in the township as settlement had been forbidden for many years before in order to keep a buffer between the lowlands and the Indians. Thomas was able to reserve an additional 500 acres for his sons in the same block. The Condons came to a howling wilderness with wolf packs, dense woods, and clay soil. The schools were too far and the children were taught by mother.

Thomas died at the ripe old age of eighty-two on August 27, 1839 and Ruth at age seventy-six on April 13, 1830. They were a good and courageous couple who were dedicated to their family. They were both buried with gravestones in Tapleytown Cemetery near Hamilton.

 sarah hemm_0001Cloghleigh Castle, Barony of the Condons, Cork, Ireland

A huge thank you to my great-uncle Arnold Condon and Mary Poast for the information that is reprinted here. In the original Condon Clan book, the family history goes even farther back. In Ireland, the Condons were a Norman family established in the Northeast County Cork in the lands known as Condon Country or the Barony of the Condons. The original family name was De Caunteton, then De Caunton, then Caunton, before Condon.

Our first known relative was Nicholas de Caunteton. Mabel, daughter of William of Carew, married Nicholas de Caunteton and from this marriage the family of the de Cauntetons or Condons evolved.

William of Carew’s parents were Gerald of Windsor and Nesta, who was famous for her beauty and her many love affairs (including one with Henry I, King of England).

Nesta’s father was Rhys ap Tewdwr, a Welsh king of South Wales, our English Tudor.

Most likely the Condons began as Danish Vikings who settled in Normandy. As Normans they invaded England and as Welsh Normans they invaded Ireland. By 1500-1600 Northeast Cork was well known as the Barony of the Condons, and this family still apparently Norman and quite willing to fight and hold their lands. Slowly though intermarriage with the native Irish, became as Irish as the native peoples.

Note: This history goes into more detail in the Condon Clan book and includes documents and sources. Credit is due to John F. Condon of Ontario, Canada for this information.

sarah hemm

Over the years some of the traditions described here carried on. When I was a child we would go out to the old Condon homestead on County T (where Brett and Vickie now live) on Christmas Eve and my Grandpa Lyle would cook oyster stew — carrying on the Condon tradition from his grandmother, Mary. I remember joining Uncle Arnold and Aunt Joyce for Sunday night dinners of popcorn and milk — again, a tradition from Grandma Mary Condon’s house. To this day many of us still make dinners of popcorn and milk.

I’m sure my ancestors would want us to honor the family history by carrying on the common thread of — love for family, hard work, and honesty. It sure makes me proud to be a Condon and I will continue to pass on these values to my own children as we restore Glen and Alice’s home.

First Floor “before” photos

The first floor may have some peeling wallpaper and cracked plaster, but it remains beautiful mostly thanks to the gorgeous, intricate woodwork. Yes there are a few pieces of trim missing here and there but luckily we found a box of pieces so we can start putting it back together. Right now I’m working on stripping the wallpaper from the dining room, living room, and parlor. Then we are bringing in the electrician to see what we have to open up to get the electrical all updated, and after that patching and painting. LOTS of painting!!!

Click on photo below to view larger

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As it was….

condon homeThis is how I remember the Condon House (or “Grandma Condon’s” as a lot of us call it) when I was a kid growing up in the 80s-90s. My Uncle Randy and Aunt Dottie lived there with their 5 children, Brandon, Christopher, Candace, Katie, and Maggie. I grew up about 2 blocks away with my sister, Emily. We are close in age with Katie and Maggie and so of course we spent a lot of time there growing up.

The house has been in the Condon family dating back to my great-grandmother Alice Condon who bought the house from the original owner, B.R. Clawson. It was built in 1890 by the prominent Chicago architect George O. Garnsey. The story goes that my great-grandmother Alice hated living in the country, and when her father died she received an inheritance and bought the home (by some accounts in 1915, not sure if that’s the exact year but it must be close). She informed her husband when he got home from work one day, that she had bought a house in town! He gave her $5,000 for furnishings! I love that my great-grandmother knew exactly what she wanted and went out and got it on her own. Alice lived there a very long time, until her death in 1979 (she was 93 years old). My dad, Kent, said that she spent her last years on her white sofa in the living room, still running the show.

Alice and Glen Condon had 2 sons, Arnold and Lyle. Lyle was my grandfather. When I was around 14 my family moved into the upstairs of the home and Grandpa Lyle and Uncle Randy lived downstairs. I thought we might buy the house but it wasn’t meant to be at that time. Eventually, however, our cousin Justin Condon bought the house and lived there with his family – Wife Amber and their 5 children. It has been a tumultuous 20 years of so for the house and the people in it. So much has happened both good and bad. So many of us in the family have memories associated with the home. When Justin died, nobody was sure who could take on the project. Most recently, the house has sat empty for several years. When I lived there as a kid for that brief period of time, I was absolutely in love with the home. I have always loved old things and I remember feeling very strongly about the house. I begged my parents to buy it. There was nothing I wanted more. But it was bad timing.

Fast forward a LOT of years and I’m all grown up and the house is sitting empty. My dad told me it was to be sold, and that nobody else in the family could take the project on. I talked it over with my husband, Brandon, and it all seemed so obvious. I was meant to restore this house. I love the place, I love my family, and I know that everyone will be happy to see it fixed back up. I know that my great-grandma Condon would be really happy to see us restoring the house exactly 100 years after she purchased the home.

This blog is to document the adventure and share about the history about the house and family stories. If you have anything to add, please email me at sarahhemm@gmail.com.