• September 22, 2003

John L. Welsh and Family

Restoration Diary,

Something about living in this old, neglected house makes me wonder about who lived here before me? What were they like? Were their years here happy ones? Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of HGTV’s “If These Walls Could Talk”?

Their original building permit was applied for by Henry Gatz, who is also listed as contractor, on November 23, 1911. The house was completed in 1912. The entire cost of the building is listed as $1950, about what we pay for our mortgage every month. The home was built for John L. Welsh. He lived on our street at 2938 Hobart Blvd at the time this house was being built. I wonder if the 2938 Hobart house was an earlier home that John Welsh had built or if the family was renting?

In 1916, a sleeping porch was added by extending the present dormer on the rear of the house. That work was done by H. V. Wright of 3933 S. Hill St. John L. Welsh applied for a permit to build a private garage with a dirt floor and a paper roof in April of 1919. He is listed as the contractor and architect. The garage is no longer standing so we can’t see his handiwork.

Those are the facts but they don’t shed much light on the personalities of our house’s original family. I can get a sense of their preferences or at least the prevailing tastes of their day by peeling through layers of old paint and wallpaper to the home’s original color palette. They chose fairly dark, masculine colors: a dark orange-brown color that looks like the spice cinnamon for the living and dining room walls with a dark, dark brown-black mission stain on the douglas fir woodwork. The den was a medium orange, terra cotta color with a similarly colored wallpaper ceiling that has hand painted silver designs on it. It’s still intact but badly damaged and more than likely unsalvageable. The kitchen, in 1912 a woman’s domain, was a more feminine salmon-pink color – at least on the ceiling.

I get the feeling of a strong male presence having lived and left his mark in this house. Maybe because John L. Welsh’s name was the only one listed on the paperwork we received when we purchased the house, that’s who captured my imagination? I wonder if he would have approved of the choices we are making?


According to the 1920 Federal Census John L. Welsh was the head of the household, a white male aged 53. He was born in Pennsylvania (I guess around 1867). His parents were also born in Pennsylvania. He was a furniture salesman. By the 1930 Census, he had begun selling carpets. I wonder what beautiful furniture and rugs our house was decorated with? I would love to see a few photos of what our house looked like in its heyday or to be able to put faces with the names. Ida K. Welsh was listed as John’s wife. She was a white female aged 44 in 1920. Her place of birth as well as her parent’s was Pennsylvania. There was no occupation listed for her.

Magdalen Catudal was listed as what appears to be wife’s daughter or perhaps it is wife/daughter, white female aged 22. Her place of birth was Pennsylvania. Her occupation was listed as music teacher with own students. There is a beautiful piano window in our den which I can imagine an upright piano sitting under. Dan (or Don) F. Catudal was listed as son-in-law, white male aged 23 with a birth place of Nebraska. His father was from Canada (English) and it looks like his mother may have been from California or perhaps Canada? It’s very hard to make out since all the records are hand written. Dan was a shipping clerk in the automobile industry.

By the 1930 census Magdalen and Dan had 2 five year old boys, Ray L. and Roy F. This might explain all the marbles I find as I open up long ago sealed walls, remove layers of linoleum from the floors and once while digging in the yard. The house has only two bedrooms. I wonder how a family of 6 managed to live within its 1800 square feet? Maybe the downstairs den was converted into a bedroom? Or maybe the boys slept on the sleeping porch? The boys would have been born in 1925 and they could still be alive at almost 80 years old. Catudal is a fairly uncommon last name so maybe I.ll be able to get in touch with either Ray or Roy to find out what happened to the family who built our home?

Comments { 4 }
  1. Christal Majure

    We just purchased our first home and although it is newly built, it is the style and craftsmanship (well in today’s terms) of English Arts & Crafts. I have thought of leaving a bit of family and house info in a wall or somewhere under the house. Your story inspired me even more by seeing just how interesting it is to trace the roots and soul of your bungalow. I am amazed at all the info you’ve tracted down. Good luck with remodel and the history lesson. We live in the new community of Mt.Laurel, Alabama. It has a website if your curious. The town of Mt. Laurel. Well good luck, oh and I was doing a search for Organized Living, the store and found your site. It was interesting. Best wishes, Christal


  2. Scott Sandel

    Hi, I’m the green paint scheme guy (Girl Scout headquarters green). I liked reading your house history. Our Neo-Tudor house sounds a little similar to yours. I, too, enjoyed researching information on our house, built in 1914 in the Missions Hills area of San Diego. You inspired me to do a little more sleuthing and speculation. Enclosed below is an outline for our house history:

    FORT STOCKTON DRIVE RESIDENCE

    TIMELINE:

    Mrs. Louisa A. Morrow sold the property to Frank A. Ricker and Mary D. Ricker on November 21, 1910.

    The property was divided and recorded by the County Recorder on October 18, 1911
    On April 3, 1914 Frank A. Ricker and Mary D. Ricker sold the lot to Horace Shank.

    On June 9th, Horace Shank obtained a sewer permit, permit #11553, for the new house. The County Assessor.s Residential building record shows the year of original construction to be 1914.

    Horace and Della Shank sold the house to John J. and Elizabeth A. Crook on August 5, 1920. The Crooks lived in the house for 27 years, until 1947. John Crook.s obituary was published in the San Diego Union Tribune on January 29, 1947 one day after his passing. Less than three months later, Mary E. Ownston is listed as Guardian of the person and estate of Elizabeth A. Crook, .an incompetent person. in a grant of deed to Charles T. and Adel Geiger on April 7, 1947, that was recorded through probate.

    The Geiger.s lived in the home from 1947 to 2001, upon the death of Bunneye. Bunneye.s son sold the property to Jim Marich and Scott Sandel in 2001.

    FACTS REGARDING JOHN J. CROOK – OWNER 1920-1947:

    Crook.s railway construction engineering and contracting firm was hired by John D. Spreckel.s San Diego, Arizona & Eastern Railway Company in the early 190.0.s to build Carriso Gorge tunnels. Previous to his residency in San Diego, Crook was a member of a firm that built the Moffett Tunnel through the Continental Divide in Colorado. In the 1922 San Diego City Directory, John J. Crook, of 2260 Fort Stockton Drive, is the only listing under .Contractors – Railroad..

    NOTES ON CONSTRUCTION, PRESERVATION, REPAIRS (2001 to present):

    Discover original cedar shake roof under many layers. Replace with fire-rated new cedar shake roof.

    Replace all of perimeter foundation. Add new beam to support sagging floor downstairs.

    Front porch reconstructed: Remove a circa 1950.s center column that was added to support the sagging front porch roof/upstairs balcony. Deconstruct early stucco addition to porch railing area, and repair front porch railing to a more sympathetic Craftsman-style detail. Re-build original columns to previous dimensions and apply new stucco that matches the heavy .slash. or .dash. finish that is extant on the chimney and upstairs on the Neo-Tudor Craftsman details of the mock board-and-battens. Replace porch concrete foundation and steps, using historic scoring patterns.


    • Laura

      I know I’m late on this conversation but it came up in a recent search for family history. Horace and Della Shank were my Great Grandparents. I would love to see any pics of the house. The Shanks have been hard for me to find info on. This would be some fun info to add to my tree.


  3. heather

    Wow, Scott! You have done so much work on your house. Isn’t it wonderful bringing these houses back to life? Thanks for sharing some of your home’s history – I find all the connections with the past so interesting.

    I am trying to track down a surviving member of the Welsh/Catudal family to see if there are any early photos of our house.



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