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December 2021 - Extra

History of the "Bunk House"

Recollections of Paul Harvey

By Paul Harvey

My memory of this little house at 213 Coolspring Road goes back into the early 1950s.  I will try to be as accurate as possible, but suspect there will be many mistakes.  Enjoy my memory trip!

The Bunk House

My dad, Earle Harvey, had restored the house next door and we moved in in 1945.  I was one year old.  He had also built a service station and store which he operated.  It had a 3-acre field that he farmed, and he looked longingly at the 12.5 acres adjoining.  Wow, that could increase the farm and perhaps he could restore that little house on the property.

At that time, the adjoining property was owned by the Kunselman family and rented to Bill Yeager, his wife Jean, and daughter Leslie.  But they had just bought a small farm and were moving out.  The time was right, and my dad was able to acquire the place.  Great, but what to do with it?

My dad put the fields into immediate use and traded his un-styled John Deere B for a 1939 John Deere model H tractor with all the attachments.  We still use that tractor here.

The house was quaint but certainly needed to be updated.  The staircase was completely enclosed with a door at its bottom.  A coal stove provided the heat and there was no indoor bathroom.  A shacky, small kitchen was attached to the back.  Behind, was a small, long building that had once served as a home for an older person.  Alongside that building was another small, long building that was a storage shed, with a coal house and firewood shed attached.

Probably in the early 1950s, a local young man, Jack Dempsey Kerner, named for the famous boxer, approached my dad about renting the house.  He admitted that he was engaged to Dedy (Lois) Kirkman and wanted to settle down.  Great.  A deal was struck.

The house needed extensive remodeling.  The stairway was opened and sheet rock installed on the walls and ceilings.  Jack and Dedy helped with the painting and getting everything in order.  Hardwood floors were installed over the old boards.  The small kitchen was torn off, and the little house out back provided the material for a full-length kitchen and bathroom.  Ditches were dug by hand for a septic tank and leach bed, and the water well was improved.  The coal house was demolished and the storage shed was moved to the foot of the hill for me and my buddies to use as a club house.  We called it the Coolspring Country Club.  I wired it for two small lights using an old 6 volt truck battery.  Quite the place.

So, Jack and Dedy were married and moved in.  Wonderful neighbors.  Sometime later, a daughter was born, Diane.  Diane and Dave Nogacek still live just across the street in the house that was once owned by Jack and Lola Fenstermaker.  Great neighbors!  In the mid-1960s, a house in Coolspring, built by Earl Swab, became available and offered them more room, so Jack, Dedy, and Diane moved.  But the house at 213 Coolspring Road wasn’t vacant for long.

Another young couple, Jim and JoAnn Brosius, were just married and needed a place to live.  Excellent!  Jo Ann was Pete Shaffer’s older sister, and the Brosius family lived just across the street in the house at the south entrance of the community center road.  They were very good neighbors and their kids were born here.  But, in the mid-1970s, Jim’s dad passed away, so Jim and JoAnn moved to his house.  Again, the house at 213 Coolspring Road was vacant.

I was visited by a young lady who said she and her husband were looking for a nice place to rent.  She explained that they had moved from Connecticut and were in a camp in the Sigel area.  Marilyn and I were impressed, and soon Stan and Karen Jurczak moved in.  They were great neighbors and friends and did so much improvement to the house.  Karen had a great garden.  We both always had plenty.  Their three daughters, Jennifer, Jamie, and Rebecca were born here.  However, the bigger family was cramped there.

John Wilcox, who joined his engine collection with mine, had lived in the house on the south side of the Old Garage.  He decided to buy a little farm near Delaware, Ohio, and move there.  Now, I had a vacant house and needed money to build another engine building.  So, a deal was struck with Stan and Karen, and I sold the house and barn to them, retaining the 3-acre field and having funds to erect the Earle T. Harvey Memorial Exposition Hall.  The field is now used for museum parking and for our flea market.  Stan and Karen did a super job at renovating the house.

With Stan and Karen relocated, the little house was vacant again.  A Fetterman family contacted me in the mid-1980s and soon they moved in.  All went well for a couple of years, but problems arose and I had to ask them to leave.  The house was not in the best condition then.  Now what to do with it?

Now, the museum had grown so much it needed a library.  With the help of so many, it was cleaned and painted and an inside laminated beam was installed to support the load of the books upstairs.  The old roof was collapsing so it was torn off, new trusses were erected, and a new solid roof was in place with a small usable attic and pull-down stairs.  The front room was converted into an office and a computer was donated.  After a lot of work, it was ready.

As years progressed, it was apparent that our volunteers needed a place to clean up and sleep and the Bunk House was created.  It has worked so well.  The books have been moved to the Miller Library, and our volunteers now have the upstairs for sleeping.  A new electric service was installed with ample receptacles and lighting.  Gail Lavender, our recording secretary, has her office there, and it is a pleasant retreat for our guests.

Over the past six years, Ken Uplinger, who works at Brookville Equipment, spends his weeks living there as well.  He takes care of the museum doing the mowing and snow removal, as well as looking after the welfare of Marilyn and me.

The Bunk House has had an interesting and varied history, but I am very happy with the result.


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