Fort Worth, TX

Searching for Lydia's Fort Worth Home - 100 years later

Trisha Faye

You can't leave your address in a book and don't think I'll be looking for it 100 years later.
Two vintage postcards and two vintage photographs from local antique storesPhoto byTrisha Faye

I’m a stalker. I’ll publicly confess.

Young or old. Male or female. Few are exempt from my furtive searching. Although, my preferences of victims are narrow. My criteria for who I’ll stalk next rests on one factor. They must be dead.

Hours are spent stalking my prey. Where do I find my victims? Not in the bars. Not on the streets. Not in schools. My secret preying grounds? Antique stores.

A name on the back of a photo? Gladys M. Cleveland of Hamilton, Montana? You can’t hide behind that lovely vintage photograph. You died in 1952, before I was born, and left your earthly possessions behind. Somehow, the photo with your smiling face encased in the fabulous velvet gown found its way to Texas. Now our paths have crossed, and I know of your life, leaving behind one son and several grandchildren.

Names on vintage postcards? Mrs. Arno Goodman and Mrs. Elmer Gaff – you both still elude me. But the hunt is on. I’ve found others that left behind postcards. I’ll find you too.

A name on the flyleaf in a book? I’ve made several new friends in this manner. Alice L. Blodgett, received a book, ‘The Rosary’, in November 1915. I unearthed remnants of your life. Although how your book made its way from the south of Texas to an antique store in north Texas is still a mystery.

Little Carolyn Jane received ‘Raggedy Ann and the Golden Butterfly’ ‘From Daddy’ on October 25, 1946. Alas, with no last names, most likely I’ll never discover who you were, or where you lay buried.

The search for Lydia Mae Ellis is one of my favorite stories. In Lonestar Antiques, I discovered a book 'Madge Morton's Secret’. When I saw not only a name, but an address and a date inscribed, I clutched it tightly, never letting go of the book until it was paid for, and it was mine.

Mine, mine, mine!

This newest treasure was mine.

When I went home and looked up Lydia, excitement rushed through me like a cyclone. An obituary online told me so much about this young girl, who grew into an honorable and well-respected woman. Find a Grave even had a picture of her high school yearbook page. Now I even know what young Lydia looked like.

Unfortunately, none of us live forever. Lydia Mae Ellis, who became Lydia Maserang, died February 7, 2000. She is buried in Fort Worth not too far from where she grew up.

As I lurked about stalking Lydia, I saw she was born August 5, 1913. When she signed the flyleaf of the book in 1927, it was five days after her 14th birthday. Putting my Private Detective skills to work, I’m guessing that she might have received the book for a birthday present.

But the best part of this adventure was still to come.

I don’t go to Fort Worth often. Although it’s not that far from where we live, with traffic it’s usually an hour plus drive. But when my better half, who is fighting cancer, got transferred to an oncologist in Fort Worth, I found that now we travel here every three weeks.

One day I decided to look up Lydia’s old address and see if it was near the doctor’s office. I about fell off my chair when I saw that her old address was only seven blocks from the cancer center!

Seven blocks!

You know where we ended up after our next chemotherapy appointment was over. Yes, Lydia’s old homesite!

Alas, time keeps moving forward. These fragments don’t remain frozen in place. They end up existing in memories and snippets of pieces of the past littered about in a multitude of places.

Excited is an understatement to describe how I felt to be going to visit the home where Lydia lived when she signed the book in 1927. I carefully drove the seven blocks from the doctor’s office, anticipation mounting with each rotation of the wheels.

And…I pulled up to a small empty lot, no house in sight.
Lydia's book returned to her original homesite, laying in the one small pile of remaining debris.Photo byTrisha Faye

The only remnants of a prior abode existed in a small remaining pile of bricks and debris, along with a curved driveway that gave proof of where the home would have been in earlier years. A large pecan tree appears to be near where the back door might possibly have been.

Despite the lack of structure, I still spent a good amount of time on the small lot, wandering and thinking of Lydia. I wondered if she’d climbed the pecan tree when it was a mere sapling compared to the girth it boasted now. I wondered where she sat and read her books, which she obviously loved. I mused on the fact that 94 years earlier she’d been a young girl on that very lot, turning 14 years old and inscribing books. Now, many years later, I walked the same property, her book in hand, taking photos to document where our paths now crossed.
Back home again - over 100 years laterPhoto byTrisha Faye

I’m a stalker. I’ll proudly admit it. Sweet, young Lydia is only one of my victims. There are more in my future. More people to hunt down from the past. Hopefully I’ll be able to make more connections such as this. No one is exempt from my prying, sleuthing ways.
Lydia's book, along where the drive used to be leading to their home - not only an empty lot amidst the Fort Worth surroundingsPhoto byTrisha Faye

My favorite antique stores in this area:

LoneStar Antiques, 5605 Denton Hwy, Haltom City, TX 76148 Phone: (817) 503-0441

Denton Mini Mall, 118 N Locust St, Denton, TX 76201 Phone: (940) 387-2218

Memories N’ Treasures, 148 Pecan St, Keller, TX 76248 Phone: (817) 431-3380

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Trisha Faye writes about people, places, and items from the past – when she can tear herself away from researching, which is her favorite activity. When not settled in front of a computer screen, she’s playing with a house full of rescue cats.

Roanoke, TX

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