Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why the name?

After buying the house last year I discovered that Helen had donated her parents' WWI correspondence, along with her own WWII letters to the special collections department of the UI Library. As I went and started reading I found details Helen had not told me. Bess' husband, Walter Fox, was a 1905 UI Medical School grad. Bess studied for her master's degree in English Literature at UI before they were married. Walter became a small Iowa town doctor after teaching anatomy at UI for 2 years. Helen was born in 1911. At age 39 Walter volunteered for the army at the outbreak of WWI. As a captain and doctor he was sent to France and served in field hospitals. At the conclusion of the war he was sent to Serbia to fight a typhus outbreak, contracted pneumonia, and died in 1920. Bess was widowed at 36, Helen was 7 years old.

I found that Bess, Helen's mother, had built our house when Helen was starting as a freshman at the University of Iowa. Her plan was to move out the small town where she had remained since Walter's death, give up her many civic commitments (school board, lecture series, Daughter's of American Revolution) and retire to her gardening and reading.

Bess bought 2+ lots in the new development just outside Iowa City limits called University Heights. She had enormous vegetable and flower gardens, and according to her letters to Helen when she wasn't reading or gardening she was listening to Chicago Cubs baseball games on the radio.

So given the original family name= Fox, and the old English word for a small farm= Croft I knew exactly that if we had to have a name for our home it would be Foxcroft.

1 comment:

deb said...

wow mike! what a great story! you're quite fortunate to know about your home's previous owner's lives and the name couldn't be more perfect!