On Jan. 6, 2018, an old farmhouse burned down in Daviess County. The “Tuggle House,” located on a gravel road about two miles southwest of Gallatin, had been unoccupied for years; still, it held many fond memories for the family, noted Dick Paul, and was one of the last tangible links to their heritage and ancestry.
“When we learned of its loss through the fire, we were devastated,” he says.
Dick, along with his sisters Margaret Lowe and Janet Vaughn, compiled some historical notes about the house to share with the community. Their great-grandparents (James and Victoria Tuggle), grandfather and grandmother (Floyd and Helen Tuggle), and their mother and aunt, (Jane Ann and Virginia), all lived in the house at one time.
Dick, Margaret and Janet and their families, along with their aunt Virginia and her family, most recently paid a visit to the house after Bob Paul’s burial in March 2012, and again after Jane Ann Paul’s burial in February 2017. Both are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery.
“Standing there in the driveway, we re-lived many fond visits to the farm and were able to tell our children about some of our memories,” Dick says. “It is still somewhat emotional for all of us when we think of the sudden and unexpected loss of this cherished part of our family history.”
Below are a few family narratives about the house.
Margaret Lowe’s story (Margaret lives in Bellevue, Wash. Her brother Dick Paul also lives in Bellevue. Her sister Janet Vaughn lives in North Reading, Mass. They are the children of Jane Ann and Bob Paul.)
James Tuggle, one of the founders of the First National Bank (now Farmers Bank) in 1901, built the house somewhere between 1890 and 1900. It was a grand two-story house with a front porch which extended around the front half of the house. The steps to the full dirt-floor basement were inside the house just off the kitchen. The iron vases on each side of the walk leading to the front door were purchased in 1904 from an iron works company in Muncie, Ind.
The ceilings were 12 feet high and the doors, floors, baseboards, and crown molding were solid walnut. The sun porch on the second floor was eventually screened in and Jane Ann (Tuggle) Paul and her sister, Virginia, slept there on hot summer nights.
The upstairs bathroom had a claw foot bath tub, a free standing porcelain sink, and a tile floor. Every room had wallpaper. The original electric chandeliers in the parlor and drawing room were still in the house at the time of the fire.
Originally there was an ice house close to the kitchen door and a large chicken coop nearby. Over the years, other outbuildings were erected.
Three generations of the Tuggle family lived in the house. Those three generations were: James and Victoria Tuggle, their son Floyd Tuggle and his wife Helen, and Floyd and Helen’s daughters, Jane Ann and Virginia.
Upon James Tuggle’s death (he died on the kitchen table during an operation for appendicitis), Floyd and his wife, Helen, moved into the house and raised their children, James, Jane Ann, and Virginia.
When Floyd and Helen moved from the farm to Gallatin, their farm manager and his wife (Bub and Vera Warden) lived and raised their children in the house. Later the house was rented to various tenants, and for the last few years, it remained vacant.
Charlie and Peggy Belshe managed the farm from 1969 to 1997. Charlie’s son Larry Belshe and his wife, Lana, started managing the farm in 1997. Larry and his brother Steve started farming one tract of the Tuggle farm in 1973 and another tract around 2000.
Floyd Tuggle’s Story (Floyd passed away in 1968):
About 1889, father (James) and his brother George bought the farm which we now own located about two miles southwest of the square in Gallatin and moved on it. Father later bought Uncle George’s interest. It was known as the Smoot farm and was comprised of approximately 348 acres. The farm was run-down and I can remember the farming land which lay northeast of the present house was so thin it would only grow cockleburs about six inches high and was thickly covered with the burrs. The south part of the northwest quarter of section 30 was still in timber, which father proceeded to clear off and put in cultivation.
I am not sure but I think father moved an old school house over to just west of where the tenant house now stands and we lived in the old school house while the present home was being built.
A contractor by the name of Weston built the house. I think I heard father say it cost $1,800. It had five rooms on the first floor and three rooms and an attic above, with the basement under the dining room. It was one of the nicest houses of that day. As soon as the house was completed, we moved in and used the old school house for the hired man, as father always kept a hired hand year round.
Father was a cattle and hog feeder. He converted the cocklebur field into a timothy meadow for hay for horses and cattle. We kept six or eight horses to farm with and raised colts, mostly mules, which father would break to work and then sell.
Jane Ann Paul’s Story (Jane Ann passed away in 2017):
I was born in 1920 at our farm home west of Gallatin. In those days women had their babies at home. My mother used a nurse or midwife from Coffey to assist with the birth. We knew her as Auntie Dugger.
Our house was nice. While many (or most) farm houses used kerosene lamps, we had electric lights made possible with a Delco (battery powered) system. We also had running water and toilets — many had outdoor toilets. I remember for awhile we had a pump mounted on the counter in the kitchen to get our water for kitchen use. I’m not sure how it worked but I think rain water was collected in a cistern which was our source of water. I do not remember what we used for drinking water. As I was growing up, I did not realize that all farmhouses did not have these luxuries.
I remember my dad milked cows and there were crocks on the back porch (which had no heat) where the milk was kept. Cream rose to the top of the crock which we skimmed off with a ladle for our cereal. I don’t remember where the milk was kept in warm weather. When milk pasteurizers were invented we had one and we pasteurized our milk. We had a large screened-in sleeping porch where all of us slept in hot weather — no air conditioning.