Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Habent sua fata libelli” (books have their fate) ~ Latin Saying
“Houses do too, don't they?” ~ Karin Eckelmeyer

Do you believe in Fate? I do, in fact I think it's one of the basics of existence. I believe we each run in a series of circles (for lack of a better phrase) that keep us coming in contact with the same people over and over again throughout our lifetime and throughout the lifetimes of our ancestors.

How else do I explain that months before I landed my new job, a man walked into the Red Cross with a colleague and spoke to a woman about CPR training. That woman was my Aunt who asked if there were any job openings at their company (she was always looking for me). After I had submitted my resume, interviewed and gotten the job I realized that one of those gentlemen was now my new boyfriend (who would eventually become my husband). None of that would have happened if Matt they hadn’t walked into the Red Cross on that day.

On the first week of my next job, Matt came to take me to lunch. He took one look at my new surroundings and said “I’ve been here before”. He had come to the air cargo terminal to pick up a package and had walked into the wrong office. He had been re-directed by my new co-worker, we are still friends to this day. I also went to High School with this new co-worker’s friend from back home. This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch except for the fact that they are both Icelanders. What are the odds that I would have a foreign exchange student in my Virginia High School that was a friend of someone I met 15 years later?

When Marty was in preschool I met a mother who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina and was now living in her family home in Portsmouth while the repairs could be made to their New Orleans home. We became fast friends and after a lot of “old house” talk realized that her Bilisoly ancestors had built my house. You could chalk this up to the fact that Portsmouth is a small town and of course we know the same people. But, I would have never met Anne if a Hurricane hadn’t destroyed their city and forced them to move – they were only here full time one year.

The internet and all its social trappings have made the world a much smaller place and you become “friends” on a much more global level now. By in large I still think our lives touch many and we may never know we have affected them.

Why did I start this post? When Matt first bought this house in 1995 I did a lot of research on its previous owners. The internet was relatively new and there wasn’t as much information as there is today. I had the facts but I wanted details. I knew the names but I wanted family history. In 2008 I was cleaning out a closet under the 3rd floor stairs and found a little name scratched on the inside of the door. I also found a little half wall which had been built to keep things from going all the way to the back under the bottom stairs. I got a flashlight and a mirror and after much squeezing and stretching I pulled out a mailing tube from 1913. It was addressed to Hermann Aspegren who was the father of the little girl who had left her mark upon my house. All of the sudden I had what I was looking for… history. My discovery led me around the world; first the internet directed me to a passenger list of the Aspegren family through Ellis Island; then to a Swedish genealogy site (which was translated by my air cargo friend’s Icelandic father) and finally it landed me in California. I had found my link, Karin Eckelmeyer. Thank goodness they have such a great name, can you imagine me searching for Karen Smith? I’m sure Mrs. Eckelmeyer thought that was a very odd message I left for her that day; “Hello my name is Kathy Eykamp and I think I live in your Mother’s childhood home”. She called me back and I was elated! Finally I had received what I was looking for all along, my family.

Mrs. Eckelmeyer and her brother have been a wealth of family history for me. She sent me pictures of the Aspegren family around the house. I love that I have a picture of her Grandparents and their children on the same porch that we have enjoyed for so many years. I can hear the 5 Aspegren girls playing just as I hear my own children. I can imagine what their lives were like 100 years ago as they forged a new life in America.

I received an email on Monday from Mrs. Eckelmeyer that her Mother, Karin had passed away in June a week after her 100th birthday. You can read her obituary here:

Did fate have a plan for me that day in 2008 when I was cleaning? I would like to think so. I would also like to think that in 1995 when Matt asked me to go look at a house he wanted to buy, fate was lurking in the shadows just waiting for me.

Houses do have their fate and we were lucky enough to be chosen by this one.


  1. Kathy,

    I do believe there is a plan and we have free will regarding the path we choose to get there. Did you ever see the movie Sliding Doors?
    This was a wonderful thought provoking post and made me consider my own journey. I love that you have so much history on your home; not only names but faces! Was this the only family in the house before you? The photographs are a true treasure.

    Your Friend,

  2. KATHY!

    I have chills! This was such an amazing story- Something I hope I can repeat with my own old house! Wish me luck!

  3. Very cool indeed. I recently "happened" upon photos of the original 1887 owners of our home. Fate, indeed! The house feels different to me now that I can picture the first housewife sweeping the same stairs and washing the same windows...chills!


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