Frank Grimason writes: Susan you made my day. I looked into those Cheney auctions and recalled a story told to me by my mother-in-law, Blandine Dubois, about buying one of those houses. Real long story short, she bought the house on lot 116, 124 High St. She was 7 months pregnant and could hardly speak English. She was told by Matt Moriarty of Moriaty Bros., "Ma'am, I'd like to buy that property, but it looks like you need it more than me; so I won't bid against you." She bought it, and the rest is history. Thanks!

Ed Swain, born in October 1928, recalls walking home from Washington School to their house on Lilac Street, off Center Street, and coming upon the Cheney property auctions. As a youngster, he was curious, and he followed the auctioneer and the crowd as they moved from property to property along the streets.

Ed Swain, in a follow-up email, writes: Hi Susan. Thanks for including my name as one of the spectators during the Cheney properties auctions. I was all of eight years of age, going on nine (Halloween,10/31). I was proud to be a West Sider.

Yes, Matthew Moriarty and his brother Maurice were owners of Moriarty Brothers "filling station" located on the corner of Center Street and Broad. They were the most active bidders at the auction.I recall them bidding on many of the houses. However, if any of the Cheney employees lived (as renters) in the home, the Moriarty Brothers would refuse to bid against them.

Peter Bonzani, owner-manager of the renovated Hilliard Mills complex, noted that the auction house that ran the Cheney property auction, Samuel T. Freeman Company, was also the auctioneer of the Hilliard Mills and housing. The auction took place on December 14, 1941. These are the oldest woolen mills in the United States, and they are located near the corner of Hilliard and Adams Streets. More about the history of the Hilliard Mills can be found on this web site at Places to Visit: Hilliard Mills.

Dick Jenkins writes: Gee, Susan, this is so exciting. I see my Uncle Tom Kerr's home on Fairfield and my wife Sandy's home on Cooper Hill Street and Bunny Murphy's place on West St, and on and on. It's the old neighborhood as I recall it. I see Angie's home and Jimmy Moriarty's next door. Boy, Matt Moriarty sure bought a lot of these homes. What a great bit of reference material and the maps that so very nicely tie back to the properties is really slick. And the photographs of the homes.........Just to think.........$2K more or less got you a home. The Cheneys must have really been hurting. We should be so grateful for all that they did for Manchester.

I believe Henry Agostinelli lives in the family homestead there on West St. today and Joe Kearns lived next door. You can only surmise that times were tough for many of these families that cause folks like the Kearns to pass up the chance to own their home for less than $1500.

I have fond memories of the Agostinellis passing by our home twice a day on their way to and from Gus's Pizza. I don't believe the senior Agostinellis owned an automobile. Funny story: During the war my father, then a soldier, would somehow manage to get back to Manchester now and then to be with mom and me. We roomed (she and I) in a 3-plex at 85 Fairfield St. We lived with the Cowles family in the rent on the far right. There are (3) identical 3-plex structures along the east side of Fairfield north of Cooper Hill St. I can't recall how many times after stepping off the Silver Lane bus from Hartford, my father in his excitement walked into the wrong 3-plex, totally uninvited, announcing as he burst through the front door in uniform, "Honey I'm home." He said you should have seen the shocked look on the residents' faces as they sat unexpecting in their living room.

This particular floor plan was repeated many times in the Cheney mill housing.

One last thought regarding the new homeowners and their auction purchases:

If you were a home owner in Ireland [where my and my wife's ancestors came from], you were a rich person; and I'd guess that less than 10% of the population owned property. So in a brief 30 or 40 years our families were able to own their own home. The Cheneys began auctioning off their mill housing in the 30s, and the price proved affordable ($1,000 - $3,000) to many of its workers.

Was it a good investment if you had a few dollars set aside? Consider this as an example: The 2-family that my Sandy's folks rented sold for $2,800 in 1937. I would guess their rent was about $20/mo. since my grandmother's rent (in comparison) was $23/mo. at that same time. The new owner would be taking in $480. total in rent each year. In less than 6 years his mortgage could have potentially been paid in full.

[This work is] nicely done and easy to read, Susan. The Manchester Historical site in a TREASURE and we thank you for all your hard work. The maps linked to the data and photographs (when photos were available) is such a clever way of presenting all of this data in a logical manner. Accolades as well to your silent partner and to the Town Engineering Department for their cooperation on this successful project.