The Great Painting Mystery of Middlefork Township

At a recent trip to the “big city” Jan and I spend some time at our favorite thrift store.

While there, an oil painting caught my eye.

It was vastly different from the reproductions and cheap prints around it.

It had an old house and barn in the background, with a beautiful leafed out tree with a swing as the focal point.

DSC_0425Was it the bright spring-like colors that attracted me? Or the tree swing?

Whatever the reason, I walked across the aisle and picked it up.

It was obviously an original.

As I turned it over I was surprised to see that that the subject of the painting was “the Stedman farm near Delphos”.

We live 10 miles from a town named Delphos!

That sealed it. The painting was mine.

But the entire trip home I kept wondering about the Stedman farm. Is it still there? The house? The barn? The swing tree? Is it really just a few miles from our house? How many towns named Delphos are there anyway?

DSC_0427And the artist – the name sounded somewhat familiar. Who was she? When was it painted? Why was it at a thrift store in the city?

Hot diggity dog! I think I bought myself a mystery!

I googled the name of the artist. Nothing.

But I got a few hits when I searched for Stedman’s from Delphos.

It seems there were several in Delphos in the late 1800’s. One owned a restaurant and barber shop and another owned the Stedman store – the largest building in town.

And one L.B. Stedman bought two Poland-China pigs named Long Girl and Smooth Katie in 1915.

Maybe not so helpful – but at least I know there were Stedman’s in the area and at least one might have owned a farm.

Maybe some locals might know something.

So I call my friend Bobbi. She grew up in the area and is a fount of information.

But she hadn’t heard of either the farm or the artist. But the last name sounded familiar. She told me to call Chaz, another neighbor.

While he didn’t recognize the artist’s name either – he was able to give the name of a 85 year old women in nursing home who lived here for her entire life and shared the same last name as the artist. Best of all – she’s still sharp as a tack.

Next step?

A trip to town for what I hope is an informative talk with this lady and maybe a stop at the courthouse to check out some abstracts.

I’ll let you know what I discover.

Nothing like a little mystery to brighten up a long winter!