In 1955, Jim Peters became the proud owner of his childhood home on the corner of Pickaway and Mound Street; however, he no longer owned the property that it sat on. His mother had been forced to sell. Jim and his new wife lived in an apartment upstairs, and his mother and sisters lived downstairs. A lot of houses had been moved in Circleville because of all the new schools that were being built to educate the baby boomers, so he knew it was possible. In fact, one of the historic pictures shows Jim’s house floating by an under-construction Mound Street School.
Jim set out to find Bill Linton, the house-mover. This was before the internet, cell phones, or even answering machines. Jim drove down to Portsmouth where Bill was rumored to be working, and he found him fixing a house that slid off its foundation due to mudslides.
Jim said of Bill, “He wasn’t very tall. He was probably five foot four maybe. But he was old, so he was kind of stooped a little bit. But he could crawl under a house, and he did.” Jim described Bill as a man of few words, “When he said something, he meant it.” Bill lived in a shanty near Darbyville when he wasn’t moving houses. When he was working, he stayed in the house he was moving, frequenting local watering holes and restaurants. Jim said he gave him money when he asked for it to pay for his incidentals, like food and beer. During the evenings of the house move, you could often find him at Mary’s or Snyder’s (which is now Shifty’s).
After some initial setup in the fall of 1955, Jim and Bill began moving the old house in the spring of 1956. During one of his breaks from work, Jim went to the house and asked for a job to help things along. Bill told him, “I want you to give them jacks a corner turn each. You go to the next one, keep going around the house and turn each a quarter of a turn.” Jim said he did about 10 trips around the house that way, turning each of the 40 jacks a quarter turn. Jim admitted, “That house hadn’t even moved off the foundation, and so I started cranking them till they got tight.”
A few days went by and Bill came to check on the work. Bill said, “How many times have you been turning those jacks?” Jim confessed that he’d been turning them until they got tight. Bill scolded Jim, “I told you to turn a corner of a turn, and that’s what I meant! And when I say something, that’s what I mean!”
Jim said, “He gave me hell.”
Jim’s mishap was just the first of many challenges the two would face together, as they attempted to move a house a mile down Mound Street. Bill played the role of master who said few words and Jim of the brash 20-something who knew no limits. Together, they conquered many challenges and faced certain failure all along the trip.