Jeremiah was born into a family of shoemakers. His parents were forever looking down at other people’s feet, while Jeremiah cast his gaze upward to the heavens, then slightly down, to the tops of people’s heads.

Jeremiah wanted to make hats.

“Hats? Bah!” his father spat. “You’ll be a cobbler like your father, and your father’s father, and many fatherly fathers of fathers before you. You were put on this Earth to put your soul into soles.”

“I believe I was meant for a higher calling,” said Jeremiah. “Or at least, one that’s higher off the ground.”

“Off with you then, hatmaker,” his father cursed. “If you’ll not apprentice in the cobblery arts, you’ll not receive a penny of support from me!”

Dejected, Jeremiah slumped next door to the shop of his friend, Henry.

“Parental expectations are rough,” Henry commiserated. “My father ran a dry goods store and left it to me in his will. So here I am still, ten years later, tending this albatross of a store instead of making my name in the big city.”

“I’ll buy it,” Jeremiah offered.

“You’ll buy what?” asked Henry, confused by his friend’s lack of a basket.

“All of it. The entire shop. I’ll make it into a haberdashery and forward the profits to you in the big city, a bit every month, until I’ve paid off the entire value. Then we can both live our dreams.”

The two friends shook on the deal and put their plan into action. Henry sold off his stock, moved to the big city, and began a life of epic adventure. Meanwhile, Jeremiah used his skill and flair to fill the shop with hats of all descriptions. Soon, the shop was more successful than he had ever imagined.

Next door to Jeremiah’s haberdashery, the cobbler shop faltered. Jeremiah’s father came to him, hat in hand, asking for a loan. “The bank is foreclosing,” the father confided. “They’re giving us the boot.”

“I’ll take care of it,” said Jeremiah. And the next day, he presented his father with the deed to the cobbler shop, which he had purchased from the bank.

“We’re saved!” Tears of gratitude flowed from the old man’s eyes. “Thank you, son.”

“Hats have been good to me, Dad. Which is more than I can say about you. You have thirty days to close your cobbler’s shop before I have it demolished.”

“Wait, what?”

“With two plots of land, I’ll be able to expand the hat store into a hat supercenter!”

Jeremiah hired some men and their horses to drag the cobbler’s shop down the street, around the corner, and out of sight forever.

Jeremiah never actually expanded his store. Before he had the chance, chemicals in the hat manufactory drove him progressively more insane until, one day, he fell down a rabbit hole and never came back.

Just kidding—this isn’t a fairy tale, this is true life!

There’s no record of Jeremiah having been affected by hat-making chemicals but, according to diary entries and correspondence, multiple apprentice hat-makers in his employ suffered ill effects. One was Jeremiah’s nephew.

The dry-goods-store-turned-haberdashery became a farmhouse, a doctor’s office, a religious commune, and served many other purposes over the centuries. The empty lot next door was donated to the town for a public library. Constructed in 1895, the library remains the newest building on the block.

I’m writing this essay on my laptop in the front room of the old haberdashery. This is our home now. The relocated cobbler’s shop around the corner has also been turned into a home. But looking out the window, I can see only a library, as Jeremiah intended.

I uncovered records to support Jeremiah’s story from the town historical society and county registry of deeds, including one deed recording Jeremiah’s demand that his father’s cobbler shop be removed or destroyed within 30 days of his purchase of the parcel. That old hatmaker must have really hated shoes!

“Is the house still haunted by the ghost of Jeremiah’s daughter who died tragically in one of its upper rooms?” is a question we hear a lot.

No, I wouldn’t say that the house is haunted by a ghost. She’s actually very sweet once you get to know her, and good with the children. She enjoys games, but you do need to watch out. She manipulates dice and likes to turn 3s into Aces.