Monday, October 29, 2012

An old friend

I was just 16 years old the last time I visited the family farm in Maryland. The house was built in 1855 and passed down through the family to John and Ellen my second cousins once removed (?). John's mother, whom I have always called Aunt Betty has lived there her entire 92 years. She lives in a cottage behind the main house.

My grandfather spent a large part of his childhood here playing with his cousins and learning from his uncles.

I should mention that my Aunt Betty is not an old lady. We walked through the fields and down to the riverbank and I could barely keep up with her.

The water is surprisingly clear and provides much of the water for the D.C. metro and Baltimore area.

The property is a trove of history and even its trees are important. This enormous stump was once the largest Kentucky coffee tree in the world.

I spent some time here as a child and the scale of my memory proved much smaller as an adult. The simple farmhouse built by Quakers loomed as a grand palace in my recollection.

I was terrified of the "old lady in the parlor" as a child. The portrait is one by famed American artist Charles Willson Peale of his sister in-law, Deborah Moore Jackson. The original hung in the parlor until the 1970s, what you see is a copy.
The tiny photo below is of my Great, great grandfather Earnest who was born in 1860.

I am particularly fascinated by his wife, Maria Rust, who was born in Leesburg, Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War. The Rust family was a prominent Virginia family. Her father was a colonel and her uncle was General Armistead Rust, yet in her adult life she found herself (and her sister)  marrying into a Northern, Quaker family.

As a child I was fascinated by the library room which was far different than in my memory but nevertheless pretty cool.

Me in the library
Dutch door to kitchen

Even though the kitchen has been redone since my last visit, I was thrilled to see how many old elements they left untouched.

I was mad at myself for not taking better pictures of the dining room or at least more of them. The light fixture alone was worth its own photo.

It was a glorious Fall afternoon and we took a walk to the family cemetery too.

I knew many of the names from books on my family's history.

I met a few other distant cousins who visited that day too.
Seeing the place through adult eyes was a real treat for me and felt much like reconnecting with an old pal. My cousins were so kind to let us poke around their home and ask a million questions.

I will very likely be without power by the time anyone is reading this. I'll be back as soon as humanly possible. If you too are in the path of Sandy... be safe!
I hope to do another art term next Monday.


Kim said...

What a special day Kerry! I did the same thing to my Grandmother's home in Alabama several years ago. Her home was not grand at all ... but in my "little girl" eyes it was everything. When I went back I was a little taken aback by how small. What I mostly remember was it was packed full of love and southern cooking!! Hope you are staying Safe this week!! xo

Kristie Franklin said...

Beautiful home and what a rich and interesting family history. How wonderful that you could spend the day visiting a taking a trip down memory lane! I just did a post on my grandfather and also took a walk down the lane! HAH

That is a great picture of you! ~ Be safe and I hope the storm doesn't affect your area too much!

Patty Day @Pattys Epiphanies said...

Thank you Kerry for sharing your family memories and all the wonderful stories. We sometimes forget how important "family" is to our lives....

Nancy said...

What a fun weekend trip, and so rewarding to relive the past and all those memories. That library room piece is so unique, but you are the best accessory in there!
Good luck during the storm.
xo Nancy

An Urban Cottage said...

Swooning. What a beautiful old house, property and furnishings. Love the painting of the dude with the beard.

The Pink Pagoda said...

How interesting! That's fascinating that you're able to still visit a house that's been in your family for so long. I hope all is well where you are!