Something Always Remains
I should have written this to you last month but at the time was otherwise engaged.
Many people have an idea of the location of an ancestor's home but can not exactly place it.
This is the time to investigate.
The warmer earth has awakened flowering plants such as jonquils into bloom, so finding an old house place is a snap.
The bright yellow blooms of Forsythia, known as “yellow bells,” are fully open. They were popular landscape features in the 1800's.
While the trees are bare, it is easier to locate old road beds and their branches.
People who restore old houses are encouraged to restore the environment as well. This includes searching for the remains of plants in the yard.
The project begins by not mowing grass or otherwise disturbing the land around the house for at least two years.
Yesterday I pulled over to look at the site of the old Holloway home place.
I wrote to you last year that local boys met on their front porch to practice as “The Dog River Boys.”
Cold weather forced them into the detached kitchen, which is falling down and mistaken for the Holloway home. My father said that when the band played on the porch the yard filled with wagons.
I stopped along Highway 5 yesterday and stood in the woods that was the Holloway front yard.
Two distinct lines of jonquils likely define the edge of the porch and the walkway to the steps.
A few years ago I took a course of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Georgia. The evidence of what remains is surprising.
“Something always remains” was the professor's mantra. He literally “wrote the book” on the subject. He added that the yard will be a mess, but if you plan to restore a house to its original appearance, you should restore the environment in which it stood.
“Aunt Martha Moody” was known as the woman who hid her milk cow in a cave along Dog River when the Union Army came scavenging through.
Her thirty-five year old husband Ben fell dead and was buried on the spot in 1862 at Mecanicsville, VA.
Martha Neal Moody lived in their home for as long as she could. She died in 1912 but helped raise a number of neighborhood children including my grandfather, who was born in 1871.
Somewhere in the woods, along what is now Dukes Road, there is a fallen chimney and plants blooming out of place.
I'll be out looking soon.