"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

27 February 2013

Visiting the Old Farm

I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid that I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
That's the reasons why I seem so far away today
--"Caledonia" by Dougie MacLean

Last weekend, we visited the farm where Dad and his siblings all grew up.  Pop Pop and Mom Mom originally purchased the property back in June of 1963.  At the time, it was a 60-acre dairy farm, though it's much smaller now (the realtor has it listed as just 6 acres), and at some point it was converted into a horse farm.

So, many changes over these past 50 years.  Here's a then-and-now comparison of the house:

This is the satellite view from Google.  I don't know when the image was taken, but the property has changed a lot even since then.

I took some videos of Dad giving us the grand tour.  For each one, I've marked on the map where we were, or walked to, with red numbers and arrows.

Video #1:  Driveway & Fields (6:54)

(The long, thin building that the arrow is pointing to isn't there now)


Video #2:  Inside the Barn (5:06)


Video #3:  Spring House, Dairy Barn & Silo (9:21)


Video #4:  Milk-Holding Room & Under the Barn (5:40)


Video #5:  Tool Shed & Corn Crib (4:52)


Video #6:  Around the House (6:57)


Video #7:  Around the House (1:57)

Just as we were finishing up that last video, another car pulled up the driveway. A young family from Arizona were thinking about purchasing the farm, and had come to take a look around. Dad gave them a shortened tour of the place. :)

17 February 2013

Mary Ann Baker

Tha osag nam beann The sigh of the hills
Gu fann ag imeachd Is weakly departing
Gach sruthan 's gach allt Each stream and brook
Gu mall le bruthach Go slowly down the hillside
Tha ealtainn nan speur The birds of the sky
Feadh geugan dubhach Are sad in the branches
A caoidh gu'n d'fhalbh Lamenting that you left
'S nach till thu tuille And will never more return

--"MacCrimmon's Lament" (Traditional)

Today marks the 194th birthday of my 4th-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Mettert Baker.  In many respects, she had a privileged life, being the wife of a wealthy businessman and living in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond.

But she also suffered through many losses in her life.  Her father George Mettert likely passed away when she was a teenager;  he last appears on the 1830 Census, and by Mary Ann's marriage in 1838, her mother Nancy was listed as her guardian and giving consent.

Elijah and Mary Ann Baker lost two daughters, Georgetta and Mary, in infancy.  Another daughter, Mattie, died on Christmas Day in 1872 at the age of 21 in a tragic accident.

Miss Mattie Baker, aged about twenty years, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Mr. Elijah Baker, who resides on Venable street, between Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth, was fearfully and fatally burned Tuesday afternoon, about one o'clock, by her clothes taking fire.  Miss Baker had retired to her room for the purpose of writing a letter, and while sitting near the fire, thus occupied, her dress took fire, and in a few moments the unfortunate young lady was enveloped in flame.  Her cries soon brought her mother and brother from the floor below to her assistance, but not before she was horribly burned.  A physician was immediately summoned and did all in his power to alleviate the agony of the sufferer.  The injuries sustained were, however, beyond human control, and Miss Baker died about half-past six o'clock yesterday evening.

Then came the 1860s, bringing the Civil War and reconstruction era.  Yet as hard as the war was on Richmond, the roughest patch for Mary Ann came in the late 1880s as a number of personal tragedies struck in the family.  In 1886, her niece, Mrs. Mary Morton, lost her young son Oden when she mistakenly mixed up her sons' medications.

A sad and dreadful mistake occurred yesterday morning at the residence of Mr. Peter A. Morton, at 810 Jessamine street.

Two of Mr. Morton's little boys have been sick for some time.  There was a bottle of fever mixture and one of carbolic acid on the mantelpiece.  One of the boys, aged about six, had a sore leg, and the acid had been used on it.  The eldest child, aged nine years, was given a spoonful of the carbolic acid instead of the fever medicine.  This occurred at 6:30 o'clock.  The accident was at once discovered, and the best medical aid summoned, but the child died at 8:30 o'clock, after much suffering.

Mr. Peter A. Morton is a painter, doing business on north Fifteenth street.  He was a gallant Union soldier, and is a prominent Phil Kearny Post man and a true member of the United Veterans.  All of his comrades, both of the blue and the gray, as well as the community, will sympathize with him and his bereaved wife.  Mrs. Morton is frantic with grief. She will have the condolence of all who read the account of this sad casuality.

The following year, the Bakers' only son, Dabney Gathright Baker, died of cancer at the age of 46, leaving behind his wife Lucy and four childrenJust four months later, Mary Ann's nephew was killed when a boiler exploded at the paper mill where his father worked.

Mr. Mettert, an elderly gentleman, whose hair is silvered with gray, and who has been a watchman at the mill for a number of years, said:

"It is my custom to keep my lantern lighted at night, so that when I hear a noise I can look about the premises at once.  My son came in the front door (opening on the new street at the north side of the building), and I met him directly he came in, knowing that he wanted to see me.  After we had been talking for a little while he said that he wanted to see Alec, the colored engineer, and went down into the engine-room to see him.  I came on back here and sat down where I am now (at the back of the establishment).  In a few minutes I heard the sound, and upon examination found that there had been a terrible explosion.  My son after seeing Alec went into the boiler-room, and he is now dead, or I fear he is, as nothing has been seen of him.

In April of 1888, two of Elijah and Mary Ann's young granddaughters, Ruby and Mary, died within days of each other.  With the girls' deaths, their parents were left childless.

McDOWELL. - Died, April 15, 1888, at ten minutes to 12 o'clock, at the residence of her parents, No. 2235 Venable street, MARY JOSEPHINE, youngest daughter of John G. and Rosa B. McDowell; aged one year and eleven days.

McDOWELL. - Died, April 17th, at the residence of her parents, No. 2235 Venable street, RUBY JAMES, only child of John G. and Rosa B. McDowell; aged three years and eleven months.

"Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven."

Less than three weeks later, on May 4th, Mary Ann's husband Elijah died from congestion in his lungs at the age of 76.  The couple had been married for 50 years.  In his will, Elijah divided up his properties, valued at $85,000, amongst his children and grandchildren, leaving Mary Ann their house at 2241 Venable Street and $800 per year.  The house is still standing today.

Two months after Elijah's death, the Bakers' eldest daughter, Mrs. Nannie Wood, passed away at the age of 45.

Mary Ann herself lived until 1896, passing away at the age of 77.  In all, she outlived five of her children (and another daughter, Charlotte, died later that same year), two sons-in-law, six grandchildren, and at least three of her siblings.

Mary Ann's daughter

In memory of Mattie E.
Daughter of Elijah & Mary A. Baker
Born Feb. 27th, 1851
Died Dec. 25th, 1872

In the full bloom of youth and hope, loving and beloved, her memory will be ever fondly cherished as the brightest and dearest of recollections.

Mary Ann's great-nephew

Oden Charley
Son of P. A. & M. A. Morton
Born Nov. 25, 1877
Died Nov. 13, 1886

"I am so glad that Jesus loves me."

Mary Ann's son

To the memory of our dear father
Dabney G. Baker
Clinging to the cross,
He fell asleep in Jesus
Jan. 13th, 1887,
in the 48th year of his age.

To those who knew and loved him,
was revealed a character, grand
and noble, pure and unselfish.

Mary Ann's nephew

Joseph G. Mettert Jr.
Died May 14, 1887

Mary Ann's grandchildren

Mary Josephine McDowell
Apr. 17, 1887 - Apr. 15, 1888

Ruby James McDowell
May 17, 1884 - Apr. 17, 1888

John G. McDowell Jr.
Aug. 18, 1903 - Apr. 2, 1906

Mary Ann's husband

In memory of our devoted father
Elijah Baker
Born Feb. 29th, 1812
Died May 4th, 1888
in the 77th year of his age.

Mary Ann's daughter

In memory of Nannie E. Wood
Daughter of Elijah & Mary A. Baker
Born August 4th 1842
Died July 24th 1888
in the 46th year of her age.

In remembrance of
our beloved mother Mary Ann
Wife of Elijah Baker
Born February 17th, 1819
Died March 30th, 1896

At rest

The Bakers' family plot

Oakwood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia