As most of you know, we are in the process of installing a behemoth wood boiler in our basement, so we can stop getting gouged by soaring propane costs. This has been both an exciting process, and a taxing one. One thing this boiler requires is an insulated chimney liner. You may remember the recent episode involving me and Sam on the roof trying to jam down this huge silver worm? well, the saga continues… I think we have made 4 attempts at getting this dang liner in. We’ve tried pulling it from above, and shoving from below, we’ve tried pulleys, etc. It usually gets about 3/4’s of the way up, and then gets stuck. Well, this latest hiccup prompted Sam to run up into the attic and bust a few bricks out of the chimney to see what was going on. At some point in his fury, he also ripped up a floor board, and found this!!!
But when we flipped it over, we got even more excited….
A letter! In case you have bad eyesight, it’s sent to a “Sarah,” from someone in Amenia, on April 22nd, 1891. We are on the fence as to whether or not it’s a love letter, and we can’t quite make out who it’s signed by. It talks about being lonesome, and remembering “agreeable times” spent in Sarah’s abode…
I got very excited, and followed Sam back up into the attic, where we rooted through a lot of mouse-chewed paper scraps, and found this!
It’s an old homework essay, written in 1864, and titled (appropriately) “An Ancient Farmhouse.” Here’s the rest (my apologies, but the computer really wants it to be sideways):
It discusses, among other things, a family building a chimney with a partial log foundation (much like the one in this house,) and sitting around the fire, wafting the smoke up, and reminiscing about the good times they had at shucking parties..
The essay is signed by Julia Butts, which was a major clue for us. We know that before the Pisciottas lived here, there was an “E. Rozell,” and before him, there was an “A. Butts.”
The Butts family had a large presence in this area, and there is even a road called “Butts Hollow.” Consequently, there is a pretty extensive genealogy of the Butts family online. We skimmed it, looking for something that fit the bill, and found this:
There’s Julia! And we’re figuring Albert is the “A. Butts” on our deed. If we’re right, then it would seem that Julia only lived to be 16 years old, and the essay we found was written the year before she died. Though this house is now considered to be in Salt Point, we know (from various mail mishaps) that a lot of folks still consider it to be Clinton Hollow. We also know that the house was originally part of a much bigger parcel, and was at one point a functioning farm. It all seems to fit the bill… Major research breakthrough! And we didn’t even have to sift through any microfiche..