Reviewing the Land

It has been one year since posting any experiences in this genealogical quest. I have given up stating that "this will be the last trip." There have been so many gaps to fill, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. All the low hanging fruit has been picked.

So last November when working on writing everything up, I came to Thomas Perrin of Town Creek, whose land I had searched for in a previous trip. This time I went to the land records, and started to examine the tract Crabtree Folly. Armed with Adobe Illustrator I discovered an easy way to draw the surveyor's metes and bounds, and then in Photoshop size it to agree with the map. Much to my surprise it was possible to fit this tract into the Town Creek valley, starting at present day Pumpkin Center. I could render the other tracts (Perrins Luck, Pine Orchard, Wheat Hill and Bucks Lodge) similarly.

But it was a glance at the satellite images of the area which gave me a line of trees which fit precisely with the border between the Perrin portion of Crabtree Folly and the southern section of the tract. So now I was certain of the location; it was time to visit.

May 13, 2009

Barbara and I started from Washington, Pennsylvania, having been to Pittsburgh the day before. There are always more lookups for the Carnegie Library, and I promised her I wouldn't spend more than two or three hours, which gave her the opportunity to go next door and see the museum. Among the pictures she took is this painting:

Thomas Anshutz -- steamboat on the Ohio

Thomas Anshutz, Steamboat on the Ohio, 1898

Probably Wheeling, West Virginia, but still germane to the names and times I was looking for that day, this being the Beck's and the Maxwell's in the 1880's.

We went east to Bedford, for just two lookups at the Historical Society. This took less than an hour, then we headed south towards Flintstone. On the way we briefly stopped at Rainsburg, as I had located the old Allegheny Male and Female Seminary. This building was still there, in uncertain condition.

Allegheny Seminary, Rainsburg, Pennsylvania

Allegheny Seminary, Rainsburg, Pennsylvania

Allegheny Seminary - detail

Building detail

It must have been quite a sight one hundred fifty years ago when Upton G. M. Perrin attended this institution, and met his wife here. Now there is not even a store in this town of perhaps fifty people.

The next stop (following a picnic lunch in Sweetroot Gap) was the John Perrin, Jr. land. We searched for signs of any graves around the Prosperity Baptist Church at Hewitt, which probably occupies the original home site. There were none. Stopping further south, at a farm where a Mennonite woman was selling plants in her greenhouse, an eighty year old woman there buying was not able to help us beyond directing us to the Dry Ridge Cemetery, just inside Maryland. We paid our respects to her daughter there and continuing to drive south, missing Flintstone and staying with the creek.

We passed through Pumpkin Center and stopped one hundred yards later at the next farmhouse, which by my map was right in the middle of the old Perrin land.

Barn at Miller's farm

Barn on the Miller's Farm, looking SSE

There the Miller's (pa wearing his "Where the hell is Flintstone, Maryland" T-shirt) suggested that we go back to Pumpkin Center and talk to Agnes Slider (pronounced Slotter), since the land used to be hers. They told us to look for the "red isinglass house".

We got back in the car, debating amongst ourselves what a red mica house would look like. But sure enough, there was a modest house with red asphalt shingles on the sides, and a woman working in her flower bed. We pulled up and asked if she was Agnes. She conceded that she was.

I told Agnes about Thomas Perrin. She said that she had heard the name Perrin on some deeds. When the Slider's sold the land to the Miller's, she said, they surveyed out 20 acres for her and her late husband, and she had looked at the deeds. We talked about him (his death having only been six months ago) and how supportive the neighbors had been. Somehow we got back to the Perrins. She went into the house and pulled out her file of deeds, and found that one did indeed state that her old property included the "Perrin portion of Crabtree Folly".

Then I said "I am sure glad that my wife is here to talk to you, because otherwise I would have just asked you if there was a cemetery on the land." And Agnes said there was.

"It's up in House Hollow. There is a gate there, and an old kiln. It's called the Huff Cemetery."

Aerial view -- detail

Perrin land detail; aerial view. See text for legend

[I knew what she meant; the topographic map shows a very small rivulet in the land directly west of Lower Town Creek Road in the middle of the Perrin Land. You will forgive my including one more map above to illustrate this. The farmhouse in the middle of the picture, east of the road, is the Miller's. I have outlined the "hollow" in light gray slightly to its south. The pink outline, that of the Perrins Luck land, would have been the first land purchase in the area by John Jr. and Thomas Perrin in 1790.]

[It would be later, after this trip, that I traced through the deed work and found that Jasper Huff had owned the land from 1854 until 1902, with the Slider's getting it in a foreclosure sale in 1906.]

We continued to talk and pet her dogs for a spell, then Barbara said it was time to go. We got back in the car, and discovered, say another fifty yards south of the present Miller farmhouse, a small sign indicating the cemetery, as well as a gate at a miniscule hollow in the hill.

What happened after this is hard to explain. In fact we scaled the gate, and proceeded to walk up the hill, noting the kiln on the north side of the hollow, entering the meadow above.

View from Wheat Hill; North

View from Wheat Hill; looking NE

View from Wheat Hill; East

View from Wheat Hill; looking East

View from Wheat Hill; South

View from Wheat Hill; looking SE

I walked the perimeter of this land (which corresponds to Wheat Hill on the tracts) looking for signs of graves. What I found were ancient oaks bordering the meadow, which were certainly older than the woods behind them. The view from the meadow over to Green Ridge was magnificent. But what I felt was that it was not only me who was inspecting the land. I realized that Thomas and James K. Perrin had lived in this spot for 55 and 40 years, respectively. Perhaps they wanted to look at it again.

Some posts ago I described a dream where it was suggested to me that space and time are a special case in a much greater universe. Certainly it is not an unusual idea among humans to place existence outside of life "somewhere else". The Christians speak of heaven and hell; others are better at not trying to give a name which would imply a space and time. But I remain confused about the relationship of such an existence to us here in space/time, specifically how (assuming there be anything like desire) a spirit not of this world may view our special case of what we call existence. My mind is feeble, but it seems to me about as easy as my watching the behavior of an atom. But if I (here I may be deluding myself) may only on occasion be able to communicate with those outside time and space, might it be just as difficult for them to reciprocate? Is it possible that such contact may only occur through our invocation?

It was Barbara who found the cemetery. It was at the top of the old Perrins Luck property, a little south of the hollow. She found it framed by trees; indeed, the aerial view makes its location clear because of that [I have outlined the site in red].

Portion of the Huff Cemetery

Portion of the Huff Cemetery

A partially readable field stone

A partially readable field stone

A more modern stone

A more modern stone

Stones with possible writing

Stones with possible writing

Single stone

Cemetery stone with possible writing

There were mostly field stone markers, maybe twenty all told. Writing could be read on only one of them, with a date of October 20, 1862. Way in the back there were two stones of more modern lineage, but equally neglected.

We went back to car and drove away. It was later that I found out more about Thomas Anshutz, who before he went to Paris painted this final image.

Thomas Anshutz -- father and son at harvestyime

Thomas Anshutz, Father and Son at Harvest Time, 1879