Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Wild and Crazy - House Hunt - The REST of the Story

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Last evening Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, the prompt got my attention quite fast.  Part 1 of the story was published last evening here at Reflections, now, here is the REST of the story:

The Search for the Charles G. Trumbo House, Rockingham County, Virginia, April 1997, Part 2

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving around Rockingham County by compiler and a nap by Nancy. I thought the subject was closed. Nancy DID NOT! I told you, she is a determined type lady!

I show up back at Nancy's place around dinner. She has been thinking and discussing the situation with her son. He tells her there is a much easier way into the place, from the other direction, from the Mountain Road. Nancy announces that we are going to go try to find the house, again, this time from the Mountain Road. We take her hubby with us this time.

We follow her son's directions and lo and behold, we are right back at the same area of the county, only on the other side. We recognize the area. We drive up to a tree farm we had seen earlier in the day. Nancy knocks on doors, if we can find someone home who has lived in the area for a while maybe they can tell us where the elusive Charles G. Trumbo house is. And how to get to it! For over an hour we work our way up and down the road that runs parallel to the ridge that we had hiked earlier in the day. We just know we are getting closer, we can feel it in our bones. We are having a fine time, laughing, joking, seriously looking, but not taking much of this seriously. Like I said, we just know we are getting closer.

We drive up every road, even the really small ones, looking for the house. Nancy knocks on doors, quite a few of em. Of course, there are a few houses she wisely decides to not knock on the door, but rather to stay in the car, these are the homes with MEAN dogs in the yard, some tied up, others not.

After knocking on doors for quite a while and not finding one living soul home, except of course, previously mentioned canines, I had to finally ask Nancy, "Ok, why when they lock up the towns and roll up the roads at 5 P.M., why are these people NOT home? Where are they??" Answer, "Visiting with family, having dinner, and they come home late and go to bed."

We finally spy real LIVE people out in their yard. Nancy pulls in, jumps out of the car, and of course, she knows them. She proceeds to ask, "Where is the Charles Trumbo house?" These people point and say ---"Right there!". WOW, we are really close now! We can actually see the place! The sweet, knowledgeable lady says, he taught here at the school (pointing over her shoulder), he taught my parents! So now we have found the house, have directions (go to the next road, turn left, pass the first house on the left, look for the burnt out trailer home, turn left again) and we also know where Charles taught school. COOL!

We take our leave, go to the next road, turn left-------well you get the idea. We pull in, the drive has a fork, we take the left fork. We end up in the front yard of a home that is 210 years old and still occupied. (Yes, it had been refurbished.) Nancy gets out of the car again, looking for a live soul and finds one. This nice young man informs us that the right fork would have led us to a locked gate, which we could climb, and right up to the house. He also tells us that the property is used EVERY weekend by a group of young fellows who have "encampments" and practice "reinactments" with swords and cannons. They have tepees in the yard near the house and they have turned the barn into a cafeteria and "ole style saloon". He continues to tell us that the group is a very nice bunch of fellows who have invited him to Saturday night grub, errr, dinner. After a cordial discussion we decide that we are close enough, and will consider coming back the next day. After all it is getting dark, your's truly had to find a bathroom SOON, and Nancy's hubby was at the end of his ropes with us and hungry as well. Time to head back to Timberville.

Now, I was tired, but after that visit to the toilet, and a little time to reflect on the day's happenings, I came to the conclusion that we had probably opened a hornet's's nest by snooping around. Remember, the road was supposed to be overgrown, and was not. The young men looking over me like I was a VERY crooked mile. Encampments at a place that was supposedly abandoned. Remember the young man insinuating that "Oh, yea, there is a house down there, over a couple of hills, etc." That nice young man was a lying little twerp! Not only did he know about the house, and where it was, he was camping in the front yard every weekend! Add the fact that Nancy who knows WHAT is going on in Rockingham, knew nothing of this weekly happening.

Conclusions: We were lucky that after trespassing the young fellas just stopped and talked to us. I was really lucky that Nancy was with me, her drawl, so obviously local, was what probably convinced them that we were actually a couple of ditzy ladies looking for some ole run down shack of a house and that I was not a reporter from the "north" (remember the BIG camera I was hauling around). Maybe they figured out from our body language that we were actually telling the truth, no one could tell a story bout children's heritage and laugh and be so flip and relaxed if they were trying to cover up some other explanation for being on the property. Second conclusion: I was NOT going back to that house the next day. NO WAY!! Next conclusion: Ever heard of the "militia"? Why else the little fibs bout the house, the reluctance to say who they were, why they had a key and what THEY were doing on the property?

Footnote: I took a photo of the house, it did NOT turn out, I lost the entire roll of film that I took the first part of the week I was in Rockingham County. Some technical foul up. More like, Murphy's law!

I left Nancy still determined to get to that house! She wants to get inside and maybe find a old piece of wood laying around that was part of the house. She will have her grandson build her a bird house from it if she does. She wants to get a photo. I made her promise she would not go alone or on the weekend. There was some plan about her son, a four wheeler and a Wednesday afternoon or evening.

Well, it was a fun day filled with laughter and surprise. A bit more surprise than we bargained for, but hey, life is full of surprises!

Endnote, in 1998, Nancy, Carol and Man, did indeed get onto that property, escorted by Pauline Trumbo Whetzel, daughter of Charles, who had spent her childhood in that home. I got my photos, and a piece of wood from the house. It appeared at that time that the "reinactors" were no longer using the property.

The Photo! 
For sure the most wild, crazy, off-the-wall AND stupid thing I have done in pursuit of my ancestral families and their family history.

*Pauline Trumbo Whetzel died in April of 2000.  Nancy died in February of 2009, leaving a major hole in her family and community.



Amanda (the librarian) said...

Wow! Great story, Carol!

Dorene from Ohio said...

What an amazing story!!! I am so glad you got to go onto that property!

Michelle Goodrum said...

I am a bit behind on my blog reading. I'm so glad I saved this story to read because it's a duzy. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck too!