Co-Presidents’ Letter It’s so hard to believe that we have been through an entire year of the Covid virus. We became aware of it last spring, 2020, and soon learned about the changes it would bring to our lives. Over the past 12 months, “Zoom” and “herd immunity” have come into our everyday vocabulary. Now that vaccines have become available, we are anticipating a possible return to safe socializing in late spring or early summer. The Friends of Cherry Hill have adapted to stay in contact with members and have begun to plan future activities. We are so appreciative that all of you have supported us during these long months. Although we have not been able to provide tours or offer teas, and thus our fund-raising was curtailed, we did publish six seasonal newsletters from Winter 2019-20 to Winter 2020. Several of the newsletters compared patterns and restrictions of our contemporary life with mid-19th century life. This issue covers February and March 2021, a period during which we celebrated Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March) and National Quilt Month (March). We conducted several board and specially-focused meetings online. We communicated with consultants and worked out future research, even with the two of us on opposite coasts for the last five months. In addition, Corey Janicelli, the director, conducted webinars for students. (See article on page 7.) We certainly benefited from the advances in communication technology and are grateful we could rely on it to continue certain Friends’ activities, although we found learning how to manage it a challenge at times. Although the in-person Holiday Shoppe was not held in December, much to our disappointment, a gift of about four dozen small reproductions of vintage cars and trucks, a few of which were children’s banks, were sold through member contacts and netted the Friends several hundred dollars. The Friends also got a few new members in late 2020. We would like to increase and diversify our membership as we go forward. We hope members will help us with this effort and that some of you volunteer to serve on the board when we hold an election later in 2021.
Diane Morse & Maureen Budetti
Goodbye, Old Man Winter!
A Quilt of the Time Noteworthy News
The Last Words A 17-volume work, Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from interviews with Former Slaves was compiled through the Federal Writers’ Project from 19361938. It documents the experiences of 2300 of the “last living generation of former slaves.” Many individuals, including Zola Neale Hurston, interviewed the former slaves.
The quilt on the Empire style bed in the parent’s bedroom at Cherry Hill is based on a Virginia quilt made in 1820 by Mrs. William Goosely and her daughter. The original is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The Cherry Hill quilt is made from reproduction fabric copied from the DAR collection of fabrics from 1780-1830. The design, stitching, and quilting were done by members of the Falls Church Quilters. The project took several years to finish. The quilt came into our collection in 2002, primarily due to the efforts of Mary Madeline King, who was responsible for acquiring many of the Cherry Hill furnishings and decorative items and overseeing their installation. The cost of the material and labor was $1200. It is one of several quilts at the farmhouse. Note in the photographs and in person when you are next at Cherry Hill, the lovely design and intricate quilting stitches.
The work has been digitized and is available through the Library of Congress. More about this New Dealera work can be found in the January 2021 issue of Fireside, a publication of the Living New Deal at http://livingnewdeal.org.
Tinner Hill For important historic perspective and information on Falls Church’s African American community, consult 100 Years in Black Falls Church at the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation website (www.Tinner hill.org). “Tinner Hill is an historic area of Falls Church, Virginia, named after Charles and Mary Tinner, an African American couple who bought land there in the late 19th century. Family members quarried stone used in many buildings nearby.” The video was made possible by the Foundation and funding assistance from the National trust for Historic Preservation and George Mason’s Africa and African American Studies Program. Content and photos in this issue contributed by Maureen Budetti, Corey Jannicelli, Diane Morse and Julia Peterson.
New Learning Opportunity:
Back on the Farm Did you know hens need at least 14 hours of daylight to lay an egg? Or that milk cows drink 30-50 gallons of water each day? That’s enough water to fill a bathtub! This summer, we are offering an engaging new monthly kid-friendly conversation in the barn about the cows, chickens, and other animals that used to live on Cherry Hill Farm. We will also talk about what it was like to grow up living on a farm. This family-friendly program is targeted for elementary-age children, but all are welcome to register. (Learn more at cherryhillfallschurch.org/tours-and-programs/)
Here’s something new that we thought you might enjoy! We are still learning how to fine-tune the crossword software, so please bear with us for a bit. Have fun! (Answer key on page 7.)
Help Us Grow! We want to continue Cherry Hill’s role as a community resource! A vibrant membership helps the Friends work with the City to maintain the farmhouse and barn. Dues and donations importantly augment fund-raising activities so we can offer meaningful education programs, conduct research and provide seasonal community activities. You can help. Share this newsletter with a friend. A membership application form is included. The newsletter is also on our website: http://cherryhillfallschurch.org/about/. Additional paper copies of the newsletter can be had for the asking. Once we are open again, please bring your friends to a Cherry Hill event, tea, or tour.
Some Interesting Mid-19th Century Tidbits …
Did You Know?? 1857 – James Buchanan’s inauguration was the first to be photographed. (White House Historical Association newsletter) February 1864 – A Confederate submarine, HL Huntley, torpedoed and sank the USS Housatonic, a Union ship that had been blocking the Charleston, SC harbor. The torpedo was extended from a beam on the Huntley and detonated when it touched the side of the Housatonic. The blast killed five on the Housatonic. All eight crewmen aboard the submarine perished. The cause of death remained a mystery but, based on recent research, may have been caused by something called a primary blast wave, which caused instant death, but little visible harm to individuals or the vessel. The submarine and its doomed mariners lay at rest in the harbor for 136 years. Excavated in 2000, it is now housed at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, SC. (Smithsonian Magazine, March 2020) 1865 – The roof of the Smithsonian Castle building, from which President Lincoln and the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, had occasionally watched Civil War skirmishes in Virginia, caught fire, and a large part of the early natural history collection of James Smithson was destroyed. DC had no reliable fire department; Union troops put out the fire.
Burning of the Smithsonian 1/24/1865 (Philip Wharton)
1870 – The enrollment of women in higher education grew steadily after the Civil War. In 1870, 8,100 women attended college. This was 21 percent of all college students, most of whom, 6,500, attended women’s colleges. Although the number of women undergraduates currently exceeds the number of undergraduate men, the number of women’s colleges declined from nearly 300 in the 1960s to 34 now. There was a bump in enrollment in 2016. (Wikipedia)
Signs of Spring in Falls Church “Blossom by blossom, the spring begins.” Algernon Charles Swinburne
Local Structures and Their Occupants This year, Cherry Hill members were able to learn about two local houses and their occupants, thanks to Zoom technology. First, on January 28, 2021, several members did a virtual tour of the Stone House at Seton Shrine, one of the first homes Elizabeth Ann Seton lived in when she came to Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. Second, on February 25, 2021, Maddy McCoy narrated a program that described the Carlyle House in Alexandria, Virginia and her methodology for documenting the lives and, importantly, the names of enslaved people who lived and worked there.
The Stone House The Stone House in Emmitsburg offered few of the comforts Elizabeth Ann had hoped for when she arrived. The structure provided little warmth in the winter and space was limited. At one time in the early 1800s, sixteen people occupied four rooms, two upstairs and two down, with one of the smaller lower rooms used as a temporary chapel. Mother Seton, as she became known, was born Elizabeth Bayley in New York in 1774, orphaned at age 3, married William Seton at 19, had 5 children, and was widowed at 29. She converted to Catholicism and was later made a saint by the Catholic Church. She established an order of nuns who worked to meet the needs of the poor, especially in the area of education. The tour is one of a series at the shrine, where there is also an exhibit about the work done by the Sisters during the Civil War. A Civil War-era virtual tour is being planned. Cherry Hill members who saw the program thought that it could serve as a model for a possible virtual tour of Cherry Hill Farmhouse. A current virtual tour of Stone House is available at Setonshrine.org.
Carlyle House Maddy McCoy provided fascinating detail about the research she has done on the occupants and those working at Carlyle House. She is the Founding Director of Slavery Inventory Database, LLC, a historical research consultancy established in 2005 with the mission of creating connections to those whom history has forgotten. The Slavery Inventory Database LLC provides local historic sites and historic house museums with data to identify and better interpret their enslaved populations. Ms. McCoy explained how she uses a variety of public records and documents, including tax and real estate records of the property owners and run-away wanted posters, as well as their private correspondence, to document and trace the lives of enslaved peoples. (See article on her proposal for similar research on the history of Cherry Hill Farmhouse on page 5.)
Interesting Outdoor History Activities in Falls Church ➢ A “Hunt for History” Scavenger Hunt The Falls Church Episcopal Church has developed a “Hunt for History” scavenger hunt on its grounds. (Broad St.-Washington-St.-Fairfax Avenue) The hunt features 19 sites related to the church’s more than 250-year history beginning in colonial America. One site is the burial place of John D. Read, an anti-slavery activist. Others include the oldest gravestone original to the site; the Mason family plot; the oldest tree; several references to Civil War sites; and plaques commemorating Union and Confederate soldiers who are buried there. (See Cherry Hill Summer 2020 newsletter – Union and Confederate soldiers’ plaques.) Scavenger hunt reference materials describing the 19 history-related sites can be found on the grounds.
➢ President Taft Visits Fall Church
Exciting New Project at Cherry Hill We are broadening our scope at Cherry Hill. The Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation has hired Maddy McCoy from Slavery Inventory Data Base, LLC, to research the enslaved and free Black population of Falls Church and how they relate to Cherry Hill Farm. Her report will focus on the period between 1845, when William Harvey built the farmhouse, and 1868, when William Blaisdell departed. We will use the information to enhance our tours and give a broader perspective of life during this period. Ms. McCoy’s report will be completed by the first of June. This plaque can be found on the Northgate building at 450 N. Washington Street (at E. Jefferson Street). Installed in 2014, the plaque commemorates the visit of President William Howard Taft to Falls Church. The first president with an automobile, Taft and his caravan stopped in the city on July 21, 1911. That date was the 50th anniversary of the first major land battle of the Civil War at Bull Run (Manassas) in 1861. At what is now the former site of the Person Funeral Home, the president spoke briefly, describing Falls Church as “a very pretty village.” He then traveled on to Manassas to participate in an event called the “Peace Jubilee.” The event commemorated the post-war “reUnion” and was attended by the public as well as Union and Confederate veterans. The Falls Church Historical Commission participated in the development and installation of the plaque.
New Scouting Opportunity:
Virtual Girl Scout Programs We’ve all been spending a little more time online this year and, like all other institutions, Cherry Hill is making an effort to go virtual. With a little creativity, we were able to adapt one of our most popular Girl Scout programs, Making Games for Brownies, to a virtual setting. And we have created two new badge programs, Detectives for Juniors and Budgeting for Cadettes. Our new Detectives program drew immediate attention with 40 girls registering for the inaugural program. In addition to an impressive number of registrations, we were also able to serve girls living further way. The program included an opportunity for girls to test their observation skills through a virtual farmhouse tour, hear stories about the importance of coded messages during the Civil War and learn to identify the differences between a true signature and a forgery. Girl Scout troops can learn more about scheduling a program at cherryhillfallschurch.org/girl-scout-programs/
Blast into the Past Returns This Summer! Our very popular week-long summer camp will be back this summer, continuing with the socially-distant guidelines put in place last year. We will be offering three sessions of camp for ages 8-12 and one session for older campers ages 12-15. Through our camp, children can step back in time and experience firsthand what life was like in 19th century Virginia through period clothing, crafts, and old-fashioned games. Camp registration is now open. Learn more at cherryhillfallschurch.org/blast-into-the-pastsummer-camp/
A special thanks… to the women who had the foresight to fight for the preservation of Cherry Hill in the 1970s and who devoted their time, energy, knowledge, and resourcefulness to ensuring that Falls Church has this historic treasure. Thank you also to the many women and the men who have served as volunteers to maintain the farmhouse and share its history and ambiance with the community and visitors from around the world.
Some seasonal thoughts! “The deep roots never doubt spring will come.” Marty Rubin “An optimist is the human personification of spring.” SJ Bissonette “In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” Mark Twain
To our volunteers, visitors and friends – We’ve missed you! We look forward to welcoming you back to Cherry Hill Farm as soon as we can begin hosting events once again. Check our website for the latest news and updates! http://cherryhillfallschurch.org/about/
Become A FoCH Member! Joining is easy! Just fill out this membership form, enclose the appropriate payment amount and return to: Friends of Cherry Hill 312 Park Avenue Falls Church, VA 22046 Name: _____________________________________________________________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________ Email: ___________________________________ Check one: _____ New Membership (1 year: $20 January 2021 – January 2022) _____ Renewed Membership (1 year: $20 January 2021 – January 2022) _____ Donation _____ Life Membership ($250, one-time payment) _____ I would like information about becoming a Cherry Hill Farm volunteer.
Make checks payable to: Friends of Cherry Hill
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Friends of Cherry Hill 312 Park Avenue Falls Church, VA 22046