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Cherry Hill Newsletter Summer 2021

Co-Presidents’ Letter As the weather warms and we approach summer, not only have the Brood X cicadas emerged but humans are getting out more as well. Due to an increase in individual vaccinations and a decrease in the Covid restrictions, we are gathering together more – even indoors and maskless! The combination of uncertainly about what is required where and when during what seems to be a period of transition, and reluctance to shed masks in the company of those who might not be vaccinated, means seeing a mix of folks with and without facial “exoskeletons.” The seasonal flowers have changed, gone are the azaleas, tulips, and dogwood, here are the roses and iris. Since the spring Cherry Hill Newsletter, some of us virtually attended the Virginia Association of Museums, the Friends received the research report on enslaved people in Falls Church focusing on Cherry Hill, and we have welcomed the City’s commitment to repairing the farmhouse cellar. The Board is still meeting online, but we were able to meet with Corey to discuss future plans at an outdoor lunch. Corey will again be holding the Blast Into The Past history camps this summer. As of this date, all activities will take place outside. Currently, we are planning to open the farmhouse to tours on Saturday, June 26, with strict protocols for guests. Larger museums in the area are opening their doors and we hope to be able to host a variety of events at Cherry Hill in the near future.

Diane Morse & Maureen Budetti

Falls Church Women’s History Walk On Sunday, May 2, 2021, the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, the Elected Women of Falls Church, the Women’s History Group, and others sponsored the Fourth Annual Falls Church Women’s History Walk. A variety of signs and stations along the route honored past and current women of substance and importance in Falls Church. The walk through Falls Church ended at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse station. Biographical postings for Cherry Hill celebrated Ruby Bolster, Merelyn Kaye, Audrey Kelley, Mary Madeline King, Mary Edwards Pulitzer Riley, Mary Riley Styles, Mildred Tinner Leake, and Midge Wang. The weather was lovely and many families and Falls Church residents participated. Diane and Maureen “womanned” the Cherry Hill table providing information about the Friends of Cherry Hill and copies of our newsletters. Several passers-by expressed interest in membership and/or volunteering. We hope to see new faces once the farmhouse opens again. (There are additional photos of this event on page 5.)

Report on “The Existence of Enslaved and Free Black Individuals on the Cherry Hill Property between 1845-1868” by Maddy McCoy The Friends of Cherry Hill received Maddy McCoy’s completed report this past May. Our hope was to broaden our interpretation at Cherry Hill by including the stories and lives of those often overlooked in historical narratives. Among the questions we hoped to answer were: ▪ What kind of manual labor would a 73-acre farm require? ▪ Did William Harvey use enslaved labor to build the farmhouse? ▪ Did the Steeles and Blaisdells run successful farming enterprises on their own? The Blaisdells had very young children when they came to Cherry Hill and Mr. Blaisdell would have required help to cultivate and harvest his crops. Blaisdell’s choices would have been to hire white laborers, free people of color, or enslaved individuals held by local slaveholders. After examining numerous primary sources, here are some of Maddy’s findings. Personal Property Tax rolls indicate that in 1845 William Harvey was taxed for two white male individuals and one enslaved Black individual. They were all one-year hires living on the property. It is not known whether their labor was used for the construction of the farmhouse or for agricultural purposes. Unfortunately, the names of the hires were not listed. It is the only year any enslaved individuals were listed at Cherry Hill. None appear on future census or property records, including the years that the Steeles and Blaisdells lived at Cherry Hill. Unfortunately, there is no paper trail to determine if they hired help. Due to Blaisdell’s vote against secession and his friendship and support for neighbor John Read, a known abolitionist, we are concluding he would not have hired enslaved labor. The Steeles and Blaisdells were part of a larger migration pattern where Northerners moved to the South in search of inexpensive land. At the same time, large plantations in Northern Virginia were breaking up and smaller parcels of land were being sold to the Northerners. The Cherry Hill property was once part of a 248acre tract owned by slaveholders. For those of us at Cherry Hill, these findings provide an opportunity to discuss how the arrival of Northerners in Falls Church shifted attitudes about both farming practices and labor in the years leading up to the Civil War. These farmers were able to successfully diversify their agricultural output and property tax records indicate they did it in a way that did not involve enslaved labor. However, these farmers were still surrounded by larger slaveholding farms in the area. (The full report is available online at

A very special “thank you” to Board member Jennifer DeVignier and her husband, Greg Awad, for their generous contribution toward funding this research project.

The Secret Language of Plants During the 19th century, flowers and herbs were often worn to express an individual’s feelings. The flowers were used to convey “coded” messages. For example, baby’s breath might indicate innocence, whereas nightshade (deadly Belladonna) might convey something more frightening. Jessica Roux explains the “clandestine method of communication” in her recently published book, “Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers.” The volume provides illustrations, botanical information, and cultural context of many blossoms. (Nature Conservancy, Spring 2021)

All About Falls Church… and (FC)… a little more

Welcome to the Falls Church Flower Show As our spring flowers fade, our summer stunners are just beginning to showcase their beauty and uniqueness!

Answers on page 7

Across 2. 7. 8. 9. 12. 13. 14.

Number of active Metro stations in FC Doobie Bros band founder raised in FC John ____ Stone mined from Falls Church quarry Train station moved in 1895 to become a residence for this family Civil War photographer of FC President who was a vestryman for the Falls Church Could be Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

Down 1.

Inspired by reviewing Union troops, she wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic: Julia Ward ____ 2. Annual FC music event - ____ ____ Blues Festival 3. "Potomac" is a Native American word for _____ _____. 4. Red Cross symbol design was the reverse of the _____ flag. 5. Virginia politician who served as a Falls Church vestryman 6. President Eisenhower's brother's residence 10. There may be 1.5 million per acre of these for this once every 17 years event: _____ _____ cicada 11. First owner of that land FC was built upon: Lord Thomas ___ VI

Top to bottom: - Petunia - Roses - Tulips - Iris

Some Interesting Mid-19th Century Tidbits …

Did You Know?? 1864 – The design of the Red Cross flag originated from the First Geneva Convention held in 1864 at which rules were established governing the status and treatment of captured/ wounded military personnel and civilians in wartime. The flag’s pattern reverses the colors of the Swiss flag. The red cross on a white background was designed to reflect the neutrality of the armed forces’ medical services and the protection conferred on them. The flag’s design was a tribute to Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 1859, Dunant arrived in the Italian town of Solferino on the night of one of the bloodiest battles of the nineteenth century. There he discovered more than 23,000 wounded, dying and dead combatants left on the battlefield, without medical care or relief. He went on to establish the international Red Cross relief organization to aid those injured by war. Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881. Barton first heard of the Swiss-inspired global Red Cross network while visiting Europe following the Civil War. Returning home, she campaigned for an American Red Cross and for ratification of the Geneva Convention, which the United States ratified in 1882.

Basement Renovation Update Cherry Hill Farmhouse is now an estimated 176 years old and, like most old homes, structural repairs are often needed. The City of Falls Church Public Works Department has hired a team to replace the steel posts originally installed during renovations in the 1970s. In addition to the new steel posts, a 4½ foot concrete wall will add additional strength and limit future soil erosion. The team will also work on masonry in the cellar, making repairs to the base of the chimney supporting the fireplaces in the dining and keeping rooms. Although cellar repairs might not be the most exciting work at the farmhouse, it certainly is the most important for protecting the floors above. Corey Jannicelli At left: Past repairs made to the base of the chimney that supports fireplaces above. Below: Watch your step, please! Bottom row:

1872 – On March 1, Yellowstone became the first US national park, established for all to enjoy its unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, protecting more than two million acres of mountain wilderness, amazing geysers and vibrant landscapes for future generations to enjoy.

Left: A full Cherry Hill cellar in use during days past.

1875 – The First Kentucky Derby was held on May 17. The horse, Aristides, and his jockey, Oliver Lewis, crossed the finish line ahead of a field of 15 horses to win the first ever Run for the Roses, sometimes referred to as “the greatest two minutes in sports.” The original track covered 1.5 miles; in 1896, the distance was reduced to 1.25 miles. Aristides’ owner, H.P. McGrath, and a roaring crowd of 10,000 spectators watched the race.

Center right: Steel supports add strength; a concrete retaining wall will forestall further erosion.

Center-left: Not much room left now for winter food storage.

Right: Mother Nature lends a limb to help support the floor above.



The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) held a very well-organized virtual conference from March 15-19, 2021 titled Museums Facing a Changing World.

This year’s VAM Conference sessions emphasized that museums, particularly historic house museums, are updating their narratives to broaden the story beyond the lives and activities of the property’s owners. One particularly inspiring session examined how to design a framework to tell an inclusive history to focus on a holistic, intentional, inclusive, equitable and sustainable approach.

There are 20 recorded sessions still available online. They focus on diversity, equality, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). One presentation listed seven characteristics of an inclusion-centered organization: diversity of voice; recognition and value; learning and development; support and recourses; collaboration; intentionally inclusive; and a sense of belonging. One very interesting panel session included several Richmond museum representatives discussing the research, preparation, and controversy about the removal and/or preservation of Civil War statutes on Monument Avenue. Considerable background work was conducted by the American Civil War Museum prior to the tear-down of the Jefferson Davis statue. One difficult dilemma was whether current graffiti should be considered part of the history of recent times or a defamation that should be eliminated. A challenge to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond is now being decided in the courts. Recorded sessions are available through June 30, 2021 at VAM’s 2021 Annual Conference on Socio. The Friends of Cherry Hill registered for the conference. Anyone interested in listening to the sessions can contact Maureen or Corey for the password. Maureen Budetti

The framework is designed to follow a process of collaboration with the community rather than thinking for the community. The inclusion of input from staff, volunteers, community stakeholders, descendants, grassroots organization and leaders allows for a broader understanding of the site and often reveals new discoveries. Museums play a very important role in telling our nation’s story and how we tell it matters. The speakers encouraged us to consider how facts are presented, to ensure greater access to evidence, and to include a range of perspectives in order to challenge not only our audiences but also the museum officials and staff. There are opportunities to practice this framework at Cherry Hill as we strive to be a welcoming space that encourages learning and conversation. Corey Jannicelli

Falls Church Women’s History Walk – add’l photos: Falls Church Council member David Snyder, a long-time supporter of Cherry Hill, came by the site and took the photo of Diane and Maureen at the Cherry Hill Farm station. Ron Anzelone helped with the installation of the signs.


Here’s the Buzz on Cicadas! Did the Cicada Brood X Emerge During the Civil War?? Subtracting back by intervals of 17 years from their appearance in the spring of this year, the cicadas of Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Cicada Brood, would not have shown up during the years of the Civil War. Their closest appearances would have been in 1851 and 1868.

Some find cicadas revolting. Some find them and their life cycle fascinating. For those who are skittish, here are a couple of close-up photos that might change your mind – the beautiful stained glass-like pattern of their delicate wings.

However, according to a University of Michigan 2004 source, “Union soldiers held at the Andersonville, GA, Confederate military prison relied on cicada choruses to mask the sounds of prison breaks” in 1864. What then explains this claim? Although Brood X is the largest and noisiest – its buzzing male choir can reach up to 100 decibels – it is likely the Georgia brood may have been a different cicada brood. There are 12 different 17-year cycle broods, several 13-year cycle broods, and cicadas with shorter cycles, even annual appearances. The species and broods of cicadas also have different geographic distribution. The cicadas of Brood X emerge in late spring as the final of several nymphal stages underground. The individuals–in the millions– climb vertical features, lose their last exoskeletons, emerge with wings, fly to higher elevations, mate, and ultimately the fertilized female deposit up to 400 eggs in several locations along tender tree branches. A month or more later the new larva drop to the ground and burrow in for feeding and development underground for the next 17 years. Among Native Americans, the history of eating cicadas is welldocumented. A mid-20th century account tells of the Cherokee in North Carolina digging up cicada nymphs and frying them in pig fat or pickling them for later. Mark Hay, Atlas Obscura, 2018 Circulating on the internet – June 2021; © Rebecca Holden

In his journal in 1800, Black farmer, astronomer, scientist, naturalist and author Benjamin Banneker concluded his entry on cicadas in this way: …[Although] their lives are

Short, they are merry, they begin to Sing or make a noise from the first they come out of Earth till they die, the hindermost part rots off, and it does not appear to be any pain to them for they still continue on Singing till they die.”

Some Additional Interesting Mid-19th Century Tidbits …

Did You Know? Do you recognize this gentleman?

Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation Youth Representative Nicholas Teply will be the Friends of Cherry Hill Youth Representative through this summer and the following school year. Nicholas attends George Mason High School in Falls Church. He is one of several high school youth representatives who will participate at 23 various Falls Church government boards and commissions, civic and nonprofit groups. He and his family have participated in various Cherry Hill events and he expressed an interest in working with FofCH for his assignment as a youth representative. The program is sponsored by Citizens for a Better City (CBC). It provides opportunities for students to become involved in their community though participation in civic organizations. Nicholas will participate in Cherry Hill activities, including board meetings and special projects. We are so glad to welcome Nicholas to the Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation. Additional Note: George Mason High School will become Meridian High School as of July 1, 2021. (Also on that date, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School will be renamed Oak Street Elementary School.)

He is Frederick Law Olmstead, a famous American landscape architect of more than 500 projects including Central Park in New York and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina. In late 1861, he left his position as director of Central Park and went to Washington, DC to serve as Executive Secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (a precursor to the American Red Cross). Olmstead attended to the wounded during the Civil War and headed a medical effort in New Kent County, VA. He raised money for the US Sanitary Commission and also helped recruit soldiers for the African-American regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops in New York. Prior to that, in the late 1850s, he visited parts of the South, writing and publishing articles about the antebellum culture and its deleterious social and economic conditions.

1864 – May 5th or Cinco de Mayo is the date when the Mexican Army was victorious over France in the FrancoMexican War at the Battle of Puebla. It is a minor holiday in Mexico, compared to the manner in which it is celebrated In the U.S.

Was the military a lucrative career during the Civil War? Rear admirals at sea earned $5,000 per year in the Union Navy; on shore duty, their their salary dropped to $4,000. Confederate General Robert E. Lee earned approximately $7,250 per year. That amount included $301 base pay, $108 for rations (for 12 rations/day), a $32 fodder allowance (for four horse rations/day), $63 seniority pay ($9/month for each five years in the service, including those years he served in the United States Army), and $100 as an army commander. In contrast, the average Confederate private earned $11 per month until 1864 when wages were increased by $7 per month. Union privates earned about $2 more per month. Image: Union Rear Admiral James Glascow Farragut. Farragut was promoted to full admiral in 1866, becoming the first U.S. Navy officer to hold that rank. He is perhaps best remembered for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, most often paraphrased as "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

Crossword Answers

Sources: Schuyler, Hartley & Graham Illustrated Catalog of Civil War Military Goods. First published in 1864; Military Pay | American Battlefield Trust (;

Soldiers Pay in The American Civil War (;

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