Treasure Chest Thursday: My House is on Fire

Some of the family items I would be tempted to grab in a fire: the flag presented to our family at my dad's funeral; photos of my parents; silly as it is, the horn my dad would try and play every New Year's Eve.

This week, Kerry Scott over at Clue Wagon asked what would you grab to save if your house were on fire (assuming your loved ones, pets, etc. were already safe and sound).

This reminded me that back when I was in high school, Oprah actually had a show on this topic. She encouraged everyone to have a firebox that contained everything they would want to salvage (within reason), so they could grab it in just such a situation.

I didn’t have anything of great monetary value to my name at the time, but I put together a shoebox and I remember dropping in a coin purse that I picked up in Ireland when I was 3 years old, a tiny photo album containing mostly school portraits of my friends with their notes on the back, and assorted other trinkets that meant a lot to me.

That box moved with me several times over the years. I believe I finally disassembled it within the past few years as I’ve started a massive scrapbooking project documenting my school years (so I needed that tiny photo album, to include the school portraits, for instance).

Now that I’m a bit older, I have quite a bit I wish I could save. I doubt I would try to grab only one thing. One of my friends, who is also a scrapbooker, mentioned that all of her scrapbooks sit under a window in her scrapbooking room. If her house ever were on fire, she’d throw all of them out the window, if she had the chance. I think I’d do the same thing. I’d pitch as many of my scrapbooks (especially the ones I did about my mom and dad) and other family photos out the window.

Almost everything else in my home can be replaced, and though I’ve scanned most everything in those scrapbooks and picture frames, there’s just something about holding the original, with an ancestor’s handwriting on the back, that’s irreplacable.

Happy Birthday, Herman Wild (Sr.)

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

My great-grandfather Herman Wild’s birthday was only two days after his father’s. Herman Wild was born in San Antonio, Texas, 8 Mar 1877, to Fridolin Wild and Lena Hoyer. Like his father, Herman went into sales and worked at a department store named Wolff and Marx for almost 30 years.

Herman married Susan Campbell Bennett 15 Jan 1908.

There is no photo of his grave on FindaGrave (yet, I requested one), but there is text from his obituary, which provides a wealth of information. He apparently died of pneumonia on 20 Mar 1928.

Google Street View of 232 Lotus Ave. in San Antonio, Texas.

His obit and other records list his address as 232 East Lotus Ave in San Antonio, Texas. There is a neat old house at that address on Google Maps Street View (if Street View can be trusted–I find it to be often inaccurate).

Those Places Thursday: Woodmoor

Soon after my 1st birthday, my family moved to the Woodmoor neighborhood in Silver Spring, also known as Four Corners.  I absolutely loved that house — it had all kinds of nooks and crannies and quirks. Initially, I slept in the “nursery,” a room with built-in drawers in the wall and bright red, yellow and green plaid wallpaper (ah, the ’70s).

The backyard was the perfect size. My parents eventually installed a swingset and then our yard was the yard to play in. The previous occupants had drawn pictures and their initials in the patio out back when the cement was poured. It was the perfect size for a make-shift baseball diamond, when we had enough players.

We were walking distance to Pinecrest Elementary School, which had a great playground. I walked to St. Bernadette’s, where I went to school. The neighborhood was so quaint in the snow. During the summer months, I’d walk with the kids on my street to a creek around the corner — a branch off of Rock Creek.

Woodmoor Shopping Center also was a quick walk away — I drooled over the cupcakes and cookies at Woodmoor Bakery and my parents were on a first-name basis with the proprietors of the Chinese-food restaurant there. Thankfully, both of those establishments are still around.

We moved away from Woodmoor when I was 9 years old. Many of my friends from St. B’s still live there and I will occasionally drop by the bakery for their to-die-for Parkerhouse rolls.

Digging into Land Records: Humor and Clues You Shouldn’t Ignore

If you haven’t explored your local land records, you’re really missing out on some valuable information as well as some entertainment. I’m working on a new house history (shh! it’s a secret!) that a coworker commissioned for a Christmas present. In seeking out the deeds for the house, I’ve found a treasure trove of details about properties that demonstrate the humor of the landowners back in the 1800s.

When settlers and colonists took ownership of land, they often named the tracts and these descriptors are thereafter referenced in future land records (a helpful clue when you’re trying to decipher all those descriptions of acres, perches and degrees). Here’s just a couple examples that made me giggle while I researched:

“Inn Intention”

“Connelly Vexation”

Other place names give clues as to the owner or the purpose of the land:

“Frenchman”

“Ohio” (this is in Maryland)

“Forester’s Hunting Ground”

“The Three Brothers”

How about:

“Everything Needful Corrected”

How does one get started digging into land records? Here’s one of the best-kept secrets in Maryland: currently anyone can use mdlandrec.net to look up property in the state. You do need a login, but it’s simple to request one and I was informed by their help desk that they usually respond to requests within the hour during the business day.

I highly recommend reading the user guide (may require a login to download) before you get started as navigating the search mechanism for the various county land indices can be a bit overwhelming for newbies.

Happy digging!

Tombstone Tuesday: Hambleton House Edition

I knew some of the Hambletons of the Hambleton House (now the Bartlett Pear Inn) are buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton, so I ventured over there last week to see who I could find. I happened upon the above tombstone for a Samuel Hambleton but when I got home and examined the photos I took more closely, I realized it wasn’t for the Purser Samuel Hambleton or the Col. Samuel Hambleton who bought the house or his son James’ son Samuel. It’s the grave of a fourth Samuel Hambleton!

This tombstone belongs to one of James’ brothers. The inscription reads:

“SAMUEL

Son of Samuel & Elizabeth Hambleton

Died January 24th, 1861

Aged 11 years.

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes.

Even so Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

The phrase above is from Luke 10:21 in the King James Bible.

I also found another tombstone for another of James’ brothers:

His inscription:

“ALEXANDER HAMBLETON

Born Dec’r 5, 1839
Died Nov’r 25, 1862

Jesus saith unto her Thy brother shall rise again. St. John XI:23″

Col. Samuel Hambleton, the father of James and the two sons above, also is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, but in a different section. Entries for all three are available on FindAGrave. I hope to go back someday and find more of the former inhabitants of the Hambleton House.

A Real Treasure Chest for Treasure Chest Thursday

The Bartlett Pear Inn at 28 South Harrison Street in Easton, Md., as it looks today. The building dates back to 1790.

Okay, so it’s not mine, nor do I have a photo of it, but I wanted to expand on a part of the Hambleton House story that involves an actual treasure chest! As I mentioned in my blog post about the Bartlett Pear Inn in Easton (formerly the Hambleton House), a small chest was discovered under one of the staircases* in the home after the passing of Nannie Hambleton, the last of the Hambletons to occupy the building. Nannie Hambleton passed away in 1962, 117 years after her father purchased the property.

*The innkeeper took me on a tour of the Bartlett Pear Inn when I started working on this project and there are several staircases in the building under which the chest may have been kept. There’s even a staircase to nowhere that was partially walled off during one of the building’s many renovations. You can still see part of it by looking in one of the closets off the main staircase.

The chest that was discovered once belonged to her great-uncle, War of 1812 Purser Samuel Hambleton (not to be confused with Col. Samuel Hambleton (Nannie’s father) or Samuel Hambleton III (her brother)).

The elder Samuel Hambleton made a name for himself at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 by crafting a banner that read “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” The chest found under the staircase at 28 South Harrison Street in Easton contained his personal papers and his medal for bravery.

Purser Hambleton later built Perry Cabin in St. Michael’s, Md., which is also now an inn. Perry Cabin is named after Commodore Oliver H. Perry, with whom Hambleton served during the Battle of Lake Erie.

Wordless Wednesday: The Hambleton House Over Time

The former Hambleton House (now the Bartlett Pear Inn) at 28 S. Harrison Street in Easton, Md., over time. Click on the images below for larger versions.

Crop of a stereograph, circa 1879, of the Hambleton House. (Original Image: Used with Permission of the Historical Society of Talbot County. File no. FIC2002209)

Photo, circa the 1920s, of the Hambleton House from the same angle. (Original image: Used with Permission of the Historical Society of Talbot County. File no. 2004011000278)

The Bartlett Pear Inn, formerly the Hambleton House, as it looks today. (Photo taken by Missy Corley, May 2010.)