Saturday, February 20, 2010


View from the southwest corner one clear winter sunrise before the blizzard.  Right about where the lavender will be planted. 

What are your plans this spring?  I'm hoping for finishing up Phase I.  And for moving in.  I'm thinking it won't be too long now.  An eternal optimist, I've been saying that for the last two years.....but as long as the snow doesn't return, we are rounding third base!  Can't wait for the ground to warm up, as I have a lot of gardening plans for this spring.....and rowing plans.  Had a fun rowing meeting last night at Deb's and tried on new uniforms for the upcoming racing season.  On the water in a few weeks, yay!

This is the second rebirth of HU.  By looking at her roof line and some of the interior changes that were made, she was apparently renovated one time in her past, thought to be during the Federal period, and maybe around 1872 when she was purchased by JC Roseberry.  In the 1880 Federal Census, prior to the house being foreclosed, the Roseberry family at HU was listed as the following:

"J.C. Roseberry: born 1852, age 28 birthplace Maryland, spouse Edvina, mother/father born Maryland.  Farmer, white male, Household members: JC, 28; Edvina, 31: James, 3: Jessie, 6 months; H Nilson 21; Mac Blake, 17; Cathe Walley, 28; J.H. Kelley, 30; Eliza Kelley 25."

Today looks like fun outside, lots of sunshine and milder temps. 


Friday, February 19, 2010

Buffalo, whiskey, violins....and slavery

How do you choose to fill your life?  What things surround you, what colors, objects, or environments have you created for yourself?  Who is woven into the fabric of your life?  These wallpaper fragments captured from the walls of HU reveal something of the tastes of the decorator and the times.  But not the whole story, as there were many who lived and died there, and many more we'll never know of.

Here you'll read about Charles Groome's penchant for many things, some mundane, some surprising.   Charles lived at least part of his life at HU.  Charles' father, the man who built at least part of HU, was said to be a founding vestryman at the local IU Church.  The original IU church structure is no longer standing, but an old church that replaced the original one is there instead.  Apparently, Kate Hepburn's grandfather used to worship at IU church, and she spent many a summer in this area. The original churchyard down the road about a mile from HU.  I tried to find Charles Groome in the church early documents, and came up empty.  Other records indicate Charles Groome was a Register of the Chester Parish, Kent from 4th Feb 1766 until his death.

Previously, historians locally have thought his father constructed the entire house, but no one had actually researched the history when that conclusion was reached.  After many hours of painful searching, I found other evidence that when Groome purchased the property there were buildings referred to already standing at HU, mentioned in the document of the transaction (JS 29-185, Kent County; JS 29-354- pg 354).  He purchased the land and buildings for "three hundred and forty one pounds current money of Maryland" from Thomas Perkins in 1761.  Perhaps, the kitchen wing was there at the time Groome added the main wing.  Still a mystery as to who constructed the kitchen wing.  The brick pattern of the walls constructed on the kitchen wing dates somewhat earlier than the pattern of the walls on the main wing. 

"1824 Charles Groome Inventory Recorded PC Hall Regr

Inventory of the Personal Estate of Charles Groome late of Kent County, deceased; appraised in dooars and cents by us the subscribers (being thereto lawfully authorized and sworn) this thirty first day of July anno domini eighteen hundred and twenty four.

Wearing appaerel                             10.00
shaving apparatus                                .25
Watch & spectacles                   3.00
Store goods                                      25.00
Lot carpenters tool                             7.00
Silver spoons                                    10.00
Cupboard furniture &
crockery wares                                 4.00
Bed No 1  67  lbs @ 20cents         13.40
Bed No 2   64 lbs  @20cents         12.80
Ditto No 3  84 lbs @ 20 cents        16.80
3 pr sheets                                         6.00
6 table clothes                                    5.00
5 pillow cases                                    1.25
5 coverlids                                       15.00
6 p blankets                                      10.00
4 bedsteads                                       4.00
10 chairs                                           5.00
1 walnut table                                    4.50
1 ditto                                               1.25
1 pine writing desk                            1.50
1 ditto cupboard                                2.00
2 p And Irons                                      .75
1 Bible                                               2.00
1 large Books                                     1.50
2 Looking Glasses                              1.50
Large flax unxxx                                   .50
64 lbs unwashed wool 12                   7.20
33 lbs washed wool                           4.95
Bbl flour                                             2.50
24 bags                                              6.00
Pine chest                                             .50
2 Spinning wheels                                2.00
2 Peels                                               1.00
1 Hackle                                            1.00
Large saal Leather                              1.25
Large trunk                                          .50
12 Empty boxes                                 1.34
11 Empty bx                                         .75
1 old blanket                                        .50
Violin                                                  5.00
1 Bbl & 5 Gallons Mollyxxx         1.50
1 Bbl with 15 GGallons whiskey           4.00
44 Whisky bbls                                  10.00
5 Iron Potts                                        10.00
1 Kettle and Spiner and frying pan         1.50
Old Dutch oven                                      .50
3p pot racks and 3 p hooks                  2.00
2 old kitchen tables                                 .25
lot Pewter                                             5.00
lot Tin ware                                          2.00
flesh fork and ladle                                 .25
1 p sad Irons                                         .50
lot wood ware                                      1.50
Seale and Weights                                 .50
Corn Bbl                                               .50
Flaxseed sive                                         .50
6 bbl beens                                          1.50
3 Drop Cut sawz                                  2.00
wheat fan                                             16.00
lot Flax 33 lbs @ 25 cents                    8.25
Corn cradle                                           3.00
ditto do                                                   .25
lot Corn Blades supposed to be 40 bbls 20.00
Old Flax Basket                                     5.00
Waggon Gears                                      30.00
Old Horse Cart                                      8.00
Old Waggon bed                                     .50
Old Horse Cart                                     10.00
Ditto do do and gears                            12.00
Old Ox Cart                                         15.00
1 pr old wheels                                       1.50
Hay Spread & 2 piece                    1.00
1 Scythe & 3 cradle                        2.50
lot Ploegh 2 Gears                                   3.50
Old Cutting Box                                        .25
2 p Chair traes                                        1.50
6 Swing trees                                          1.00
lot Old frames                                           .25
3 Old Spade & 2 Old Shovels        2.00
4 Dung forks                                           1.50
4 old weeding xxx& 3 rakes              .50
1 p wedges                                              .25
4 old Scythes                                           .25
2 wood axes                                           1.00
4 old ditto                                                 .12 1/2
1 old work bench                                      .6 1/2
lot stone and earthnware                           1.00
9 Bee hives                                              9.00
Grind stone                                                .50
Blacksmith tools                                        2.00
lot Old Irons                                             2.50
5 old ploughs                                             .75
8 ditto do                                               12.00
2 old Harrows                                          3.00
1 Roller                                                     .25
1 New Saddle                                          8.00
1 Old Saddle                                            4.00
1 ditto do                                                  2.00
Race do                                                   2.00
4 Riding bridles                                        3.00
Duck Gun                                               10.00
Bixx Ditto                                                 6.00
Gig & Harness                              200.00
1/2 dozen knives and forks                          .75
1/2 steel yards                                           1.00
2 Soap tubs                                                .50
5 Meat xxxx                                              2.50
1 tub 10 lbs Lard @ 9                              6.30
2 p Neco traces                                        1.00
Lot Beacon xxxxx                                  134.37 1/2
Small ox chain                                           .50
Renard Horse                                         125.00
Sorrel Fox                                                 75.00
Moreau                                                  100.00
Italian                                                       20.00
Pallifax Grey Mare                                   50.00
Large Grey Horse                                    65.00
Blond Horse                                               8.00
Blaze face Sorrel Mare                              35.00
Nowland Mare                                         40.00
Rutter Mare                                               50.00
Rutter Horse                                             40.00
Grey Horse                                               40.00
Young Pallifax grey Mare                           40.00
8 bushels of barley                                       2.40
Pompxxx                                                    35.00
Young Moreau                                           35.00
Pallifax Iron Grey Mare                              30.00
Ridglin Grey                                              40.00
Yoke oxen                                                 35.00
1 Bull                                                         12.00
Rose brown Cow                                        8.00
Red Cow                                                    8.00
Bindle                                                         8.00
Red buffalo                                               12.00
Buffalo with white back                              10.00
Red ditto do flank                                      12.00
Nell buffalo                                                12.00
Bloxx                                                         10.00
Brindle buffalo                                           10.00
Saake                                                          5.00
11 bushel of oats                                         1.65
Red buffalo                                                 9.00
8 suckling calves                                        12.00
34 hogs  @ 5                                           170.00
12 small pigs                                                4.00
600 bushell corn supposed                       150.00
13 old sheep                                              19.00
9 lambs                                                      10.25
Corn growing                                            325.00
wheat in the stack supposed to be
700 bushels                                              560.00
Potatoes growing                                         10.00
Stack clover hay                                            5.00
Negroe Joe 52 yrs old                                 25.00
Jim boy 18 months to serve                           35.00
Isaac 12 yrs  to serve                                  150.00
Jim 16yrs to serve from last June                 150.00

(the following four entries were lined through on the original document:
Spencer, 18 yrs left to serve from
 the 1st of May last                                     150.00
Ann 16 yrs to serve from next October          75.00
Mary 23 ditto do                                           65.00
Perry 29 ditto do                                          10.00)

Tina 60 yrs old                                               1.00
Bill for life                                                  250.00
Spencer 18 yrs to serve from the
5th of May last                                             150.00
Ann 20 years to serve from next octover        75.00
Mary 23 years to serve from May last            65.00
Perry 29 years to serve fromlast May             10.00

(totalled approximately $3,935.24)

We the subscribers do certify that the forgoing is a true and just inventory and valuation of the goods chattels and personal estate of Charles Groome, late of Ket County, deceased, as far as they have come to our sight, and knowledge.  Witness our hands and seals ammounting to thirty nine hundred and thirty five dollars and twenty four cents.  William Welch and Samuel Kerr. 

Maryland Kent County: To With On this 24 day of August 1824 there came John Groome Extr of Charles Groome late of Kent County MD and made oath on the holy evangels of Almighty God that the within and aforegoing is a just and true Inventory and of the Personal Estate of the deceased you as heir come to this light and knowledge should there be in future any more he will return in an additional Inventory.  JC Hall of Reg of Wills"

So now you know some of the rest of the story.

Oxen?  Bee hives?  And most sadly, slaves, who were everpresent at that time in this county and in this country.

Enjoy the warming trends and hopefully we'll be back to work next week once we can navigate the driveway....still too snow bound for the subs to get easily in and out of the drive.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

On what we leave behind.......

What are you going to leave behind?  Sometimes all that remains of a person's life is captured in the paper trail or the photographs.  I wish there was someone yet alive who carried the heart of this man, although I'm not sure if this is the Charles Groome that built the house, I believe it's the builder Charles Groome's son.  Some of this Charles' spirit is visible in his words below, and in the manner that he lived.  Next time, I'll show you just what material objects he collected while he was alive.  For now, read his legacy:

Charles Groome, deceased
Last Will and Testament
filed 29 Jul 1824
Recorded J.C. Hall Reg
Kent County, MD

"In the name of God Amen I Charles Groome of Kent County in the State of Maryland being sick and weak in body but of sound an ddisposing mind and memory and understandig considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time therof and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs and thereby be the better prepared to leave this world when it shall please God to call me hence, do therefore make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say, First I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God and by body to the Earth to be decently buried and after my debts and funeral charges are paid, I devise and bequeath thas follows:  I give and bequesath unto my brother Daniel Groomes's four children viz Martha, Margarett, Posegrine and Lavina my negro man Joe to serve them during his natural life.  Also negro Jum called Jimboy, Jake, Sall. Emeline and Angeline ( the last two being daughters of  Tinah) to serve them until they the said last five negroes respectively arrive to the age of thirty years, when it is my will that they be free rom servitude and also my negro woman Jane for the term of five years - then to be free from servitude---

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my brother James Groome's five children viz Isaac, Charles, James, Sarah and William my negro Sam to serve them for the full term of five years commencing from the first day of January next after my decease, and after the expiration of said term of five years, he is to be free from servitude.

Item.  It is my will that my egro Step be free from servitude on the first day of January next succeeding my decease; also that my negro woman Tinah be free at the same time provided she pays to my executro hereanafter names within three months after my decease the sum of money that is due me for her hifre which is about forty or fifty dollars.

Item.  I give and bequath to my brother John Groome the times of servitude of my bound boys Bill and Perry.

Itm.  I give and beqeath to my brother John Groome my negro Jane's children Isaac and Jim and also any other child or children she may have before my decease - all of which children are to be free when they respecitvely arrive to th age of thirty years.

Item.  It is my will that if when the aforenamed Jane, Sall or Tinah, have a  child or children after my decease and before the end of their servitude, then and in that case, the said child or children are to serve the respective owner or owners of the mother untill they and each of them arrive to the age of thirty years then to be free from servitude--

Item.  Ist is to be ensimply understood that all claims whatsoever that may be brought against me by any ofr all of my deceased brother Daniel Groome's children also all accounts whatsoever between my brother James Groome and me are completely and finally settled and satisfied.  If any of them should contend otherwise then it is my will that all the above and aforementioned legacies and bequests to the said Daniel and James Groome's children by void and of none effect--

Item .  I give devise and bequeath to my brother John Groome all the rest and residence of my estate both real and personal to him, his heirs, and assigns in fee simple forever.

And lastly, I do herby constitute and appoint my Brother John Groome to be my sole executor of this my last will and testament revoking and annulling all former wills by me heretofore made, ratifying and confirmingthis and none other, to be my last will and testament.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty second day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eigh hundred and eleveen. 

Charles Groome (SEAL)

Signed , sealed, published and declared by Charles Groome the above named testator, as and for this last will and testament, in the present of us who at his requestt, in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto, two interlineations and one erasure being first made.

Ephraim Hoope
James Greenwood
Samuel Kerr

Kent County, Maryland

To wit on this 30th day of July 1826 Appeared James Salisbury and made oath on the holy evengels of Almighty God that the Signature of the last will and Testament of Charles Groome deceased is to the best of his Knowledge the handwriting of Charles Groome the within named Testation.  Also on the 29 day of July 1826 came William Greenwood and made Oath on the hly evengels of Almighty God that the handwriting as a witness to the last will and testament of Charles Groome deceased is the handwriting ofhis brother James Greenwood deceased and at the same time came Samuel Kerr and made oath on the holy evengels of Almight God that the Signature to the last will and Testament of Charles Groome as a witness is the handwriting of Eppraim Hoops decease to the Best of his knowledge.  Sworn before C. Hall Reg of Wills Kent County."

What is most notable about this will is that he named no child heir.  No grandchild heir.  Something is missing. Was he alone at his death?

Something happened there.  We'll probably never fully know. 

Keep those you love in your hearts and stay connected.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Family stories

We all have family stories to tell, don't we? My family is all imported from Europe, so I'm a mix of second and third generation American.  There have been several generations of Americans living in this house.  Most recently, a few years before I bought her, families of immigrant workers from Mexico survived HU's then leaking roof, lack of plumbing, and no heat here I've been told.  I've been searching local libraries, courthouses, and memories of town inhabitants to collect tales of this house and have learned some really amazing things about folks who claimed HU as their own at some point.

Here's some history of the family said to have built at least the main structure of the house, the Groome family.  Charles Groome is the name associated with the man who built the house, but as you will soon see, first names repeated themselves thoroughly in colonial times.  Part of the mystery here was: which Charles Groome was it really?

The following information was found in:  Adolphus, George and Hanson, MA. (1876). Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland: notes illustrative of the most ancient record of Kent County maryland and of the parishes of St Pauls, Shrewsbury and IU genealogoical histories of old and distinguished families of Maryland and their connections by marriage, Ac. an Introduction. pages 180-184, John P DesForges.

"Charles Groome, son of Samuel Groome, a church warden of St Paul's Parish in the year 1726 married twice.  By his first wife he had eight children of whome the following survived him, viz, James (who married Sarah Perkins, daughter of Col Isaac Perkins and had child, viz. Isaac, Charles, and James  Groome), John Groom (in 1799 married Elizabeth Black Wallace), Daniel Groome, Charles Groome, and Sarah Groome, who died in 1798.  By his second wife, Sarh Kennard, he also had eight children, viz, Mileah, born 2nd Sep 1773, died 2nd Sep 1792; Ann born 23rd Jul 1775; Samuel born 7th May 1777; Henrietta born 23 Mar 1779 ((who later married Wiliam Pearce)), Elizabeth born 10th Apr 1781; Mary born 2nd Mar 1785; Wiliam Hynson Groome born 12 Jun 1778, and Joseph Groome, born 3rd Oct 1791.  Charles Groome died of smallpox 20 Mar 1791 that year being memorable in Kent for the general inocculation of the inhabitant to prevent the ravages if that loathsome disease.  He was the Register of the Chester Parish, Kent from 4th Feb 1766 until his death."

(His son) "Dr John Groome married Elizabeth Black Wallace in 1799.  He had son Dr Samuel William Groome and son General John Charles Groome."

(His grandson) "General John Charles Groome married 6 Dec 1836 Elizabeth Riddle Black, daughter of Judge James Rice and Maria E. Stoes Black.  He died in Elkton 30 Nov 1846, and had child vis James Black Groome, Maria Stokes Groome (who later married Honorable William M Knight Maryland senator), Elizabeth Black Groome (married Honorable Albert Constable), and Jane Sarah Groome."

(His great grandson) "Governor James Black Groome, son of General John Charles and Elizabeth Black Groome, was Governor of Maryland in 1874 and 1875."

Based on other information you will read here eventually, it's probably the first Charles Groome listed here who actually lived at HU. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Goodness of Fit

Why do we take the shape we take in this world?  Why do we create the shapes we create? Our environments pull out of us these unique qualities we have so that others on the outside can witness us.  Which leads to our imprint on them.  Sometimes it works well, and sometimes chaos ensues.                     
This chimney cap seems to fit well here, surely friends with the chimney below, watching over the surrounding fields.   The small window appears to be a later addition, and leads into the half story above the kitchen wing.  We have replaced it with a custom built Anderson window; the sill was termite eaten and the plexiglass needed to be recycled.


Here's the emerging front entrance of the house.  I'm not really sure now if this was the original entrance or not.  The staircase interior doesn't face this door, and the door on the South side appears more ornate from the interior.  Exterior details are almost the same on both sides.  It also seems the road used to run in front of the other side of the house (this is the North elevation).  But the again, not really sure when the house was built.  What's clear is that the door you see used to be a window and the first door appeared to be the middle window.  The dormers in the roof (full attic) on the main part of the house will have the fluted pilasters replaced when the finish carpentry is completed.  Those dormer windows are custom Anderson, as well as all the windows on the kitchen wing.  The other five windows on the main portion are refurbished "original" (house was renovated in the late 1800s and the real original frames replaced at that time) frames and some original glass remains.  The new stairs replaced crumbing cement ones that were added within the last century.  The cement porch will remain, the cement is like granite.  They just don't make cement that way anymore! 

Front door before I removed it to repair.  Note the window arch bricked in above the door.  These doors are much shorter than current standard doors and featurethe original period faux wood grain paint on the reverse side. 

This is the interior of the South door, which is currently the back of the house.  Note the exensive wood trim, which is original to the 1700's.

This is a photo taken from the South elevation exterior, you can see the staircase inside and the orientation of the staircase to the Southern exposure.

This is the current rear or Southern elevation.  Same belt course and water table.  The dentil molding from the current front of the struture is missing, but was likely added in the 1800's.  Also note the roof doesn't really belong to the Colonial period, and is more of a Federal kinda thing.

Jeff was hard at work yesterday with a backhoe, trying to clear the massive amounts of snow from the 1000 foot driveway.  Should be back to business soon!

Have a great day!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Haiku for a friend

Can you see a date ghosting on the bricks between the two upper windows?  I can't but I'm looking for it.  Many houses from this time period had the date written in bricks on the end, just in case they forgot when they built it.....not really.  This is the western end gable.  Kinda forlorn, eh?

Looking for new life.....

Windows removed, wood restored.  Waiting for some new windows to go in (Anderson, custom built on top), and some old rebuilt windows too (lower four windows). Waiting.  Cleansed.

                                                           At peace light contained
                                                       Sunrise warm open sky here
                                                         House now growing heart


Sunday, February 14, 2010

On love and heat.....

Valentine's Day

So while my teenage son lies fast asleep, I'm awake and writing, my spring heart dreaming of warming sunshine and gardens and love.  That strange amazing internal state that binds us to each to one another, and torments us when absent.  A connection to the world, the world within us that we are at the same time within.

No progress at the site all week, not sure how long it'll take for the feet of snow to shrink down to passable.  The driveway is over 1000 feet long and tough to dig out of once you're stuck in it....speaking purely from experience, of course.....  Hoping this next week to get started on the systems installation.  We have subs lined up to deliver the heating, electrical, and plumbing systems.  The house will receive the gift of two Trane 100,000 BTU XR95 Gas Furnaces (LP) to start with.  To make it affordable, and because of constant wind generated breezes even during the hottest summer days, I'm not installing AC yet, but am installing the coils.  At some point in the future we will be adding Trane 13 Seer 4 Ton units, but we are trying to be cost-efficient at this time.  I was planning on going with heat pumps initially, but have heard too many complaints about cold air blowing.  Both Jeff and the sub were worried the structure would never fully remain warm and draft free.  Doing the walk-through recently to designate fixtures, outlets, and light switches was really fun!  Made me think the completion phase is coming into view.

From the old Maryland Historical Trust Historic Sites Survey SE5


"The Meeks House is a 2 1/2 story brick dwelling, 3 bays long and 2 bays deep with a long 1 1/2 story brick kitchen wing.  The 2 1/2 sotry section has a stepped water table which jogs above the basement windows, and a belt course between floors.  There are segmental arches above the windows and the door.  The entrance is located on the east side of the north facade.  The north and west side are laid in Flemish bond.  There are 2 fine federal dormers on the north side of the "A" roof with flute pilesters and arched upper sash.  Off the east gable is a long, 4 bay, 1 1/2 story brick wing which has a leanto on the south facade."

Enjoy your day!