If you have followed, or stop from time to time to read this blog, first, I thank you, and I hope that you have received something from it, whether inspiration, and idea … When I set out on the journey of writing this blog, many years ago, I decided that I wanted to share some of my passions, as well as my journey as an independent author, but also to include another journey, that is, moving from the beloved Jersey shore to the Idyllic Virginia countryside, and the quest of fixing up a dilapidated farmhouse, which would become our home.
Throughout the years, I have met many people who have visited this home and shared stories of the previous owner, Ms. Lula Jane, and how fond they were of her and this house when she lived here. Some of these people have been part of the neighborhood since they were kids and visited her often. One of them described the place as the hub, the place to be, and were everybody ended up. She has been described as a very kind person who loved her home, a very tall woman who enjoyed walking through her beautiful garden. On many occasions I asked if anyone had any pictures of her or the home because my intention was to recreate what this home used to look like in the past. Unfortunately, throughout the years, renters, squatters, and abandonment had taken a toll, and the old farmhouse had seriously deteriorated to the point of becoming not suitable for living. You can see pictures of the previous condition and restoration under the topic “fixing an old farmhouse.” But mostly, I wanted to know more about Ms. Lula Jane, the woman who truly loved her house.
About a week or so ago, I had that opportunity. I received a surprise visit from one of her granddaughters, Ms. Saunders. She happened to be visiting the area on her way to Maryland, and asked if she could see the home where she grew up. It was a real pleasure to meet her. She seemed to have fond memories of her grandmother and of the home. I gave her a tour of the place, explaining what we had done with it. One of her remarks got my attention. She said, “Oh, it looks almost the same.” I was puzzled because we had changed everything and gutted the house, which was in very bad condition when we bought it. Later on, when we sat to converse, I asked her about it and she said that the home still felt familiar and almost as she remembered, even that the furnishings and overall decor were different. Indeed, we had not changed any of its layout. Her visit was not as extended as I wished it would have been; I wanted to know much more. She was kind enough to share some memories of childhood, and of her grandmother, whom she seemed to have adored. I found a connection with Ms. Lula Jane through her stories.
Ms. Lula Jane had traveled from England to the USA with the family she worked for; they took her with them when they moved to the United States. Her granddaughter said that she was free, and not under slavery in England. In England, slavery was abolished much earlier than in the USA. Later on, her grandfather, Mr. John Henry Robertson, built the home. This piece of information seemed to be in conflict with the information I had been given by someone else, but it wasn’t. It was all reconciled when I asked, and she explained that there had been an interracial marriage at some point. Now I had a more complete picture of the history of ownership of this old farmhouse, and I felt closer to the previous owner, both of us having some likes in common.
Ms. Saunders promised to share pictures of her grandmother and of the house if she came across any. We exchanged numbers, and I texted her a link to this blog so she could follow the restoration so far. She was able to clarify and answer some of my questions, according to what she knew, and I am grateful for that. In her excitement, she mentioned that she remembered how good the well water tasted, to what I offered to fill up a bottle for her to take home, which I did. The next day, I received a text from her. Attached, I found a picture of her grandparents. Finally, I was able to see the image of a beautiful tall lady, referred to and appreciated by many people, a cornerstone of this neighborhood. Thank you, Ms. Saunders.