Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The story behind the house (and a link to a ghost story)

Many of you who have been following this blog already know the circumstances in which we came to live in this home. But lately, I’ve had so many questions on the subject of the house that I’ve decided to post about it, then put it on the sidebar with a link to this post.

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Here’s the driveway as it looked back in October of last year when I came to see the property.

DSC_0157 copy 2To begin: This home is not owned by us. We are caretaking the house and property until the owners put it on the market for sale.

I want to respect their privacy, and although they have told me it’s alright to post photos of the house, I still don’t want to say too much about something that doesn’t belong to me.

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The original section was built in 1769 and there was a large addition added in 1810 with a Widow’s Walk on the rooftop.

And yes, there is a way to get up there.

It has been documented that General George Washington, the General Marquis de Lafayette and several others were here on this property in the summer of 1777. They came to observe British troops, under the direction of General Howe, who were making landfall down on the river's edge about 8 miles away. This hill would have afforded an excellent view, using a telescope. But it didn’t show the whole story. Washington needed more intelligence and a small party was sent to investigate.

The story gets interesting here, because one of the soldiers was caught and hung as a spy. His name was Choffee, and he was an aide to Lafayette. He was a French watchmaker who was sympathetic toward the American cause.

Twelve years ago, when we first came to Maryland, we moved to a horse farm along the Elk River. It was there that the story was told to us of a ghost that haunted the property, a spy who was caught and hung in an old apple tree that had been long gone. I never saw him, however.

Local historian Ed Okonowicz wrote about Choffee in one of his books, “Pulling Back the Curtain”, in his Spirits Between the Bays series. To read the entire story, go to the link above where it will take you to an Amazon page and do a ‘search within this book’. Search for keywords Friendly Ghost. It will give you 3 pages (11-13). To read the rest of the story, search for the word re-enactors and you will be able to read the 3 remaining pages (14-16). I lived in the house right next door to where this took place and met “Penny” in the story. (Their real names were changed to protect their privacy).

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Back to this house, though. Below are a few photos of the inside.

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The dining room and former main staircase. This one leads to the master bedroom.

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Walking towards the library which we’re using as a living room.

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One of my favorite photos, on the shelf in the living room.

It isn’t in the best of condition and needs some loving care. But it’s really quite nice in a faded old grand dame sort of way. I don’t know how long we’ll be here. But I do know that we’re fortunate to have somewhere private and homey.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

44 comments:

Woman in a Window said...

Yes, your home is grand and full to the top with history. A good place to be, I think.

Donna S. said...

Lovely home....enjoy your time there.

Deb said...

I followed the link as suggested in your post. That was a great ghost story! Thank you for sharing:)

tj said...

...Hi Kate!*waving* I just love your old house and the story too... Btw, who is that up there on the widow's walk in the black & white photo? Kinda spooky lookin'... And is that George lookin' out the front door? And need I say that picture of the driveway in the first photo is just to die for! :o)

...I just love where you live and I hope that the owners don't put it on the market for a very long time... Thanks for sharing it with us!

...Blessings... :o)

Bush Babe said...

What a place - hope you are putting your lotto in so you can buy it. Seems to suit you...

Great story!!!
:-)
Bb

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Ghosts? Guess I'll read it tomorrow so I don't have nightmares tonight. Eeeks

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal
(love a house with history)

Pony Girl said...

I'll have to skip the ghost story or I won't sleep, either. That one kind of "spooky" photo of the house kind of scared me as it was, LOL! ;)
It doesn't look like it needs much work from the few photos you showed....it looks classic and cozy. How neat it has so much history! Do you know long until it goes onto the market?
Enjoy, it's a beautiful place to hang with your hubby, George, and take lots of great photos, too!

Cindy said...

Interesting story. I agree with Blue Ridge Gal. I'll read the story tomorrow because I'm a big chicken.

Char said...

late for me too and since I've been having problems sleeping I will read it tomorrow. but, the house is beautiful. maybe I need to become a live-in nanny for a job.

Coloradolady said...

Simply beautiful. I think I'll pass on the ghost story this eveinig..I have had a few episodes around my house as well...and I think I will not want to think about that this late.

Carin said...

Such a great post and fun to learn something too. Thanks for sharing this story.

Georgie K. Buttons said...

How come people believe in ghosts?

Can I come and visit you? I love historical stuff like that. Besides, I want to meet George. :)

noble pig said...

Very cool. And what is a widow's walk or why do they call it that?

KathyB. said...

Love the history behind the house. And it is a beautiful house / home. I selfishly hope for you that it does not sell for a long time....

Ellen said...

What interesting history. And a beautiful place to live. Looking forward to pics of the pink countertops.

Country Girl said...

Hey, all. It's not a scary story. Sorry, I should have mentioned that. On the rooftop photo is my husband and our friend, Jeff. A widow's walk is a rooftop platform with railings that's typically found on coastal homes and was designed to observe vessels at sea. If the trees weren't in the way, we could see the Chesapeake Bay from the walk. The name comes from the wives of sailors. The wives would be able to watch for their husband's return, although sometimes the sea would claim them, leaving the woman a widow.

Just another lesson for today. Have a wonderful one, all. Spring has returned!

~ C.G.

Mental P Mama said...

I love ghosts....and I love that house!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Old houses are the best...they are so full of history and a ghost just makes it all that much better! Beautiful place.

Deb said...

The house is so beautiful and majestic looking. The setting couldn't be anymore perfect. Now I am going to check out the link.

willow said...

I have the feeling there is more than just one ghost there! It's a magnificent house. I loved reading about the history.

Country Girl said...

READERS, PLEASE NOTE!
Choffee's ghost is NOT in this house. The ghost is on the farm across the water, where we USED TO LIVE. OK? I tried to make it clear, but oh well. The property is the link to Choffee because he was probably here with Lafayette and George Washington when they sent him on with a small party to spy on the British troops to gain information.

And yes, I do believe in ghosts. Haven't seen any but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm just saying.

~ C.G.

TSannie said...

Old homes with a history are the best. Glad you shared.

Amy said...

What a neat story!!! I've never heard of a widow's walkway before..so that was cool. I should have had one of those at my other house when we lived next to the sea...hahaha..I could have stood out there and waited for my honey to come back from sea...
As I mentioned earlier, I love imagining how your home must have been way back when George Washington was visiting..must be a really neat thing living in such a historical place..are the ceilings low? I remember this from colonial homes we visited in Pennsylvania..they had such low ceilings.

Daryl said...

Its a fabulous old house and I love that you are loving it there ..

Living on the Spit said...

Have I been reading that long that I already knew part of the story!!! It still takes my breath away each time.

I don't care how you got there to that house, it is just wonderful that you got the opportunity to enjoy it for however long God wants to keep you there.

commoncents said...

Great post! Keep us in the loop!!!

COMMON CENTS
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com
ps. Care for a Link Exchange??

FireLight said...

Your photos are just grand as usual! The home is a beauty. I do love a ghost story!
Lafayette is an interesting figure. He came back to visit on the 50th birthday of the United States and made a point to visit each state! It was a BIG deal, and he was much loved. The town where I teach is named for his home/farm in France, LaGrange. His statue graces the town square fountain.

Spruce Hill said...

It is so wonderful to be living amongst history.

Amy said...

hi, I came here through the colorado lady's blog. The photos are awesome and the house is gorgeous, I have dreams of living in a big ole historic house like this *sigh*

Hilary said...

It's a beautiful home with a wonderful history. Lucky us - that you can share it with us in this way.

Jacqueline said...

I just love older homes--and this one is so full of charm and history.

You did a good job in maintaining privacy for the homeowners, yet still showing us some highlights.

Thank you!

Lynne said...

Hi Kate,

Daryl sent me your url after I commented about the "non ax murderers gal get together." What an amazing opportunity to live in this home! Thank you for sharing its history.
I'm going to hop over to some other photography posts because I adore dogs and photography!

Elliemae said...

Kate~
I just found your blog. I'm in love with the house! I'm also a big fan of ghosts. How many acres is this gorgeous house on? It has beautiful fencing, is/was it a horse farm? The driveway looks very long and dramatic. Thanks for sharing!

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Lovely! I grew up in a pre-Civil war georgian brick farm house. I pine for old homes.

Shari Sunday said...

Enjoyed your blog. The house is very interesting as well as the history.

CherylK said...

A beautiful house, in my opinion. I think it's great that you are housesitting there! My husband and I housesit (petsitting, actually), too, but usually just for a couple of weeks - maybe a month - at a time. It's the perfect way for us to get away from the cold Minnesota winters for a bit.

Launi said...

Isn't it lovely to live somewhere that actually has a "feel" to it. I think the ancient places are the most settling, because their roots are so much deeper.
Good, good, for you.

Joy said...

When I first saw photos of your house and noted the widow's walk on the roof, I thought there must be a river nearby, either that or the ocean! Beautiful home and lovely blog.

Terri said...

Hi I am a new follower bounced over from www.pioneerwoman.com . I wanted to say Happy Anniversary for your blog which you began on Dec. 26,2007,
Terri Foschini

Robin Malherbe said...

Beautiful pictures of a beautiful old house. I've enjoyed rambling through several of your posts, thank you...

Sally said...

Gorgeous home! I'm new from Karen-thisoldhousetoo. Love your photo's! :)

Lisa RedWillow said...

Kate this is just beautiful. What a amazing find and to stay and up keep the home. I m jealous. I would love it also. What a beauty and the history is amaizng.
I hope you know what you have there.
I hope they dont sell and you can live ther a long time. Just stunning.

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

What a lovely place to be living in! The property and the home is so stately and I love how it sits on the land.
I will venture over to read the ghost story but wanted to tell you how excited I am to have found you and your beautiful blog this evening.
So glad you did not suffer too much damage from Irene's winds.

Your newest follower,
Alison
:)

Chesapeake Chic said...

Hi Kate,
My husband and I are friends of the previous caretakers of your pretty home. I have fond memories of sipping coffee in the hunter-wallpapered kitchen and watching our two little boys play in the living room. It's a magical place and I really appreciate the time I was able to spend there. It's neat to imagine Washington and his men wandering about the property. Now my husband I and I live on Howe's Ridge-- the area where General Howe and his men disembarked on their way to the Battle of the Brandywine (just above Elk Manor Farm-- that you used to live? I love your blog and all your photographs you've taken. Enjoy your home! It's a treasure! -- Jess