Category Archives: Bacon’s Castle

If These Walls Could Talk

Saturday, I attended the Descendants’ Day event at Bacon’s Castle. During the “welcome”, it was mentioned that lunch would be served in the Caretakers Cottage.

I hadn’t purchased the ticket option that included lunch, but I immediately set about asking the site coordinator if I could have a look inside the cottage.  I had good reason to want to see inside, but more about that later in the post.

The original part of Bacon’s Caste, built in 1665, is the part to the left in this picture (where the roof appears to be ‘silver’).

In the 1700’s, an addition was built onto the right of the original structure. That addition was removed in the 1800’s, and the current one put in its place. In the center is the “hyphen”,  joining the two sections.

The 1700’s addition was moved a short distance from the house, and was used by my Mom’s family when she and her family lived there in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Their kitchen was in that building, as was my grandparent’s bedroom.

This photo is from the Historic American Building Survey project from the 1930’s and shows the rear of the cottage.  It appears that someone is standing on the porch, but I have no way of knowing who that might be.

Among our vintage family photos is this sweet one with the cottage in the background. These are my first cousins, Janet, Bobbie and Joanne, all of whom have passed on now.  My family moved from Bacon’s Castle many years before I was born.

In later years, the cottage was moved to its current location further away from the main house.

Many changes have been made both to the interior and exterior since my family lived there. But, since I’d never before been inside, it was important to me that I take the opportunity to do so.

I just imagined my ancestors using those steep, narrow steps.

And looking out at a view similar to this one.

I love to think of the stories about my family these walls could tell.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

 

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Old News

A couple of years ago, I became aware of the fact that old (1928-2013) issues of our local weekly newspaper, The Smithfield Times, are now available on the Library of Virginia’s ‘Virginia Chronicle’ digital newspaper site.

It is easy to become so caught up in that site that you lose track of time.  Last week, I was preparing my upcoming “talk” for the Valentine event at Bacon’s Castle, so many of my thoughts were about my Mom and her family. I decided that it would be fun to search for articles about them, so I typed in her maiden name, “Ellis”.

There is an option to define the dates for your search, so I selected the 1920’s through the 1940’s.

I was not disappointed in my findings. The earliest result referenced an injury to my Mom’s youngest brother, Stanley. I don’t ever recall hearing of this accident, which occurred while the family was living at Bacon’s Castle.

The date on this news item was March 30, 1933. Family records show that he would have been ten years old. Sadly, there are now no family members to ask for the “rest of the story”.

It was fun to find this mention of my Uncle Andrew and Aunt Virginia’s wedding. Andrew was the eldest of my mom’s brothers. The date on this was January 1, 1935. Remember when the wedding announcement always included what the bride wore?  I’ll have to research what a “swagger suit” is.

This next entry made me smile. The date was September 5, 1935, and this was my granddad, Ben. Again, this occurred at Bacon’s Castle farm.

This next article also made me smile.  The date on this one is September 12, 1935. Bennie was also my mom’s brother, Sarah was her youngest sister, and Allie was my dad’s brother. The church they became members of is in my hometown and the one I attended for many years.

Mom’s brother, Bob, had a bit of bad luck in 1936 with his “Lizzie”.

This article almost brought me to tears, although I knew that he had been a prisoner of war. The date was December 13, 1944.

When I discovered that article, I immediately remembered this old family photo of my grandmother with Bennie (on the right) and Stanley.  I was always told that this was taken the day before Bennie reported for duty for World War II. The worry and sadness that she must have been feeling is so evident on her face.

But, imagine the family’s joy at getting THIS news. The date of the article is January 17, 1945.

I, for one, am thankful that so many newspaper articles are available for searching at no charge. Click here to visit the Virginia Chronicle site.  If you’re a Virginian, perhaps old issues of your local paper are available online. But, beware: searching old news is very habit-forming.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance At The Castle 2019

You may recall that, a couple of years ago, I was asked to participate in a Valentine event at Bacon’s Castle. It was, appropriately enough, called Romance At The Castle. I shared a video here on the blog that Motor Man made that day of the little “talk” I gave regarding my family’s connection to the house.

The event wasn’t held in 2018, but returned this year (last Sunday), and once again, I was asked to share my story.

Although I had done this two years ago (and had given tours at the Castle many years ago), I had a bit of stage fright leading up to Sunday’s event. My friend, Donna, was aware of this and, earlier that afternoon, sent this sweet, encouraging text:

“Thinking about you.  Know you are going to be beautiful (always are), well spoken (check), interesting (well, you pretty much know it forward and backwards and have the inside story!) and have the perfect wing man for support. Sounds like a fun day in one of your favorite places on earth! Have a great day sharing the joy that is Bacon’s Castle.”

Whenever Motor Man my wing man and I are at Bacon’s Castle, we always have our photo taken in front of the fireplace where we said our vows in 2002.

Yes, I suppose we’ve changed just a little through the years….

Once again this year, Motor Man filmed my part of Romance At The Castle.  Afterwards, guests enjoyed a wine/food pairing and a tour of the house. There were three tours for the event, and many of those who attended had never before visited the “Castle”.

For those of you who saw my Romance At The Castle video two years ago, you have my permission to skip this one: it’s nearly identical to the first one. (After all: same person, same location, and the material doesn’t really change.) You should be able to enlarge the video to see it better should you decide to watch.

 

As I said in the video, it was an honor to add this Romance At The Castle event to my list of Bacon’s Castle experiences. Oh, and the stage fright was, thankfully, short-lived.

~These Days Of Mine~

It’s A Halloween Tradition

Being the proud Mom that I am, each year, on Halloween, I share a video. Not just any video, but the one that was filmed at Bacon’s Castle, and features my son, Marshall, who was an interpreter there at the time.

Here’s a little background for those of you new to the blog:

In 2007, just in time for Halloween, our local PBS station, WHRO, planned a series of video vignettes about supposedly haunted places in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. 

The folks from WHRO visited Bacon’s Castle and decided that a video about the “Castle Light” would be part of the series.  The video would be just a few minutes in length, and would air with other videos in one of two thirty-minute shows.

WHRO staff members visited the Castle a few weeks in advance and, while there, met Marshall. They asked him on the spot if he’d play the “male lead”, and he agreed.

Of all the stories, pictures and events involving my family and Bacon’s Castle, the two most special to me, by far, are my wedding to Motor Man that took place there in 2002, and Marshall appearing in this video.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

Make Your Voice Heard

Now, doesn’t that sound official?

As I mentioned recently,  it seems that writing my blog sometimes seems like homework “these days”.  I’m contemplating perhaps going to no schedule and just posting at will.

So I thought I’d conduct a little poll, my first ever, I believe. If you would, please select what subject you like to see MOST here on the blog.

 

Hopefully this will give me the little push I need, so that blogging will be more fun than “work”. Writing is easy: it’s the subject matter that’s tough.

Thanks for reading and sharing your opinion.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

Eight And Counting

Eight years ago tomorrow, I published my very first blog post. If you’d like to read it, click here. From my first thoughts of having a blog, I knew my initial post would be about Bacon’s Castle.

So to celebrate my “blogaversary”, I thought I would post eight thoughts about blogging:

1.) In the beginning, I blogged seven days a week. Looking back, I don’t know how I came up with that many topics. Some weeks now, I struggle to write three posts.

2.) At one time in my blogging career, I had an average of 30-40 comments per post. But I think many of those comments were left by fellow bloggers, many of whom are no longer blogging. (And apparently, no longer reading my blog.)

3.) On average, on days that I publish a post, around one hundred people read visit my blog. On days that there is no published post, that number is around fifty. But apparently, these are VERY shy folks, because comments usually range around ten per post.

4.) Blogging about Bacon’s Castle has reconnected me with at least one long-lost relative. Those posts have also brought me in contact with some distant relatives whom I would never have known if not for blogging.

5.) I’ve met several bloggers in person: a few who are fellow Virginia residents, but also blogging friends from Michigan, Alaska and Texas. Those out of state gals were visiting Virginia at various times and for various reasons, and we were able to meet.  There are still a few more bloggers on that to-meet list.

6.) Although my comments are few in number now, I do have faithful readers who comment on every post.  And I look forward to their input on my posts. And it’s always fun to run into friends and acquaintances in town and hear them say: “I love reading your blog!”.

7.) There have been times that I kept a close eye on my “stats” showing how many times each post has been viewed, but I really don’t give that much thought these days. In fact, I had to research to find the info for item # 3 above. Although sometimes writing the blog feels like homework, I’m planning to continue posting.

8.) Through these eight years, there have been many posts that have special meaning to me. But, I think, this one is my very favorite.

And just for the record, today’s is post #1897.

Thanks for joining me here at “These Days”. Here’s to at least another 1897!

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

Descendants’ Day

On Saturday, Preservation Virginia, the organization that owns Bacon’s Castle, hosted “Descendants’ Day” there at the property. 58 of us whose ancestors had either owned the Castle, lived there or worked there attended.

Descendants of the Allen family were there (Arthur Allen built Bacon’s Castle, known then as Allen’s Brick House, in 1665. It was passed down through several generations of Allens).

I also saw name tags of Bacon family members (Nathaniel Bacon was most likely never at Bacon’s Castle, but his followers briefly took over the property and used it as a fortress during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. Following that, the house was known as Bacon’s Castle.)

I met members of the Hankins family (who owned the house during the Civil War era).

Although I didn’t meet them,  I’m sure other families were represented.  But, to my knowledge, I was the only Warren family descendant that attended. (William Allen Warren, an ancestor of my maternal grandmother, bought Bacon’s Castle in 1880, and was the first of three generations of Warrens to own the property.)

Staff members from Preservation Virginia were there to greet us, give tours, answer questions and help with genealogical research.

We were asked to bring old family photos, so, with Motor Man’s help, I put together this collage.

My display was set up in one of the upstairs rooms. There, I met Mr. Johnson, who was very interested in my photos and actually remembered my grandparents. He is a quiet, humble man who told me that, as a young child, he lived in a house there on the property.  We were looking out of one of the windows in the direction of that house when he softly said: “I sure would like to have a picture of that.” So I went to Will, one of the staff members that I’d been speaking with earlier, and mentioned it to him. He immediately asked Mr. Johnson for his address and promised to send him a photo.

A short time later, Motor Man and I caught up with Mr. Johnson on the porch of the house he lived in many years ago. This house was originally used as slave quarters, and funding is now in place for it to be renovated.

Before the event ended, we gathered for a group photo. I’m third from the right in the picture, standing behind the railing. And yes, that’s my buddy, Mr. Johnson, standing beside me.

Of course, since Motor Man and I were married at Bacon’s Castle, we never pass up the opportunity to have our picture taken there.

It was a very nice event, one that I was honored to attend.  As I mentioned to someone, I’m always ready to talk about the Castle.

I’m sure our ancestors would have been pleased that we gathered to remember them at this very special place that connects us all.

~These Days Of Mine~