About two months ago, I stopped out at the Cemetery of the Highlands to visit the grave of Colonel Jesse Woodhull, my 1st cousin 9x removed, and was really just there to check on the headstones of his family following our winter weather. But while I was standing there, I had a “conversation” with Jesse that included telling him that he was going to help me tell the story of his life, and that of his brother, Ebenezer Woodhull. If you’re not a long time reader of my blog, I have been the sole caretaker of Ebenezer’s grave yard in Blooming Grove for many years now as it was all but abandoned since 1881. (You can read more about that here if you’d like.)
I have written before about the Woodhull Cemetery that my DAR chapter is wanting to preserve and restore. I’d been having quite a few roadblocks on the town level to getting official approval to make changes to the cemetery. One would think since it’s abandoned, that this should be a no-brainer. The town doesn’t really want to shell out funds to maintain it, so you think they’d be jumping at the chance to get rid of it. Part of that process is getting the deed and land records to prove that nobody currently “officially” owns the land.
My trip to the county clerk’s office to find the deed didn’t go so well. In fact, I was told my task would take months of research or I could pay a title search company nearly $600 to find it for me, to which I wanted to keel over on the spot. Determined, I came home and sat down at the computer to look through the old grantor/grantee records. And don’t you know…
Day 3’s prompt for the #30DayFHWChallenge is: Imagine your ancestor getting the keys to his first house or car. Write a journal entry from his point of view that describes the car/place and his feelings about it.
Because I love my Woodhull connections and have learned so much about the Orange County Woodhulls that lived here near me, I wanted to write about Captain Ebenezer Woodhull (again) and what his home must have been like compared to that of his brother Colonel Jesse Woodhull. Jesse’s home was vividly described in a 1920 article as being a “mansion”, which would match his prominence in the county post-Revolutionary War. From my research, Ebenezer seemed to be the opposite of his outspoken and more politically active brother. He was likely religious – his will is a testament to God giving him everything and blessing him throughout his life. A traveling preacher even recorded a brief stay there on the captain’s farm during his travels through the county. While he did have some fortune when he died, it paled in comparison to his brother’s wealth. He seems most content with being just a simple farmer and raising his nine children with his wife in the countryside of Blooming Grove/Oxford. Ebenezer, his wife and many of their children are buried on the same land they lived on in a small family cemetery plot on a back country road.
Journal Entry for May 1766
I have built a small comfortable house in the countryside of Oxford where I will bring my bride soon and I hope Abigail will be happy here. It’s quite meager, unlike Jesse’s large estate nearby or even that of my ancestral home on Long Island… what need does a farmer have of such an extravagant home? I think it will be a fine place to raise our children in the future. The house is surrounded by ample pastures for the horses and cattle to roam and there are trees as far as the eye can see, extending all the way to the mountains in the distance. Farming will be good here in the rich, fertile flat lands and I’m quite sure Abigail will tend a vegetable garden near the house. Murderer’s Creek is nearby where I can fish or even hunt the deer who come from the forest to drink there. It’s practically perfect here in this part of the country and I pray to the Almighty that we might reside here in peace forever.
In my previous Woodhull post, I had reported that I had found the Woodhull family plot here and it was in utter disrepair. I was so remiss that I couldn’t positively identify Captain Ebenezer Woodhull’s grave. Through the miracle of Photoshop, I was able to enhance some of the photographs from the family plot and to my surprise, I was able to make out his grave – if even barely! My heart skipped a beat!
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before but my teenage years were spent living above a funeral home in my home town of Ashville, Ohio. It’s true. My parents divorced and I spent my entire high school years living above the funeral home where my mom rented the apartment upstairs from her friend and boss, the funeral director. He’d recently bought a house for his growing family and as ours had just “shrunk”, we were offered their old apartment over the funeral home. I can definitely say that my viewpoint of death was altered from those years. If I had to put a word on it… I think I “revere” it more now and that’s probably why I delve into genealogy like I do. I want to learn their stories, what they did, who they were, who they loved…. it all matters. That’s what I took away from those funeral home years.