It is not often when we get a weekend to getaway from it all (including cell service!) and just slow down for a wink. We did this past weekend in Highland County, VA at our family reunion. This past weekend was full of history.
The McClung Farm has been in my husband's family for generations and we got to learn more about it from the oldest guy in our generational line, Dr. William Hunter (Jonathan's grand-daddy!). He is full of information and stories that are unlike anything we have ever heard because he has seen it ALL!
Our weekend started with enjoying the Bull Pasture River nearest to the family home. Many babies have played in this river and have grown up loving it. From the attached natural spring is where the family home got all of its water provided through an old pipe and ram at the old Mill. We hiked to this mill and learned that early centripetal force (no electricity or fancy contraptions) made this thing run! Just the force of the water running into it. How crazy is that?? The water would run to a non-stop running faucet outside the house. They would fill up their buckets and bowls and use that as water for the home.
Granddad is pointing out the 'ram" in the picture below. He believes that this was installed in the 1700's. It was later replaced by a well in the 70's when "Uncle Brookie" passed away and others in the family took over the family home.
The ram and pipe from the mill runs alongside the original public road through that area. Now, that road is overgrown with poison ivy, trees, and natural wildlife. Everyone that got in the water said that it was unbelievably cold. Not only did we get to hear about all this cool history, but we also got to hike alongside an almost 80 year old storyteller.
We made sure to get a family picture in front of the family home, and each generation wore a different colored shirt.
From Wiki, we know that the family home "was built in 1844, and is a two-story, five bay, brick dwelling with a single-pile, central-passage plan and an original two-story rear addition in a vernacular Federal style. It has a three bay wide front porch. The contributing buildings and structures besides the house include: a large barn, a small barn, a cattle ramp, an outhouse, a corncrib, a smokehouse, a shed, and the Clover Creek Presbyterian Church and its outhouse. The contributing sites are a wood shed foundation, the ruins of the McClung Mill, and the Clover Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery." The church is seen in the first picture above with the sun behind it.
Granddad made sure to explain the history of the old barn next to the house and show all the kids how it was used throughout history. All the kids were more interested in climbing the stairs but some listened to Granddad talk about the cows being brought into the barn during the winter and how they used to use certain tools for this and that throughout history. Uncle Brookie didn't change to a lot of the newer innovations and stuck with the ways of the men before him. Despite this, the tools that he has used have withstood the test of time and the elements and still look like the day he may have used them. Quite impressive!
Another amazing part of the home is the generational line right in the door frame of the house! For centuries, people have been marking their heights on the door frame and as new family members arrive either through birth or marriage, they are added to the door frame. I even got to add my height alongside many others! Even as the markings fade, or others write over the names and marks from the past, that just means that new stories and history are made. Jonathan's cousin, Grace, got to share Highland with her baby coming very very soon. He will have his height on the door frame before we know it!
Another favorite part of the weekend was visiting Robin and Nancy Vance at their home down the road that has been completely restored to its original glory and turned into a Highland County destination!
This home sits on a running farm with chicks, a turkey, milking cows, a horse, a ginormous garden, and the working puppies, Red and Ernie. Robin was the most gracious host and showed us all around his farm, and even let the babies milk the cow, pick squash and potatoes out of the garden, feed the catfish in the pond, hold the chicks, and pump water from their well. The babies will never forget their visit to the Vance farm. Robin even sent us home maple syrup and cheese gathered and made right from the farm. We are so thankful to call them friends!
Our weekend was so special because it was filled with sunsets, family stories, laughing laughing laughing, and just sitting still. In today's day and age, that is unheard of. No cell phones to hear binging off the hook, just simple crickets, frogs, and lightning bugs flying by. It was much needed and a weekend that brought our soul the life it needed until the next time we return. Thank you to all who made this reunion happen, and we look forward to the next time.
Love, Sam and Jonathan Shover