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Cleaning 250 year-old hewn white oak logs at Byrnside’s Fort

This is the best way I’ve found so far to clean the interior side of the original (extremely hard) white oak hand hewn logs. This is the Northwest second floor corner. Since this was eventually turned into a formal entry way, long before the plaster was installed over the logs, they were given various coats of whitewash white paint, in order to make the walls look like they were plaster, rather than logs. Such was the trend, since there was nothing glamorous about having a log plantation house.

Old Songs in an Old Log Fort

“The Girl I left Behind”, also known as “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, is an English folk song dating back to Elizabethan era. It is said to have been played when soldiers left for war or a naval vessel set sail. According to other sources the song originated in 1758 when English Admirals Hawke and Rodney were observing the French fleet. The first printed text of the song appeared in Dublin in 1791. A popular tune with several variations, “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, may have been imported into America around 1650 as ‘Brighton Camp’, of which a copy dating from around 1796 resides in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Revolutionary War Narratives and Byrnside’s Fort

I recently discovered additional Revolutionary War veteran pension applications mentioning Byrnside’s Fort. These first-hand narratives, mostly from the 1830s, are the recollections of the 18th century frontier soldiers of the Greenbrier Valley. They’re the best documentation we have on life and service on the Virginia frontier. They paint a good picture of the importance of Byrnside’s Fort, as well as James Byrnside himself during the Revolutionary War era. There’s strong evidence through these narratives that our fort was in active military use from around 1774 through 1782, which for the most part is the entire timeline of Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolution.

Old log cabin preservation project from the site of “Thompson’s Fort”

This is an old log cabin located in the vicinity of Pickaway, Monroe County, West Virginia, on the site of what is believed to have been called “Thompson’s Fort,” on an early large plantation. This is on the “Pickaway Plains” of the Greenbrier Valley – so named by the 18th century frontiersmen who fought in …

Read moreOld log cabin preservation project from the site of “Thompson’s Fort”

In 1772, Thomas Jefferson called James Byrnside an obnoxious villain

I stumbled upon some interesting entries in the personal papers of Thomas Jefferson. In his 1772 Memorandum Book, he discusses the real estate ventures of then Colonial, later General, Andrew Lewis’ claims throughout the Greenbrier Valley. And in these paragraphs, he mentions James Burnsides (Byrnside), four separate times, and calls him “obnoxious,” among other things.

Travel chest lock mechanism from Walnut Grove Plantation, an old stirrup, and a wrought iron spoon?

With all of the quarantining going on, I was able to get a little preservation work in on some items which really needed it. First is this really cool lock mechanism from some sort of old chest, or trunk, or strong box. This was found at historic Walnut Grove Plantation just outside Union, W. Va. I wish I knew the story behind it. It cleaned up really nicely.

Epic NY History Find: 1768 Anthony Van Schaick document, to go with the Anthony Van Schaick Flintlock Fowler

Another epic, at least to me, document find during this period of near-apoloclypse. The scavenging must go on. This is a 1768 deed from Anthony Van Schaick, his wife, Christina Van Schaick, and what seems to me to be Anthony’s elderly father, Goosen Van Schaick, for a whole lot of land in the area of upstate New York known as the “Half Moon” which was deeded to the Van Schaick family in the 17th century. It’s roughly located in the area known as the “Sprouts of the Mohawk River.” This is where the Mohawk goes over a large falls, and sprouts into separate channels, going around several islands, at the confluence with the Hudson River.