two thousand twenty
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...I assumed my 1801 inn-turned-farmhouse had been remodeled at some time, but had no details on which to base that opinion.  One evening while standing in front of a newly reopened original second floor fireplace, I muttered into the historic fire-ravaged abyss, "I wish you would tell me something about your past."  And unbelievably, the very next day while doing demo work on the first floor, we discovered a piece of window trim bearing the following inscription-misspelling and all.  

      "Nathan W. Taylor put up this finish July 27, 1863 and I was drafted the 23rd of July, 1863 to go and fight and I don't care a damb.  We're all drafted conscripts and we'll go marching along a glory hallelugah.  On this job I stuck a rusty nail in my foot (or boot) whitch made me go Hoot te toot."  

     Later I learned that Taylor had indeed been called for the Civil War, but did not serve because he was found to be "overage."  Further research also revealed that his mother had a part in establishing the Episcopal Church in Newark about the same time Mrs. Beal (who lived in this house) was involved in the East Palmyra Methodist Episcopal Church following the "Burned Over" period.  I have yet to solve the mystery about my statement directed at the fireplace the previous evening and the subsequent timely discovery of the signature board.  Was it a coincidence or some form of "divine" intervention?  All I know for sure was Taylor's work here changed the house from a single residence to a two-family home and the families of Caleb Beal's two sons remained on the property in the same house until the 1930's.

     While excavating east of the house to renew the old septic system, we discovered what could have been a cistern or perhaps a dry well for an older-yet septic system.  It was located next to the northeast corner of the house near where evidence of an old wooden eaves trough downspout left marks on the old poplar clapboard siding.  The structure wall was about ten feet underground, somewhat curved and built of oversize bricks.  An addition on that end of the house, probably built by Taylor contained a two-seater "indoor outhouse" and possible bathing area.  That considered, the underground brick structure could have served either purpose, but because of the impervious wall and its location directly below a possible downspout, it was most likely a water cistern.  But this too remains a cunundrum. 

     In addition, we uncovered the remains of the old dry-laid stone foundation for the original log cabin (circa 1793) and an old, if not original, hand dug stone-lined well on the northwest side of the house.  It was also evident, that as was common practice before public landfills, the old foundation was used as the household dumping area.  It contained broken bottles, china and stoneware fragments, old shoes, miscellaneous pieces of harness, square-headed nails, etc - everything typical of such a location, but no objects of note or value. 

     In May, 1991, the renovation completed, Twin Steeples Farm Bed & Breakfast opened for business.  The first guests were two women, Blanche and Betty, from Pittsford, NY who were playing in an area bridge tournament.  We had fun with the statement that "Blanche and Betty stayed at Beth's B&B while playing Bridge," and I received an old family recipe from one of them which I still use today.  Later guests from Canada brought their young daughter to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  They have returned every year since, and I have effectively seen the girl become a woman who will soon become a mother herself.  Would that not make me the extended family long-distance grandmother? 

     Guests have arrived by many different modes of transportation.  Many years ago a young couple rode in on their motorcycles from Pennsylvania on their way to Michigan and an older couple pedaled their bicycles from Colorado on their way to his class reunion at Cornell University.  A trio stopped here after shipping their bicycles from San Francisco to Buffalo on an airplane and climbing aboard their "wheels" to tour the Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  Lest I forget the man from Los Angeles who drove the 1955 Chevrolet, which I had previously bought from him, cross-country while towing his return ride, a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle.  Two men actually walked here after landing their canoe near the East Palmyra Fire Department just a short distance away, more or less in the fashion of early settlers who poled their way west on Ganargua Creek and rested at this place overnight.  There was a three-generation family from California who arrived in a rental car, which of course was not that unusual.  However they had stopped specifically to visit friends in Wayne County and to tour the Margaret Strong Museum in Rochester before continuing their cross-country tour by train.  An over-the-road truck driver from Canada, who grew up in East Palmyra, stayed here and parked his rig in my driveway for a couple of days while visiting friends and relatives.  

     Guests often have business in the area, such as the trio of Irishmen who had business in Clifton Springs and stayed over two nights.  From them I learned that tales of the drinking abilities of the Irish are all true!  A pair of heavy equipment operators from Pennsylvania stayed three months while installing a major gas line across New York State in 1993.  One of the men later returned to go hunting with a local group of deer hunters.  While checking out an area hospital, and country life in America with her three young sons, a doctor from Venezuela tried a sample of raw milk from our cows.  After years of a supposed milk allergy, she had no adverse reactions to our farm milk, which prompted her to consider finding a source for such milk where she lived.  Later a downstate anesthesiologist stayed while he established himself in a position at that same hospital.  When on call one weekend, just for something to do, he helped with our farm chores and lawn care, later commenting he had never had a better time while working away from home.  A young man who was training for a job at Garlock in Palmyra noticed the condition of my well-used old pancake griddle and presented me with a new one as a "tip" when he left.  (Carl, in case you're reading this, that new griddle is now in the same condition as the one it replaced!)  Another man, who was working on a temporary project at Garlock stayed several days and brought his wife to stay when he returned a few weeks later.  At that time, again by chance or divine intervention, she was treated to a deer running across the back yard after a winter storm that dropped two feet of snow.  It was the first time she had seen a deer up close, and the first and only time since that a deer has come that close to my house.  There was also the fellow from Jim Thorpe, PA who stayed several nights while at the former training center for the telephone company in Newark.  He later returned with his wife who, after living in fear of dogs most of her life, overcame that fear as a result of her contact with our gently friendly English Springer Spaniel. 

I still keep in touch with some of these people. ....to be continued.


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1 Comment to "You never know what you'll learn or who you'll meet when you own a B&B (Part II)"

  1. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    Very neat...your own property an interesting dig site, plus all these new stories that have become the "new history" of the place.

    Beth--check out this post on the WCL Facebook page for some additional comments!

    Posted on Sun Apr 25, 07:35:00 PM EDT


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