Two hundred years ago Jacob Weaver and his family made a journey. He would write to his brother “you would all think you was going out the country if not out of this world.”
I too was on a journey. I just didn’t know where or why. Jacob was trying to make a living for his family on the edge of civilization. I was merely trying to restore a house.
Why? Don’t ask. What started out as an innocent afternoon hacking into the walls of a soon to be burned derelict building was becoming a heavy responsibility.
Yes, ever since my husband Tom and I learned the origins of the house and its part in the life of early Switzerland County; we were intrigued. But now with all this…restoration mess we were starting to feel just like Jacob who warned his brother. Seems like “we was going out of the country if not out of this world.”
Standing amid hunks of garishly painted plaster, and pieces of rotting wood I wondered where this journey was going to end, and WHO talked me into undertaking this!
But moments of calm determination would still manifest themselves. I found it was easy to identify with the builders of the house. One could stand where they stood and almost see them working with their hand tools. It was exciting to see the modern builders reconstructing what had been.
When, by chance I found the letters of Jacob Weaver another aspect of the house came sharply into focus. In reading them, whether consciously or not, I was being dragged kicking and screaming into another world.
Here were people who had the same last name as mine, but who lived on the edge of existence. In this place and in this world Yellow Fever or the “Mississippi Complaint” could rob you of 6 weeks of your life or take it. In this place a late freeze could wipe out your entire crop and income. Here one could spend to make a living and lose it all.
Looking back at all that went into saving this house; the inherent financial stress and unexpected death of my husband, I guess Jacob Weaver and Donna Weaver have a lot in common.
We, all of us, really aren’t that much different when you get down to it…. accordion lath, square cut nails and 6 over 6 windows excluded.
Now, because of Jacob’s letters and the film, I walk into the house and see, not the original builders, as I used to, but Jacob, Charlotte and the children…I walk into their house as a guest. We hope you do the same.
Director, Musee de Venoge, Inc.