Once upon a time there was a large, white, two story, clapboard farmhouse sitting in the middle of our lawn. For those of you who are “Powhatan old-timers”, it was the John “Booker” and Mary “Lula” Webb homestead. (See note at the bottom of the post for a little bit of info about the Webbs).
This is one of the Webb boys-I forget which one. It may be Percy.
The leaning walnut tree on the left side of the house is still standing. From day one, I disliked that tree and wanted it cut down. It was hollow, half dead and leaning. I wanted to help it out of its misery. Gene saw its potential. Lightning, storms and disease have taken down all the original trees plus some that we have planted, except for that tree. Since I wasn’t allowed to get rid of it, I planted a maple beside it to replace it when it succumbed; which I knew would be in the very near future. Instead, it was as if the maple gave it a will to live and thrive. It revived itself, sprouting new growth and has stood the test of 45 years just to prove me wrong!! I do believe it will outlive me.
We were privileged to know some of the Webb family; Percy and “Aunt” Susie Worsham (everyone affectionately called her Aunt). One of the granddaughters, Vernelle, (Percy’s daughter), lived in California and a number of years ago stopped in for a “trip down memory lane”. The only remnants of her history are the leaning walnut tree, the broken remains of an old well and the dairy barn portion of the house. I am so sorry I didn’t write down the history she told me. The dirt road in the foreground went by the front of the house, down through the back pasture, across Thorntons (our neighbor) and ended up on Rocky Ford Rd.
I am not sure of all the timing, dates and families. Someday I will go to the courthouse and do some browsing. Sometime along the way, the house burned and the Green family living here added a three-room apartment (kitchen, sitting room, bedroom and bath) as a second story to the cinderblock milking barn sitting on the back corner of the lawn. Their intent was for this to be temporary housing while they built a new house. Instead, in the early 60’s they sold the farm to Mr. Allen who added an addition with three more large rooms around the structure. This addition included a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath. The milking barn portion was transformed into a laundry and second bedroom or office. The house now resembled a tug boat!!! The house had a square two story on one corner with a cinderblock, tar and gravel, flat-roof addition around it. The inside was very nicely done but the outside was beyond ugly!!!
The before…..our “fixer upper”
In 1967, the O.W. Hertzler family bought the farm and in May of 1968, Gene and his brother moved from Newport News to run the dairy. They brought along the farm name, Quarterfield, and painted the outside of the house.
Around the time we were married in June 1972, the screened front porch was enclosed with sliding glass windows.
In 1977, Gene’s folks added a full upstairs and a new roof covering the entire structure, completely changing the look. Through the years we have given the house lots of loving care: painted inside and out, added a deck, shutters, gutters, new windows and landscaping. The house has “evolved” into a decent looking house that we are proud to call home.
For the house, life keeps getting better and better. Each time it has modeled its new look with style and wonders what its owners might do next. Only time will tell, but for the little house, it dreams of living happily ever after.
After…. transformation! And yes, it is the same house. and it still has the upstairs apartment!
This picture shows the leaning walnut tree.
Additional Farm History
John “Booker” (1853-1934) and Mary “Lula” (1858-1940) had eight children: Annie (Tuohy), John, Alice (Simpson), Percy, Charles, Susie (Worsham), Arthur, and Bernice (Nicholls).
In the 1910 Powhatan County fair, the Webbs were responsible along with other residents for the huge success of the fair. He was one of the prize winners of the Virginia Burley Tobacco.
John was a very strict with his children about the care of his animals and always wanted to make sure they had water. He would take wagon loads of supplies to the “poor house” and the residents would sit on the porch waiting for him to arrive. Meals were served promptly at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. in the Webb household.
Information taken from Powhatan Heritage Book printed in 2010 by Powhatan County Heritage Book Committee.
Note: This information tells me that tobacco was probably raised on the farm along with a variety of different crops and animals. The daughter who visited remembers milking cows.
We also know that at some point there was a moonshine still on a knoll across the creek in the back corner pasture. When the Hertzlers purchased the farm they found remnants of it and numerous quart jars-one of which I still have.
Mr. Green was a farmer and his wife was a school teacher.
Bernard was a plumber and he purchased the farm in the early 60’s. He milked cows and purchased a new line of John Deere equipment which were all sold at auction in 1965 or 66. The Hertzlers had restless feet and wanted to move the dairy out of Newport News as the city was encroaching on the farmers. They came and looked at the farm but did not come to the sale. The farm was sold to Hugh Ownby and Eddie Orange, a big cattle broker and re-estate company. They were planning to turn it into a cattle auction facility. Plans changed and in 1967 the Hertzlers purchased the farm. That fall they planted rye in preparation for moving the dairy herd in May.
The Allen boys loved to race cars and used the quarter mile driveway as their racetrack. For years bits and pieces of their vehicles would work their way to the surface in the driveway.
If anyone has or remembers tidbits of history on the farm or any of these people I would love to know. Pat
Additional Blog Links
My New Sunroom
Down a Country Lane
The Tale of Two Trees