Ok, it is true, this is my fourth blog today, but the three before were done at Starbucks in Target here in Front Royal. Now I have moved to the other Starbucks in town, just across the highway. This is the one I was sent to find, but the Universe took me to Target to meet another person that wanted to share something with me. Now I am in a traditional Starbucks that can sell me the instant coffee we use on the mornings we are packing up and moving on. It is cheaper in the grocery stores but you never know who will have it.
Yesterday’s pictures are from the Heritage Museum town of Dayton. They have a huge genealogy Library, and given that this area was settled by German and Scotch-Irish immigrants I wish I had the time to do some research cause the Greenawalts were German and Grandma Greenawalt came from Scotch Irish people-the McLarens. But the museum was in this tiny brick house, which actually extends out and under where you cannot see it. Lots of culture of those early people and Folk art of the past. Dayton, the town, is prettier than many of them. I am not only in spring and seeing Peonies blooming, but I am hurridly taking photos cause the intense heat that hit this week is finishing them quickly.
Also in Dayton is a wonderful grist mill. The story about it is another great one of the civil war and what happened to the people and their land and homes. Any by the way, many of the people here are descendents and are of the Bretheren or Friends faith-most being Mennonites today. At any rate Daniel Bowman was a Unionist and against slavery. Many of the people in the area were either with the Confederates but many just wanted to live. They often fed and nursed soldiers from both sides. The men were often with local groups of like minded Confederates who did not join up with current militias but formed small groups that fought and attached in small detachments. Many historians say, however, that basically the people of Shenandoah were southern minded and pro Confederacy.
The mill was not supposed to be burned because Sheridan ordered the Union troops to spare the mill and home of Bowman. Then along came General Custer and said, no way! “The Burning” fell on everyone.
At any rate-the mill was rebuilt and is a thriving business today that personalizes dishes, glasses, plates, cups and so on. We saw the ones from Williamsburg that we were familiar with being worked on. Quite a structure and the Swans were the big treat.
we walked up 3 floors of working people in the mill
The perfect peonie
Bowman’s Gristmill is a today business
Sherman “The Burning”
check the layers of paint on this home
Love the spring flowers
These are Dayton homes
Great museum in Dayton
A few days ago, we drove up 340 thru Front Royal and then went sight seeing in other areas too. Today I needed a Starbucks to blog as I could not get fast enough internet to upload the photos. It was a beautiful drive again up here through the farms, forests and on curvy roads going up and down over the rolling valley. So I Googled Front Royal and here is the possible reason for the name.
The entire Shenandoah Valley including the area to become Front Royal was annexed and claimed for hunting by the Iroquois Confederation during the later Beaver Wars, by 1672. Some bands of the Shawnee settled in the area as client groups to the Iroquois and alternately to the Cherokee after 1721. The Iroquois formally sold their entire claim east of the Alleghenies to theVirginia Colony at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Front Royal, originally settled in 1754 under the name LeHewtown, had been known to European explorers as early as the 1670s, and the nearby settlement of Chester’s Ferry was in existence by 1736. The town also had a well-known nickname by the 1790s, “Helltown,” due to the many livestock wranglers and boatmen on the Shenandoah coming through the area, who came into town looking for alcohol. It was incorporated as “Front Royal” in 1788.
The origin of the name “Front Royal” remains uncertain. One version holds that, in early decades of European settlement, the area was referred to in French as “le front royal,” meaning the British frontier.
At any rate Russ and I loved this Historical downtown and then moved on t0 see Belle Grove Plantation just south of Middletown. It is a 1797 plantation. Major Hite married President James Madison’s sister Nelly. Thomas Jefferson gave them suggestions for the fancier home they built later and you could really see his input. But the original footprint is lined by rock foundation-and it was a very small two story house. It seems Dolly and James Madison honey mooned with the Hites in the little house which included the 3 children. Anyway the Major got slaves from his wife’s dowry and really did well. The mansion only has one floor and the below ground floor that the slaves worked and cooked in. It was a sensational tour especially when you stepped on the front veranda and visualized the Union Army camped all across the acres in front. Union lost to Stonewall Jackson who pushed them north, but pushed back and took over again. This was part of the fight over this great bread basket that the South needed to hold onto. Sheridan then burned almost everything so that the south could not eat out of this beautiful area. Loved this history. Had tingles standing on the veranda and visualizing the troops, tents and fires that were going when the Confederates surprised the Union in the middle of the night-Cedar Creek Battle.
Only had a couple of hours for the city of Winchester-so we went to the historic down town blocks that has been set up nicely as a pedestrian mall. Found a bistro for lunch and sat out in perfect weather (today is 93) but that day was in the 80’s. Will say that Winchester was the first English speaking town west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the County was the military and political training ground for George Washington. During the Civil War the town changed hands 72 times. Puts the war in perspective here in Virginia.
I know, too much information, but I do not want to forget what we have seen and this is my best way to remember. Love you all and will get to the west despite tornados.
Let me remind you-double click title line to get on to actual blog when you cannot get the photos up.
Last weekend was a Holiday and our lovely camping spot at Outlander RV near Luray, VG was full of families getting away for the weekend. Really nice people to visit with. Gary and Hilary next to us have traveled across the States 4 times-he is in the Navy (?) at Alexandria, VA. She is a social worker and is from Kentucky and told us where to stay and what to see in Louisville including touring the horse barns at Churchill Downs. He was at Monterey for some years.
Then the weekend comes to an end and Memorial Day everyone left except two couples. So I went over to them, old Air Force buddies and wives. Lots of good stories to share. Both men had been at Mountain Home, Idaho air base. That was one of the towns we played basketball against when I was in high school. Talked about Beale outside of Marysville, CA where I lived as well. Then one couple and I exchanged stories of meeting our partners. She was divorced and ended up with her old boyfriend from when she was 12 and that was it-they are together now. The other couple are both military! Nice people.
And then they left and here we are-with gorgeous nite skies and almost no lighting. We are on farm land. The grasses and weeds and wildflowers grown high in certain parts, with mowed areas for runners and graveled areas for walkers and bikers.
Vehicle repairs took us the little town of Stanley, and then we finally -after 5 days here, made it to the actual town of Luray. Another incredibly sweet spot in the Shenandoah Valley. It is actually just up the hill, hidden, 5 miles away from us. I bet if we had not gone to a garage for repairs we would never have seen it. It was the first really hot day here in these mountains and we could not leave Shadow in the car-so I allowed Russ to do the laundry in air conditioning-and I found a park on the river with ducks and kids and people having their lunch break. Shadow and I walked the path to Main Street and checked out the shops. These little towns are very interesting. They manage to keep businesses in the old buildings and even the battered ones draw you in. Homes are smallish-old and 50’s 60’s old. People do not appear to have wealth in these small towns. The shops are not open every day except maybe in the heart of summer and we are just early for that. I have such wonderful conversations with strangers!