Wednesday, August 21, 2013

During a visit today to the General Land Office in Austin, I had the honor of holding the document pictured above in my hands, my fingers touching the same paper my Maternal (4)Great Grandfather held, and signed with his flourish of a rubric. This document signified the start of a story I am certain neither he or his wife Rachel could have imagined... This document was the formalization of a decision, without which, I could not be who I am.

LTM (Luther Thomas Martin) Plummer, came to Texas with his wife and her Family from Illinois. Rachel's Uncle, Daniel Parker, a former Illinois State Senator and predestinarian Baptist Minister, had come to Texas earlier, and had settled not far from where Rachel's Father, James, and his brother Silas chose to settle on the banks of the Navasota River, establishing Fort Parker.

This is a picture of the Limestone county land-grant map, showing LTM Plummer's land grant of one league, granted from the government of Mexico.

Fort Parker was built in the Spring of 1835, with more members of the Parker Family (Including Rachel's Grandfather John Parker and Uncle Benjamin) arriving that Fall. As an interesting aside, Rachel's Father, James Parker, attended the Consultation of Nov1835 at San Felipe de Austin, as a delegate for Viesca (Milam), where Thomas Holmes (My Grandfather on my Father's side) was a delegate for Bevil (Jasper)... amazing to imagine that they likely met, maybe even had a conversation, it would be interesting to know if Mr. Parker, being predestinarian, considered Thomas Holmes a "Bad" or Good" seed... James Parker left the meeting early due to reports of Indian troubles around Fort Parker.

LTM and Rachel continued building their lives in Texas - On the morning of 19May1836, a pregnant Rachel Parker Plummer, their two year old son James Pratt, and many other family members were left at the Fort as LTM, James Parker, and most of the men of the Fort left to work the fields that surrounded it for miles.

Later that morning a large group of Commanche appeared outside the fort. Fearing the worst, Rachel's Uncle, Benjamin Parker, decided that he would go out to meet a warrior waving a white flag to bide time for other family members to escape. Rachel stayed in the Fort, fearing she and her young son would not be able to keep up. Upon Benjamin's return to the Fort, their fears were confirmed, Benjamin  warned them that they would all likely die... Rachel then wanted to flee, but was asked by her Uncle Silas to watch the front gate while he ran for his musket and powder, in Rachel's memoir she remembers her Uncle Silas saying - “They will kill Benjamin,” she reported her Uncle Silas saying, “and then me, but I will do for at least one of them, by God.” - At that moment, she heard the Indians whooping inside the Fort walls, and with her son James Pratt began to run. In her memoir she states she turned around to see her Uncle Benjamin being stabbed with Commanche spears, his act of distraction allowing many to escape, but leading to him being the first of the casualties in the Fort Parker Massacre.

Below are pictures of Benjamin Parker's Bible, taken from Fort Parker by the Indians, and later recovered, now housed at the Brisco Center for American History at UT Austin... today as I visited the special collections, and they delivered the plain brown envelope to me, I felt privileged to be able to hold a Bible that bore witness to events that seem almost unbelievable today...

My Great Uncle, Jim Plummer, wrote of his visit with the Bible, saying "I held that Bible in my hands while at the same time closing my eyes wondering if Benjamin Parker had been able to read even a few scriptures from it on the morning of May 19, 1836, before some 500 Indians would ride their horses slowly out of the woods to the clearing not far from Fort Parker's main gate." It is hard to describe the feelings that emerge while holding that Bible...

During the raid of Fort Parker, it is remarkable that only five settlers were killed, and five settlers captured, with the remainder escaping thanks to Benjamin Parker. 

Included among those captured were Rachel Plummer and her young son James Pratt Plummer, as well as Rachel's cousin, Cynthia Ann Parker, who would go on to marry a Commanche Chief, and become the mother of Quanah Parker, last chief of the free Commanche, and contemporary of president Theodor Roosevelt. 

LTM returned from the fields to find the bodies of his Rachel's Uncle and Grandfather among the dead scattered in the ashes of Fort Parker, and his Wife and Son taken. He immediately began searching for Rachel and his son, as did Rachel's father James Parker.

Rachel was seperated from her son James Pratt shortly after the raid, when the Commanche learned he was weaned. She never saw her son James Pratt again... Rachel, who was pregnant at the time of her adbuction, bore her second son around October of 1836, and named him Luther... her Commanche captives felt the child was interfering with her work as a slave, so they dragged the child to death, returning the dead baby to her as illustrated by O. Henry in the book "Indian Depredations in Texas, by JW Wilbarger.
Rachel was ransomed from the Commanche on 19Jun1837 north of Santa Fe, and returned to her husband in Texas on 19Feb1838, emaciated and covered in scars. She wrote a narrative of her ordeal, titled "Rachel Plummer's Narrative of 21 Months Servitute as a Prisoner Among the Commanchee Indians" which was published in Houston in 1838, becoming the first published account of Indian abduction in Texas, and was a sensation not only in the Republic, but also in the United States and even Abroad. Rachel bore a third child in Jan 1839, and died shortly thereafter. 

As another aside, Rachel's Cousin, the famous Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Quanah Parker, was not returned to her European American Family until 1860, and after so many years with the Commanche, had forgotten most of her former life. Her son, Quanah Parker, became a leader among the Commanche, and is known as the last free chief of the plains Commanche. Before leading his band to Fort Sill, he was wanted by the US Army for raids on Anglo settlements. Pictured is the original press used to print the Quanah Parker "Reward" posters, in the early days of Fort Sill. This artifact resides  in the collection of 717North.

At some point there appears to have been a falling out between LTM Plummer and Rachel's Father, some believe because James Parker felt that LTM had not done enough to aid in the rescue of Rachel and James Pratt... When James Pratt was finally ransomed in 1842, by $500 paid by the Republic of Texas, James Parker refused to return James Pratt Plummer to his Father, LTM Plummer, unless LTM paid James Parker $500. LTM Plummer wrote to President Sam Houston regarding the matter, and Sam Houston sided with LTM, stating that as the Republic of Texas had paid the ransom, no moneys were due to James Parker, and ordered LTM and his son be reunited.

There are many intricacies of this story, and entire chapters of books dedicated to its explanation, with James Parker going on to revise Rachel Plummer's story and publish it again with a book of his own, and over time the reputation of LTM Plummer was tarnished by the words of his former Father-in-law,
however in the past few years many have come to believe (Thanks, in part, to Sam Houston's correspondence) that LTM had done everything he could to find his missing wife and child, and his reputation has been restored.

The picture to the right is LTM Plummer, thought to have been taken in the 1880s.

LTM later married Angeline Glenn, and their son Hinton Plummer married Ada Vera Hines, their son James Luther Plummer married Maude Terry, both pictured below:

James Luther and Maude Terry's son, James Garland Plummer was born in Groesbeck TX, just a few miles away from Fort Parker, he was my Great-Grandfather, and was eight when his parents died one day apart in October 1918, during the 1918 Flu Pandemic. He grew up in crazy times, and once told me a story of one of his childhood friends who was black, whose father was lynched... he told me he remembered his friends father hanging from a tree, and how profoundly that affected him, and taught him that hate was never an option.

James Garland went on to marry Ozella Evelyn Parsons, pictured below with their eldest daughter, my Grandmother, Juanita Sue (Nina) Plummer. Juanita had a twin who died as an infant of meningitis, and two younger siblings, Rita Faye and James Garland Jr. (Jim)

I was lucky enough to spend alot of time with my Great-Grandparents, and I attribute my love of plants to James Garland, who seemed to be able to grow literally anything, and my love of history to Ozella, who literally wrote a novel on the back of every picture she ever took and had a bookcase filled with everything from "Rachel Plummers Narrative" to "Archaeological Digest". I can remember them taking me to the Jim Hogg Plantation, or to reunions at the Plummer Cemetery in Limestone County (I remember one of those reunions being the first time I heard a peacock call, which as a kid can be pretty scary) or to the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence. I remember, at maybe 6 or 7 years old, my Granny-Plummer teaching me the meaning of the words "translucent" versus "transparent" using a container of rocks that she kept just inside the back door... it seems that almost every encounter was used to instill some sort of knowledge, or even better, a curiosity for the world around us. All of this because LTM Plummer fell in love with a Parker, and decided on a crazy adventure in the Mexican Province of Texas y Coahuila.

The popup valentine given in 1933 to Ozella Parsons, from James Garland Plummer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It is no secret that the Bevil municipality, present day Newton and Jasper counties, has a rich history, even if many of the details have been obscured by the passage of time... Once the eastern edge of a vast frontier, the area experienced the lawless days of the wild west, the civil war, and the industrial revolution from a unique vantage point. My love for history probably stems from growing up hearing amazing stories of a Holmes family patriarch nicknamed "Goldy" because he only paid his debts in gold, of a Great-Great Grandfather who once shot a Texas Ranger while wearing women's shoes to throw authorities off his trail, of ancestors who barely survived Indian massacres, and lore enough to fill a library.

In researching the Autrey-Williams house, countless stories have uncovered themselves, and I sometimes feel like an overstimulated kid in a candy store, not knowing which direction to explore next... My most recent foray into the past started with the Western Naval Stores, headed by Latta Autrey, and headquartered in Newton. Without that company, the house at 717 North would never have been built.

Since it was Labor Day weekend, I felt it appropriate to check out some of the labor camps, one of which is all but forgotten, that fueled the economic engines of early 20th century Newton and Jasper Counties.

The Western Naval Stores Company was a venture backed by the Gillican-Vizard (later the Gillican-Chipley) Company of New Orleans, it was created to tap the westernmost reaches of the longleaf pine forest. An article in the 24Aug1907 Fort Worth Star lauds the creation of "one of the largest turpentine stills west of the Mississippi" on the Burrs Ferry, Browndel, and Chester railroad near Aldridge, in northwestern Jasper County. This still was the first outpost of the newly created company, and became its largest worker camp, supporting a town called Turpentine, and a post office that ran from 1909 to 1926. Aldridge was a mill town started by William Hal Aldridge with heavy involvement of John Kirby, and as of the 1910 census had a population of 562, the population of Aldridge was volatile and depended on the operation of the mill itself, which was prone to fire. The Post Office at Aldridge ceased operation for the final time in 1923. Like many other towns started by lumber companies - Bon Wier, Wiergate and Kirbyville in their early days, Aldridge and Turpentine's sole purpose was to house workers and serve the interests of the company. Unlike some other mill towns, both Aldridge and Turpentine found no other purpose along with other company towns such as Wenasco, that was 5 miles north of Jasper, whose name is based on an abbreviated version of the name of the company that created it, and when the companies that created them went bankrupt or pulled out of the area, the towns disappeared.

Turpentine and Aldridge, linked by the Burrs Ferry, Browndel, and Chester Railroad, both appear on a 1918 land office map of Jasper County below:

I recently set off on an excursion to try to find the site of the old town of turpentine with Brad, my Mom, Nephew Merka, and Misty and John Gipson. Misty and I scoured the internet and found very little as to the exact location of the town. Most mention of the town was in contemporary publishings from the early 1910s, describing the location of turpentine using Aldridge and the Burrs Ferry, Browndel and Chester railroad as reference points... which proved to be a problem because while a shell of the old Aldridge mill remains, the town of aldridge, and the railroad itself are long gone, with few traces of their existence to be seen... An old friend, John Wall was able to locate an article written in 2007, and a period  topographic map of turpentine he layered onto Google Earth to provide us a perfect pinpoint of where the town should have been, on the eastern banks of Sherwood creek and the northern side of the long gone railroad.

After driving about 35 minutes from Newton, it was hard to imagine the trek for Latta Autrey before modern roads... he not only managed the operations of the Western Naval Stores Company, in Turpentine and various other locations, he also is listed as postmaster for the Turpentine Post Office from 1909-1914. When he ceded postmaster duties to Geo. E. Seale in 1914, Latta became president of the Guaranty State Bank in Newton, so he may have delegated responsibilities in Turpentine, and been able to spend more time in Newton and the home he had built there in 1912.

After driving down an old Forestry Service road for a few miles and having to park because the vehicle could go no farther, we walked a further half mile through a recently logged field. Suffice it to say that deep woods off, coupled with afternoon sun in SouthEast Texas, makes spontaneous combustion almost as much a fear as the West Nile the OFF was supposed to pre-empt... haha. We arrived at the location we hoped was Turpentine, and were greeted with the following, semi anti-climactic view: 

After some  investigation, we found the old Sherwood Creek that was almost dry, and a broken piece of a large porcelain bowl... after a little more investigation we found 5 or six railroad spikes, and a horseshoe...  You wouldn't think such paltry finds could be exciting, but those items told us we were in the right place. It was hard to believe that an industry so important to SouthEast Texas, creating vast fortunes for many people, could vanish almost completely. All that was left of Turpentine were a few manmade earthen mounds the logging activities hadn't yet leveled, and countless iron scraps and trash.

Below is an iron band that held together a barrell, maybe it was used to store Turpentine, the liquid gold that sustained the town - we will never know.

Life in turpentine camps was rough. Bob Bowman, a well known East Texas historian, quoted Chester Norris of Broaddus as saying of Turpentiners in 1973 - "They'd kill each or two every Saturday night. If they didn't have gambling and a barrel house to get drunk in, they'd move on to camps where they did have 'em." Turpentiners, as the workers were called, were often looked down on by more "legitimate" foresters, and there was a bit of animosity between the turpentine workers, exacerbated in part by the problems the mill workers had with the trees that had been tapped for turpentine. In a letter from Mr. Aldridge to C.P. Myers on 17Feb1914 held in Kirby Lumber Company Records, Mr. Aldridge claims that as many as four times a day, a nail left in a tree tapped for turpentine would "Spike" a saw blade, causing “a thousand dollars in lost time changing saws, and damage done to the saws.” 

While we were there, at the place where Turpentine once thrived, it was hard not to think just of Latta Autrey, and the big house in Newton it's activities helped finance, but of the workers who lived and died here... a quick search turned up the following biography in "From the desk of Henry Ralph" by Geraldine Primrose Carson: Henry Smith Ralph was born on 11 Jan 1838 in Ebenezer, Jasper Co., TX. He died on 25 Sep 1924 in Turpentine, Jasper Co., TX. He was buried in Ebenezer Cemetery in Jasper Co., TX. Henry served as a sergeant in the 13th Texas Dismounted Cavalry, Co. G, Burnett's Regiment, Walker's Division in the Civil War with his neighbors. This unit fought with Waul's Division in Louisiana and Arkansas. Henry enlisted 3-1-1862. Henry also served in the Texas Legislature.

We then continued on to Aldridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is much more accessible, and easier to find in the Boykin Springs Recreation Area... As we walked up the trail, through a section where once the houses of "white" workers were located, we walked past the old mill pond to see a huge concrete wall looming in the shadows of the pines on the other side. Aldridge closed for the final time after financial issues, strains in the relationship between Kirby and Aldridge, and finally a fire in 1918 shut down the last sawmill to operate at Aldridge. Kirby continued to operate Aldridge as a camp, shipping logs to his other mills, until the railroad was ripped up in 1925. All that remains of Aldridge today can be seen in the photos below:

Monday, August 27, 2012

So it has been an exciting month or so in developing the research on the house, and in the process for nominating the house to the National Register of Historic Places... I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with two of LM Autrey's Grandchildren, Katherine Autrey Quinn, and Gill Autrey, as well as Gill Autrey's son also named Gill. They have been kind enough to provide some new pictures of LM and Lelia, and Gill provided a great narrative on what he knew of Latta and Lelia. I also was able to speak with members of the McCree family, who still own and run McCree construction in Orlando, started by W. A. McCree, who was a friend and employee of Latta Autrey, and worked for the original constuctor of 717 North, as well as rebuilding the home after it was damaged in a fire in late 1912.

My research has taken me through the long leaf pine forests of the Carolinas, Georigia, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, Ive followed threads and paper trails left by the Armistead, Autrey, and McCree families from the late 1800s through the 1940s. Ive found tantalizing glimpses of high flying pre-depression industrialism in newspapers and trade journals referencing business meetings in New Orleans with Walter Gillican and Buckner Chipley, the southern equivalents of the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Duponts of their day. To say it has been interesting is a gross understatement... Through all this the long leaf pine has remained a constant, tying the story together. That amazing species built the fortunes of all these families, the Autrey-Williams house both  literally and figuratively, and played such a pivotal role in the development of SouthEast Texas, sadly not one acre of old growth long leaf pine forest remains in Texas, the richness of its flesh and blood proving too great a temptation to the people around it. You can see a condensed version of all my research at:

I also received the official notice from the Texas Historical Commission that the house and all my research, pictures, blood sweat and tears, haha, will be examined next month by the Board of Review, hopefully, on the nomination documents, I was able to capture the amazing story the house tells of the region, the long leaf pine, and the families who have lived there.

One thing I love about history is the humbling nature of it, I always turn introspective when looking at time in such large chunks...

I'm reading a book called "Looking for Longleaf" which chronicles the history of the old growth forests which once covered all of the Southeastern United States, it notes that as early as the 1850s, one traveler made the following observation "The time is not far distant when these stately monarchs of the forest... will have been borne down by the unwearied worker at their feet and not one vestige of their former glory will remain" and the tears of rosin dripping from wounds on their trunks was described by one conservationist as follows "Aye well may you weep melancholy tree, for your days are numbered".

While the long leaf pine forests truly helped build the world we now enjoy, I hope that we can learn from their abuse, and be better stewards our God given resources moving forward. I leave you with a haunting poem written in the early 1900s by Anne McQueen, particularly haunting if you've ever stood in a pine forest, hearing nothing but the sound of your own heart, and the noise the wind makes through countless needles:

Listen! The great trees call to each other:
"Is it come your time to die, my brother?"
And through the forest, wailing and moaning,
The hearts of the pines, in their branches groaning-
           "We die, we die!"

"We, who have watched the centuries dying,
The span of years as an arrow flying,
Ages seeming a day and a morrow;
Lo, we have reached the time of our sorrow-
           We die, we die!"

"We, who have stood with our ranks unbroken,
Breasting the storms, a sign and a token
That the gale must cease; and the wild winds staying,
Man, we shielded, is come, and is slaying-
           We die, we die!"

"Flaying the bark, and our bodies baring;
Like dim white ghosts in the moonlight staring,
Naked we stand, with the life sap welling-
Tears of resin, to gather for selling-
           We die, we die!"

All over the land are the forests dying,
One piece of silver a tree life buying.
Listen! The great trees moan to each other:
"The Axe has scarred me too, my brother-
           We die, we die!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A week at the "Big House"

So for those of you who do not know, we started calling the house "The Big House" so (at the time) 2 year old Merka could differentiate it from Grams' house, Granny's House, or Uncle David and Uncle Brads, etc... It isn't nearly as sophisticated as "The Autrey-Williams House", or "717 North", but even the most distinguished often have nicknames, Winston Churchill being called "Winnie the British Bulldog" in introduction at a state affair would have been rather interesting right?

We just returned from a week in Newton, which was a lot of fun - it was our first week working remotely from the home, and it actually went well, big red has a great 3G data network, even in Newton... we visited with a lot of people, went swimming in Cow Creek at Ms. Nancy's camp, Had Misty's Broccoli Cheese soup and my Mom's Chicken Fried Steak... it was a good week.

While we were able to finish repairing the baseboards in the dining room and get it painted, and get all the white paint off the woodwork in the master bedroom (which is a huge feat for such a small time period, thank you peel away 7), the most exciting work was in researching the house.

More developments with learning and documenting more about the history of the house... I visited with Mrs. Sartain, who shared a much clearer copy of the 1913 Newspaper picture of the house, and took it to the Newton County Historical Commission for a copy to be archived. In the clearer copy you can see detail of the columns (whose Capitals I can now confidently say are original) and of what appears to be a carriage house and possibly summer kitchen to the rear of the house, which are no longer there. It's always a pleasure to visit the NCHC, and to visit with Mrs. Fortenberry, Pam Wright, Kathy Knighton, Mr. Collins, and whoever may be in that day... it is one of the benefits of a small town where everyones lives are intertwined... While touring the museum I saw a painting donated by the Hilliards I hadn't noticed before, when the "Big House" was painted yellow during their ownership:

When I returned Mrs. Sartain's paper after making copies, she was having a snack in the kitchen, which faces the Autrey-Williams house, and asked about the plants she's seen us watering so much... it is always a pleasure to visit with her.

That night we explored the attic a bit further, which included fashioning a "grabber" out of a telescoping pole and some duct tape (of course) to extend down into the 25' hole in the attic beside the chimneys... we grabbed some awesome 1984 certificate of appreciation, and a sears catalogue circa 1990, then decided to explore other areas... In the peak attic, wedged behind the chimney I found a stack of 1930s women's underwear, I think maybe the first elasticized girlde ever made, and a coke bottle lid from maybe the 50s... Not the greatest luck, but the ancient underwear was kinda interesting.

The 4th of July, we of course had to visit an old friend at the fireworks stand... don't let anyone ever tell you that fireworks are like burning money, fireworks are much prettier and make more noise! During one fireworks finale, the box tipped over resulting in "flaming balls" shooting past the crowd and an amazing display behind everyone watching, the most "amazing display" was the running and screaming of about 20 people, Jan's hair smelled like burnt feathers even after a few washings... I think she had a close encounter with one of those "flaming balls"...  Plus poor Bailey, who was already a bit skittish, may never again want to be within 20 feet of anything with a fuse.

Since returning to Austin I have made contact with McCree construction, which is a family owned construction/architecture firm in Orlando, started by WA McCree, who rebuilt the house in 1912/1913 after the first home burned shortly after completion in 1912... I have found zero documentation of the fire, or of the house being rebuilt, but oral history says it happened. The McCree family was able to confirm at least that oral history says that WA McCree did rebuild the home. WA McCree did live in Newton for two years (where he also built a home for his family), and was the construction superintendent for the Western Naval Stores. This is all documented in a book on family history written by WA McCree Jr:

I was also able to speak with a Grandson of LM Autrey, who told me the reason his Grandfather left Newton was the sale of the Turpentine Company. He moved to Orlando to retire, became mayor, and after the depression moved to GA. He also told me that his Grandfather owned the first Cadillac in Newton County, and will send me some pictures he has, which of course I will share when they are received.

Discovering and documenting history is a very slow process, sometimes frustrating, sometimes elating... but this week has produced some awesome prospects, and lead to great conversations, half the fun is in the journey...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

So at around 3AM this morning, our new, revamped website went live at ... of more import is the fact that I still had any hair on my head when it did...

Part of the fun in rehabbing 717North is keeping everyone updated, so when a friend who happens to be a talented and prodigious blogger was making me jealous with her slick site and posts that would seem to be a combination between Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, and how I imagine Ruth Graham - with a little extra kick only those raised in SouthEast Texas possess, I decided it was time I put in a bit more effort.

After finally finding a design program I liked compatible with mac, and working for several days on laying out the bones of the site, I FTP the files to my server only to realize my image thumbnails didn't link properly to full size versions... so I retool the pages and FTP again, only to find that iWeb FTP now crashes constantly and the page is half uploaded in a weird cyber-purgatory type way. Add to that fact that iWeb is no longer supported by Apple, and our nice new Apple Computer almost got an all expense paid vacation to the front lawn, complete with one way air travel. I finally found a freeware FTP program called Classic FTP, and painstakingly transferred each of the 250 or so files individually to the server. The site is still rather basic, but after I recover, the Holmes family section will be expanded and I'd like to include sections on Newton history, Thomas Williams and The Long Leaf Pine Forest that built the Southeast US.

All this really makes me feel rather computer illiterate, I really havent kept up with the times, I feel like Im a few neurons away from thinking the DVD drive is a cupholder... oh wait, computers don't even come with those anymore :-|

So in the end, just know, projects begun in jealousy always bring angst... but patience can salvage any debacle. Just kidding, I wouldn't call it jealousy... so maybe we should close with "as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another".

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I realized as I was leaving work today that I may have a slight problem... as I was waiting for the elevator I noticed a spot of white paint on the wood trim surrounding the elevator entry and was surprised by an almost irrepressible urge to scratch that paint off (followed of course by sanding, staining, varnishing, filling, etc). Yes, we have been working on trim restoration for far too long. But Mrs. Sartain would be proud - upon our first meeting, the almost centenarian daughter of Thomas Williams (as in Autrey-Williams House), who grew up in the home, told me of her dismay that the virgin long leaf pine moldings had been painted white. The virgin pine forests are gone she rightly said, then quipped "so are all the virgins" - I hope I have half as much wit at her age ;)

So in it's hundredth year of existence, I'd like to think of all our hard work (by "our" I mean mostly my Mom, haha) as a birthday present to a home I have admired for as long as I can remember. We still have a long way to go, but I wanted to take a moment to recognize the progress we have made.

The Foyer, before (July 2011) and nearing completion (April 2012)

The Guest Bathroom Main Floor before (Sep 2011), in progress (April 2012)


So just to make ourselves feel better,  I wanted to showcase a few pictures that show the progress that has been made. It can be daunting when you think of everything that needs to be done, but just as in life, sometimes you have to slow down, zoom in, forget about the big scary 10,000 foot overview, and enjoy the journey.