Sad but thankful. In about 1800, my Revolutionary War ancestor, William Preston (1754-1842) built a house at Rumney, New Hampshire. The house still stands, but not for long. Demolition has already begun.
If walls could talk. William's first wife, Elizabeth (Clark) Preston died in 1807, quite likely in the home. Maj. William probably died there, still later. William's second bride, Mary (Herbert) Preston would have considered it to be her home, too.
Elizabeth was the mother of twelve children, and Mary, two. Each of the mothers lost one child young, but there were no doubt many at the table over the years for family occasions. There were other visitors, too. About one of the stories William and Mary's daughter, Hannah (Preston) Webster, told her cousin, Charles Herbert, he wrote (1887), "She remembers men coming about pensions, also when decanters were always on a table—later, when set aside, when any one came & all were welcome—especially old soldiers, it was, 'Mary, get out the decanters--' & her mother speedily responded with other refreshments.”
I imagine this house is where William and Elizabeth's first born son, William, Jr. (b. 1780), announced that he and brother John would set out for Ohio. Maj. William was probably here, at the home, when he learned John Preston had died at Ohio in 1819; son William, in 1837.
Private beach and swimming hole. The house stands on just over 15 acres. The acreage is for sale and soon the house, now in a state of disrepair, will be no more. The property description (Gowen Realty) reads, "This is a great field lot with two levels one part sitting high above the river and the other level at river bank height. This parcel has a great private beach and swimming hole. Equestrian potential keeping horses in the lower field while sitting above on your deck watching them graze and enjoy all the space. Also a terrific view of Stinson." According to the listing agent, parts of the house and/or hardware will be recycled by the demolition firm.
Ivan Kemp. The man who last owned and much loved the house, Ivan Kemp, passed away in 2008. Ivan also cared for the Rumney Cemetery where William Preston and his first wife, Elizabeth (Clark) Preston are buried. Ivan passed away about a month after I last interviewed him.
This old house. I spoke this morning with Susan Turbyne, Byron G. Merrill librarian and active blogger (http://rumneylibrary.blogspot.com/). I understand from our conversation that more than one group organized to save the house, but it was not to be.
Susan says the house was lovely at one time. She's located a picture held by the historical society and hopes to send it along. From my conversation earlier this week with the listing agent, I'm hopeful still other photographs might be found. In the mean time, Susan took time this afternoon to take and send a picture of the home in its partially deconstructed state (above).
Our thanks to those who kept the house standing for more than 200 years, and to those who have otherwise memorialized the house William built.