Friday, March 30, 2012

Houses and Homes

One of the things hard not to miss while doing intensive historical multigenerational research is this: during one lifetime many people have owned a house or homes, but rarely have said abodes remained in the same extended family for more than one or two generations. That's got to make one take pause at the concept of "private ownership."

Where I am writing this from, once the Caddo tribe and related groups were pushed out of what is now Fort Worth, Texas, newcomers arrived to settle the area, mostly after the US-Mexican War (1846-1848). Today, of the houses and buildings constructed in that initial settlement period, only a small handful remain, at most. Almost every house or building standing today in Fort Worth -- or almost anywhere else in the USA -- was constructed within the past one hundred years. 

On the other hand, I've visited a house that was owned by the same extended family, the Sheltons of Virginia, since it was built in or around 1725. Nine generations, about 280 years. I thought of that just now, and of meeting William R. Shelton Jr., the last Shelton* to own the house, decades ago. He let me, my Dad and several other history-minded people inside the house, where he showed furniture and papers dating back to the beginning of the home's residency. More on that soon, I suspect, but there was a bed frame that he said was listed in the Domesday Book (which dates to 1086 A.D.). Holy moly! In any case, I'm delighted to report that the Shelton House ("Rural Plains") is now part of the US National Park Service, just since fall 2011. It's part of the greater Richmond battlefield area:

(Photo credit: Bernard Fisher, October 8, 2006, The Historical Marker Database).

*He died in 2006, I've since learned.

Dear reader, how many people do you know or recall having owned the same house or home for more than two generations? 

Today's Rune: Protection.  


Charles Gramlich said...

Two of my families houses are now on the second generation. None more than 2 yet though.

Adorably Dead said...

I think I only know of one that was passed down.