ANN BAILEY: Century-old home and farmstead steeped in family historyIn 1911, my great-grandparents, James and Theresa Barrett, built a house southeast of Larimore, N.D., and moved there with their three children from a farm south of Arvilla, N.D. At the time, my grandmother, Anna, was 11 years old. She lived in the house for most of her life until she died at age 93. My mom, Marcia, grew up there, and now I live there with my husband and children.
In 1911, my great-grandparents, James and Theresa Barrett, built a house southeast of Larimore, N.D., and moved there with their three children from a farm south of Arvilla, N.D.
At the time, my grandmother, Anna, was 11 years old. She lived in the house for most of her life until she died at age 93. My mom, Marcia, grew up there, and now I live there with my husband and children.
I don’t know if it ever crossed my grandparents’ minds that a hundred years later the house still would be occupied by members of their family, but I think they’d be pleased. Family was an important part of their lives and I expect they’d be pretty proud that their great-great-grandchildren are growing up in the house they built.
I’m also pleased and proud. I like knowing that I am cooking dinner in the same kitchen where my great-grandma, grandma and mom cooked theirs, growing vegetables and fruits in the same garden they did and, yes, even washing clothes in the same basement.
Meanwhile, when I go in the bunkhouse to fetch a garden tool or walk into the machine shed to help my husband, Brian, hook up to a cultivator, I get a kick out of knowing that the former building housed the men who worked for my grandpa and great-grandpa and the latter one stored their horse-drawn farm equipment
Another thing I like about living in a century-old family house on a farmstead that’s been around even longer is that I am daily surrounded by so much history. That’s because not only are we simply living within the walls of the house, we are surrounded by and using many things of the previous generations.
In the living room and dining room, for example, there are many pictures of my great-grandparents, grandma and mom. On holidays, we use the china that belonged to my great-grandma and mash the potatoes with a red-handled masher that my grandma used.
Throughout the house, there also are pieces of furniture that belonged to my great-grandparents and grandparents and the attic is full of many more.
The attic also contains dozens more photos, marriage and First Communion certificates, farming ledgers and other records of their lives. When I’m in the basement, old canning jars, clothes pin holders and cigar boxes remind me of days gone by.
There also are reminders of life in the previous generation’s day throughout the rest of the buildings on the farmstead. Threshing machine tools, for example, hang on the walls of the shop, old mercury thermometers tell the temperature in the machine shed and hen nesting boxes are in the old chicken house.
Meanwhile, wooden egg crates, metal milk bottle holders and clay pots stored in the top of the bunkhouse are testimony to the fact that we didn’t always live in a throw-away society.
Seeing and using the items that belonged to previous generations helps ground me and my family and allows us to see that we are part of something much bigger, that families lived here long before us.
It gives me a good feeling to be a part of the picture that my great-grandparents started painting 100 years ago when they built the house. My family and I take pride and find satisfaction in being its stewards. I hope that my great-great children can say the same in another hundred years.