What a Family Tree!

I’m sprinting down the final stretch towards my last exam, but in the meantime I’ve needed a few, ahem, study breaks…as they say, “if you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.”

Chad & Rachel Day-After Sepia, Back of House

So, in my study breaks, I’ve done a little more research about “our” history.  Here is the Cliff’s Notes of where we left of last time:

Edge Hill: Native Americans –> Joist Hite –> Daniel Holman –> 92 Years of Holman Progeny –> James Madison Hite Beale

I wanted to dig a little deeper into J.M.H.B.’s past, and found some neat connections.  J.M.H.B.’s dad was Colonel Taverner Beale (owner of Mt. Airy, across the river), whose dad was Captain Taverner Beale, whose dad was Thomas Beale.

Turns out Colonial America was a small place.  Capt. Taverner (Grandpa) was married to a woman named Fanny Madison; her nephew was an overachiever: he drafted the Constitution AND became President AND has a university named after him 20 minutes from our hourse.  Geeze, way to make everyone else look bad (he also had a pretty cool house – Montpelier, not too far down the road).


Soooo…that means, President Madison was Col. Taverner’s (dad, owner of Mt. Airy) first cousin, and thus President Madison was J.M.H.B.’s (our guy) first cousin once removed.  Any other genealogy nerds out there getting goosebumps?

Turns out good ol’ Fanny had longevity genes – she outlived her first husband, Capt. Grandpa Taverner, and remarried a man named Jacob Hite.  Jacob’s dad was Joist, the original land grantee, who sold the Edge Hill grant to Daniel Holman.

Okay – buckle your seat belts:

Joist –> son Jacob -m- Fanny Madison (President Madison’s aunt)

Joist –> son Isaac -m- Nelly Madison (President Madison’s sister)

Woah.  Isaac and Nelly built Belle Grove Plantation outside of Winchester, Virginia, which can be seen from I-81; it is still one of best preserved pieces of architecture from early America.

BG vista


Okay, here we go again:

Capt. Taverner -m- Fanny Madison (first marriage) –> Col. Taverner –> J.M.H.B.

Jacob Hite -m- Fanny Madison (second marriage)

Jacob already had a daughter when he married Fanny; her name was Elizabeth Hite.  And, keeping it in the family, guess who fell in love:  Fanny’s step-daughter Elizabeth, and her son from her first marriage, Col. Taverner!  So:

Capt. Taverner -m- Fanny Madison –> Col. Taverner -m- Step-Sister Elizabeth Hite –> J.M.H.B.

Thus, Joist Hite is J.M.H.B.’s maternal grandfather and the man who helped begin the settlement of Edge Hill, which would later become J.M.H.B.’s home place.

We also found another cool connection: Tim McGraw.

tim mcgraw

No, I promise this isn’t a typo!  In my expert research (read: Googling), I found a few links mentioning both Joist AND this country legend.  Bizarre.  It turns out that Tim was on the reality series Who Do You Think You Are?, which helps celebrities trace their family roots.  I suspect you can guess where Tim’s search took him…  You can see the episode on YouTube in parts:

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (roughly 45 minutes and really easy watching).

There’s a lot of really neat information about Joist’s journey to America, his rise to fortune, and what the wilderness of young America was really like.  And, it turns our, Joist is an adaptation of the German name “Justus,” and would’ve been pronounced “Yoast.”  Go figure.  Also, a 16 year-old George Washington traveled throughout the Shenandoah Valley on a surveying trip and mentions the hospitality of the Hite Family – George Washington surveyed our land!!!  Another tie to great American history!

Yay genealogy!

Windows Restorations

As promised, here is the next round of the window process (see Part I, here).

This post covers steps 4-6:

4) Remove all of the old paint and window glazing putty from the de-glassed window sashes.

5) Using wood epoxy liquid and compound, restore the integrity to any damaged/soft/rotting wood.

6)  Sand the cleaned and repaired sashes and dry-fit the glass.

At the outset, I need to send a big thanks out to Nancy and Comer, who loaned me their copy of Working Windows by Terry Meany, an excellent resource with over 200 pages of window advice.  Where was this when I started out?!

Down to business.  When I last left you, I had gotten the glass out of the windows, but the frames were untouched.  Untouched, aside from 200 years of Mother Nature hammering away with all she had.  This left the frames in pretty poor shape: IMG_0880

OMG!  This window was actually one of the worst, thank goodness, but it is a good example and really covers all of the bases when it comes to restoration requirements.  As shown above, this window had severe rot, and as shown below, the wooden pins were coming out of the mortise and tenons:


Additionally, the joints were deteriorating and had whole pieces missing.


The first step in the process was to remove all of the old paint and any remaining putty to be able to really see what I was working with.  First, I went to Lowes and got paint stripper; that’s basic, right?  Wrong.  I tried both of the brands they offered, and both wound up with me just scraping at the paint and trying not go gouge the wood.


Next step: Amazon.  I’ve found that when I don’t know how to best tackle a product, the reviews on Amazon can generally point you in the right direction.  I searched and searched, and kept coming back to one product, Soygel, which (*bonus*) is soy-based!  No awful toxic mess.  But, it was about three times the price…this soy stuff better be good.  I got just one quart to start out.  In reading the reviews, everyone noted that there are no miracles; Soygel works best over about 24 hours of setting in, not right away.  Additionally, some reviewers noted that covering the Soygel with plastic wrap prevents evaporation and makes it work “better.”  My scientist side again comes out!  I tried putting it on thin, thick, covered thin, and covered thick.





Regardless, it all came off like this!


There was still a little scraping and clean up to, but I was able to get most of the paint off…for residuals, I employed the heat gun (again, in full respirator mask), which seems to work on the stubborn areas where the Soygel doesn’t help, or, if you don’t have the 24-hour lead time!

Next, I had to tackle the parts of the wooden frames that went sans paint for a decade (or four).  The weathered wood was particularly spongy, especially on the muntins where moisture had seeped behind the putty and was trapped there, providing the perfect mold and insect habitat.  Enter the rehab tools.  Abatron makes my “products of choice” list for historic restoration projects, and is noted in Working Windows.  Though the stuff can be a little expensive, it works miracles:


Pictured above are Abatron’s LiquidWood and WoodEpox, and some denatured alcohol, which is the universal solvent for these products.  They both come in two parts that only activate when they are mixed together.  The LiquidWood infiltrates the voids that develop in the wood through the rot process and solidifies there, reinforcing the structural integrity of the wood, and it doesn’t rot any further!  When I’m tackling a couple of windows, I thoroughly mix a good amount in a clear condiment bottle (I bought 12 off of Ebay for $7.00); the squirt nozzle allows you to apply the LiquidWood right where you need it and not make a mess of things.


Once the LiquidWood is on the desired surface, I use a paint brush to apply it evenly and ensure full penetration. LiquidWood, however, is just for where the wood is weathered or slightly “spongy.”  For the parts where the wood has already rotted off or where voids, insect boreholes, or breakages have occurred, you need the big guns: WoodEpox.  To start out, you again mix equal parts, but this time it’s like play-dough!



Once it is all mixed together, I prime the target surface with LiquidWood, which infiltrates down into the base, the wood around the areas is usually pretty bad itself, and then I slather on the WoodEpoxy.  I have found that the denatured alcohol makes this product a lot easier to work with and helps keep it from sticking to your gloves, etc., while you are applying it.


It is important to put on more than you really need, because once it is all dry, you sand it down to get the profile and surface you want; if you skimp you might find yourself having to go back and add more – a real pain due to the drying time required.


Once it is done, it has to set for a couple of days.




And when it is dry, you just sand it down until it is flush with the existing frame.  Voila!


Muntins and rabbits are particularly tricky; again, the key is to put on more than you need and sand down when it is dry.


All trimmed down!


After it has set thoroughly, I sand the wood all over one last time to ensure that the surface is smo0th and free of imperfections.  After sanding, I take each piece of glass and dry-fit it back into the frame.  This process is essential to do before you add putty, as you don’t want to try and force the glass into the frames, and the dimensions have changed since the muntins have been restored with putty.  I found that this step took extra time with the sander to ensure that each piece of window glass had a nice snug fit.

Next up, window putty!  Or, the process of separating the men from the boys.

‘Tis the Season at Edge Hill!

First, apologies for the absence of posts this fall.  When I’m back at school, Chad works harder than ever on the house, but he doesn’t always have extra hands for picture-taking!  We can’t wait to provide a window update, as the first set is back in the frame and they look AMAZING!  Also, we may have a roof on the smokehouse this week…get ready for it!

This weekend, we broke up the monotony of my final-exam studying with plenty of holiday cheer.  Chad has had a few issues with the heater in the last few weeks (I think the house was an average of 40 degrees in mid-afternoon, requiring some serious Eskimo-style layering), but now the entire first floor is opened up, warm, and feeling like a real house.

Here are a few pictures of Christmas season at Edge Hill!

First, a “big” welcome to Jackson, the newest member of our family!  We don’t know if he’s ever seen a Christmas tree, since he grew up in Hawaii (do they have to import Christmas trees there? Or do they just decorate palm trees?).  He is just as goofy as Afton and we’re having a blast integrating him into our “pack.”


Cami is not too sure if she’s a fan of TWO Great Danes in one house, so she watched the Christmas prep from a distance.


We got a wild hare mid-decorating and decided to pull down some of the paneling above the Great Room fireplaces.

Here’s the “before”:


And…what’s this? A little corner of wall paper showing from behind the paneling?


And another piece hiding up in a corner where a piece of panel had already fallen down:


And, down it came!  You can see the plastic vapor barrier that was behind the paneling. 







It makes the whole room start to feel less dark and depressing.



AND!  The remains of the border we found above the second mantel has the same pattern as some of the gorgeous wall paper we uncovered in our attic adventure (And this is one of our favs, it’s gilded)!


And here is the full pattern:


Most of the decorations are courtesy of my Aunt Barbie, Uncle Skip, and cousins Jen and Christine, who gave us “Our First Christmas” as a wedding present.  It is so nice to have five tubs full of yuletide spirit in our first few years of (student-loan ridden) married life!  Barbie also made the adorable little cross-stitched pillow, below.






Apologies for the poor lighting in the next picture, but when we moved in this door was laying on its side mysteriously in the Great Room sans hardware…and now is hanging AND has a doorknob, so it is exciting to have a picture of this guy pulling his weight!  The icing on the cake is that this is our bedroom door, so we are no longer living in a cut-through space!


Now that we’ve got a bedroom door, maybe we’ll get a chance to remove these wonderful mirrors above the very traditional mantle…



A little mistletoe for the front hall:


And, drum roll, please…the TREE!



A 10.5-foot beast – what a treat to have room for a big tree!  Unfortunately, we accidentally picked one with razor-sharp needles, but Chad valiantly lit the whole thing in record time and we decorated with the first round of ornaments (there are still a few that need to make the trip from Richmond).

We hope some of you will get a chance to stop by while the house is decorated.  Happy Holidays, everyone – and for those of us who are still students, best of luck with final exams!