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Amelia, What Is It? - 27 W Main St.

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Amelia, What Is It? - 25,27 W Main St.


   I can't remember what year it was, maybe not even what decade. I do know that it was before Stephen B. Smalley, a famous Mt. Washington historian, passed away.

   There was a knock at the door and when I looked out there was an old looking guy, very dapperly dressed with suit and tie, standing at the the door. He was African American which in those days was rare. I open the door and he held out his hand and told me his name which I have long since forgotten. I shook his had and asked him if I could help him. He said that many years ago he was the carriage driver for the congressman who lived here. He told me his age, I think 94, and that he was going around for what he considered his last trip, and was just trying revisit and remember things from his youth. I thought his was about a cool a guy as I had ever met.

   I invited him in and what he did was give me a tour of my own old house! It was great fun. He told us about the fireplaces, the dances and parties they used to have in our large front room, about the horse barn and where they kept the carriage. And one thing that absolutely convinced me he was telling the truth. When we got on the old back porch he told me that they used to get water out of a cistern that was under the porch. He pointed to the corner and said the opening should have been somewhere in that corner. The floor was covered with linoleum and I went over and lifted it up and sure enough there was a door that I pulled up and low and behold a cistern! What great fun me and the old man had going through all the things he remembered in his youth. I have often thought about the old fellow and I hope he received a lot of happiness during his visit to our home.

   One thing I got out of his visit was a great curiosity about the history of our place. I had read in one of the local newspapers about some booklets being sold by Stephen Smalley and I went to his house down in Mt. Washington to buy the books. They were about the Cincinnati, Georgetown Portsmouth Railroad that used to come right through Amelia to get to Georgetown. My Grandfather was a conductor on that railroad which is why I was interested in Mr. Smalley's books. What a nice man he was. He invited me into his house and handed me the booklets I was interested in to view before I bought them. I told his that my grandpa was a conductor on the CGP and he asked me his name. I told him grandpa's name and he said "I knew him! I knew most of the railroad crew. I might even have some pictures of him." I told him that the family actually didn't have one picture of grandpa Cleaver and it would be great if he could find one. He went into another room and came out with this huge photo album. Flipping through the pages he stopped and said "here he is, there are a couple of pictures?" I was excited of course but I really didn't know what my grandpa looked like so I had to take his word. I asked him if he could have some copies made and he said he would be glad to. I ordered 4 of each. I gave them to my mom and my uncle as gifts and sure enough they both said it was grandpa as soon as they saw them!

   Mr. Smalley and I talked through the afternoon and I told him the story about the old man who visited us. He seemed to be very interested so I invited him out to visit our house. He came out soon after and we spend quite some time going through the old place. We went from basement to attic and Mr. Smalley told me quite a bit more about the old place. In the basement he told me that all the main beams were hand hewn virgin timber. These beams were what was called first cut when they were made for the house. In other words they were very very old. The cover on the fireplace in the living room was an antique and the tiles were made before the civil war. The stairs going up to the second floor were decorated with carvings that were also made prior to the civil war. This was according to Mr. Smalley. He pointed out how old all the ornamented mantels were also antique and noted that each room in the original house a fireplace and that the chimneys were all double shafted to accommodate these heat-providing fireplaces. All but 3 had been closed over the years.

   The house itself was built in pieces as Mr. Smalley related to me. The bathroom, kitchen and back porch area as well as part of the middle room were all add-ons at some point in time. He showed me the difference in the construction and the materials used. Some time later when we had a fire in our chimney and it had to be broke into by the fire department we discovered an old wheel rim that was used to hold hooks for kettles for cooking! The bricks that were used had the old Blairville Brick Works logo stamped into them. Blairville was down in New Richmond and had gone out of business in 1902. Even later when we were doing some work in the attic we discovered the main beams in the top of the house were logs! This is an old, old house. Certainly one on the oldest if not the oldest in Amelia.

   The house at 25 where my brother died is also old but I really don't know how old. I do know that the main beams were 2nd cut of timbers but the were machine made. Interestly when we took a tree down that was rotting out the side of the house we uncovered the remnants of a log cabin beneath it. We excavated the end joint that was held together by these big wooden pegs. We still have the corner and we made a wall decoration out of it. A log cabin with wooden pegs, certainly historic and old. In the grounds around the house at 25 West I also found quite a number of arrow heads and a beautiful spear head so in all likelihood this area had some Indians living here. I gave these artifacts to some of my Native America friends living in the Amelia area. At 27 in the front yard I uncovered quite a few coins one of which was dated 1842. We can be fairly certain that this property holds quite a bit of Amelia history.

   Oh yeah, I almost forgot. When we first moved here there was still an old "2-seater" outhouse attached to the east side of the old barn. It had the old half moon cut into the door, a mirror hanging inside and a tray full of lime. In case your too young to remember the lime was used to dissolve the fecal waste and keep the odor down! We used it for a few years but finally filled it in and gave it a proper ending ceremony. It may well have been the last of the Amelia outhouses! Talk about history.

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