A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five by Leila Philip

By Leila Philip

One woman's trip to discover her family's background and comprehend the binds that bind us to a selected place..

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Additional info for A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Excelsior Editions)

Sample text

This feud took a new turn when Cornelius’s wife knocked the sheriff off his horse with a broom. The family packed their belongings and the already parched sheets of paper recording Admiral Van Ness’s sea voyages and moved to a location somewhat south of Beverywyck, or Albany. Willem Van Ness inherited his ancestor’s travel account and his greatgrandfather’s intolerance for authority. The young woman whom Willem moved south to marry was Gertrude Hogeboom. She was born into a landed family in Claverack, meaning that they were definitely not tenants, those at the bottom of the economic spectrum of the manor system in the Hudson Valley.

His voice is quiet. I look at him and smile. S. Marine, then surprise me with his gentleness. “All right,” I say, and sit. We are silent the way we often are, sharing a kind of intimacy that is not about the exchange of information. As usual, my father does not ask me about 19 ] myself, and only the extremity of his illness makes it seem okay for me to inquire about him. It has always been like this, and what makes this moment feel close and not cold or distant, I couldn’t say exactly, but I know it has something to do with the way we both love the place around us yet feel the heavy weight of its past as well.

Soon I simply began to trace my steps from room to room, feeling my way like a blind person, the pads of my fingers touching the chipped places in doors and windows, the broken ends of furniture, the delicate patterns of wear on the arms of brocade chairs and sofa covers, the brittle husks of lampshades. Another cup of coffee. Another loop around the house. I had become a kind of rapt pilgrim, only I wasn’t arriving anywhere. I began to shrink from the outside world. I stopped going to the village in the morning to pick up the mail.

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