March Slice of Life No. 14.
Thinking about writing, I open Country Life in American (1913) to the last article I had been reading.
I turn a few digital pages to “Inside the House that Jack Built.”
“Chapter IV. The Owner’s Bedroom,” part of a series, is featuring details about furnishing a master bedroom. It is written as a story, complete with dialogue, about Mary and Jack who are living in an apartment on Central Park South while their house is being built. Not interested.
I turn a few more digital pages to “What the Neighbors Did.”
It is also part of a series. The caption: “Chapter IV, in which a club house is opened, the junior civic league formed, and a ‘residence improvement’ contest started.” I read no further.
I turn the digital pages to the next article: “Better Stock.”
It is subtitled, “Little Stories of Successful Stock. The Windholme Tamworths.” Having no interest in stock, I am about to turn the digital page when I read,
“Some men raise hogs for the sake of the lard they represent; others for the hams and bacon they furnish; still others see in them mere scavengers to consume the garbage and inevitable waste products of a country home.”
I read the sentence again. Not because I am interested in hogs or why men keep them, but because I notice the structure of the sentence. It is a wonderful pitchfork.
[If you are asking, what is a pitchfork? Check here and here. In fact, if interested, you can read more of my examples via “power of three” under “Stuff I write about” In fact, you might quit reading this slice about hogs, mansions, and weddings to read about pitchforks. If you do, please comment on the one you read or come back here and comment. Thank you.]
Anyway, as I’m thinking about the pitchfork structure, I notice more text: “400-acre farm at Islip, Long Island, Mr. Samuel T. Peters . . .”
I am intrigued. Making note of the pitchfork for future reference, I begin searching. Windholme. Tamworths. Samuel T. Peters. Islip.
I learn that Windholme is the farm. Tamworths are the pigs.
I learn about Samuel Twyford Peters [Read more on Find-a-Grave. Be sure to scroll for the text under the tombstone.] He had a son, Harry Twyford Peters. He had a daughter, Louisine Peters-Weeks.
I learn that the estate eventually had three family mansions: Windholme, Nearholme, Wereholme, and a guest house called Twyford.
Windholm Farm — built by John Prince (1850), purchased by Samuel Twyford Peters (1854-1921), redesigned in 1910, demolished in 1950s.
Nearholm — built by Harry Twyford Peters (1888-1948) in 1910. It no longer stands.
Wereholm — built in 1912 by Louisine Peters-Weekes, inherited by her daughter Hathaway, willed (1984) to the National Audubon Society, and sold to Suffolk County.
Twyford — built in 1880s as a guest cottage, expanded and became the home of Natalie Peters Webster (daughter of Harry T. Peters) and her husband Charles Webster, demolished in 2002.
If you like people history and you like mansions from the Guilded Age, you simply must view the virtual exhibit Windholm Farm – The Grand Estate of Samuel T. Peters by Historical Society of Islip Hamlet. Also, check out their photos of the mansions — Peters Residence and Louisine Peters Weekes Residence. You might also watch the video “LI’s South Shore Mansions, Part III-Wereholme/Scully Mansion (Extended Version)” (also featured on longislandonlinenews). More information and photos can be viewed at Street to the Left.
I learn that the surviving mansion, Wereholme, is known as Scully Estate and is home to Suffolk County Environmental Center.
Some say, It’s the perfect place for a wedding.
There you have it: pigs, mansions, and weddings in Islip.
And of course, don’t forget it was a pitchfork that began this journey.
Notes from my research about the mansions . . .
Windholme, the house –originally built in 1850 by John Prince and purchased by Peters and redesigned 1910– and farm, were demolished by the family.
Wereholme, which had became known as “Scully Estate,” was donated to the National Audubon Society.
Charles Drake Webster and his wife, Natalie Peters Webster, donated the farm, nearly 200 acres of woods, swamp forest and grass, to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. They had no surviving heirs. Nearholme which had been redesigned as a smaller home was demolished.
Charles Drake Webster, a “Long Island conservationist, gardener and stalwart of organizations like the Horticultural Society of New York and the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Islip, died on May 15 . . . He was 92 and lived at Twyford, his home and part of the nature preserve.” He was the last family member.
“Twyford, a three-story yellow and white 150-year-old manor house with dark green shutters and graceful entryways, stands in a field of tall grasses in a wildlife refuge in Islip. Although it needs a coat of paint and a new roof, the building, once edged by acres of flower gardens and specimen trees, is still reminiscent of its past grandeur as a country manor.”
Five years after the death of Charles Drake Webster, Twyford is demolished.
Wereholme (Scully Estate) was purchased by Suffolk County.
Wereholme was opened to the public.
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This leaves out the Orange, VA shorthorn cattle farm named Windholme owned by Harry T Peter’s Jr. Beautiful spot on earth.
Your title pulled me right into this fascinating slice. I enjoyed following your journey through the magazine and your research, and learning all along the way. I love the term pitchfork writing and imagine it would really appeal to some young writers. On another note, we actually had a pig that was half Tamworth.
How interesting… about the Tamworth. I’d never heard of them before. But of course, my knowledge of pigs or hogs is pretty much limited to bacon and ham. 🙂
I must say that your title hooked. I couldn’t imagine the connection. It is amazing how a word, phrase, or sentence grabs our attention and hooks us into reading more. I am not very familiar with the pitchfork structure so I will check out your links when I finish.
It is an unlikely connection. 🙂
Those homes were beautiful. It’s hard for me to imagine that they’ve been built and torn down in such a relatively short period of time. And I like how you are reading Country Life in America for inspiration: you may inspire me to pick up unusual old magazines myself!
I know… sorta sad. Windholme was barely 100 years, Nearholme was less. My house is almost 100 years now and I can’t imagine it being demolished! In high school, I had a friend who lived in a house that dated pre-Rev.War.
Yes, this is fascinating, history is just so intriguing and the little things that led you into the research are just great. Thank you!
I find “stories” about people and places fascinating. 🙂
I really enjoyed this trip away from the pigs to this amazing family history. A wonderfully enjoyable read.
It was fascinating to follow your reading and thinking. Excellent title to catch attention, smooth flow of ideas and information. Thank you for letting us peek into your head and notes.
I’m glad you enjoyed it. The title started out as “Mansions of Islip,” and then as the details wove themselves into the slice, pigs and weddings just had to be added. Yes, I intended it for a hook. 🙂
Wow! You’ve opened my eyes to a whole bunch of history I know nothing about on Long Island. I’ve always lived on the North Shore, so I’ve been less attached to the South Shore where Islip is. Now you’ve got me interested…. Those homes are absolutely gorgeous and to think that they’re all gone but one. How sad no efforts were made to preserve them. Thanks for your diligence as a researcher; I like the way you started the post, flipping through the digital pages for stories that grab your attention.
Please write a slice about the Skully Estate (Wereholme) if you visit it. In the few interior photos I’ve seen online, it looks look magnificent. It has one of those romantic staircases.