Sunday, October 12, 2008
Chapter One, Continued...♦
After much research, many visits to the house (maybe a dozen...bless my real estate agent, Chris Vann for his patience) often with various experts in tow, and an offer on another property (what were we thinking?) we decided to buy this house. It is known in the area as the Abel-Tunison Farm, named for the original owner of the farm, John W. Abel who established the farm in 1818, and for the family who owned the house and farm for many generations, the Tunisons, who are related by marriage to the Abels.
John W. Abel, a carpenter by trade, moved from New Jersey and purchased a tract of 356 acres in the town of Ulysses, New York. He paid $11.86 per acre ($4224.40), an enormous price in those days. It is not known why he paid over twice the average price per acre, but it is surmised that he chose it for the springs that would furnish an excellent water supply, and because of the creek that flows through the property. The land was part of a (Revolutionary War) military land grant made to Lieutenant Henry A. Williams in 1790.
Abel commenced to clearing the heavily wooded land and built a log cabin on the site of the present house and married Betty Letts the next year. They had 9 children over the next 20 years, grew grain and tobacco, raised cattle and made butter on the farm.
The original part of the house (the east wing) was built in 1830, and the larger (main) part of the house was started several years later. The difference in building styles (and perhaps Mr. Abel's financial situation) is evident in the two structures. The east wing has lower ceilings, exposed support beams, smaller windows, and very basic woodwork. The "newer" portion on the house has high ceilings (for the time) both downstairs and up, servants doors and quarters, massive and ornate (also for the time) woodwork and large six over six paned windows.
I'll write more about the history of the house later. Suffice it to say that this is a fairly massive restoration project that I have embarked on, and I hope to bring you along for the (sure to be wild) ride. So join me as I roll up my sleeves and get to work.