Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Old Troutman Place in Rich Valley, Many Returns

On a visit to the Troutman home place in the early 1950s, this is my father Verne Troutman and three of his children, Vance, Verna, and Regina. The man on the far left was the home owner at the time. This probably was taken by my mother, and I was likely hiding behind her skirts.

My dad, Verne Clinton Troutman, gets the credit for piquing my interest in family history. He loved to visit places historic to our family. One of those places was the home where his father, Clint Troutman, grew up, the home pictured in a previous post. When we made our annual trek from Nebraska to Virginia every summer to visit my mother’s parents in Saltville, Dad visited many of his relatives, as well. He also liked to take us to his father's childhood home in Rich Valley. One of the earliest pictures I have of Dad at the Troutman place was taken in about 1950.

Other memorable trips to the cabin included one in the 1970s with my cousin Judy and one a few years later in 1980 with cousin Ruth Ann, her husband Larry and daughters Laura, Melissa, and Michelle, and my husband Myron and children, Jay and Sarah. I wish I had photos of all those visits, non-blurry ones, anyway.

A few years after dad died in 1991, I began to wonder about the old place. Would I be able to find I find it without him? Years had passed since I had been there, by then at least 20. My mother was losing her eyesight and couldn't remember how to find it exactly, but one day, we set out to try. I remembered that Dad had driven east on the Valley Road past the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church. I remembered that the road we wanted was dirt or gravel, on the right, and dropped off the main road down a steep embankment, so I looked for that configuration. I remembered passing a spring and a big stately house with wrap around porch along the way. I remembered huge oak tree a stone fence.

View from the house of the big oak tree, 1980. I've been told there was at least one wedding beneath those branches.

 My mother and I soon spotted a familiar looking turn with a sharp drop. A sign said Crewey Rd. I turned. Everything looked right. We drove past a spring where water spread a wide circle over the ground and creasy greens grew fresh and abundant. We passed the big stately-looking house across a creek. Then I knew my mother and I were on the right road. 

We continued until we came to another house, a smaller one, which I thought at first was the Troutman home. Comparing it to my photos of the old house, I realized I was wrong. At this house, the road dead-ended at a gate. "No Hunting," a sign read. It didn't say no trespassing.

We were in the right place, but we would have to climb the gate and hike, we didn't know how far. Not wanting to leave my eighty-year-old mother alone in the car, however, I decided to come back later with my husband. At least, I knew how to find the place.

Later, my husband and I climbed over the gate and walked up the hill on a dirt path that used to be a road. Soon I saw the big oak and the tell-tale stone fence. We had found it! Now I would be able take cousins there, too.

The opportunity came in 2004. On their way from points west to the 100th reunion of the Troutman clan in Troutman, North Carolina, several cousins stopped in Saltville for a guided tour of Valley and the Troutman house. I was happy to oblige. We stopped at the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church cemetery to visit the graves of our great-grandparents and then drove on to the house. A steady, warm rain dampened our bodies that day but not our spirits. Dad would have loved it!
A little wet from the rain, Brent Troutman, great-great-grandson of D. A. and America Troutman stands on the crumbling porch of their home.

The old Troutman home place in 2004.

The stone fence.
 And and few years later, on a dry day,  I took my nephew. 
David C. Troutman, great-great-grandson of D. A. and America (Pratt) Troutman, about 2008.

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