The Upping Stone


One of my favorite artifacts on our farm is this old and worn upping stone in the meadow.

I would have thought it was just a cool rock, but I have access to this farm’s secrets because my dad grew up here. I know that was an upping stone and that’s how the ladies got up on their horses.

I know that this odd, overgrown shelf near the upping stone in our meadow is the foundation of the small, white country church where my great-grandparents, grandparents, and my father attended services.

It also functioned as a one-room schoolhouse during the week until they built the new schoolhouse across the river.

I know that this pool was called the Indian princess bath because it was separated from the river’s main path by this line of rocks.

I know that our farm was once lined with wooden sidewalks and cottages for the families of the men who worked in the gasoline plant.

I know that the crumbling foundation of that plant hides here in the wild woods.

I know that this deserted rock-dirt road in the hills, thick with trees, was once framed by clear farmland.

I like to know all these forgotten little things.

They are like curious little secrets and I am their keeper. I tell them to my children so that they can be keepers, too.

Is that why I’m here? I like to think the twists and turns of life make sense, that there is purpose somewhere inside its complex mystery.

Even if, maybe, that purpose is a secret from me.


  1. Kalin says:

    Now THAT is cool! We have some interesting brick formations around our farm that look to be old foundations. I’d love to know the secrets of the past.

    You’re quite lucky, and kudos for passing it on!

  2. CindyP says:

    Oh to have the luxury of knowing your history — those things that many people would feel as little — are oh so more important. You stand on that upping rock and know your ancestors did the same, stand in the princess bath and know your ancestors did the same……. Yes Suzanne, that is your purpose, your twist in life — taking the path that called to you more…You are oh so lucky to have the luxury to have the responsibility of passing all of these histories on.

  3. The Jillybean says:

    I would love to go exploring on your property.

  4. CATRAY44 says:

    I think you should write the “Great all Virginian novel”!!!

  5. Shari C says:

    How wonderful to know the history of your property and some of the interesting things that happened there. I think that would be so great and what a terrific place to explore and enjoy. You are very lucky.

  6. hayseed says:

    “Upping stone’, never heard that expression before-we have found many old artifacts on our farm too- and some remain a puzzle-you are very lucky to know the history and origins of yours!

  7. Diane says:

    How wonderful to be able to walk all around your property and know these little bits of history about it. I can picture all the things you described. I was also thinking that it would make a great setting for a new book!!! How charming to see wooden side walks and ladies useing the stepping stone to get upon their horse.

  8. Becky says:

    I would love to buy my Grandma’s farm in Pinch, WV, so I could pass along the things I know about it to my children. I spent a lot of my time exploring the hillsides and creeks.
    I am glad you made it back there in time to be able to find out all these historical memories. Makes your farm so much more precious when you know and can relay its history.
    Now if I could find someone who know something about my farm here in SC…

  9. Latane says:

    Beautifully done. Thanks for sharing your farm and your memories with us.

  10. TeresaH says:

    I love history! Esp. when I can see and visit what’s left

  11. Christy O says:

    That is so amazing to know all that history! And so cool that all that stuff was on your farm at one time.

  12. Christine says:

    I wish I could live there where there are many secrets!
    I love secrets

  13. Kacey says:

    So cool to know so much history and to live smack in the middle of it. How many people get to do that? Or if they do, how many people appreciate it?

  14. Robin G. says:

    I find that when I go to visit Virginia, looking at so much past makes me forget who I am for awhile, and makes me forget how much I want to live my own life.

    But maybe chickens are a shield from that?

  15. Suzette says:

    I once took my daughter to the site of my grandparents’ home. It is long gone. There isn’t even a foundation there anymore. But, I showed her where I once found an Easter egg…where the rabbit hutches were…where we could go to dig for fossils. I told her where the back porch once was, and where my grandmother would make homemade ice cream. I told her to listen to the sound of the oil well pumps far in the distance – a sound that lulled me to sleep as a child. She remembers that visit, and it gives her a connection to her roots. Yes, your kids will become the keepers. And their children, too. Kinda cool, isn’t it?

  16. Jill S. says:

    I love the history of your place!

  17. Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife says:

    I’m amazed at how many people return to their roots as they get older. It’s an amazing phenomenon. If you do stumble upon the meaning of life you’ll share with us, right?

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  18. Jen ( says:

    That’s so amazing. Unfortunately, I do not know the history of our house built in 1900. We found some old bottles buried in the back yard which makes me really curious to who used to live here, and things of that nature.

  19. Shirley says:


  20. Kim W says:

    WOW! Loved the Princss Bath. All of these pics were great. I, too, enjoy knowing the “secret things” about an area or a piece of my family’s land. Yes, it could be entirely true that you are here to be “a keeper of the knowlege,” so to speak. Just like Esther’s uncle told her, it could be that you are here “for such a time as this.”
    Blessings from Ohio…

  21. Linda Brown says:

    Wonderful! You know, and you shared with us! Thank you, I love history and genealogy. I appreciate this post very much.


  22. Traci in GA says:

    Keeper of the secrets of your land and your history.
    Very. Very. Cool.

  23. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    What a fabulous thing to read on this rainy Georgia day. It took me back to places I’ve explored where I could only imagine the history, and didn’t know what had really been there before me. Thanks!!! :catmeow:

  24. Sarita says:

    I love the history of your place. Love it, too, that you share it with us!

  25. Maureen says:

    Such great pictures!

  26. Jodie says:

    Thanks for sharing the history and photos.

  27. SuzieQ says:

    I’m in NC and wonder if many people, in today’s culture, feel any connection to the land? I’ve found Indian arrowheads, pottery, spear points and civil war bullets and as a child wove tapestries in my mind…how many children today have that luxury? I’m akin to Scarlett in my love for my land..

  28. Brandy says:

    Aren’t we all supposed to be keepers of the past? To pass them on to our children? It seems you are a part of a lost culture in that you KNOW so much of your family’s past. I wish I were as lucky.

  29. catslady says:

    Very touching and interesting!

  30. Sarah S. says:

    That’s really cool that you know all that about your farm and the surrounding area! :yes:

  31. Harriet Herrington says:

    Delighted to read your post. It is amazing to realize that each of us, even in cities, are living in the present while sharing the past. Sadly, most of us don’t have any idea of the history of where we live. Keep on passing your secrets along. That will keep your family in generations to come in the knowledge that they are walking and living where many of their ancestors lived and walked. A real treasure for you and your children to enjoy.

  32. Estella says:

    To know the history of your farm—Priceless! Thanks for sharing.
    Wonderful pics!

  33. Donna says:

    That was very interesting! How nice to have roots and know the history and know it’s YOUR land..and your ancestors land, ect.!!! :mrgreen:

  34. The Tile Lady-Marie says:

    How truly perfect to have the connections you have to the land you live on…a homeplace that will not be forgotten because it’s secrets are shared with your children and someday will be with theirs. I loved hearing about it and seeing the photographs…the passerby would never know of the people who once lived there. All places keep their secrets, unless there is someone like you who knows.

  35. FringeGirl says:

    It’s really nice that you could be living in a place with such history. It’s such a blessing that you can hand down that history to your children.

  36. Donna says:

    Suzanne, your blog just keeps getting better and better..lots of wonderful improvements you mentioned. I don’t know HOW you have the time, to do all that you do!!!!

    Ohhhh, that Coco puff…I just LOVE that pup!!!!! I love those pictures!!!!!!!! :mrgreen: PRECIOUS! I loved your comment about “all that…nappin”. LOL That pup has the best time playing with the goats and twisting and flipping and turning, at the river…and sitting on the pie porch. LOL That pup LOVES the farm!

    I was admiring my cousin’s daughter’s garden yesterday, on her myspace …she had lots of pictures. She’s a grad. of A $ M, in Ag…and she had all kinds of lettuce planted from Mesculine, to Arugula, and every vegie under the sun, from eggplant to squasha and Jalepeno’s (or that hotter one)…she makes fresh salsa…I so envy her! (smile). I am so clueless, I could not even grow tomatoes.

  37. Janet says:

    Very interesting post. As I recently said in one of my posts, I consider America like a museum waiting for someone to explore and learn. Artifacts are all around us waiting to be discovered. It is great that you are passing this knowledge down to your children. I tell my children about our past, our traditions, sayings and superstitions, so they wont forget. I’m also trying to keep a written record.

  38. tabbimama says:

    Suzanne, that was so cool. I love history. I sometimes feel a panicky feeling knowing that someday my children’s, children’s, children won’t know anything about me or my parents and grandparents. When I was a little girl, my mom would tell me stories for hours about growing up in the country and stories about our relatives. I still love to listen to them. I hate to think they will be lost. My kids don’t really seem interested. I always planned on writing a book about my grandmother and great-grandmother. There’s so much to learn from history. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us.

  39. shannon says:

    in any number of years, it seems all the remnants that are still there would be lost forever. unless you know what to look for, you can barely make them out. you must be there for a reason.
    i used to major in archaeology, and i find it mind blowing to discover things thousands of years old. and here this is, the foundations, etc…only a couple generations gone, and almost unrecognizable. amazing!

  40. debbie says:

    Dear Suzanne, I have been reading your blog for quite some time but never commented, mainly because I can’t figure out how to use the cute little dancy things above this comment space. But I came across this post in the archives under your post about arriving back home from your trip. I must say that this post about the upping stone is really beautiful. It took me back to my rambles in the woods around my house as a kid, the cool green woods, the stones and outcroppings that I wondered about. Did they have a purpose? Who used them in times past. I always loved the secrets of the woods.

    I really dislike any change and don’t know how to feel about the families that (I am assuming) lost their homes and jobs when the gasoline plant closed. I am sad for them and the loss of their way of life but as I look around at all the abandoned homes and factories in my area, it makes me hopeful that God can reclaim the land for something good. Any way a beautiful, beautiful post.

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