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 heritage and comprehend the binds that bind us to a selected place..

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

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Immediately I fall into my childhood role as my father’s eager helper. “Empires are picked clean except for a row by the M-Nines, and there’s not much Red Delicious left in the far back. ” Although I have been reporting on the progress of the harvest since morning, my father nods and looks pleased. His eyes, a deep smoky blue, hold no worry. How I love it when his eyes look that way, clear and satisfied. He takes a sip from his drink. “I’ll do the count,” I say, putting the bank bag down on the table and pulling up a bench.

From 1812 on Talavera became a villa rustico, a self-sustaining agricultural estate. With the building of Talavera, then, Judge William W. Van Ness signaled not only his desire to live in a house that reflected the ideals of the new Republic through its very architecture but also, in concrete ways, his family’s rise from landed farmer to landed elite. Not long after the building of Talavera, his daughter Analiza married Henry Livingston, ] 36 the younger son of a manor lord, John Livingston of Oak Hill, and the couple moved into Talavera.

I told myself that I was sick of being bullied by a past I didn’t even know. But really I was scared, scared that like my father, I would get sucked into a way of living that revolved so much around Talavera that it lost touch with the larger world. If I looked, I could see signs of this in my own generation, in me. We all were a little too comfortable with Talavera’s state of disrepair, that slippery state of mild neglect and denial. Success in the outer world involved a strange sense of betrayal.

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