Watson Homestead, East Campbell, NY


Once I began to be curious about my grandfather information started coming my way. It was as if a window had been uncovered in my mind and memories I had from my childhood became alive. I could actually remember his voice and the look of his knarled and veiny hands. I could see his house in New York City and remember the small red velvet seat in the elevator which ran from floor to floor. I remember his chauffeur and the elegance of his feet. I remember sitting beside him in a car looking at my feet in shiny May Jane’s just grazing the edge of the seat, kicking slowly up and down with each foot. I remember listening to a lecture he was giving to family about a painting in his townhouse in Manhattan and wondering why everyone seemed so fearful of him.

I felt happy yesterday morning as I left the Radisson in Corning after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon in honor of men of old. I carefully imputed the address  found on the internet into the GPS system in my car only to be told by the lady under the dashboard I would be traveling on unmarked roads and would have to use the map for guidance. I laughed aloud at this statement from a computerized source and wondered who was channeling information  this morning. I skipped the highway and drove along country roads with a small river to my left. The mountains were still hung with the green/blue light of early morning and the slight mist of frost. My computer guide had informed me the address I was seeking would be 7 miles from the start of my drive. After 6 miles I saw a large sign on the edge of the highway stating “Watson Homestead” and I took a sharp right hand turn onto the asphalt. Traveling down the country with Rosie on my lap I felt happy and excited and as if I were on the verge of an amazing discovery. I drove past several red barns and a white house before seeing a sign, another “Homestead” sign about cabins. I kept on driving down the country road feeling certain I would find what I was supposed to find at the end. Rounding a corner I saw a long and low building which hugged the hillside and a curving driveway up on the right. As I drove up the driveway I imagined what life was like  for my grandfather some 100 years plus ago. There were horses in the field and a soft cold rain was falling yet the valley was harshly beautiful and very peaceful. I pulled up to the front door of the homestead, put the car in park, and looked around me for a sign of life. As I had not notified anyone I was coming I wasn’t certain of what I would find. I wasn’t worried, just curious as I knew I was in the right place. The place was not what I had imagined as it was so impressive. I thought I might find a small white house with a plaque on the side but I had found a community from the looks of things.

I walked into the front hall of the homestead  and looked around seeing pictures of my grandfather in several wall cabinets as well as a few “THINK” signs posted above the doorways. A woman’s voice called out to me asking if I needed help. I looked around and saw a sweet face. I announced I was Thomas Watson’s grand daughter and I was here to see his birth place. I couldn’t think of any other way of introducing myself. She replied  ” I have been waiting for you!”

Believe it or not, we both hugged each other and cried. She told me she had been waiting for a family member to visit since the place had been incorporated. I told her I didn’t doubt this as I had not known the homestead existed until two days before my visit.

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One response to “Watson Homestead, East Campbell, NY”

  1. Donna Avatar

    Morning …. what fun to read your “mind” and “memories.” Thank you for sharing. Your Grandfather history is LARGE for us!
    Oh by the by….. I have 3 inches of snow at my Hill House.
    Peace to you

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