Guest Post by: Kathy Timbs
Trying to keep things normal for a traveling nurse is like trying to keep a toddler out of the kitchen. It’s impossible. You learn to go with the flow and do the best you can on any given day. Doing it with a child, especially a teenager, can be even more of a challenge some days. My daughter has learned to be self reliant and is excelling at her school work. She is blossoming in many other ways. She has found an actual love for history that was never there before this opportunity. She has a thirst for knowledge and is excited for each and every outing we have been on thus far.
On this day, we decided to take a little trip to Montpelier. I just have to say that as a “foreigner” to this area, I had no idea that there is a town, of the same name, that is no where remotely close to the actual house. We had a two hour detour, but we enjoyed all the scenery and listened to music the whole way. The deal is that I let my daughter jam to any music she wants to listen to as we drive. I can tell you that I now have heard way more rap then I have heard since 1990. This is, by no means, the same kind either. To be fair, I have also heard many other genres of music also. She is not only expanding her horizon on history but also her music.
Today’s journey takes us to Montpelier. This was the home of James Madison. I had no idea how intelligent he truly was. His thirst for knowledge was astounding! He read over 600 books before he wrote the Bill of Rights and the constitution. He wanted to know why other countries failed and tried to set up outs so that it would not.
Madison was a frail man and never had any children of his own, just his step son, John. He was a small man, only 5’4”. When he had his home built he owned many slaves. He wrote about feeling guilty for not being able to free them. We toured the plantation. We toured all the slaves quarters. We toured the basement, that had many pictures of the descendants of slaves from that home. We had a picnic lunch under the trees off to the side of the slave quarters.
The day was spent thinking about how hard of a life it was for slaves. We talked about what he could have done differently. We talked about how much knowledge he had. We talked about the journey it must have been for people back then to ride in carriages or on horse back from Washington to his home. If it was a few hours by car, it would have been a weeks or more by horse, or longer by carriage. It was a very different lifestyle. Things we take for granted, like driving to the grocery store for food or hopping on a plane to visit family, was so much more of an ordeal back then. People saw classes and not humans. People were extremely racist. We talked about that in great detail. We have a hard time trying to fathom what they went through. We can only just imagine by walking through their quarters and reading their letters. The Historical society has done a fantastic job at rebuilding their area and making it more accessible to learn and see firsthand their living conditions. They have interactive maps in the basement and recordings in the quarters re-enacted by people to give you the history of the actual people that once lived in that area. You walk away with a sense of wonderment. How could any human do to another human what was done. It is an important part of our history that must be shared and understood. I am so glad we made this journey.
As we were leaving, we saw these wonderful barns. It used to be where horses were kept. In the 1980’s the estate was bought By the DuPont family. The daughter, Marion DuPont Scott (married to the famous western actor Randolph Scott) had many barns built. She was an avid horse rider and lover. She ended up bequeathing the home to the state for preservation.
At the end of the day, we learned more about our nations history than we ever knew. The ability to travel has opened my eyes to a whole other side of life and history that I would not have known. I continue to look for pieces of history that we can tour and learn from each and every day off. This continues to be a giant learning lesson for both my daughter and for myself.
And so the journey continues….