We had no real plans for Saturday, so we looked around for things to see in the Hyde Park area.
The Vanderbilt Mansion looked interesting, and might have been, but it was a two-hour wait to get in, so we just looked around outside.
The Roosevelt Library and Museum was similarly booked, so we looked around the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center (really).
We drove to a historic Huguenot street in New Paltz, but couldn’t find anything other than plaques. There are supposed to be some historic buildings there, but we sure didn’t see any.
So we had lunch at the Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie and went back to the house. When all else fails, you can count on Poughkeepsie.
Friday we drove into New York City and took a food tour of Greenwich Village. On the way in we got a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty from the George Washington Bridge.
Other than a few airport layovers, I’d never been to NYC before, so I had very little sense of NYC geography. Weirdly, Greenwich Village seemed completely familiar to me by way of movies, TV shows, books, and music.
The tour was a historical walking tour with food samples at a number of historic restaurants and shops, mostly from the early 20th century. A knowledgeable and gregarious guide, combined with perfect weather, made it a fun afternoon.
And in a triumph of 21st century innovation, it turns out that you can reserve a parking space in NYC. Driving into the city and parking was surprisingly non-impossible.
The tour also included a stop in Washington Square Park, where we beheld many wonders.
I arrived at the Airbnb in Highland at 6:00, and everyone else had an ETA of 7:30, so I walked to Poughkeepsie across a former railroad trestle that’s been repurposed as the Walkway Over the Hudson.
The Airbnb is a newly renovated house right on the river. Deer roam around outside. It’s quiet and peaceful, except for the trains that pass by every two to three hours, 24 hours a day.
The first night was Anna’s final night working at the restaurant on campus. We had dinner there and sat where we could make faces at her through the glass (aka the fishbowl). There were many desserts.
Graduation was the next morning. Anna’s boyfriend Will was there ahead of us to save seats and procure the extra ticket we needed. “Where there’s a Will, there’s a way,” I said, wittily. Everyone silently appreciated my joke.
Afterward, there was a reception with a seemingly endless supply of free food catered by the students. Twelve tables of high-quality comestibles. In an all-you-can-eat situation, you have an obligation to eat all you can, and I believe I met that obligation.
But the day took a dark turn that evening when we took Anna back to her dorm. CIA Security had blocked off one of the entrances, but we couldn’t see that until we had turned off of the highway. Not wanting to back out onto the highway, Rick moved the barricade and we went through.
We were spotted by CIA Security, who followed us to the dorm in a car and one of those golf cart things. It was a little touchy at first, but the security guys were somewhat placated when they found out that Rick had replaced the barricade after we went through.
Really, it was just the guy in the car who seemed concerned. The guy in the cart was pretty mellow. (Eric: “I’m sorry we caused you all this trouble.” Security guy in cart: “Oh, I don’t care.”)
Fun fact: The security people have brass lapel pins that say C.I.A. SECURITY.
As I was mapping my route to New York I noticed a Mark Twain House in Hartford. That seemed worthwhile, so I went. This is the house Twain had built once he was a successful writer. He and his family lived there from 1874 to 1891, when Twain went broke investing in a typesetting machine called the Paige Compositor. The adjacent museum has the only remaining Compositor in existence.
The house is very grand, with art and architectural elements from around the world. Oddly, Twain did most of his writing in the billiard room.
Harriet Beecher Stowe lived next door, and her house also has tours, but was closed.
Ezekiel Wells and Mary Foster Wells died in Simsbury eight days apart in 1762. Their children Israel and Abiah were then raised by Mary’s parents Israel Foster and Ruth Bridges Foster. Ruth died in Simsbury in 1778. Israel Foster died in Simsbury in 1779. Abiah died in Simsbury in 1785.
None of them are in the Simsbury Cemetery.
It’s not a small cemetery, but I checked every row back to where most headstones from the 20th century. Along the way, I noticed that all of the headstones from before about 1820 were of darker stone, so I went back to the first row and rechecked every headstone of that type.
There were some that were so worn or damaged that they were unreadable, but those were either individual graves or in a group associated with a different family (not Wells, Foster, or Bridges). I would expect all five to be buried near each other, so the unreadable headstones don’t seem to fit.
There were some Welles graves from the late 19th century, but no Wells, Foster, or Bridges graves in the whole place. (I did, however, find a Philologus Webster.)
There are some smaller cemeteries in the area, but none of them seem to go back that far.
- I somehow just missed them after two passes through the cemetery.
- They’re all in some other cemetery for some reason.
- Their graves are unmarked.
- Grave robbers from outer space!
Well, at least the cemetery wasn’t closed.