I have lived in Endwell, NY for about 5 years now. The summer we moved into our house, I also discovered letterboxing. I found letterboxing while searching for something cheap to do with my kids, my friend and her kids. We ended up find our first box just over the hill in Johnson City at Finch Hollow Nature Center. It was a Silent Doug box that managed to hook my family on letterboxing.
That first season of boxing proved interesting because it was 2012 and our area was still recovering from two 500 year floods that took place in the span of a few years. Many of the low lying boxes were difficult to find, completely washed away or waterlogged. My favorite find of that season, and since, was all three.
I was “running out” of boxes to find locally and decided that, despite my TERRIBLE ability to find mystery boxes or solve encrypted clues, I would start looking for some to solve. One of the boxes I worked on that summer was planted by Scout. I remember agonizing over solving the clue. Despite my best efforts, all I could decipher was “Washingtonian Hall” and something about a cemetery. I google Washingtonian Hall and discovered that it was a house built during 1799 by Amos and Anne Patterson in Endwell.
I discovered that Amos and Anne were tough cookies! They lived in a cabin on the banks of the Susquehanna River, before they built Washingtonian Hall. There were very few people in the area at that time. They had 12 children, two of whom died tragically. A son, also named Amos, was taken by the swift waters of the Susquehanna. His four year old sister was scalded to death in a vat of hot tallow in their front yard. Much of the family is buried in a cemetery near where Washingtonian Hall stands on the Susquehanna.
After reading all of that, I had to find this box. I decided to go check out the cemetery and house on River Road.
I drove to the house and took a look. I could only look from the road because it is privately owned. I proceeded to the cemetery. It was quite impressive in it’s slightly eerie state. Things were old and crumbled in places and the old iron fence was only standing in places. The center of the cemetery has an enormous old and twisted oak tree. If I wasn’t a fan of cemeteries before this one, I was now.
I felt the box had to be here somewhere. The odds weren’t in my favor though. The fact that my only clues were Amos and Ann, Washingtonian Hall and a cemetery didn’t seem like enough. The river rushing past a few hundred feet away almost seemed to be mocking me. The cemetery was small enough that MAYBE I could get lucky. I looked in some nooks and crannies in the giant tree. Nothing. There were only a few headstones and little coverage for a letterbox. I decided to wander the old fence and perimeter looking for SOMETHING.
EUREKA! At the middle of the back of the cemetery. There was a mangled pile of flood debris. Sitting on top? I suspicious piece of tupperware. I opened it up and I found Amos and Anne. I wasn’t sure what to do with the box. I didn’t know if that’s where it was supposed to be and the logbook was soaked. I stamped the stamp into my logbook, hid it in a spot that seemed OK and told Scout what had happened.
She decided to pull the box and picked it up later. I am not sure where it was supposed to be, but it wasn’t supposed to be where I found it. That box must have swirled around in an eddy behind that cemetery while the Susquehanna River tried its best to wash Amos and Anne away.
They didn’t want to leave, not even in their rubber form.
Every once in awhile, I visit Amos and Anne. Every time I do, I feel that they are still there. I imagine myself walking there in 1790, by that mighty river, and deciding that this is where I will live. I wonder if I would have been as brave.
Today, when I visited, the river was still swollen from the spring snow melt. I tried to imagine myself watching that swift water rise a few hundred feet from my new house during the spring of 1800. I could almost feel Amos and Anne still there with their eyes fixed on the Susquehanna too.