We've visited most of the Presidential libraries by now, and some of the homes and/or birthplaces of the presidents, but we keep finding more. Crossing Pennsylvania, we detoured through the Appalachian hills to Cove Gap, a tiny crossroads where signs directed us to Stony Batter, the birthplace of James Buchanan monument Buchanan, our fifteenth President. He was born in 1791, apparently deep in the forest. Now a massive pyramid (see photo) in the Stony Batter State Park marks the spot -- his cabin has been moved to Mercersburg. We're not sure why this particular symbolism was adopted. There is no shortage of rocks and mortar in the area, and perhaps a pyramid was the Masons' idea. In any event, we left the site feeling no more enlightened about Buchanan than when we arrived. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then maybe a historical museum is worth a thousand monuments!
Continuing west and south into West Virginia, we kept to country roads, through hills and forests. Cattle and horses grazed peacefully in pastures, where hay has been cut and rolled for the winter. Stacks of firewood are ready for sale.
After Pennsylvania scrapple for breakfast we tried country ham for lunch, cured in brine, then fried and served with green beans cooked with salt pork. Everyone in the restaurant knew and greeted one another, a good feeling.
Early Sunday morning we noticed a father and small son, both in suits and fedora hats, walking briskly along the road. Standing patiently near a West Virginia view house a bit farther along was another boy, perhaps seven or eight years old, also in black suit and small black fedora. We wonder where these children can get their hats!
In West Virginia fewer homes are large and well manicured; there are more mobiles, more yards cluttered with dead cars and trucks, more signs that some people are making a scratchier kind of living. But the scenery is spectacular, even without leaves on the trees. The hills are steeper and higher, and the roads wind around curves as they thread their way from one town to the next.
We've been chasing ancestral lines through the midwest and New England, and now we'll be following another line through West Virginia. Genealogy has been providing us a framework to study history. When and from where did the immigrants come that settled this country? We'll let you know.