Who is John Lehman?

I wish I knew. I think about him sometimes and wonder what he was like.  I know he lived in 1823 but I have no idea how old he was that year.  How do I know John?  He left a message for me, which I discovered 188 years later.

If you didn’t know, my day job is real estate marketing. That means I get to visit a variety of homes. Over the years, I’ve toured an equine surgery center, several B&B’s, multiple million dollar+ homes and a string of historic properties among others.  Old homes are my favorite.  They resonate with the echoes of yesteryear and the lifeblood of faded memories. “Weathering Rock,” the title of my time-travel/paranormal romance coming in October, refers to a fictitious home built in 1832 that is central to the story.

But let me jump back to John Lehman. Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting a property built in 1783. Think about that. It was the year the American Revolution ended. Am I the only one who finds that mind-boggling? To think of the people who walked through the halls of that home…the joys and concerns they must have had as our newly forged nation took its first tenative steps.

I fell in love with the property. Chestnut plank floors, massive moldings, a center hall with turned staircase, multiple fireplaces and four bedrooms each with its own “keeping cupboard.” That was where Mr. Lehman left his mark–in the rear bedroom on the inside of a cupboard door. He burned his name into the wood, along with the date “John Lehman, 1823.” Surely, he couldn’t have known I’d stumble upon it 188 years later, but it gave me chills.

Was he a young man, just starting out with a wife and family, anxious to embrace life in a nation that had proved iself 40 years after winning a revolution?  Or was he older, reaching the sunset of his life, wanting to leave his mark before he passed from this world?

He made sure he did. I think about him. And I’m sure every homeowner who has ever lived in that historic 18th century property has thought about him too. It was his home and he made sure we knew it. Some of that property went into Weathering Rock when I created it, along with bits and pieces of most of the historical estates I’ve toured. They all left a mark on me in one way or another, each teeming with the phantoms of forgotten years.

Do old homes inspire you?  Are there any you’ve toured, lived in, or visited that stand out in your mind?  I’d love to know about them! Aside from a professional interest, I have a passion for old properties.

18 thoughts on “Who is John Lehman?

  1. Old homes are pretty awesome. They hold so much evident history even by the way the walls are built! It’s awesome when you can find something that really personifies it. My husband and I bought our current home, knowing we’d be doing some remodeling. We recently dug out our entire kitchen and we found an old painting, newspaper clippings, and calendars inside the walls. We’re still considering getting the painting appraised as we are wondering what the significance was to store it in the walls!

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    • OMG! *jumping up and down* You found a PAINTING in the walls? Story fodder, L.J.!! How cool is that? My husband and I found a bunch of old newspapers and magazines in the attic of the first house we bought but nothing as exciting as a painting. My imagintion is already spinning out of control over the story behind that one. WOW!

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  2. Love, love, love old homes, old barnes, old cemeteries, and on and on. Because my career moved us all over the world, we’ve had the opportunity to live in some very old places but one of my all time favorites was a partially renovated castle in Germany. No one else on my team wanted to live there (ghost you know) and my husband and I jumped at the opportunity. It was ghastly cold in winter but oh so cool in summer and we had our own turret. In Italy we lived in part of an early 1800 cropper’s cabin in a vinyard and on and on. There’s been many and we’ve talked about visiting all of them once again some day.

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    • Sheri, you’ve had such amazing experiences! I can’t believe you actually lived in a castle! WOW! The idea of the ghost would have spooked me, LOL, but I love the idea. I’ve never known anyone who lived in a castle!!!

      And I love old cemeteries too, often visiting just too imagine the lives of the people who lived before. When I was a kid there was an old church near me that had numerous headstones from Revolutionary War soldiers but, the one I remember the most, was dated from the 1600s and belonged to an Indian Princess named White Feather.

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  3. Hi Mae Clair, I finally got around to checking out your blogs. Very good.
    Living in the west there aren’t many really old homes and I’ve never had the chance to live in one. But I had a similar experience to yours. Someone once gave me an old bedside table. When I refinished it I found “Joanne” written in the side of the drawer in a childish hand with red crayon. I picture a pigtailed girl with freckles wearing a flower print dress and bobby socks. She shares a bedroom with her overbearing older sister and, in an attempt to assert her individuality, left her name on her drawer. I think the table was originally made in the 1930s, which isn’t old by Revolutionary standards, but old enough to fire the imagination.
    About your previous post. My mother loves thunder storms and I remember sitting in the living room with her during night time storms, the lights off and the drapes open so we could watch the show. We still love to watch the storms.

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      • Great idea! I might check into that. I also have an old Civil War musket with the name of John Stutzman and his regiment burned into the stock. I found him on Ancestry.com and learned he was a private with the Pensylvania volunteer infantry. Gave me chills when I found his name there!

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    • Hi, Christy. I’m so happy you dropped by! Welcome to my blog. 🙂

      What a fantastic story you spun around Joanne. You brought her to life with your imagery. I love finding discoveries like that and although the 1930s might not be as old as the Revolutionary era it’s still buried in our past and I’m enamored of any connection to history. Thanks for sharing your experience and also the story about you and your mother watching thunderstorms together. What a great memory!

      I hope you’ll drop by again. 🙂

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  4. Hi Mae!

    Wow, after reading your blog post I’m even more excited to read your book! There is something truly wonderful about books that transport you to another time and bring the past to life. Having read a fair bit of Washington Irving, I’m enamored of the Revolutionary era and the days of nation-building just after. Men in cravats and tight breeches are definitely a bonus 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, too, BTW. You’re my first fellow LP author to drop by 🙂 I’m sure you are over-the-moon excited to see your book come to life and get it into the hands of eager readers. If you want any help with promotion (cover reveals, twitter, FB), let me know and I’d be happy to help out!

    Best wishes,

    Dana

    P.S. I LOVE your website. Still working on mine, but I think I’ll show my IT guy, um, I mean, hubby your layout as a template 🙂

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  5. Hi, Dana. Thanks so much for dropping by and visiting my blog! Yeah, I have a strong passion for history, especially American history from the time period of the Revolutionary War through the founding of the Western Frontier and the Plains Indian War.

    It’s so sweet of you to offer to spread the word about Weathering Rock. I will gladly do the same for Red Shoes for Lab Blues. I’m right there with you at the beginning of the learning curve and am completely giddy about the whole prospect. I’ve been thrilled by my experience with Lyrical so far. If I can help in anyway, give me a shout. I just finished putting together a trailer for my book and can’t wait to share that. What a cool publicity tool!

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  6. Have you ever seen If Walls Could Talk? It’s an HGTV show about old houses and discoveries in them… I really enjoyed the interesting histories behind the homes and the treasures they’ve discovered.

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    • Yes, I’ve seen that once or twice, great show! When I was in my early 20s, I worked in the rental office of an apartment complex that did a major remodeling job. The other two ladies and I in the office made a time capsule and put inside the wall which was then sealed up. I ofte wonder if it will ever be found and when . . . hopefully, a long time in the future. I’d love to come across something like that!

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      • Actually yes, he was my 5th great grandfather. He was a Revolutionary War Vetren who served in the Pennsylvania 2nd. Thanks for the information, this story was so cool. You don’t have pictures of the house do you?

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      • That is so great to know! I’m so glad you found my post and were able to share information about him. I don’t have photos but the house was fabulous, so well maintained and the integrity of the era had been preserved. Stepping inside was like stepping into the past. Thank you for answering the question “Who is John Lehman?”

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