In her lap, Susan Else Turner holds her granddaughter, Katherine and stares at the camera for a formal portrait... a Victorian woman in a corset and full length skirt holding a child who would see a man land on the moon.

I live in my grandmother's house, amid her grandmother's furnishings, a chain of memories passed down through five generations of women.  Which has its advantages.  I, for example, have never suffered through interior decorating.  I simply opened boxes, and unpacked.  Books and teacups last forever.  Bureaus and chests slightly longer.  It is with some dismay that I report tables, especially dining room tables, last just as long

Susan Else Turner and her granddaughter Katherine Lang Morrison

because  tables have grown over the years.  My great great grandmother's table, a piece which manages to be both heavy and graceful, stands 29 inches high.  Not high enough for my husband, who never could fit under it.  My grandmother's, a once proud battered cherry, stands 31" high.  Much more fitting, literally, for modern life.

We have the unique distinction of migrating backwards.  Susan Else Turner was a homesteader in Columbus, Nebraska with her husband in 1882, had her only child, Blanche in 1883, and lived the life of the homesteader until her husband died in 1892. 

After she lost her husband, Susan Else supported herself as a seamstress, taking in piecework and custom dressmaking.  The tiny wardrobe she created for my grandmother's doll "Emily" survives to this day with nary a seam torn, nor a button popped... a wardrobe the height of fashion for a little girl (or doll) of 1910. 

Susan Else Turner was, by the standards of her day, a very fortunate woman. In the mid 1800's it was rare indeed for a father to pass over his sons and leave his property to his daughter, but Susan's father did just that.  Under the theory his son's could support themselves, he left his farm to his daughter.  It was a hopeful gesture, the farm was a generous dowry.  But Susan never remarried.  

Susan's farm, which dates from the late 1700's, perches precariously on a rocky hillside in Mansfield, Vermont.  Running through the farm is a dirt road which goes over the mountains, connecting Nebraska Valley to the town of Stowe.  The road was traveled, and dotted with small farms all along its length.  

In 1848 the town of Stowe, Vermont reached out and annexed its neighboring town of Mansfield, much to the dismay of its state representative, Ivory Luce. Ivory, although he did not in fact change history, showed up at the statehouse the following winter demanding his town back.  He was escorted to the door, and Mansfield ceased to exist as a political entity.  Eventually, the even the busy road would fall into disuse as one after another the hill farms failed... until only the Farm at Morrison Corner remained.