A few words about Alice Walsh By Jim Mehne
Alice was a special person. Most of you who knew and worked with Alice on various committees understand what I mean by that statement. She was a force of nature; she was a force to be reckoned with! To say she was highly organized would be a gross understatement. She championed the cause of the Guild and she championed the cause of the museum. Alice devoted 110% effort to everything she did. She approached every job with a keen focus on the objective and determination to succeed. She was active in a number of other pursuits in which I was not personally involved.
Alice was very proud of her children and especially fond of her grandchildren. She knew which ones I had met at one time or another and would regularly share a good story about them when appropriate. Alice was a school teacher and would regularly tell funny stories about the early years. I am sure she was a kind, compassionate, and devoted teacher. I smile when I think back to parent - teacher conferences where I was the subject of heated conversation. I'll bet a parent- teacher conference with Alice Walsh was an event to be remembered. I wish I had just one teacher like Alice!
I honestly cannot recall Alice speaking harshly about anyone.
Well, she was not overly impressed by several politicians, but other than that she was always quick with praise. I once asked her son Russell about growing up under Alice's watchful eye. I think he said she was pretty understanding in most areas but she did not cut either of her sons much slack in the school - work department. I do not recall his exact words but I remember we laughed together about it.
I believe Alice enjoyed the hunt for collectible decoys just as much as her husband Bill. Frequently, while visiting in their home, a particular decoy would become the subject of conversation. Alice would revel in the detail of the circumstances surrounding its acquisition, the location of the auction, and the opposing bidders. Although Alice did not worry too much over lost bids I can assure you she derived great satisfaction from each successful bid. Bill and Alice traveled extensively and visited many interesting and scenic places in search of treasured decoys. She also enjoyed that aspect of the search.
Alice loved her dogs. She enjoyed recounting humorous stories about dogs past and present. I never heard her complain about muddy footprints, at least not from the dogs. Once upon a time I was privileged to be asked to feed her dogs while she was out of town. To be entrusted with the care of her dogs was a high honor I did not take lightly. I remember when one of her favorites died I carved a Bufflehead decoy in remembrance. She held that decoy in her lap and cried. I sat beside her and
suffered right along with her. I recall later telling Russell I would never do that again. Did I mention Alice loved her dogs?
When I think of Alice I always think about food. Whenever Alice heard my wife was out of town she would invite me to eat with them in their home or perhaps in a restaurant. When Bill and I would embark on a road trip we always left with a huge bag of candy, cookies and sometimes a few sandwiches. I also recall a Board meeting at the Walsh residence where platters of food and snacks were passed around the room. That was Alice. She cared, she was a special person, and she was my friend. I value that most of all.
Link here to The Pilot Online
Happy New Year! Another year of success and happiness has passed. With every New Year comes greater challenges and obstacles in life. I wish you courage, hope and faith to overcome all of the hurdles you may face. May you have a great year and a wonderful time ahead! I am eager to spend time in the New Year with you. Last year we got older and slower but we had a good time. Let’s make sure we do the same in this New Year!
I want to thank everyone who answered my request for assistance by providing many wonderful items for our Fall Barbeque and Christmas silent auctions. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
I want to thank everyone for the delicious potluck dishes we all shared at the Christmas Party. I believe everyone had a joyous and enjoyable time
Our first Photos with Santa and the Red Truck was held on December 7, 2019. We had 17 families participate, comprised of Museum members, friends, referrals, and Virginia Beach visitors. We would like to thank Jim Briggs and his Red Truck, Ron and Shawn Form of H2O Waterfront Venues for their photography services, Michael Mauch of Harvest Restaurant for the complimentary hot chocolate and cookies , and Al and Judy Wilder for providing Santa Claus. In addition, we would like to thank the support of the Board members of this event. Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 5, 2020 for our next Photos with Santa and the Red Truck. 2020 will bring a bigger holiday celebration for the Museum.
I hope to see every one of you at the Dine out for the deWitt on January 13, 2020 at IL’Giardino’s Restorante 910 Atlantic Avenue (one block south of the deWitt Cottage). 5:30 – 8:00pm.
Please make you plans now to attend and Please bring some guests with you! I will see you there!
By Mark Cromwell
Fitzhugh Munden, January 8, 1906 – May 31, 1965
Fitzhugh made his living on the water and operated a hunting camp on the beach side of North Back Bay near the little island coast guard station. This is the area South of Sandbridge and North of the Old False Cape Coast Guard Station.
Fitzhugh has only been credited with carving coot decoys. His decoys are made with 2 or 3 piece body construction with peg heads that are dowelled into the body. Also on the top of the body he would groove out the wood from front to tail.
His paint pattern was very simple, white for the bill and tail black for the rest of the decoy.
From the archives of the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, The Virginian –Pilot, Find a Grave.com, and Past editions of The Wildfowler.
As we begin the celebration of our historic home for the museum, we will be taking a journey into the past with a series of articles that explain how the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum found its way into the deWitt Cottage.
EXTENDED FAMILY OF DE WITTS REMEMBERS DAYS GONE BY
For those who knew the de Witt Cottage or even had chance encounters with the de Witt family, the impression left was everlasting, and you came away with something incredibly special. This specialness was not just what was said, who you were with or what you saw it was the picture in its entirety.
“Wittenzand”, or the de Witt Cottage, captures something holistic and venerable.
When at the Cottage, you enjoyed each other's company. simple pleasures, geniality, there were no feelings of wanting to "get away from it all," only an openness of enjoying one another. Even now when you look at the Cottage it's the house, the gardens, with the ocean so near: it all seems to reflect back to the life created, gentle, kind, lost in time, ancestral.
Indeed, when you were there, everything seemed to reach out to you, the house and the people. The cupola, the porch that wrapped the house on three sides, and the wide hallways, where summer breezes flowed
Miss Hity could be found lovingly tending the gardens. It was the one place we tread with what approached reverence. The flowers were every color, size, and shape imaginable, the scents were redolent. The tremendous fig tree was as bonding as the house, ancient, withstanding many a northeastern storm. Boughs that stretched up, then turned up and seemingly clung to the earth. Giving the impression of being heaven sent and well-grounded at the same time. And the figs were like no others.
It was all about having fun and sharing thoughts. The company was grand. It was a custom over a 50 year period (1924-1974) for a person to sign in the pig books. They were titled "some pigs who have eaten at Wittenzand." In over a dozen books, blindfolded friends drew a pig before signing their autographs.
Remembering a stay at the cottage harkens back to a time when conversation and playing games was the essence. You were simply always drawn into part of something. For young and old, there was the treasure trove of comic books, stacked on shelves in a closet that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. The best was picking your favorite reading matter and curling up in one of the ham-mocks in the comer of the porch.
Many was the time we freely roamed the house thinking the sisters knew not where we were. The attic was full of old objects that filled our heads with intrigue and fantasies. And on rare occasions Miss Elizabeth, Miss Ju Ju (Julia) or Miss Katrine would take us up to the cupola, and there the view was expansive - the world was ours - it is the way the sisters always made you feel. The Burnside Children -
Mike, Chris, Diane Burnside Murdock
May 27, 1992
I'm enclosing a contribution for the de Witt Cot-tage Project. Friends have sent me news clippings and a flier on this interesting restoration. My late husband Gibson Dailey and I spent a number of happy summer vacations there 1936-39. Please give my warm regards to Caroline and Peter and to Louisa Kyle.
Barbara White Dailey, Amherst, Massachusetts
Happy 2020 to all the friends of Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum! I want to share my most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for your continued support of the museum and all that we accomplished in 2019. This coming year is shaping up to be an exciting one! As we move forward into the New Year we will be celebrating the 125th year of the deWitt Cottage!
In the coming months your Board of Directors along with the director, Lynn Hightower, will develop goals and objectives that will support our vision as well as create a more sustainable foundation for the museum. Special events and other programming will be a focus in 2020 as we continue to fundraise, as well as friend-raise. These events will allow members, guests, and visitors to experience the full breadth of the AWHM. Mark your calendars now for Sunday, October 11th as we prepare to host the 125th Birthday of our historic deWitt Cottage.
It is not too late to make a tax-deductible gift to the museum. Please contact Mr. Hightower at 757-437-8432 to make your pledge. Brass plaques and brick pavers are also an option should you wish to honor someone in a more permanent manner.
I again thank each of you and look forward to seeing you at our first “Dine Out for the de Witt” event on January 13th at IL ‘Giardino’s and at the Back Bay Wildfowl Guild membership meeting on February 4th.
We have much to be thankful for as we begin a new decade!
Jason Seward - President
Well, we are about to put another calendar year in the archives of the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum. We have accomplished a great deal over the past year. I have included a complete list in this edition of the newsletter.
I want to thank everyone who came out for the Fall Barbecue and Oyster Roast. It was a great party! Thank you all for your continued support!
I hope to see every one of you at the annual Christmas Party on Tuesday December 3rd at Horizon’s (Formerly the Fraternal Order of Police) 961 S. Birdneck Road Virginia Beach, VA 23451 – 6:00pm. Please make you plans now to attend and reserve your place by calling the director at (757) 437-8432 or email him at email@example.com.
IT WAS APRIL 1914 and Bernard P. Holland, in his second term as mayor of Virginia Beach, was fighting to save the site of the Princess Anne Hotel -destroyed by fire seven years before -from being chopped into lots and sold for cottages.
From a 2010 story by Paul Clancy for Virginian-Pilot
But Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. was on the brink of receivership and couldn't wait any longer for a hotel deal to come through.· The company, a distant relative of the present Norfolk Southern Railway, had absorbed another line that ran trains to the Beach, built the hotel and sold land for cottages. Holland had worked for the railroad as superintendent, selling land for development, but now the shoe was on the other foot.
"It would be disastrous to us as well as
to the company," Holland wrote to company President C. H. Hix. "The hotel and the Pavilion have been the sole inducement to the investors who make the Beach their homes and to businesses here."
The letters are part of a collection of Holland's papers that have been given to the Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach Historical Society, in the care of Virginia Wesleyan College, by Ann Holland, his granddaughter. They provide a rare glimpse into the personal and business dealings of Holland, a former railroad superintendent who became the first mayor of the small town of Virginia Beach in· 1906. He served two years, then returned for another term in 1913.
When he first came to the Beach in the mid-1880s one of Holland's papers says, there was just one cottage and a partly built hotel, the luxurious Virginia Beach Hotel, later the Princess Anne, would soon open, attracting the rich, famous and powerful. Holland was in the thick of it, selling off lots for the railroad. The papers include deeds he signed on property along Atlantic Avenue, including 1,200 acres north of Rudee Inlet for $125,000.
One deed is for an "Infant Sanatorium. There's an 1893 train schedule (leave Virginia Beach 7:30 am, arrive Norfolk 8:20 am.), and a brochure for the Princess Anne touting "the most beautiful beach on the Atlantic Ocean, a site of about 1600 acres, one thousand of which is covered by a primeval pine forest, many of whose trees are more than a century old."There's a list .of property owners that includes Barton Myers, a prominent Norfolk businessman and former mayor. There's also the 1 909 deed of sale for Holland's own commodious cottage on 12th Street to Cecile Amelie and Cornelius de Witt. The de Witt Cottage remained in that family for decades until it became the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum.
After retiring from the railroad, Holland became a shop keeper, telegraph operator, and postmaster. He also rented out a portion of his store for the town's first library. For history buffs, there are minutes of a 1903property owners' meeting that included B.P. Holland and C. de Witt. The sense of the meeting was they wanted to "incorporate Virginia Beach as a town." A committee was appointed to draft a charter permitting the town to levy taxes, lay out streets, make bylaws, and provide for fines and penalties and "imprisonment for violators thereof."
There's even a yellowed Norfolk Landmark newspaper clipping with the headline, "May incorporate resort as a town." This, of course, came to pass and eventually the tiny beach town became a city that swallowed Princess Anne County whole.
The loss of the hotel would be a huge setback for the new town. Holland urged the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce to step in, then tried to gather a group of residents to buy the land and hold it for a "first class hotel." But he couldn't pull it off. There are letters from a real estate company pressing for a decision, and finally one from Norfolk Southern's Hix regretting that "on account of our financial condition we could not see our way clear to accede!
Stephen S. Mansfield, archivist for Virginia Wesleyan, said the Holland papers fill several gaps in the historical record of the resort city, they also show "the eclectic nature of his influence and interests. He really did personify the Beach back then and provided a bridge between the railroad and the community that came about."
I trust everyone had a wonderful and warm Halloween. This morning’s weather is quite a ways away from the 80 degrees we experienced yesterday. For me, November is the start to one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time for us to reflect and celebrate all we have in our lives to be thankful for.
I am thankful for another successful Barbecue and Oyster Roast on the cottage grounds. Once all numbers have been finalized, we anticipate that event raising north of $6,000 for our organization. This was made possible in large part through the generosity of our wonderful sponsors. The museum was bustling with activity throughout the day as old friends and new were able to experience our beloved cottage. Thanks to Lynn, our board volunteers, vendors, guild members, sponsors, guests, Shore Gallery at the de Witt Cottage, and all others that made the event a success. Mark your calendars; October 11, 2020 for our 5th annual Oyster Roast and 125th Anniversary Celebration of de Witt Cottage!
I am thankful for Lynn’s leadership, moving our organization into a new era. Lynn’s passion and love for carving, hunting, the de Witt family and their cottage, history in general, and his community are evident in every interaction. Martha Davenport has quickly established the cottage as a premier destination for weddings and special events in Virginia Beach. Her creative vision and attention to detail has enhanced our presence in the community. In addition to this presence, our “curb appeal” has elevated to premiere status through the hard work and dedication of Jacky Richards and other members of our garden club. The beautiful grounds surrounding the museum reflect the love and hard work that their caring hands have provided. Simply put, we are the most beautiful venue at the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
I am thankful for our cravers who share their incredible talents with our guests who visit the museum and the many events which we showcase the museum. Thank you to Susan Moritz, Ed Morrison, Roy Carlson, Hank Grigolite, Pete Dipietro, Jamie Champe, Pete Taylor, John Mazach, and Al Brandtner.
I am thankful for our relationship with Shore Gallery at de Witt Cottage; Seaside Gifts and the enhancements made to the gift shop operations of the museum. Their proven record of success in Hampton Roads is evident through not only the design of their space but also the coastal themed items they offer, and the clientele they serve. I look forward to their Christmas open house, as well as pictures with Santa and his red pick-up on December 7th.
My cup runneth over; we all as friends of the de Witt Cottage, Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, and Back Bay Wildfowl Guild have much to be thankful for. Each of you plays a vital role in our success and I thank you. I’m looking forward to celebrating more with everyone on December 3rd at our annual Christmas Party. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback.
Jason W. Seward
Tuesday, December 3, 2019 will be the date for our annual Christmas Party. We will gather in the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #8, 961 S. Birdneck Road at 6:00pm for dinner and the menu is potluck. So all you ladies need to bring out your best recipes. The museum will provide the meat (Ham and Turkey) along with Coffee and Tea. Setups will be available at the FOP bar (BYOB). We will have live music and perhaps some surprise entertainment. Members and their guests are welcome free of charge. If you are not a member and you would like to attend please contact the director. Please make you plans now to attend and reserve your place by calling the director at (757) 437-8432 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone must RSVP.
I would like to issue a special thank you to our garden club president Jacky Richards for her dedication to the garden throughout the Spring and Summer. Jacky has been an almost daily presence in the garden for the past three years. She has also managed to negotiate a wonderful plan with the City of Virginia Beach Land Scape Services for our garden in the very near future. The City will provide more plants of color and provide mulch for our beds. They will also help relocate some of the current plants. We are very excited about the continued improvements to our beautiful seaside gardens. Please contact the Director at Email email@example.com or call (757) 437-8432 if you are interested in joining the deWitt Cottage Garden Club. You could help them have another award winning garden this year!
Dine out for the deWitt starts on Monday January 13, 2018 at IL’Giardino’s Restorante 910 Atlantic Avenue (one block south of the deWitt Cottage). This is the program where you take your spouse out to dinner and the restaurant donates a percentage of what your meal cost to the museum. Easy peasy; you go out to dinner with your friends, family, or potential new guild member and the museum receives a nice donation. So let’s see how many people we can pack into IL’Giardino’s Restorante.
If ever you wanted a taste of our forefathers’ hardiness, you’d find it at Wash Woods. There, in thickets of low-slung evergreens, far from any human population, are the hidden ruins of a community that had no roads in or out. That remoteness was responsible both for the village’s existence and for its undoing.
Even today, part of the mystique of Wash Woods is the formidable task of getting there. The abandoned hamlet is not quite at the ends of the earth, but it might as well be. Wash Woods now lies within False Cape State Park, as far southeast in Virginia as it’s possible to be.
Unless you travel by boat, there are only two approaches to the park, from the north through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, or from the south, via the roadless beaches of North Carolina’s northern Outer Banks. Whichever way you choose, there is no driving inside the park itself. False Cape State Park is primitive and offers little in the way of modern amenities–a fact that attracts those trying to escape civilization. The park is long and narrow, and separates the Atlantic Ocean from the broad expanse of Back Bay.
Technically False Cape lies on a peninsula, but the skinny neck of land, just a half-mile wide in one spot, effectively acts as a barrier island. Dunes along the ocean give way to dense groves, which, in turn, give way to marshes. Wildlife abounds, and you’ll find ample evidence of opportunistic species that can make a living despite the sand and storms that would drive so many others off–sea grasses, evergreen shrubs and trees, mushrooms, sea birds, mice, foxes, deer. In spots, freshly-dug depressions in the ground are clues that feral hogs have been rooting for food. This was Charles Waterfield’s home. He was a waterman, hunting guide, hunt club caretaker and decoy carver. Born at Wash Woods, December 5, 1882, he lived his entire life on this fore barren peninsula where he and his wife Etta raised six children. His decoys are very rare.