17/02/13 3:41 PM


“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

Albert Pine (1851)

I want to tell you a story.

Since Brett and I started this blog, we have started following many other blogs. We enjoy seeing other places through the eyes of others or learning about someone else’s point of view. One thing we also enjoy is reading and seeing blogs about antiques and vintage furniture and items. It is so much fun seeing things we would never otherwise see being here in Virginia.

One of these blogs we follow is called the Estate Store and Community Warehouse.

Community Warehouse

Questions? Email or call 503-445-1449

Community Warehouse is a volunteer-based nonprofit agency that collects and redistributes donated furniture and household goods to low-income people in Oregon and southwest Washington. Working in partnership with more than 100 social services agencies, the Warehouse fulfills over 40 requests each week. They value recycling, volunteerism, financial transparency in all aspects of the organization, preserving the dignity of clients, and providing services in a timely and cost-effective manner that honors the donors who keep their doors open. Led by a group of dedicated volunteers including founders Roz Babener and Fineke Brasser, Oregon Community Warehouse incorporated in January 2001 and began regular pick-ups of donated items in the Portland metro area. Community Warehouse is one of many furniture banks involved in a nation-wide effort to distribute furniture and household goods to families and individuals in need.

Recently I came across the Estate Store blog and an item they were featuring caught my eye. It was an antique silver water pitcher. Now have you ever hear the saying “I was going to conquer the world, but then I saw something shiny”? Well, that would fit me. Silver just seems to catch my eye anymore. So of course I had to read about it. And wow, I am so glad I did. This water pitcher has some really great history!


This is the information I read from the “Estate Store” blog:

“Antique Corcoran Cadet Corps Pitcher

Here’s an interesting piece of American history.  This is a large silver plated water pitcher with an enameled iron interior lining. It bears the monogram of the Corcoran Cadet Corps (more about that below). The pitcher stands about 12 inches tall to the top of the lid finial and it is in good condition excepting a couple of dents in the side.

It is heavily decorated and the design bears a patent date of October 29, 1878. It is marked Superior Silver, which was a brand used by the Middletown Plate Company. Middletown was taken over by International Silver in 1899 so we know this piece dates to the late 19th century.


From what I’ve been able to see the Cadet Corps was a voluntary paramilitary (and likely Roman Catholic) fraternity located in Washington D.C. in the late 19th and early 20th century.  They participated in the usual sorts of activities: drills, forced marches, marching in public monument dedications, acrimonious court cases, trips to Atlantic City and the World’s Fair, that sort of thing.  They even had a formidable basketball team which once trounced the opposition with a score of 6 to 3, not withstanding slippery floors which “marred play that might have been otherwise faultless.”


Perhaps most interesting in the view of this distant point in history is their participation as part* of the “National Guard” in response to the threat to civil order presented by Coxey’s Army in 1894.

The movement that became known as Coxey’s Army (a.k. a. the ‘Great Army of the Idle’) was a populist protest of unemployed persons in response to the recession of 1893. They formed in several bands throughout the United States with the stated intention of marching upon Washington to declare their grievances in the seat of power. The most notable faction was led by Jacob Coxey, an industrial capitalist and perhaps the most losing, but undaunted candidate in American politics.


There was great fear that they would achieve their objective by reaching Washington and that once there . . . they would protest the policies of President Cleveland which they felt resulted in their unemployment in the first place. As usual, the forces of repression in society mobilized to meet the heinous threat of peacefully protesting poor people by mobilizing paramilitary and police organizations. Among these were the members of the Corcoran Cadet Corps.

As usual in such situations the war-hawks made sure to put on a good show when the opposition was still miles away, to grab some newspaper headlines and then embark upon a victory parade.

Coxey’s Army did eventually reach Washington where. . , nothing much happened. Coxey himself was not allowed to give his prepared speech “We…say, help, or we and our loved ones must perish… we come to remind the Congress here assembled of the declaration of a United States Senator, “that for a quarter of a century the rich have been growing richer, the poor poorer, and that by the close of the present century the middle class will have disappeared as the struggle for existence becomes fierce and relentless.”


Yes, that’s the entirety of it.

Thanks to ever-present gendarmes, the Army was quickly moved to temporary quarters at an old dump they called Camp Tyranny. Coxey and some of his associates were arrested for the revolutionary acts of illegally displaying banners (2 x 3 inch lapel pins) and walking on the grass. Although they attested that they did not walk on the grass and lapel pins were not banners they were found guilty, fined $5 and sentenced to 20 days in jail. The rest of the army dispersed and the largest part decamped to Virginia where they were eventually arrested on charges of vagrancy by police from (as non-sensical as it may be) Baltimore, Maryland. It should be noted that they joined the National Guard in response to the actions of rogue members prior to their unsatisfactorily resolved court case.”

IMG_4935 small

After reading this history, I really wanted to find out the cost of this piece of Virginia History. So I asked for the price. Sadly, the cost was just a little more than I could justify at this time with all the other expenses we are about to incur opening the bed and breakfast. Ed even offered to work out a deal that would allow me to purchase it over time. But still, I couldn’t do it knowing it would take money away from other items that are required. So I told Ed that I would have to pass for now and hope that it would find a loving home with someone else.

About a week later, I received an email from Ed. The owner who had donated the item to the Community Warehouse and Ed had been talking about our interaction. When she found out it was “Belle Grove” that wanted the water pitcher, she was thrilled. Ed told me that her parents had lived in Strasburg, Virginia, just outside of Middletown, Virginia. She told Ed if she had known we wanted it, she would have donated it to us. She told Ed that her parents had loved “Belle Grove”. So they worked out the details and long story short, all he needed was our address to ship us the pitcher.


Belle Grove Plantation
Middletown, Virginia

At first my heart just about burst, but as I read, I knew I couldn’t accept it. We aren’t the “Belle Grove” her parents had loved. The “Belle Grove” they knew is the “Belle Grove Plantation” in Middletown, Virginia. It was built in 1797 and was the home of Isaac and Nelly Madison Hite, sister of James Madison. Nelly had named her plantation after “Mother’s Plantation” which was our “Belle Grove Plantation”. We get that mistake all the time since we are both in Virginia and both are related to the Madison Family.

So with a heavy heart, I emailed Ed and told him of the mistake. I let him know that I couldn’t accept it, but if they contacted the other “Belle Grove”, I was sure they would love to have the pitcher. I let him know that I would have been honored to have such a wonderful piece of Virginia History and if the other “Belle Grove” didn’t want it, I would gladly take it.

Ed contacted the donor and let her know about the mistake.

About two days later, I received another email from Ed. He told me that the donor understood the mistake and still wanted our “Belle Grove” to have it!

I can’t tell you how overwhelmed and honored we are! What a wonderful gift to receive! So Ed shipped it from Oregon and the pitcher made its way back to Virginia. We just received it yesterday.

When I took it out of the box, my heart just leapt! We just can’t begin to express how much we appreciate this gift. The donor, Jane also has a blog. We hope you will also visit it and let her know what a wonderful gesture it was!


But you know this isn’t the first wonderful gift we have received since we started this journey!

Just about a month ago, one of Brett’s co-workers, who also follows our blog, came to Brett with a wonderful offer. He and his wife purchased a new freezer for their home and had an almost new full size upright freezer that they wanted to donate to our bed and breakfast. Of course we accepted because a freezer is another big ticket item that we need to purchase for Belle Grove. But to our great surprise, the freezer was larger than we expected and will be of great use to us! And he even delivered it to our Chesapeake home for free!

Another surprise happed just a few weeks ago. We received a donation of funds from one of our readers from Colorado. In the big scheme of things, it wasn’t a great amount, but to us it was very significant and it was very much appreciated. When we thanked her for the donation, she apologized that it was not more. But you know even a $1 can make a huge difference to us.

Lastly we can’t express the wonderful participation we received during our “Silent Auction”. We had a number of people who placed bids and won some wonderful antiques. Those funds will go to help us sure up the Smoke House and Summer Kitchen until we can get the funds to restore them.

But we want everyone to know that all of these acts of generosity will make a huge difference for our bed and breakfast. We are thankful for each and every one of them. They will help us bring this grand plantation home back to life and to protect and preserve its history for present and future generations.

Thank you to all who have donated and to all who have supported us through your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement. Each is worth a pound of gold to us! And each will be immortal to this plantation!

If you would like to make a donation, please locate the “Donation” button at the top of our left hand column. You may make a donation through Paypal or use a credit card. If you have an item you would like to donate to Belle Grove to become part of its living history, please email us at Every item received will be loved, cherished and its history will be displayed with it.


Thank you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 38 Comments »

38 Comments on “Generosity”

  1. hideaheart Says:

    Wonderful story and outcome visa vie the generosity of Jane!

  2. Thank you! It was such a great new piece of history for Belle Grove!

  3. What wonderful stories of generosity and open hearts! You guys deserve it!

  4. Thank you! It was such an honor to now have this piece of Virginia History!

  5. Dianna Says:

    Wow, what a wonderful gift! I know it will have a special place at Belle Grove. (One of my dear friends lives near Strasburg, and we visited there last year.)

  6. Thank you! Yes, it will have a place of honor in the mansion!

  7. John Says:

    A great story with a great ending! Next time we go to Mechanicsville, I need to see how far it is to Belle Grove… 🙂

  8. Thank you! It is one hour from Mechanicsville to Belle Grove. 🙂

  9. John Says:

    OK thanks for the info on that. We don’t get down there often, perhaps if things work out just so, we could drive by and say howdy! (invites self over) 🙂 You run a great website, always a pleasure to see a new post from Belle Grove.

  10. Thank you John! You are always welcome! Just make sure we are home before you come! I won’t be in residence until April.

  11. Love love love the quote at the beginning.

  12. Thank you! I love it too!

  13. This is so wonderful. I love it when history meets history!

  14. Thank you! It really is kind of neat!

  15. Thank you for sharing your lovely story 🙂

  16. You are so welcome! It was such an honor to be apart of it!

  17. I just love this story. You and Brett deserve it! I love my necklace from the auction and I wear it a lot. I always think I need an 1860’s hoop skirt to go with it. I also love the pics of past fashions you post on FB. In addition to being a sucker for every form of wedding on earth, I love fashion! Melody and Rhythm send Hurley hugs back.

  18. Thank you! We have been so honored to have such wonderful people following us! We are so glad you love the necklace! I picked it out myself! As for the fashions, they come from another page I am following called Historical Sewing. She has some wonderful pieces she shares. Hugs to Melody and Rhythm!

  19. Well, I’m just bowled over! I can’t think of anything that would have made my parents happier than to think that the CCC water pitcher was going to be part of your historic Bell Grove Bed and Breakfast plantation with its very real connection to the Belle Grove they knew and loved. I’m just thrilled to have had a small part in this lovely outcome for all of us. And now I have a new blog to follow!

  20. Thank you again Jane! It was so wonderful to be apart of this and we love the pitcher! We can’t wait to place it at Belle Grove once we get our furniture in! I am sure when we take pictures later, you will have a chance to see where we place it!

  21. A wonderful story of generosity for sure. Open hands and an open heart make for a great community. I will be in Virginia at the end of the month. I am hoping to see you…



  22. Thank you Cindy! It was such an honor for us to be apart of! What part of Virginia are you going to be in? We won’t be opened, but we would love to show you around the plantation if you are going to be close.


  23. I will be in Virginia from Feb 27th – March 7th…I may hoping my sister-in-law and I would visit…I believe she would love it. Can I let you know?

  24. We could meet you there on Saturday or Sunday (March 2nd or March 3rd) if you would like to meet us. Email me so we can work out the details ( We would love to meet you and your sister-in-law and show you the wonderful plantation! Maybe we can also show you one of our great vineyards in the area! Remember we agreed to share a glass of wine!

  25. Thank you…

  26. 🙂

  27. I am glad there is so much generosity and good will around you–and can’t wait to see that bed and breakfast open its doors!

  28. Thank you! It has been very overwhelming with all the open hearts we have come in connect with. We look forward to seeing you at the plantation too!

  29. Good things happen to good people! I’m soooooo thrilled with your good fortune.
    I love history and gobbled up every word of Coxey’s Army. Fascinating!
    Thank you for sharing this great post!

  30. Thank you! We are just honored to be apart of it!

  31. Jane Sadek Says:

    So excited that you’re having such a wonderful response from so many places. You are truly an example of someone who gives it out in slices and gets it back in loaves. By participating in your endeavor, I feel like a part of what you’re doing – even if only a small part. You’re going to do great. Zig Ziglar used to say something like the best way to get what you want is to spend your time helping others get what they want. By that measure, all your dreams should come true.

  32. Thank you Jane! I like to feel all of you are apart of this adventure! It makes it so much more fun!

  33. belocchio Says:

    The story of the silver water picture is really quite wonderful. Good works that should be repeated everywhere. V.

  34. Thank you! It was just an honor to be apart of it!

  35. Nativegrl77 Says:

    That was a great story … and thank you for all your support!

  36. Thank you! It was such a wonderful thing to happen to us!

  37. sarahlouisek Says:

    What lovely detail on that pitcher. And now I’m going to sound like my parents, because I’m going to say, “They just don’t make them like that anymore.”

  38. Thank you! That is so true! It is bigger than I expected too!