Camp Strawderman

Location: This property is situated just off the Jerome-Columbia Furnace Road, four miles from Jerome, Virginia, just beyond Liberty Furnace and one mile to the right, across the creek, over a winding, private road.

Built: prior to 1827


10 Aug 1827: John Spitler to Abraham Bard, which property was conveyed to said john Spitler by Mathias Spitler and Elizabeth, his wife. The said Mathias Spitler was one of the sons of John Spitler, Sr., dec'd.

: .

27 Jul 1832: Stephen Strawderman

12 May 1902: John Strawderman, by will.

5 Oct 1912: Samuel J. Huffman, by will.

12 Nov 1914: Margaret V. Hoffman

Margaret V. Hoffman Goldman (neice), at aunt's death

Physical Description

The house, like the other buildings, was built of hewn logs, plastered. The outside door is of the Dutch half-door type. The latches were iron with holes bored into them. A small half moon shaped rod was put through a hole in the door, caught in the latch and pulled back, unlocking the door.

The door facing is of four inch boards with a beaded moulding surrounding it.

The narrow kitchen had a large stone fireplace which was used for cooking until a few years ago (1937). A narrow ladder led up from the kitchen to the room above which was used as a storeroom. This room was as large as the kitchen and the room combined. The rafters and shingles could be seen from there. The room off from the kitchen had a pine hook built in the wall, which was the back of the kitchen fireplace. This was the room in which the spinning was done.

Across the hall, which runs the length of the house, was a large room running the length of the house. This part, with its winding enclosed stairway leading to an equally large room above, was built to last. The doors have wrought iron hinges, while those in the first part of the house were of wood and iron.

The windows were of the half-window type, while those in the first part of the house were the sliding windows.

In front of the house was the garden with all of the old time herbs in one corner. This has now been sodded over and the garden made in another part of the grounds. To the left of the house in the side hill is a large mound covered with pine trees. Under this mound was a large rock walled cellar with a door leading in from the side of the hill.

This house is now (1937) owned by Miss Margaret V. Huffman and used as a summer camp for girls and is called Camp Strawderman.

The porch and enlarged kitchen have been added to the house by Miss Huffman. There are also seven log cottages and other camp buildings that have been added.

Historical Significance

Stephen Strawderman settled in this section of the county on Stoney Creek during the Revolutionary period and is said to have been a Hessian soldier who deserted the English Army about the time of the surrender of Yorktown. He willed his property to John Strawderman, who, in turn, willed it to Doctor Samuel J. Huffman, provided the said Doctor took care of Leah Strawderman during her lifetime. She was the spinner and weaver of the flax, wool and cottons that were grown on the place and her work was extremely beautiful. She worked there until a few years before her death, using the open fireplace and scorning stoves until she became so feeble that the doctor compelled her to use a tin plate stove, as it was called, as he feared she might fall into the fire and become burned. However, she outlived Doctor Huffman and his wife, Virginia, cared for her until her death.

The Strawderman family were a law unto themselves. They lived to themselves on their farm, raised everything they needed to live on, clothed themselves and therefore seldom left the farm. Consequently very little was known about them and they were seldom seen by anyone. They also raised their own tobacco and made their own medicine and were complete within themselves.

There is a mystery about this estate that has been kept in the family very carefully. More can be learned of them by going over the records held by Miss Margaret V. Huffman, of Woodstock, Virginia. It is thought that they ran away from the Hessian Army, for they were Hessians, and no one could find out why they kept so secluded. The women folks were not allowed off the place if it could be prevented, and the men seldom left it. About once a year, they did what buying necessary to be done and were not seen again for another year.

Source: Virginia W.P.A. Historical Inventory Project, 1937

Additional information: Helen Larkin Burton

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Created October 12 2001
Updated August 8 2003