Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Historical Borst House, Part 3

It ALL began on a piece of land by the side of the River...

Joseph, in his early 30's, about the time
he met and married Mary

Joseph Borst was born on October 17, 1821 in New York
State. He came west with the Ford family when he was 25.
He arrived in the local area in October 1846 and registered
for his donation land claim in November 1846. He selected his
320 acres, the portion set aside for unmarried men, on the
north side of the Chehalis River and prepared the land for

Mary, in the dress her Mother made for the Ball

Mary Adeline Roundtree Borst was born on June1, 1838 in
Knox County, Illinois.. Mary came west with her family in
1852 when she was 13 years old. In the Winter of 1854, when
Mary was 15, she was chosen to lead the Grand March at a
Ball given in honor of the first Legislative Assembly. President
Fillmore had just signed the bill creating Washington
Territory and appointed Iassac Ingalls Stevens governor.
Mary's father was the doorkeeper of the House of
Representatives, which is most likely how she came to be
asked to lead the grand march. Mary's mother made her a
white cotton dress with a full skirt, short puffed sleeves with
longer gathered sleeves below and small pearl buttons down
the front. Mary is pictured above in the dress her Mother
sewed for her for the occasion.

Shortly after the ball, Mary's family moved to a settlement
called Union, later to be called Oakville after the reservation
there, where her Father built a small 3 room house for the
family. She soon turned 16 and began to think of getting
married, strange I know!

One day, not to long after, Mary saw Joseph Borst when he
came to her father's sawmill to buy some lumber. One thing
led to another and on October 15, 1854 they were married
in Union, Thurston County, Washington Territory...

and so story goes that Mary agreed to marry Joseph, in jest,
only if he promised to one day build her a house of her

She had to wait a bit. First they moved to a small cabin
already on Joseph's farm, where their first baby, Eva Estella
was born on September 21 1855. The Indian Wars of 1855-56
forced Mary to move with baby Eva to Fort Henness on Grand
Mound Prairie. It was a 16 month stay.

When they left the Fort, Mary and Joseph moved to the
blockhouse Joseph built on their land during the war (see
previous post about the blockhouse HERE). Baby girl Ada
Twilla was born in the Borst blockhouse on March 7, 1857
and Harbin David was born on November 7, 1859.

Around 1860, the exact year is not known, Joseph began
construction on the house Mary wanted so badly. The
construction took 2 years.

The Borst House while under construction, cannon and men
with guns, during a Pioneer Days celebration. The man on
the far left is Mary's father, Dr. Roundtree. This is the first
picture I saw that actually shows the original placement
of the blockhouse and how close it was to the house.

The Borst House circa 1900,
with the original balcony.

At the time the house and barn were completed, Joseph said
that they were so well built, they would last for 80 years. Over
120 years later, the house is still standing and shows every
indication of remaining there for another 100!

The Borst House today

The enormous barn, on the left

The barn Joseph was so proud of, the one you could drive a
team and wagon into and make a complete turn inside, and
drive back out again without stopping, is gone. It was
damaged beyond repair in a windstorm in 1962. It did reach
past the age of 80 years, closer to 100 I would say!

Another view of the house with
the river ferry docked at
the shoreline.

Now, like all good friends, please come in through the back
door and let me show you a little bit about how the world
may have looked when Mary and Joseph and their
children lived here.


Here is a floor plan to help you
find your way around!

The pantry, where all the goodies were stored. I loved this.
What a feeling of security it would have given you back then
to have your pantry fully stocked before winter came.

If you look at the top of the picture, above the rag rug, you'll
see a small vent in the floor. There was also one in the ceiling
that allowed for the cool river air to circulate and keep things
in here cool. It was their version of a refrigerator.

Back in the kitchen, this gorgeous stove would have been
the envy of every housewife in the territory. This particular
stove was not Mary's. Hers was also located in the center of
the kitchen and had been brought by ship all the way around
the horn.

The guide said they think this piece is original to the house,
but came at a much later time.

The highchair, made by Joseph. All of the children used it.
Don't you just LOVE this!

The door behind the ironing board is used for storage.

This water pump was also a later addition. In fact, it looks to
me like it is for display purposes only, I see no plumbing for
the pump! In Mary's time water had to be carried into the
house from an outside well.

A built in corner cabinet, right next to the pantry. There are
several original Borst dishes displayed here, including the
platter on the left with the green tag.

The Serving Room

This is where the food was plated before it was served in
the dining room. Now days people cook, plate and eat all in
the same room!

This cupboard is an original Borst piece. The inside of the
bottom cupboard door shows the original finish. If you'll
notice the rawhide chairs in these last two pictures, they
were commissioned by Joseph and made by a man from
Tumwater who sold them for $1.25 each.

Into the dining room

You can see in this picture just how big the windows are and
how high the ceilings reach.

The huge soapstone fireplace. The brass lamps on the mantle
are from the Borst family.

All is watched over by a portrait of Joseph
that hangs there.

Eva, Harlin and Ada Borst

children of Joseph and Mary

The house, of course did not have electricity, so this beautiful
light was added much much later!

This little cabinet is tucked behind the door. I loved the glass
paned doors with all the books behind them.

This table is also an original Borst piece.

Chairs that belong to the Borst family. Isn't the little
children's chair adorable. You have to wonder if Mama
made a pillow to put on those rawhide straps before tiny
hineys sat there!

I'll leave you here at the front door for now and meet you
back here tomorrow when we'll continue on our tour. On
tomorrow's schedule: the rest of the downstairs!

* To see previous posts on the Borst House, click on the
links on the left sidebar

*All of the old black and white photos are courtesy of the
Lewis County Historical Museum

* All historical information is courtesy of the Centralia Parks
and Recreation Department and Jean Hilts Bluhm, the author
of "The Mary Borst Story".


Gin said...

I love getting this glimpse back in time when the world was so much easier and peaceful. Thank you! Beautiful pics!

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

I feel as though I've just been there in person! Great post of this historical site! Awesome pictures! Thank you!

NicNacManiac said...

Great tour of a fantastic spot. Your pix made me feel as though I travelled through time!!
Love the new look...the header is beautiful!!

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Sares, this tour was great fun and so interesting. I have never seen so many antiques in one place. And to know that the house is still there today. It is still standing and has been so kept up and loved. Don't you just feel so much pride to see it? You are a piece of history. Wow. Great post. Just love it. Have a wonderful day. Thank you for your prayers for Amy and our family. We so appreciate it. Country hugs and love, Sherry

Pony Girl said...

It was really fun to see the old pictures, versus the new! That would be cool if the barn was still there, too! Do you think the house is haunted? :) Silly question, but sometimes you wonder if those old places, with so much history, are still in some way spirited by those who once lived there.

Bearly Sane said...

Thank you Sares...this has been an interesting post, photos were wonderful and that stove is to die for!!
Sandi My Blog

Horse Dreams said...

Thank you for sharing your pictures and the story of the Borst family. It's funny how I grew up in the community but really wasn't too familiar with the home's history. I'd love to live in an old house with a similar story!

Desert Rose said...

That was some house for them to have way back then...he must have been well to do!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely blog you have! I love the detail that you include.
I visited the Borst Homesite years ago and thought it was wonderful that it was so well preserved and exhibited. It is a local treasure, to be sure.

C. JoyBell C. said...

Oooh Sares... I must say, I do feel like crying! I sat through a history class here! hu hu hu huh u... :'( :'(

But I liked the pictures (hee hee) ... my fave is the serving room! I love that flat blue latex on the walls! I love flat blue latex paired with wooden furniture! :)

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Sares,

First let me say, I love your new blog header.
Thank you for telling us about the Historical Borst house, I really enjoyed my visit.