Venton: A Cautionary Tale to Researchers

Rule # 1 to researchers:  Never lose your memory

Rule # 2:  Never lose your notes, because there’s a good chance you’ll lose your memory

I am about to show information for which I cannot verify most of it.  But I shall include it just the same, as a warning to you researchers.

And I still have some research to do, particularly on this house, which has changed little in the 20-some years I have watched it.  Periodically I will drive to this house, ever since the first time so many years ago when it was then also vacant.  The wilting roof is new and it won’t be long until the building comes tumbling down completely.  This is on Anderson Road, not far from the Venton area of Somerset County, Maryland.  I haven’t even done the title search on this house, but if I were to guess, it may have been tenant housing at one time.

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My curiosity about this house started way back when I stopped an elderly man walking along Venton Road, showed him a photograph or two, and asked if he knew anything about the woman in one of the photos.  It is one of my favorites of the Farm Security Administration photographs taken during the 1940s.  8c02422uThere were a series of about four photographs of one family in Venton, that of Burdell White, his wife, and their daughter.

The exterior c.1940 photos of Burdell’s house shown below this article were clearly not this house, but likely one located on Venton Road or perhaps Deal Island Road.  This man recognized the photograph and pointed me towards a mobile home where he said was the daughter of the young woman in this photograph.

So I went to the home and knocked. And today I am horrified thinking that I have misplaced or lost my notes.  The elderly woman inside indeed said that she was the daughter of the woman in this photograph.   Ancestry.com indicated a daughter in 1930 Census as Alveda, and I do believe this is the name the elderly lady told me.  She told me that Alveda had died a number of years before, of some illness, I forget.  When I showed her this interior photograph, she told me that the photo had been taken in a house she described on Anderson Road.  She said the house was that of Alveda’s father-in-law and that she and her husband lived there.  I have not verified if the now dying house is the same one, but I rather like to think so.

The photographs below are the other FSA photographs of Burdell White’s home, with one of the photos showing this same young woman.  She may have been 13 or 14 at the time of these photographs.

I really wish I could find those notes.  And I really wish I had followed up more on this family history.  So if anyone else knows, I would love to know.

— Linda Duyer

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Burdell White chicken coop

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