Heritage Weekend Tile 1982
Traveler’s Rest was constructed circa 1852 on the 313 acre tract for the three spinster VanMeter sisters, Ann, Rebecca and Susan. In her diary, Rebecca VanMeter made an entry on April 15, 1857: “Five years ago we moved over here—a memorable day in our history”. The house was also known as the “Old Maid’s Home” after the spinster sisters.
In their respective wills, Susan, Rebecca and Ann directed their interest in the house and property be given to the surviving sisters. When the last of the three sisters died, their interest was pass to the fourth sister, “Sallie” J. Cunningham. Ann was the last of the three sisters to die on October 1, 1892. However, their sister Sallie had previously passed away in 1867 and the house and two tracts of land passed to Sallie’s twenty-eight surviving heirs.
After a court case to settle Ann VanMeter’s estate, the house and property was sold in October 1897, to brothers, J. William and Joseph D. Heiskell.
In 1902, the Heiskell brothers divided their joint land holdings and Joseph D. Heiskell became the sole owner of the VanMeter property.
Joseph D. Heiskell died February 28, 1917 and willed his son, James R. Heiskell all of his “land in Old Fields…known as the Ann VanMeter Place and Flat Rock. James became indebted and borrowed money from his sister, Sarah Heiskell Welton and put his real estate as collateral. When James could not pay the money, he transferred the property, including the Ann VanMeter Home Place, to Sarah.
Sarah Welton died in 1949 and willed that all her property be sold.
The farm was divided into lots and at a public auction held on October 5, 1973 at the Old Fields public schoolhouse, James E. and Irene S. Ansel were the high bidders of $18,750 for the 8.17 acre parcel “together with pre-Civil War eight room brick dwellinghouse”.
Before the Ansel’s could inhabit the house, an extensive renovation of the house was required. The roof leaked and destroyed the plaster ceilings in the second level, all of which required replacing. In addition to modern conveniences, the Ansel’s installed four antique stained glass windows which were taken from Mrs. Ansel’s home place in Morgantown. In an unfortunate design choice, they removed the original front porch replacing it with a two-story roof and porch running the width of the house. The Ansel’s were proud of Traveler’s Rest and often opened the house for tours during Heritage Weekend. It was selected as the tile house in1982.
Mr. Ansel died on January 23, 1987 and willed the house to his wife, Irene Spitz Ansel. Mrs. Ansel remained in the house until her death on February 8, 1992. She appointed attorney Jack Walters as the executor of her estate and instructed him to reduce her estate to cash for the benefit of her two children, Mark and Mary Adell. Mr. Walters conveyed the property to Violet Huff Cook on January 10, 1995
As the new owners, the Williams’ are working with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to determine the true history of the home so they can apply for listing on the National Historical Register. They plan to use the home as the new office for their businesses.
Location: 188 Sycamore Bridge, Old Fields