“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes,Sr. (1809-94)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a cool day in Salem Township in Highland County. A family gathers outside the white picket fence in front of their two-story brick home near Pricetown. A mother, father and their eight children pose as the horses watch. The family stands still. A moment in time is captured.

It’s a bright, sunny autumn day as I look upon the old home where that family posed for that picture. The white picket fence is long gone, and so is the family. Yes, every single person pictured in that photo taken on that cool day has passed away. After all, that photo was taken more than a century ago.

I am again reminded of the psalmist who wrote that, “The days of our years are threescore years and 10; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The youngest of the eight children flew away nearly four decades ago at the age of 90.

She was my great-grandmother. I was very young when she passed away. As I recall, she seemed ancient to me, an old lady with white hair.

Today, the old homestead remains, and so does the old photo. But as time marches on, it’s almost safe to say there are few – if any – people alive who have ever met the matriarch and patriarch of that venerable portrait. With each passing year, as the decades pile up and turn into centuries, the stories of our ancestors often fade like the setting sun.

In the case of the aforementioned matriarch and patriarch, if history hadn’t intervened, that photo might never had been taken, at least with the same cast of characters, and that old home might never had been built.

James Worth Gossett was born April 24, 1847 in Highland County. Sarah Ann Roberts was born in Highland County nearly four years earlier on June 4, 1843. According to tales that have been passed down through the years, young Miss Roberts was engaged to be married … but not to young Mr. Gossett. However, there was an event in history that happened called the American Civil War. Like so many who fought in the Civil War, Miss Roberts’ fiancé didn’t come home.

Though she was living in Highland County, it didn’t mean young Sarah was safe from the perils of war. Another story that has been told through the years is that Morgan’s Raiders came through Highland County during 1863, and Sarah helped hide her family’s horses deep in the woods from the cavalry.

After the war, Sarah Ann Roberts, daughter of Abraham Roberts (1800-76) and Mary Fender Roberts (1808-93), married James Worth Gossett on Sept. 5, 1865. The Gossetts worshiped at the Pricetown Church of Christ and had 10 children, but lost two at a young age. Their children were Ira Madison Gossett (born 1866), Addie Viola Gossett (1870), Joseph Orland Gossett (1872), Minnie Gossett (1875), Pearl Mae Gossett (1878), Martha Laverne Gossett (1881), Clara Alice Gossett (1884) and Lavina Ann Gossett (1887).

After they were married, James Worth, a farmer, built a house for his growing family. It’s located on what is now Certier Road near Pricetown. Tax records for the property go back to 1869, but a medal plaque on the back of the house reads 1884.

Today, thanks to our good friend Bill Bear, who passed away earlier this year, the home and the property have incredible features.

Outside, there’s a waterfall, huge pond, gazebo, bridge, guest house, pole barn, a workshop and the old Gossett barn has been beautifully restored. Inside, there’s a modern kitchen, central air, propane heat, a large garage, office space and there’s even an elevator.

Back in the 1800s, the Gossett home didn’t have those kind of amenities. There was no indoor plumbing, running water, there was a summer kitchen where the garage is now located. But what do you expect? It was the 1800s, after all.

But what the home might have lacked in amenities, it more than made up for with love, tradition, faith and song. Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

(For more, go to http://www.highlandcountypress.com/Content/Default/Rotator-Articles-/Article/Gems-in-Salem-The-late-Bill-Bear-s-labor-of-love-transformed-ancient-earthwork-and-19th-century-home/-3/546/41669)

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.