Some of you will be very shocked to hear that I got on a boat this past weekend.
I was lured onto the boat with the promise of a very large and beautiful historic home awaiting me on the other side, filled with stories of tragedy and mystery. Blennerhasset Island. I was told that there was no other way to get to this house than get on the boat. Turns out that there’s a bridge. While it doesn’t actually go TO the island, it does go OVER the island. I probably could have climbed down. Or something. That would have made a scene though.
So I got on the boat. With no panic attack.
Of course, I was only in the Ohio River and could have jumped and swam to shore if I had to. I mean, I could have made the swim (I’m amazingly more buoyant now that I’m not so thin) even though my skin might have melted off from the pollution in the water. (The Ohio River currently the most toxicly polluted river in the country.)
It actually wasn’t bad at all, especially since there couldn’t have been better weather. The usual landing point (in Parkersburg) is closed for construction, so you board the boat directly beside the island.
The boat captain was nice enough to take us back to Parkersburg to see the flood wall though, which was nice.
Once we got to the island, the house was a gorgeous as it was promised to be (but not really all that historically accurate, which was pretty disappointing to me).
If you don’t know the history of the Blennerhassets, it’s actually kind of interesting….in a very sad and messed up way. Chris and I were taking a tour of the town museum and not really paying attention to the little movie that they were playing….until we heard the phrase ‘we had to leave the country because Harman was my uncle and my family did not approve of our marriage’……
Uh, I’d say not. Turns out Harman was a rather militant Irish revolutionary and needed to leave the country anyway, so he took his niece/wife and moved to America. Once here, he found a cute little island in the Ohio River and decided to build the biggest and most beautiful house west of the Allegheny Mountains. The house was completed in 1800.
Just 6 years later he made good friends with one Aaron Burr. Yes, the famous Aaron Burr that shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel. After being acquitted of murder charges Mr Burr decided that he would assemble militia and begin a new life…in a new country, previously known as the Louisiana territory. Blennerhassett thought this was a fine plan and invested every cent he had left in obtaining, arming, and building boats for this militia. This plan was intercepted and shared with Pres Thomas Jefferson (who did not care for it one bit). Both men were captured and tried for treason. Militia invaded the Blennerhassett mansion and greatly damaged it. Following the trial, the Blennerhassett family was penniless and shamed. All of the furniture from the home was auctioned off in 1807, then the home mysteriously burned tot he ground in 1811. Several attempts were made to redeem the family fortune, but none were successful. Both Margaret and Harman died in poverty, later their three sons met the same fate.
Moral of the story: never marry your niece (or uncle) or plot against the United States.