No one seems to know exactly how William and Joanna met, so I often wonder about the strange twists and series of random encounters and acquaintances that led them to one another, when six degrees of separation suddenly shoved to zero. What was it like for two lovers who were struggling to find their way in the revolutionized New World? Was William easily able to sweep Joanna right off of her feet with a promise of rural ease? Was it love at first sight or did affection slowly smolder until one day bursting into flames?
What little we know about the two comes from this a little story about their wedding from an 1885 book about Schoharie County:
“After Judge Beekman had been in business a few years at Canajoharie, where he established a good reputation, he went to the Little Lakes (now Warren), to marry Joanna, a daughter of Nicholas Lowe. He called on Rev. Christian Diedrich Pick, or Peek, as written by his family, to tie the knot, who took with him Peter Young and William Seeber, Esquires, to witness the ceremony. After the bird was caged, Beekman asked the Dominie what he must pay him. “Well,” said the good man, “it is a pretty muddy time,” and extending an open palm, he added, “you can put in until the hand closes.” One, two, three silver dollars rested in the palm, and the groom paused to notice the effect; the muscles began slightly to move, and the fall of the fourth dollar caused the fingers to twitch and contract a little, but it was not until the fifth dollar dropped on the palm that the joints relaxed and the fingers closed around the lucre.”
Did William spend two years building his mansion before carrying his bride across the threshold or did they spend hours dreaming over every detail and planning their lives together?
I like to imagine that the two of them wrote love poems to one another in languid, quilled lettering where the “s” looks like an “f”. We will find one in the eaves or beneath a floorboard one day, yellow and brittle, the language so flowery and poetic that it seems foreign to the modern reader.
Perhaps they carved their initials in one of the trees on the farm, now carefully hidden by two centuries of growth.
All of this is speculation, of course, but one thing is certain. They loved the home they built enough to want to be buried together there. This heart-shaped rock marks their final resting place beneath a grassy knoll covered with lilacs and bleeding hearts. They sway gently in the breeze.