Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

I was happy to look out my window this morning and discover that the clouds and soft rain of yesterday had disappeared .The sun was warming and I was eager to complete my lessons and chores.  Nell and her mother were coming to visit later in the morning and Mother and I were going to walk with them in the near woods to learn about the plants growing there.  Nell can draw so very well.  She will make drawings of what we find.  I do not draw as well, but I will label our findings.  I would like to make a book for Father.

Mother and Nell and Nell’s Mother and I walked into the wood carefully.  We did not wish to crush any of the new, tender plants growing.  We had waited very long to find spring.  The ground beneath our feet was dark and moist and seemed to cradle each foot fall gently.  It is good I wore my everyday shoes. Mother told me I must take care of my better shoes for visiting and church.  Rain from yesterday was dripping from the branches overhead and the bark on the trees was shiny and dark.  The drops seemed larger than spring rain and there were not many of them; but the drops that did fall on us were very loud………SPLAT!

I looked over to the left and saw many, many plant leaves that were quickly bowing; down and then up!  Itseemed as if they were being plucked from underneath and then quickly released!!   Mother said they were Mayapples.   As we walked nearer and I could better see them, I thought they looked like umbrellas.  But I did not understand how they were moving.  Then I saw the drops from the tree branches far above striking them…….SPLAT!  Mayapples have only one white flower that blooms now, in May, and the apple comes in the summer and ripens in the fall.  Nell and I had to bend over and look underneath the leaves to see the flower.  Josh and Brent also bent down to look.  No one knew they were there; but I always see them.

Nell’s mother told Mother that the Indians used the crushed rhizomes to remove warts and to expel worms from the intestines.  She told us it can also keep insects from the plants in the garden.  I think she mentioned liver complaints, but I did not understand that part.  I just wanted to see this pretty flower, hiding under their umbrella leaves.  I am eager to see Nell’s drawing.

by Mary Beekman

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Natalie Baird

I had a science teacher in High School that made may apple jam out of the fruit. It was quite tasty!


I remember mayapples from growing up in NJ and PA. When I was a kid, I was always amazed to see the forest filled with thousands of those little umbrellas. Another reason to move back East 🙂

teri tighe

The things that grow in nature always amaze me, Mary. I hope you enjoy your walks and the pretty flowers around you. Hopefully Nell can get some good drawings.




I remember 'every day' shoes and how we needed to take care of them. I also remember 'church shoes' and how just changing from one pair to another put me in a different frame of mind. It's wonderful hearing about Mary's adventures!