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

The older boys and the men who work on the farm are gathering large rocks for Mother’s spring house.  They are loading them onto the stone boat.  They find the rocks at the edges of the fields or the woods.  The barns are finished and our house is complete.  Now it is time for Father to build Mother’s spring house. She has been waiting.

Josh and Brent have never seen a spring house.  I have only seen one.  It was built right over a stream.  Father built our home not far from a spring that runs right out out the hill side all year round. It always runs cool and very clear. Father told Mother her spring house will be built right into the side of the hill.  I would like to help, but the rocks are too heavy for me to lift.  He said I could pick small rocks to fill in the holes after it is built.

There will be a door to enter and a window to give Mother light. The rock walls and floor will be covered with a roof.  The water will run into one end of the spring house and fill a cistern until it over flows into a wooden trough.  There will be minnows in the cistern to tell us if the water is fresh.  If the minnows are swimming slowly, perhaps something has clogged it up and we need to clean it out.  But if the minnows keep swimming and darting about, the water is very fresh.  The trough will run right through the center of the spring house.  Mother will be able to keep jugs of milk and crocks of butter, eggs, even cheese in the trough to keep them cool.  Father says he will also hang some hams there.  Mother would like a shelf or two to place baskets of berries and crocks of pickles.  I like pickles.

Josh thinks there will be frogs and salamanders in the spring house, especially if there has been no rain.  Brent said his mother would never go in there.  Josh giggled and said his mother would probably send HIM to fetch things.  I hope there will be a dipper hanging in there so I can get a drink.  That is easier than trying to pour from the pitcher in the house.

by Mary Beekman

Reader Comments

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Terry, I almost pay attention to Josh and Brent. Although,

sometimes, they can be quite foolish and then I follow

Mother's instructions. She is very clever and smart

also. Father says she is a wise woman.


Ken, I am not certain what a "photo" means. I

will ask Josh and Brent if they have heard of that word before.

They will teach me about it.


mabee someday Mary when I get to New York you would pose with me for a photo.I would like that….


Phyllis, perhaps we could meet at the springhouse and

share a dipper of very cold, clean water. Mother says

water is the best thing a person can drink to stay cool. I

think that sometimes it is the company that makes things

so pleasing.

James R Partlow

My grandfather had a springhouse on property in Hartwick.When I was quite young he sent me to get water.I came back without water and told him it was full of frogs.He asked how the frogs looked and i said they looked pretty good.He sent me back saying if it was good enough for frogs it was good enough for him.I grew up in Sharon Springs in the 40s and remember the Beekman mansion well.Your web site gives me nostalgia for the good old days.