On a wooded section of road, an iron gate stands at the entrance of a driveway that climbs to the right, up a small hill. Peeking out behind trees and bushes stands Chequer Hall, a house built during the Plantation of Ulster during the 17th century and the home of my 7th great-grandfather, John Adams, and his descendants for at least 85 years. The earliest date we know John Adams was at Chequer Hall was 1780, when he registered his freehold of the place. (It’s possible he lived there before the freehold was registered.)
John worked as a farmer and produced a unique blue and white, or chequed, linen used for bed and window curtains. He created a micro industry when he brought workers who traditionally wove linen in their homes to weave in a building next to his home. The cloth was sold in Ireland and the United States of America.
We parked our rental car in front of the house and were greeted by the current owners. After John Adams died in 1807, the house was passed to his two blind daughters. The daughters lived in the house with their mother and other extended family members. When the last of John Adams’ daughters passed away in 1865, it was passed to the oldest grandson, John Bones, who was living in Augusta, Georgia. John sold it to a cousin-in-law/brother-in-law who then sold it to a widow named Jane in 1867. The current owners are descendants of Jane. My parents had met them on an earlier trip, so I had prearranged our visit.
They invited us into a front room that was used as a living room. We spent a couple hours talking and eating yummy snacks. The owner knew as much as I do about my ancestors that had lived at Chequer Hall and the generation that came to America. They showed us a piece of the original chequer cloth that John Adams made.
After a while, the owners took us on a tour of the common areas of the house – the kitchen, the main hall, and a family room. The kitchen still has the footprint of the original large fireplace. Out the backdoor in the kitchen was a small yard with a blooming cherry tree and the weaver’s building.
We were also shown the bread chimney where James Bones is said to have hid after the failed 1798 Rebellion. It is now located at the back of a utility closet.
We left with full hearts and new friends. I felt as if we were family, connected by a house and place that has been passed through the generations.
This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.