Pictured outside their home on Beech Hill in Willing, N.Y. are (left to right): (in chair) Bradley Phillips (1830-1895); Rhomaine Slawson (seated); Ferd Phillips (Frank's brother; 1860-1890); (in chair) Sarah Johnston Phillips (1832-1907); (sitting) Ella Phillips Slawson (Frank's sister; 1859-1894); Cousin (unknown); (standing) Frank Phillips. Since Ferd Phillips died in 1890, the photo had to have been taken prior to 1890.
The Phillips Homestead on Beech Hill Remembered
Reflections by Myrtle Phillips (Brewer) Erwin.
(Note: Myrtle Phillips Erwin, daughter of Frank and Jessie (Witter) Phillips, here describes the house on Beech Hill's summit, where she spent much of her childhood in the 1910s. )
The home of Frank and Jessie Phillips was one of the largest in the region. It boasted 16 rooms, had front and back stairways, and a cellar large enough for the horse and wagon to drive in for unloading our apples and potatoes. Surrounding the house were lilac, snowball, pear, plum, and apple trees. Income was derived from a herd of Holstein cows, the maple sugar bush, and crops such as corn, potatoes, oats, and buckwheat. Field corn filled the big round silo with ensilage for feed during the winter.
Entering the home by way of the kitchen your attention is drawn to the black stove. It had a warming oven and a reservoir. Around the room were the couch, an easy chair, a large trunk, and the round table for eating. Let me tell you about each one. The table --in those days the sugar bowl, vinegar cruet, salt and pepper shakers, and a special glass spoon holder were left on. After the dishes were washed, plates and cups (inverted) were added. Mother, like all the better housekeepers, would throw a thin white cloth over all to keep dust from them.
Over the couch was a clock shelf with the clock which had to be wound every night. Also there were hooks on which hung the button hook, fly swatter, and a wooden jumping jack which had belonged to father. I was always getting sick and would lie on this couch and reach up and pull the cord to make the man jump for diversion.
The trunk was large and I was small so I could sit in it, surrounded by my dolls, books, and sometimes a cat. There was a compartment in which I kept my colors, paste, scissors, etc.
THE PANTRY- From the kitchen you could enter the pantry which had cupboards on both walls. The back of one opened into the dining room. My friends and I had fun sending messages through the drawers. There was a pitcher, pump, a large zinc covered work counter, a red and black coffee grinder, a cream separator, and a sap bucket of soft maple sugar.
SITTING ROOM Most homes boasted both a parlor and a "sitting room". Ours was made pleasant by a piano, a bay window with Mother's Boston Fern, and red geraniums and a palm tree. Father and Mother took in an elderly lady during bitter weather. Father was so afraid she would be cold so he kept the room hot - Aunt Mary would go to sit under the palm tree where it was cool. There was a two-door book case full of books. On top of this sat a bust of Shakespeare. A bust of President McKinley was on the piano. A picture of Mother's graduating class and her high school diploma hung here also.
THE PARLOR- People still speak of the beautiful oak woodwork and parquet floor in this and the adjoining hall and staircase. A Wilton rug in rich shades of red, green, and black caught the eye. The mahogany parlor suite, upholstered in green and black velour, consisted of a really big chair and two smaller ones. The center table, also mahogany, held the family Bible. On the wall were large portraits of Grandfather Bradley Phillips and his sons, Frank and Ferd. The frames in gold leaf were quite elegant. (Why were no pictures of Grandmother Sarah and her daughter made?) This part of the house and the guest room above had a distinct wonderful odor of newness which I found pleasing.