Adaland Mansion at Philippi will give visitors interested in history an opportunity to talk with Sybil Ickes Malmberg Berndt of Chadron, Neb., author of "The Saga of the Modisett Ranch," published in 1999.
Berndt will be speaking at the noon luncheon on Sept. 27 about her book and findings about the Augustus Modisett family after they moved west from Adaland in 1886. Special guests invited for the luncheon include members of the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce, the Barbour County Historic Society, the James Barbour Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter, members of the Philippi City Council, members of the Modisett family and visitors.
Other families from West Virginia may have also moved west in the late 1800's due to availability of homestead lands, mining or other interests. A special invitation is given to anyone whose family emigrated during that period. The luncheon is open to the public; however, reservations must be made by Wednesday if possible.
For information about the luncheon and reservations, call 304-457-2415. The cost of the luncheon is $15 per person.
On Sept. 28, an open house will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Adaland to honor Berndt. The open house will feature readings and discussion with local writers, Irene McKinney, Barbary Chaapel, Sandy Vrana, Don Narkovic and Barbara Smith in addition to Berndt. Admission is free and refreshments will be sold. Authors will have books available for purchase and will also sign autographs.
House tours and tours of the historic Modisett Barn will be featured free each day beginning on Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. and on Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. and closing at 5 p.m. Guests are invited to view several special craft demonstrations in the barn area along with samples of the crops possibly grown by the Modisetts who farmed the land from 1807 to 1886. Some farm produce will be for sale. Guests are welcome to tour the gardens at Adaland or walk on the grounds.
Sept. 27: Mansion house and barn open for tours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., free admission; and noon luncheon with Sybil Ickes Malmberg Berndt, reservations required, $15
Sept. 28: Mansion house and barn open for tours, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., free admission; and open house with Berndt and local writers featuring book sale and signing, refreshments will be sold.
One of the main features of the day will be the sale of a new brass ornament of the mansion house. The ornament is suitable for Christmas giving, birthdays or collectors. The ornaments are part of a series titled Nation's Treasures and are available in the mansion house and in the carriage house gift shop.
Also available in the gift shop are handmade baskets, purses, glassware, glass balls, handmade dolls, stools, wood items and barbed wire wreaths. The gift shop will be open on both Sept. 27 and Sept. 28.
Children younger than age 12 are admitted free of charge for the house and barn tours at Adaland. Several special activities for children are being planned for the barn area. Children will be invited to help grind corn in early farm style as a part of the activities.
Susan Church will be coordinating activities at the barn for the weekend.
The Modisett family purchased 400 acres in 1807 from a Mr. Thompson, who had received a large land grant. Charles Modisett brought his wife, family and nine slaves from eastern Virginia to begin farming the land. When Charles died in 1832, the land was owned by Uriah Modisett, who farmed the land until the Civil War.
Augustus Modisett, son of Uriah, bought the land from his father in 1857 but the deed was not recorded until 1864. In 1865, Augustus was appointed as the sheriff of Barbour County and served until 1870. He began construction of the mansion house in 1868 and finished in 1872.
Augustus was killed in an accident on the farm in 1881. The family remained on the farm until 1886 when the land was sold to Ezra Sayer of Greene County, Pa., and the family moved west to Nebraska at the urging of the oldest son, Albert Modisett, who had acquired homestead lands. The family continued to work and prosper in Nebraska.
When Albert died in a car-train accident in Ohio in 1935, he owned 30,000 acres in Nebraska.
Sybil Berndt has recorded stories about the Modisett family and the ranch and will be presenting parts of her book on Sept. 27 and 28 when she comes from Nebraska to visit Adaland.
The project is being presented by Adaland Mansion with financial Assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views. findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the presentation do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For more information on Adaland or driving directions, visit www.adaland.org.