It was a given. There were not other options.
On Sunday mornings, Lloyd, Mary Jo, Phoebe and Shirley Hough knew they were going to church.
“My parents loved St. John’s Episcopal Church,” said Shirley Hough Caniford as she prepares her family home, Charmadoah, for the site of a fundraising Victorian tea on Saturday, that she regards as honoring both the church and her parents’ devotion to it.
“My mother was the organist there for nearly 50 years,” she said. “She saw pastors come and go. All five of the children were involved, my father was the senior warden and served on the vestry, and they were always doing things to support the church.”
Caniford sits in the parlor where many church gatherings took place.
“I can remember Bishop Campbell sitting right over there,” she says, pointing across the room. “And Deaconess [Anna] Ranson came here, too. She was my sister Mary Jo’s godmother.”
On the parlor wall above where Caniford sits, one symbol of the family connection hangs in a gold frame: the invitation to the marriage of Mary Andes and Lloyd Hough—at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Marriages have a way of connecting families and churches. So do births. As they came along, each of the five Hough children was baptized at St. John’s. The connection deepens in times of sorrow.
“When my oldest brother, Eugene, died when he was nine, I know my mother turned to the church for comfort. I think Deaconess Ranson really helped her to get through that time, and [her older sisters indicated to her later] Mother’s commitment to the church deepened as a result. She needed something more in her life,” Caniford said. Deaconess Anna Ranson, a missionary, returned to Harpers Ferry following her retirement from another St. John’s she helped to found in Japan, to strengthen and renew the church she had known as a child.
Charmadoah sits along Cliff Street, between McDowell and Gilbert, and down the hill from Storer College above the Shenandoah River. The perspective offers views up and down the Shenandoah. The story of the name of the house has to do with a mispronunciation of the name of the river. Charlotte Miles, the first child to live at the home, could not say the “sh-“ sound; she pronounced it as “ch-.“
“I guess it wasn’t far from ‘Chenandoah’ to ‘Charmadoah,” Caniford said.
Caniford’s grandparents, William and Sophia Andes, purchased the home from Charlotte Miles, and raised a family of three; eventually, their daughter Mary inherited Charmadoah, and married local farmer Lloyd Hough, who operated a dairy that served Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area for many years. Upon his marriage, he also became active at St. John’s.
“This event happens at this house because I think it would make my mother and my father happy to know that their homeplace is benefitting the church they loved,” Caniford said. “However, I want to make it clear that it is the people of St. John’s that make this happen; their cooking, their serving, and their love welcome people to Charmadoah.”
Want to go?
WHAT: Victorian Tea Party at Charmadoah
WHERE: 675 Cliff Street, Harpers Ferry
WHEN: Saturday, May 19, in three sittings: 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m
$12 ($7 for children 12 and under)
Parlor, porch and terrace seatings available
(Please specify preference)
Call 304-535-6922 for required reservations.
All proceeds support St. John’s Episcopal Church.
To learn more about Ellen and Paul Peachey, read “A Usable Past,” by Paul Peachey, published by DreamSeeker Books, Telford, Pennsylvania.
Charmadoah will be the site of a Victorian tea on Saturday. The home, which affords a view of the Shenandoah River, owes its name to a mispronunciation by former owner, Charlotte Miles, the first child to live at the home. The house is currently owned by Shirley Hough Caniford.