We got a chance to talk to some new friends the other day. First, we received a comment on our Facebook page from Bess Graham-Hodge. Who is Bess? (Hang with me, we’re going to go back in time….) Bess is the great granddaughter of the family that built the Hermitage House. Her father was Pat Graham, the son of Ruth Johanson Graham and Frank Graham. Ruth Johanson Graham was the youngest daughter (of 13 children) of Carl and Anna Johanson. Carl Johanson built what is now the Hermitage House in 1907 and Bess is his great granddaughter. After writing to thank her for contacting us, Bess offered to put us in contact with her 85-year old mother, Ann who was the daughter-in-law. We called Ann, who was delightful. She was so anxious to tell us things about the Hermitage. For example, she told us that in the late 19th Century, Anna Johanson, Carl’s wife, had been a cook for the King of Sweden, and that they needed to have the permission from the King to immigrate to America. A cook for the King of Sweden… AND she had 13 children.
Ann said it was her great granddaughter, Kasee Stratton, PhD candidate, who had revived her interest in the Hermitage. Kassee had asked her about it after hearing stories about the Hermitage, and then went online and discovered our website and some historical pieces written by Diana Harris a writer active with the Lemon Bay Historic Society in Englewood. Kassee and Ann contacted Diana and had two great conversations with her.
Then we received an email from Kassee:
“My great-grandmother and I plan to make a special visit to Florida, as I’m sure she mentioned in her phone conversation with you. I must say Bruce, my great-grandmother has not mentioned leaving her little home until I found out that we could visit the Hermitage. She is beyond excited and such a delightful woman that I would give anything to make this dream a reality.”
So one of the many great perks to this work is that you never know what the day will bring you. On this day it brought us Bess, Ann, and Kasee and a feeling we were reaching back through time to Carl and Anna Johanson. We’re looking forward to our visit in the spring and learning more about our past.