John Howe Peyton's Montgomery Hall

Maude Carwell Anderson

Maude Carwell Anderson (1889-1983), a widow and native of Augusta County, lived at Montgomery Hall with her four children as caretaker of the property during the Depression years, 1929-1933. Mrs. Davitt D. Chidester, the owner at that time and also a widow, was living in Philadelphia. The vacant house had been vandalized and many of the windows were broken. Montgomery Hall needed a caretaker and Mrs. Anderson needed a place to live with her children where she could keep her prized cows and her chickens. Mrs. Anderson baked delicious cakes and sold them to support her family using cream and butter she made, milk from her cows, and eggs from the chickens in her cakes.

A mutual friend put the two ladies in touch with each other and a generous and mutually beneficial caretaker’s agreement was committed to in writing that allowed for Mrs. Anderson and her children to live at Montgomery Hall, to have any fruit and produce from the property for their own use, and for Mrs. Anderson to keep her livestock on the property. In return, Mrs. Anderson was expected to maintain the property and have the house ready at all times for showing to prospective buyers.

Mrs. Anderson continued her cake baking business while living at Montgomery Hall, though her clientele was drastically reduced during the Depression. This resourceful woman found other ways to supplement her income: selling an occasional cow or calf for meat, selling chickens, and breeding and selling turkeys, all while raising four children and taking care of Montgomery Hall. Mrs. John A. Kennedy and some of her children visited their former home occasionally during this time.

In 1932, Alexander C. Thomas, a local merchant, purchased Montgomery Hall with the intent of developing a dairy farm there. Mrs. Anderson left her cows at Montgomery Hall with Thomas and thereafter was supplied with milk for her family and cake baking from the Montgomery Hall dairy.

The reminiscences of Sarah Frances Anderson Suter, a daughter of Maude Carwell Anderson, were included in Nothing Was Wasted: A Collection of Letters and Conversations about Life during the Great Depression, compiled by E. L. Thomas for the Colonel Thomas Hughart Chapter NSDAR in 2006.


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