Chapman Open House Report-July 13, 2014
- Written by Carol Ghebelian
It took a talk by Elmer Biles on Countess Margit Segray Bessenyey to bring a "standing room only" crowd to Mount Aventine on the 90 degree day of July 13, 2014! All enjoyed Elmer's updated thoroughly researched power point presentation. He detailed her life beginning in Budapest in 1911, the WW II years, her house arrest by the Nazis, the rescue of Hungarian Lippizaner horses by General Patton, and her coming to her grandfather's Marcus Daly estate in Bitterroot Valley, Montana, in 1946. There she engaged in many humanitarian and equestrian activities including breeding of the Lippizaners. His talk then moved to the purchase of Mount Aventine in 1954, her influence on the property until her death in 1984, and the sale of the property by her heirs to developers in 1987. Elmer ended his talk by reading a poignant letter written by the Countess' step-daughter, Eva Bessenyey, on her extreme regret in having to sell the property; the letter written to Pearson Chapman who built Mount Aventine in 1840 and read by his gravestone as she left to return to New York. In a July celebration of the Land of the Free, Elmer closed with asking all to stand and sing "America". Not exactly January weather, but all then retired to the dining room for a taste of the Countess' New Year's Eve "Korhely" Hungarian soup, made by Nancy Megas. Music by acclaimed folk singer-writer, Lynn Hollyfield, filled the air.
Volunteers "Pearson and Sigismuda Mary Chapman" (our Mike Callahan and Debi Krahling) greeted guests at the door and led tours. Mary Ann McBain and Jewell Bragunier served the soup and Mary Ann's homemade cookies. Sandee Harrison greeted guests, took fund-raiser raffle tickets for a beautiful quilt made by Linus Quilters, solicited for new members and volunteers, brought a microphone for Elmer to use. Carole Haymans and Carol Ghebelian helped as needed. The grounds had been well tended by Jim Dawson and Wayne McBain. First-timers to the park were still arriving as we closed the doors at 5:00.
The park will continue to be open every Sunday 1-4 pm through August. The next planned event is a Pearson Chapman birthday Party on Sept. 7. We are Calling all Chapmans to attend!