No modern historical event left such a deep impression on 20th Century America, as did The Great Depression.  Such was the case with John Austin’s family at Rose Hill.

The Stock Market Crash in October 1929 was not immediately felt until the collapse of commodity prices later that year.  This was compounded many times over by the Great Drought of 1930.  Carl recalled for us that it rained heavily on a late April weekend while some of the Broaddus family were visiting and then did not rain again until February 1931.  Crops dried up as did wells and ponds.  The family resorted to hauling water from the spring located in the southwest corner of Rose Hill.  It remained the only source of potable water for miles around.  Only recently has it gone dry as a result of the stone quarry to the west of the farm, which is now cut below the water table.

Immature corn was cut for forage, grazing land and hay fields dried up, but the worst catastrophe was when the wheat crop was decimated by the fungal disease smut.  In those days wheat was first harvested by the farmer and then someone brought a thrashing machine from farm to farm to separate and bag the grain.  Carl recalled, that as soon as the process began a great black cloud of dust and mold rose over the fields and it was immediately evident that the whole crop was affected.

Eleanor recalls that her father, John, came up to the house in tears holding out a hand full of the blackened grain and saying to Irene “We’re ruined; it’s not worth 10 cents a bushel”.

Debt loomed and many farms were foreclosed.  To raise cash, family furniture was sold including the beautiful walnut table under which the “hams” were hidden from the Yankees.  In so doing foreclosure was spared for a time and they continued to eke out a living from the farm.

It was during these years that Carl began to work weekends for Mr. Will Walker’s Dry Goods Store in Stevensburg for 75 cents a day.  We heard many stories of those experiences with Mr. Walker and of the local clientele who frequented that small town emporium.

Broaddus was grown and had left to seek work in Alexandria.  One job included working as a rod man surveying the route now known as the Mt. Vernon Parkway along the Potomac River.

Carl, who was the more scholastically inclined of the two brothers, out distanced the available teaching resources of Brandy High School and was taught trigonometry by the local surveyor, Mr. Boldridge.  He later qualified for a scholarship to George Washington University where he studied Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.

Despite the efforts of the New Deal the Depression continued as Carl worked his way through school sending money home when he could.  Just before returning to complete his last year of college one of his mothers sisters while visiting Rose Hill went through his personal belongings, found his checkbook and demanded that he use his remaining balance to pay back a debt his father John Austin owed to her father “Big Daddy” Broaddus.

Lacking the funds to complete his last year of college he asked the Dean of the Engineering School to help him gain admission to the General Electric post graduate Engineering test course in Schenectady, New York.  To the surprise and chagrin of a skeptical faculty, he finished number two in the class and gained his Engineering certification and a good job in the electric generating division of the General Electric Company.  With his now well paying job he was finally able to clear the debt which had plagued Rose Hill and the family for so many years.

As WWII approached and their US began to rearm, Carl moved back to Washington DC to work in the aeronautical design division of the Navy Department.  The day after Pearl Harbor he was assigned to work on the design of a new fighter the F6F Hellcat. (Photo)  From there he went on to have a distinguished career in aircraft design and development into the 1980s.  In addition he worked out of his home and created numerous inventions for which he held several lucrative patents.  His drafting board and papers are on display upstairs at Rose Hill.  (Photo)  Broaddus enlisted and served as a waste gunner in a B24 flying first out of North Africa, then Italy.  He later flew with aerial reconnaissance and has left us with a scrap book collection of unique War era photos.

During this time Eleanor received her Nursing Degree from University of Virginia and later married a Pacific War Navy Veteran, Donald C. Wells.  They were married at Rose Hill Farm.

In the 1950s dairy farming operation at Rose Hill was terminated as John Austin and Irene got older.  Gradually farming operations ceased all together and the farm was put in the Soil Bank Program for conservation.  First Broaddus then Don Wells and John Covington converted a large part of the land into a wild life preserve in cooperation with Quail Unlimited, and the Federal Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program.