A Hornsby and Bowditch Family Tradition

Our grandfather, John William “JW” Hornsby was born in 1888 in rural York County (Seaford).  He left school in the 8th grade to begin his career as a “waterman”.   As a working waterman, JW eventually came to own a large “buy boat” and several smaller tonger boats.  His “Deadrise” buy boat, named the “Marion-J” (misspelled, but named after his only daughter Marian, our mother), made rounds to purchase oysters, clams and crabs from tongers across the Chesapeake Bay.  During the off-season these boats would transfer fresh produce, grain, livestock, and lumber to market.  JW began bringing heating oil back from Baltimore in the early 1920’s.  He then became the Amoco Oil and Gas distributor for the entire Peninsula. His business thrived, operating heating oil delivery trucks, as well as gas stations all over the Peninsula.

In 1933, he built a grand “colonial style” home, the Hornsby House, overlooking the York River for his wife and six children. Designed by William Graves Perry, the lead architect for John D. Rockefeller’s Colonial Williamsburg, the Hornsby House soon became a well known center of southern hospitality to friends, neighbors, extended family and business associates.  Marian, met Willits Henry “Bill” Bowditch at the beginning of WWII, and married January 23, 1943.   Later in 1956 after JW passed, they moved in to provide elder care for her mother, Georgiana.   Marian and Bill raised their four sons in the Hornsby House; Bill, John, David and Phil.  During these wonderful years the From the Kitchen at Hornsby House cookbook was written by Marian.  Published in mom’s own handwriting, this remarkable cookbook has an extensive variety of delicious recipes and culinary delights, served to family and guests over the years. Today her sons David and Phil run the Hornsby House Inn, and delight in sharing their mother’s cookbook with guests.

J.W. Hornsby’s wife, Georgiana White, decorated the house with both American and English antiques she collected during her travels, and today, most of these antiques still fill the Inn. Today, the Inn has hosted thousands of guests from as far as China and Hawaii.  We look forward to you joining us around the breakfast table and enjoy some of the family’s traditional southern fare and Hornsby/Bowditch hospitality.

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