Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale Farm hosts annual encampment
Photo Gallery | Colonial Encampment
HINSDALE, N.H. &mdash People who wanted to drop themselves back in time to the 1750s made the stop at 609 Brattleboro Road this past Saturday.
The Hinsdale Historical Society put on its fourth annual colonial encampment by the Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale Garrison Company at the Col. Ebenezer Hinsdale Farm. Guests were greeted by blacksmiths demonstrating their trade, along with hearth cooking, colonial medicine, live music, hand crafts, and children's games. While the event provided much amusement, members of the HHS explained why they do it.
"I think it's primarily education of the public on the way of life in the 1700s," said HHS President John Smith.
Some attendees were guided on a tour of the Hinsdale Home, which detailed the classic New England 18th century homestead, which was built with beams from the original Fort Hinsdale. The home, also known as the Liscom Farm, had been owned by the Liscom family for 150 years until seven years ago when it was bought by the historical society for about $450,000 with help from a Land and Community Investment Program grant. Since taking over this 37-acre property, the HHS has restored parts of the structure and has a main goal of preservation and community education. The next room slated for repair is the music room, which John Smith and HHS Vice President Sharron Smith estimate might cost a total of $20,000 for upgrades.
Sharron Smith adds another reason as to why members like to host these types of events.
"It's good to expose this historic property to the public because a lot of people see it when they drive by, but they don't realize that it's owned by the Hinsdale Historical Society, that it's open to the public or that it's significant to the history of Hinsdale," she said.
From 10 a.m. until the late afternoon on Saturday, locals and other interested individuals explored the house under the wing of the event's unofficial tour guide, Ralph Desrosiers. The tour began in the kitchen where the smell of baked bread and blueberry pie permeated the room. The pie was made in the beehive oven by Kathy Scott, of Harrisville, N.H., who has been involved in reenactments since 1996.
"The servants would have been down here cooking at 4 a.m.," said Scott.
Scott says the families that lived in this home were English and upper class and would enjoy upscale food, such as wheat from England, which she said would be considered "a luxury." She added they would enjoy fresh meats, another upper class item, along with fresh greens.
While Scott admits this is a hobby for her, it has impacted the lives of her children who have continued to tag along nearly year after year. She notes that one of her children is going on to study cultural history in college, and that the knowledge they gained over the years has helped them know how to manage themselves in the midst of an ice storm and how to make special crafts.
"I personally like the time period, so I get to play in it," Scott said.
After the kitchen tour, Desrosiers brought the group into the "mourning room," where the family would prepare the casket for loved ones to pay their respects to someone who had just died. The mourning room was lined with candles and included double doors at ground level that lead to the outside without having to step down, designed for a casket. Pull-down beds from the walls were available for travelers.
Next, the group travelled into a room that included New England "Indian Shutters," which were designed to protect the house, especially in the winter months. Desrosiers said there was a fire place in every room, except the children's and servant's rooms. He adds that it took about 40 cords of wood for the year to heat the entire home, and that fires did not run "24/7," but rather, were running when the servant or someone else was awake.
The last room toured on the first floor had a slight echo as it was used as the music room. This room is the latest addition to the home and is slated for repair.
Next, the group travelled up the wooden staircase to the master bedroom, where they were greeted by a black-dyed wedding dress of Martha Crowninshield, married in 1852. Desrosiers notes that black was the trend until Queen Victoria began the movement at her wedding of wearing a white gown.
At the end of the tour guests enjoyed home baked goods made by members of the HHS. Others made crafts and enjoyed the live music. At the end of the tour, Desrosiers noted a pattern he has come to find with many people that join him on the tour of the home.
"People tend to think within their lifespan, but we need to think as people who lived here during that time," said Desrosiers.
While the event brings similar stories to life, Sharron Smith notes they brought in one new vendor this year, Herbert Monroe with a tribal name of "growling bear," who says he is 50 percent Abenaki and Passamaquoddy. Monroe notes his presence was important at the event for education purposes on the Abenaki tribe in New England. He adds that he would like to also go to schools and educate there as well.
Along with Monroe, other new additions to the encampment included a woodworker and a newly renovated barn which was open for viewing and featured an old wagon with some larger artifacts inside.
For those that could not make it to the event, Sharron Smith invites the public to view it another time and learn more.
"In itself, (the Ebenezer Hinsdale Farm) is a beautiful property and the public needs to come and see it and appreciate it to what it is," she said.
– Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275.
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