Tour Of 19th-century Homestead Is Resourcefulness Revisited

Relive Abit Of History At Carroll Farm Museum's Family Day

August 21, 1991|By Jane Lippy | Jane Lippy,Contributing writer

WESTMINSTER — Do you ever wish you could travel back in time?

What if it were possible to step into a forebear's shoes and experience what life was like on a typical day some 100 years ago?

The Carroll County Farm Museum extends an invitation to do just that as it presents "Family Day" from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Imagine you've piled your spouse and the kids into the buggy and set "OleSally" on a course toward Westminster. Once there, turn in at the country lane, hitch Sally close to the watering trough, and purchase a ticket from Jean Scott at the Country Store.

Bask in the beauty ofthe impatiens, petunias and scarlet sage, lovingly tended by Jayne Dattilio. Scott will direct you to the Farmhouse where the MacDonald Family clan welcomes you and graciously invites you to tour their 19th-century homestead, ancestral log cabin and surrounding village.

Before the adventure begins, however, let's fast forward to the present in order to understand how all this came about.

Dottie Freeman, administrative assistant at the museum, came up with the idea of using an imaginary, but typical, Scottish clan for the first Family Day. It's one of this year's Living History Days, the purpose of which is to "enhance the Farm Museum," she said.

"We want to show the resourcefulness of the people in the 1800s and foster a better appreciation of those times," she said.

The staff, crafts people, volunteers,board members, relatives, and children assist her in re-creating this pleasurable, nostalgic day from Carroll's past.

Mother Dottie MacDonald (Freeman) welcomes guests at the front door. Come inside where her daughters, Pamela and Rebecca MacDonald (Pamela Sonn, Becky Fifield) guide you through the rooms.

They describe the furnishings while telling about cooking meals over an open-hearth fire, scrubbing clothes on a washboard, and spinning wool into yarn for the family's clothes. Great Aunt Edith (Lovell) explains butter-churning, jam-making, and jarring vegetables from the garden.

A working farm requires a cooperative effort on everyone's part to survive. Food, clothing,and shelter took priority. Thus, handcraft skills were born out of necessity. Children learned from their elders.

Down at the lower barn, son Mark (Cherry) canes a chair and creates furniture from driftwood. Uncle Walter (Grimm) constructs a stool and repairs a table. In the log cabin, cousins Pat and Don (Laughrey) design unique candlesconces from tin.

Grandmother Anna (Leister) pieces a warm "Tulip" pattern quilt to keep Grandfather Frank (Bushey) warm this winter. Uncle Frank and Aunt Carol (Fram) spin wool into yarn and weave a rug on the loom. Aunt Shirley (Swaim) stirs lye in the black kettle over theopen hearth for soap.

Before milking the cows, Father Nelson (Dusty Freeman) and Grandfather engage in a leisurely checkers match at the General Store while catching up on the local gossip.

The children gather wood, water and eggs, care for the baby, and feed the farm animals, followed by a game of marbles. Boys work in the fields and are taught the skills needed to run the farm. Girls learn the finer arts.

In the evening, with chores completed, before the advent of television, family members unite on the front porch to blend their musical talents. Cousin Mark (Ritter) leads a sing-along, accompanying the group with his guitar.

Thus, the sun sets on this true-to-life scene, which you've had an opportunity to share. Bid adieu to the 1800s as you re-enter 1991 with a deeper appreciation of that "early life."

General admission prices for Family Day are: adults, $3; ages 6to 18 and 60 and over, $2; under 6, free.

For information, call 848-7775.

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