Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A General interest in local history

Gen. David Humphreys is someone about whom I've learned a lot in the last 15 years or so, thanks to my job as a reporter and as a mom.
I have visited his birthplace which is about a mile from our house many times, and always learn something new when I'm there.
The historic house is the headquarters of the Derby Historical Society.

Humphreys was born in 1752. He attended Yale University in nearby New Haven and became a teacher. He later became a close personal assistant, an aide-de-camp, to none other than the father of our country. Yes, GW, the man whose image graces our dollar bill.
Humphreys, as the sign tells you, was many things in his life.
In addition to being a soldier in the Revolutionary War, he was a poet, and the first U.S. Ambassador to Spain.
Humphreys brought black Merino sheep back to the United States from Spain, and started a woolen mill several miles from his birthplace, in what became known as "Humphreysville" and is now the town of Seymour, Ct.

Tea, anyone? (I just noticed these chairs don't match.)

On Sunday Ralph, my mother and I went to an open house that featured costumed docents (adults and several enthusiastic children) preparing a Thanksgiving-like feast over an open hearth.
Soup, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread with butter churned before our eyes by the children, squash pie, applesauce, and more. Visitors got to taste samples and it all was delicious.

I was happy that Ralph finally made it into the historic house, as you can see in the photo below of him watching the pumpkins roast. They cooked sliced apples in them. Yum.

The historical society presents a program for fifth graders, who are usually 10-years old, called "A Day in 1762," to show them what life was like for David Humphreys when he was their age.

After taking a tour of the historic district and learning about Humphreys' neighbors, the children are split into groups to learn about cooking, weaving, and spinning. I've covered the story for the paper, and also chaperoned when both of my children were in fifth grade and went on the field trip.
I've also attended special events at the house, and always come away feeling grateful that I didn't live in the 18th century.
At least I don't think I did.

The photo below is of Christine, a friend and history buff who is a docent at the house. I'm not going to give you any more history, I figure you can look up David Humphreys' life and times if you are so inclined.
Suffice it to say it's a fun and educational place for us to visit, and it's right nearby.

Each January the Society celebrates "Twelfth Night" to mark the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Hope it doesn't snow, because we plan to go.


Napaboaniya.Elaine Ling said...

I think it's lovely how they've transformed David Humphreys's birth place for the public to visit and learn more about him :)
Those pumpkins roasting in the fire with sliced apples in them make me drool though!

Napaboaniya APAD

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

wonderful interesting post! and i LOVE those blue dishes!!!

smiles, bee

Queen-Size funny bone said...

kind of looks like Nathan Hale Holmstead.

Gattina said...

That looks so cosy ! I didn't know that you could roast pumpkins in an open fire ! (I didn't know David Humphrey)

Linda said...

That looks like a totally fascinating place and I am most definitely going to have to get over there sometime.

So, what do you think - perhaps between the two of us and Ralph we can educate some folks on the history of our fine State? I think we've been doing a great job so far!

Patti said...

Napaoaniya: Yes, it's an interesting house.

Bee: thank you and I agree on the plates.

Queenie: I've never been there. Someday..

Gattina: those fireplaces did make it cozy Sunday

Linda: we are doing a great job ;-) I have another idea too. Woo hoo!