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1842 Threshing Barn Dedication at 
Garfield Farm Museumís Harvest Days

    On Sunday, October 1st from 11:30 am Ė 4:00 pm, Garfield Farm Museum will hold its 36th annual Harvest Days. This is also the 40th anniversary of the museumís founding. At 1:30 pm, the 1842 hay and grain barnís restoration with be publically dedicated with fanfare, speech and of course cake.
 
    Also featured will be the just 3 week old archaeological discovery of a second cellar that belonged to the 1835 log house built by Sam Culbertson and added onto by the Timothy Garfield in 1841 as a home and tavern. Archaeologist James Yingst will be on hand to explain how these cellars provide the directional orientation of the once 50 foot long structure that stood in the former fork of the Chicago- St.Charles ĖSycamore and -Oregon Roads.

     Appropriately commemorating the day will also be the appearance of Adam Gibbons, author of the 2 volume 750 page An Illustrated History of Campton Township. Gibbonís work excellently documents many of the settlers of Campton township, their activities, and outcomes. Gibbons will sign his tome for individuals to purchase. Author Ann Brack will be interpreting the 1846 tavern and copies of her children's chapter book Angie of Garfield Farm will be available.

    Harvest Days is a chance to consider and experience a young northern Illinois when hints of its great agricultural future first appeared. As the fascination of modern technology has eclipsed and taken for granted the incomparable life giving rich soils of Illinois, Harvest Days is a chance to reflect on what is actually a very rare resource worldwide. Only the Ukraine, South Africa, and Thailand contain comparable soils.

    Garfield Farm & Tavern Museum only exists because of an unyielding 40 year effort by volunteers and donors to save and preserve this very historical intact former 1840s farmstead and inn as a living history farm museum. The activities at Harvest Day reflect how such farms depended on the rich fertile prairie lands, the skills of yeoman farmers who moved from northeastern US to northern Illinois, and the early but vital transportation network that delivered wheat by wagon to the port of Chicago which was by the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal shipped worldwide beginning in 1838.

   Of the many challenges that faced the process of saving and preserving the farm, the greatest has been to deal with the vagaries of time. Harvests Days, first known as the Fall Festival, was the museumís initial significant fundraiser for cash flow. To this day dollars are needed for the ongoing restoration and preservation of the farmstead as a museum, but the greatest challenge is time.

    Every year that passes with a building waiting restoration can mean further loss of original building fabric. Although the museum has taken steps to stabilize as many of the 19 plus historic structures and restore 55 acres of natural areas as much as possible, age impacts the structures waiting and gives time for invasive species choke out native plants waiting further management and seeding.

    Time also decreases the number of the skilled restoration craftsmen and experts that are aging and retiring. It also prevents taking advantage of all opportunities at hand, as prioritization of tasks is necessary to make the most of opportunity. Donors and volunteers are the only effective weapons to overcome these vagaries of time.

   Harvest Days is an excellent time to see the progress at the museum, experience the work and skills it took to live on an 1840s farmstead, and walk amongst towering prairie grasses and flowers that once spread across vast acreages of a young Illinois. It is also a time to discover the people of Garfield Farm who have consistently stepped forward over several generations to help preserve and interpret the farm for its students and family visitors. As always, a school day is offered for students the Friday before, this year on September 29 from 9 am Ė 1 pm and over seven schools and homeschools have reserved for the day.

   Visitors will experience the pre-railroad era when oxen dominated in the fields and hand tools were used to fail and winnow the wheat, harvest and shell the corn, press cider, and tend the gardens. The tours of the 1846 tavern reveal life on the road travelled by horse and wagon and just a day on the farm reconnects the visitor to the land and countryside.

    Refreshments and food will be offered by Inglenook Pantry and the museumís volunteer bakers will have their best efforts available at the museumís Farmerís Market and Bakery up in the Atwell Burr House.
 
    There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children under 13 years of age. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road in beautiful Campton Hills. For information call 630 584-8485 or email info@garfieldfarm.org.