News from Garfield Farm
CAMPTON HILLS--On Sunday, October 3rd from 11:30 am- 4 pm, families and friends can step back in time and discover life before modern technology, at Garfield Farm Museum’s 29th annual Harvest Days where the 175th anniversary of Campton Township’s founding will be celebrated.
A public premiere of a 155 year old map of Campton Township, a participatory archaeological dig at the farm of the 1835/36 Culverson log house/1841 Garfield log tavern, a visit by the Surly Surveyor, and the Teller of Tall Tales & Tunes, Reid Miller, are just some of the day’s special highlights.
In 1835, John Beatty from Pennsylvania was the first settler to lay claim to land in what became Campton Township. Then known as Fairfield, Beatty first claimed land along present day Brundige Road in the southeast corner of Campton. Because of a lack of water and timber, two months later, Beatty moved his claim to the present day intersection of Ill Rt. 38 and LaFox Road. Still this did not meet his needs and within 2 years he moved his claim just north of the present day intersection of Campton Hills and LaFox Roads where his farm house survives.
Within twelve months of his arrival, other families came to Campton and a special display and observation of early settlement will be held at Harvest Days. Part of the celebration will feature the Surly Surveyor, a.k.a. Rob Nurre of Wisconsin, who portrays an 1830s federal land surveyor that first officially mapped this region. Timothy Garfield, who was also a surveyor, mapped the township in 1855. His mapping has been assembled into a 3 feet by 3 feet rendition showing the old roads and landowners at that time. Modern day maps will be displayed for points of reference as Nurre explains the mapping and land sales of 1840s Illinois.
This could well be the 175th anniversary of Garfield Farm‚s first settlement as accounts differ, but Sam Culverson of Ohio was the first to come to present day Garfield Farm in 1835 or 1836. Garfield bought Culverson’s claim of 440 acres in July of 1841.
Visitors can even search for the evidence of the Culverson and Garfield families as the ongoing archaeological investigation will allow them screen soil for artifacts as part of the day’s events. Excavations are being made in the “backyard” of the original log house and test pits will be dug in an effort to find the original well that was on the farm when the Garfield family moved here from Vermont in 1841.
At a deeper level, Harvest Days provides children and adults an opportunity to learn about the realities of our rural heritage. The historic demonstrations remind one of the incredible amount of effort it took to survive in a non-mechanized world. As wheat is run through the fanning mill, children can see firsthand how the grain that made the mid-west so important, was processed in the 19th century. Fall was the time to harvest the bounty of the orchard, and apples were a versatile and important crop. The flash of red and clatter of gears, the sweet fragrance that arises as the apples are crushed, and the golden brown cider flowing into the bucket captures the attention of young and old alike at the cider pressing demonstration.
Chris Olsen will demonstrate the invention of photography as he demonstrates and describes how the first photographs were taken. His authentic approach makes one understand why a "likeness" was so highly prized to remember loved ones.
The demonstrations of 1840s household and farm skills at Harvest Days stimulate young minds to be creative in problem solving. Their imaginations are even catered to by the words and tall tales of Reid Miller, whose traditional yarns and songs fit the historic setting of Garfield Farm. His performance features 1840‚s tunes, songs and tales like “Goin‚ Down to Cairo,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Silly Jack,” and “Old Dry Fry.” Miller plays banjo, ukulele, jawharp and spoons as he weaves the fabric of “Tunes an‚ Tales of Yesteryear!” to the delight of all ages. His dramatic renditions provide audience involvement, belly-laughs and smiles galore. He will have recordings and jawharps available for purchase, too.
Tours of the 1846 brick inn will be ongoing. The tavern’s frame section and trim were just painted helping to preserve this 165 year old landmark. Tavern tours often spark conversations between grandparent and child as grandparents recall their childhood visits to relatives‚ farms. Tours of the museum’s prairie reconnect visitors to nature and its resilience, as the last prairie flowers bloom and go to seed.
Visitors will also be able to view the restoration work that has been done on the 1842 barn. The barn’s south peak and wall were damaged in August 2005 by a lightning strike. The wall was restored last fall and a restored roof was finished this summer. The museum now can seek the funds of individual donors to complete the barn’s restoration.
A bake sale will be held and refreshments will be offered in the museum’s visitor’s center, the Atwell Burr House. The event benefits the museum’s ongoing efforts to restore the historic buildings and to provide educational programming.
Donations are $6 for adults and $3 for children under twelve.
The 374-acre Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 2800 households in 37 states as an 1840s working farm museum. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt.38 on Garfield Road. For information, call (630) 584-8485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.