News from Garfield Farm
Rediscover the heart of America’s values at Garfield Farm Museum on December 6th & 7th for its annual Candlelight Reception at 3-7 pm. Interpreters wearing period clothing will share with guests what life was like for people during the height of the horse and wagon era. There is no charge for the Candlelight event, but donations are most welcome to help preserve this story of America’s heritage.
The Garfield’s home sat on the junction of the Chicago- St. Charles-Oregon Roads that were well traveled in the 1840s. The Garfields opened their log house as an inn to aid and comfort weary travelers. A successful business and farming led to the construction of the surviving 1846 brick tavern that was welcome relief when frozen bone jarring dirt roads and unheated wagons were the common experience. Yet out of these challenges, the spirit of 1840s Americans was indomitable. On the open road, Americans shared what they had with a sense of egalitarian pride that totally befuddled the European class system. In America, European travelers disdained sitting at a common dining table much less sharing bed space with fellow travelers as was the American “on the road” custom. These sons and daughters of the American Revolution took pride in making do as they created a nation we all have such hopes for today. Embracing the common challenges of survival gave Americans the resiliency to weather change and uncertainty.
Americans of the 1840s were obliged to trust each other as only word of mouth could confirm what one heard from another. There was no internet, TV, radio, telephones or timely newspapers to rapidly double check the truth of information shared. Although cash was the rule at these taverns, much of America’s farming economy depending on trust. As sales of ripe crops occurred in the fall, farmers depended on local merchants to accept i.o.u.s or personal notes with a promise to pay in the fall for items needed in spring and summer. An individual?s name and reputation were critical to be able to sign such an obligation making one’s signature “as good as gold”.
Walking through the softly lit rooms of the Garfield Inn with its simple furnishings and lack of modern necessities, will remind every visitor that the most important values, honesty, patience, hard work, and sharing of struggles and spirit with family and friends, have greater value than all the latest consumer goods. Traditional music by the Scantlin’ Reunion on mountain and hammer dulcimers will be played in the second floor ballroom as spiced tea and tea breads are served in the dining room.
Following a visit to the 1846 inn, walk up the glowing lantern path to Burr house and enjoy even more, as the museum will feature its Homespun Holiday Market. In its fourth year, the Homespun Market, features local artisans bringing in their goods for the public to purchase. Even this fundraiser reflects the tradition of American creativity and entrepreneurial skills to gain economic independence. The Market features a variety of crafts, such as knitted ware, pottery, household items, and many others. Held in the museum’s Atwell Burr House, the Market runs from 12 to 7 pm for both days of the Candlelight Event. A percentage of the sales made by the artisans are donated to the museum. A bake sale is also featured at the Holiday Market, whose goods are entirely donated by museum volunteers.
Candlelight at the Inn brings long time supporters together as this is one of their favorite events. It gives new visitors a chance to meet the volunteers and donors, who are the lifeblood of the farm. The event is a time for those interested in becoming involved, to meet those who already give so much to help sustain the museum and keep it moving forward. The event also benefits the museum’s ongoing efforts to restore the historic buildings and to provide educational programming.
The 370-acre Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s 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.