Telling and Showing the Stearns Family History in Mansfield 250 Years
I am preparing a historical exhibit for the Stearns Family’s 250 years in the town of Mansfield. What a journey as I research and sift the ages. Winnowing down this collection of dates, photos, artifacts, and mementos to what will be displayed is difficult. Space impacts some decisions and makes them easy to set aside. I have had many thoughts as I work through the materials. Come along as I think on paper about the exhibit that opens June 5, 2022, at 1:30 at Mansfield Historical Society route 195 in Storrs.
Our oldest generation in the 250-year history has left no photographs so a headstone may well be the only representation, and a poor one for a life rich in family and farm. This founder of the Mansfield lineage was interrupted and devastated by the Revolutionary war. His son Marched off to the call from Bunker Hill never to return. I need to find a way to honor that sacrifice.
The Civil War impacted the family as well. Two brothers served. Oliver came home after the battle at Cold Harbor and died of consumption (TB) thirty days later. At least he saw home again and died with his family nearby. They had the closure few Civil War-era families were afforded.
Three barn fires in a thirty-year cycle were pivotal moments in the farm and family history. 1929, 1959, and 1989 with a full loss of the barn in the first two. Those are terrible memories literally seared into the fabric of the family. In 1989 the barn was saved by the experience of the previous generation and the security of a fire system in all the buildings. We were immensely happy to get through 2019 and break the 30 year cycle!
The family and the farm are so intertwined. One does not depict one without the other. It is the foundation of the family and the reason so many have persevered here on this windy hilltop. Many events on the farm are memorable family occasions. The modernization to tractors and the retirement of the draft horses are startling changes. New bottling equipment, home delivery, and wholesale accounts, milking machines, and computers improve with time and succeeding generations.
The ninth generation leaves its mark on the farm and family by making a significant change. They ensure a future by securing the land in the CT Farmland Preservation program. 736 acres that can never be built on. This strategic move has laid a foundation for future generations to live and work on the same hill our ancestors have.
Stop by Mansfield Historical Society this summer to view the exhibit along with others they will showcase. https://mansfieldct-history.org/museum-opening-day-3/