I am going down a research rabbit hole. My quest is to develop a Mansfield Historical Society display that honors the Stearns family in Mansfield, CT. for 250 years. How does one condense 250 years of living, farming, generations, wars, and weather into an exhibit? I’m trying…
The family purchased this farm in 1772. Tonight, I held that deed in my hand. I saw the signature of the man who walked here from Killingly, Boaz Stearns. He set to paper his claim to a hill of Chestnut trees and field with a fine saltbox house. Little would he realize the tenuous strand the farm would survive by at times, and yet it has. The American Revolution took a son, as did the Civil War. Nature played out her tempest in hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, and soggy seasons. Fires ravaged the farm in 1929, 1959, and tried again in 1989. How does a family pick up the pieces and continue?
Those pieces have been a different challenge for every generation. The important piece that was picked up was the CT Farmland Preservation program protecting 746 acres to forever be for agricultural use! No development will scar the land and erase the centuries of blood, sweat, and tears that fell on the soil there. We are charged with being stewards, here to protect and preserve and move it on to the next generations. So many stewards have walked this land just as I did today.
This morning I walked in the Spencer lot as it’s called. A dusty farm road lies between corn and hay land. Tonight, I found the original deed in the town hall vault. That ninety-acre parcel was purchased from Henry and Mary Spencer on June 26, 1852, for the grand sum of $50.00. A bargain in my opinion. I am sure they would all be pleased to see the newly planted corn sprouting and the hay waving in an early morning breeze. Farm lot names preserve a bit of history.
If you are intrigued by my research story or a family that stays on a farm for 250 years there is so much more. The exhibit opens Sunday, June 5, 2022, 1:30-4:30 at Mansfield Historical Society Rte 195 Storrs CT.