Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Texas History Sidetrip: Barrington Living History Farm

While in the Washington on the Brazos State Park, we also visited the Barrington Living History Farm. The Barrington Living History Farm is a working farm representing a farm of the 1840’s. It consists of some original buildings from Anson Jones’ Barrington Farm. Anson Jones was the fourth and final president of the Republic of Texas. After his presidency he farmed near the Washington on the Brazos area. His farm was named after his family’s estate in Massachusetts. Jones farmed cotton and corn, and raised pigs, cattle, chickens, and ducks on his farm.  The farm supported him, his wife and four children, his sister, sister-in-law, and 5 slaves. During his time farming, he kept a journal. This has enabled interpreters to reenact his daily life for visitors to the farm.

 It is truly a living history farm in that the employees operate it as it would have been run in the mid 1800’s. Our guide was wonderful. She was dressed as an 1840’s woman would dress – she (modestly, of course) showed us her pantaloons and petticoats to prove it. It was windy and cool today so she was grateful for all the layers, but mentioned that this summer was pretty miserable. She and another guide had been seated in the dogtrot of the home while waiting for visitors, but once we arrived she accompanied us throughout the home and yard, explaining, demonstrating, and sharing stories. It was truly delightful!

Since it was Monday and a woman’s work on Monday would be laundry, they had washboard and buckets set up. We washed the scraps of fabric they had for that purpose and hung them on the line. Maggie and I laughed that we would have had good helpers from FRitW and MT if we were back in 1840. By the time we left, the lines were almost full of drying fabric scraps. Our guide apologized for the lack of soap to wash with. Since it is a living history farm, they actually make their own lye soap and with the burn bans in effect, they were unable to make soap and had run out. They don’t just dress up for a day or special events – this is their everyday life. Someone has to come to the farm everyday to let the chickens out or water the vegetables and feed the pigs.

Speaking of animals – we visited the chickens and fed them over the fence. The chickens they keep are varieties that would have been common in Texas in 1850. Their rooster is a funny looking fellow – he is a Crested Polish Rooster. The guide said that the lady of the house would have an elegant, fussy looking rooster – it was a source of pride. Most of these chickens are young and they are looking forward to seeing what the baby chicks will look like.

The farm butchers a couple of pigs each year and smokes the meat in their smokehouse – boy did those hams smell good! There is a kitchen garden and a large garden – all hand dug, watered, and maintained. Herbs are grown next to the kitchen, and large Lamb’s Ear plants were scattered here and there. The Lamb’s Ear leaves were a much nicer alternative to toilet paper than the oft used corn cob – ugh!

Inside the house, our guide spun some of the cotton grown here on the farm into yarn and showed us the corn husk mattresses. We saw where the children would have done their lessons and learned about the many chores the children were responsible for, like picking cotton, cleaning chamber pots, and fanning the cook to help her stay cool. Then we went back and let MT and FRitW do more laundry.

We did wander over the now bare cotton and corn fields and through the workshop/barn, but there were no attendants to tell us about them. We did not visit the slave cabins because there was a sheriff’s deputy guarding some prisoners at work in those buildings.

There were two pig pens made of wood and when we got close, we found a mother pig and her piglet in one and what must have been the daddy pig in the other. He was huge and those stick fences were not too strong looking, so we moved on rather quickly!


1 comment:

Briana said...

Neat! I need to see if I can find something like that around here.