"Historic Highlights" for Gilford Steamer’s 23 Sept. 2004 issue

T—AHS’s Raffle Items Reflect Gilford’s History

For five years now Thompson-Ames Historical Society has offered a raffle to the public to generate more funds for preservation and restoration efforts. Each year the theme of the raffle has reflected Gilford’s history and this year is no exception.

Again this year artist Stan Piper and quilter Ellen Peters collaborated to create a unique quilted wall hanging. The 2004 quilt, with its blue and tan color scheme, is called "On the Farm". Historic High Maples Farm is spot-lighted in the diamond-shaped centerpiece with a border of squares featuring a vintage quilting-theme fabric alternating with sketches of some of T—AHS’s antique farm tools.

For the historical background of High Maples Farm we turned to Jessie Smith Naylor who grew up on the farm.

The history of High Maples Farm, which is located on Morrill Street, began in 1781 when Gilford was then known as the Gunstock Parish section of Gilmanton. Ezekiel Gilman settled on the forty acres of Section 20 in Range 3, the original acres of High Maples Farm, and probably in 1790 built a one-story farmhouse there.

In 1832, twenty years after Gilford had separated from Gilmanton, Ezekiel Gilman’s widow Betsy sold the farm to Zebedes Morrill. Rufus and William, Sons of Zebedes Morrill, succeeded their father in ownership.

It is believed that during the 50 years that the Morrill brothers operated the farm, raised their children, and enlarged the acreage, they added a second story to the farmhouse and built the large barn, both of which are shown in the quilt’s centerpiece.

In 1850, the Morrill brothers leased to Gilford School District #12 a small parcel of land on the northern border of the farm where a school house was built and attended by local children.

In 1900, William and Lydia Smith of Meredith gained title and moved their four sons, daughter and livestock to High Maples Farm. The Smiths retained ownership, improved and tilled the land until recent years.

Samuel and Winifred Smith, second generation of Smiths, became owners of the farm in 1903 and there raised their ten children, one of whom was Jessie Smith (Naylor). Their dairy herd led to a profitable milk business, including a milk route and cottage cheese production.

Oxen were an important part of life on the farm and Samuel even trained teams of. oxen. Other successful farm ventures at High Maples included strawberries, apple and peach orchards, vegetables, and maple syrup and other maple syrup products, such as "soft" sugar, maple sugar cakes, maple butter, maple cream, and maple candies.

T-AHS’s "On the Farm" quilt was designed to capture a vignette of life in late winter, early spring, with two boys working with a team of young oxen, a mother looking out from the doorway of the farmhouse, a sap bucket hanging on a maple tree with a woodpile nearby, a barn and silo, a snowman -- all being vestiges of Gilford’s farm days -- and, in the background, Mount Belknap.

The other item in T-AH’s raffle is an American Girl Doll, this year the 1944-vintage "Molly". Again, tying the raffle item to Gilford history is important.

A visit to Gilford in 1944 would have found Molly experiencing Gilford’s emerging from a farm-centered town and into a bedroom community as well as being under the cloud of World War II. Children were attending classes in Gilford’s five-year—old brick "consolidated" school rather than in the one-room schoolhouses that had dotted the countryside for up to 150 years. Many precious items from former "working" Gilford farms and farmhouses were now residing in the Thompson-Ames Historical Society Building, which had opened its doors as Gilford’s historical society came into being the year before.

As we weave this narrative of Molly’s visit to Gilford in 1944, we ponder several questions. In a time of petroleum rationing brought on by military needs during World War II, how was there enough gasoline for Molly to be brought to Gilford to visit? In which houses in Gilford were there grand pianoes on which Molly could give her piano recital?

Thompson-Ames Historical Society welcomes public imput to help answer these relevant questions. You can contact T-AHS by writing to P.O. Box 7404, Gilford, NH 03247, or by telephoning 527-9009 (Be sure to leave your name and telephone number if no one is in the office at the time that you call.), or, better still, drop in at the T-AHS office in the Grange Museum Building, at 8 Belknap Mountain Road, whenever the "OPEN" flag is flying at the doorway to the Hallway of Historic Signs.

Our raffle-doll Molly is one doll of the American Girls Collection, a series designed to take you inside the worlds of girls who lived during exciting times in the past, to give insight into how different life was back then and, yet, how those feelings, ideas, and dreams are timeless. Sets of books have been created to explore the lives of the various dolls in the American Girls Collection; these books help make history come alive.

Dot Pangburn, the Thompson-Ames Historical Society member whose idea it was in the year 2002 to include an American Girl Doll in T-AHS’s annual raffle, has taken the historical interpretation one step further by trying to tie in Gilford’s history as part of the overall history as T-AHS carries out its mission to celebrate and preserve Gilford’s cultural heritage.

As has been true of each American Girl Doll in T-AHS’s raffles, Molly comes with a story book as well as wardrobe items created by Jan Dean. But because Dot Pangburn coined the phrase "Molly’s Recital", Molly also comes not only with a grand piano but also with a recital outfit created by Carole Hunt Johnson.

Also, as in the past, the T-AHS raffle items have been unveiled on Gilford’s Old Home Day, with drawings slated for the day of the Gilford Village’s Crafts Fair Day, the first Saturday in December.

The raffle items are currently on view in the Historic Store in the Grange building and eventually will be on display in Gilford’s Village Bank and Trust.