A celebration straight off the farmBy KRISTI GAROFALO
Special to the Union Leader July 01. 2012 9:28PM
At the Poore Family Homestead Historic Farm Museum in Stewartstown, visitors are transported back to a time before electricity in the rural northernmost region of New Hampshire.
On Sunday, the museum celebrated the 127th birthday of J.C. Kenneth Poore, the last member of the Poore family and the founder of the Poore Family Foundation for North Country Conservancy, with the 18th annual Open Barn and Celebration.
Rick Johnson, executive director of the Poore Family Foundation, said he got caught up with the history evident in every part of the Poore Family Homestead.
'I feel very lucky to be here,' he said, as he welcomed visitors to the birthday party and reminded them to have a piece of birthday cake. 'It's tradition,' he told the group.
Dawn Franklin of Gray, Maine, vacations in the area every summer. She brought her 7-year-old daughter, Sophia, and her 2-year-old son, Evan, to the celebration.
'It's a great way for them to learn some history,' she said, watching as the two played with a hand water pump.
Visitors explored a typical trapper camp from the early 1800's and learned how early pioneers and trappers started campfires by watching demonstrations from Charlie Chalk and Jimmy Gilbert of the Great North Woods Party of American Mountain Men.
The men also demonstrated hatchet throwing and black powder rifle shooting, complete with a boom enjoyed by the kids.
'I've been doing this for a number of years,' Chalk said. 'You really have to know and research the period, but we enjoy doing it as a hobby and it keeps the skills alive.'
Visitors also toured the barn and outbuildings with exhibits of the Poore family's farm equipment and household items such as letters, camping equipment and a loom used to weave carpets for the house.
Of course, the Poore family house was the centerpiece of the day. Built in 1825 by Moses Heath, the 100-acre farm was sold in 1832 to Job Poore.
The five-bedroom house never had indoor plumbing or electricity. Food was kept cool by storing it in a room built over a spring running under the house. The small house couldn't hold many visitors at once. While waiting in line, guests ate cake and listened to lively authentic cowboy and western music provided by Harold Boydston.
Debby Clark of Lebanon, Maine, and her granddaughters, Laura Fuller and Ayllana Holtby, were visiting her brother's camp in Colebrook and came for the day.
'My brother visited the farm last year and this year we arranged to have the whole family come up,' she said.
Andrew Zander visited the homestead earlier in the year with his school class, but didn't tour the house.
'I really wanted to come again,' he said.
The tour of the house, led by Poore Family Foundation Director Linda Tillotson, gave timeworn glimpses into the Poore family's daily lives, such as the dresses worn by the women and Civil War-era letters written by members of the family.
The Poore Family Homestead Museum is open to the public from June through September. For more information, go to poorefamily.homestead.com or poorefarm.org