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|History of the Farm - The Howell Family|
In 1962 Charles and Inez Howell purchased the farm but did not live on the property. A series of tenants worked the farm until June 1975. The last tenant used the farm to raise beef cattle. During this final period of tenant operation the farm structures, including the Henry Phillips Barn, were badly neglected and poor methods of animal husbandry were employed that exacerbated the problems.
In 1974, after Charles passed away, Inez gave the farm to Mercer County in his memory. Howell Living History Farm exists today because of this unique gift to Mercer Countyl. Inez Howell's vision for what the farm could be, especially for children, is expressed in her letter to the County given below. Thirty-two years after the date of her letter and twenty-two years after the opening of the farm to the public, a look at the many programs of the Farm shows how her vision has been grasped and developed by the Mercer County Park Commission and the Farm staff.
March 10, 1974
I am offering the farm as a gift to Mercer County in memory of Charley. To be used as a Living History Farm, where the way of living in its early days could not only be seen but actually tried by the public, especially children - milking a cow, gathering eggs in a homemade basket- helping to shear sheep, carding wool, spinning and weaving.
A farm has always been a great place for exploring. Perhaps 4-H groups and others could help people learn by actually doing. There could be tree plantings, riding a donkey, cleaning out a stable, and saving the manure to go back into the earth. Girls can do most of these things too. There would be ploughing and sowing and canning and pickling. And don't forget rainbows and swinging on wild grape vines.
Could volunteers build the way they built in the early days with similar tools? And let the public watch and lend a hand?
Older people could teach the young how to sew a fine seam, or find hickory nuts to crack with a stone on the hearth, or find wild herbs for curing the miseries, or just go off fishing with a hickory stick pole. And what grandmother doesn't like to rock the cradle with her toe while her knitting needles and her spinning wheel prepare for winter?
And the barn. The rugged old individualist, pigeons in its belfry, and bats, too, and barn swallows swooping in and out - because life lives on other life - wooden plough and oxen, treasured manure, sowing and reaping - Harvest Home and fiddlers - swing your partner and steal a kiss. Sleigh bells and up before dawn, fragrance of mint as you herd the cows up from the meadow, with the sun slanting across the Delaware. And church. And spring again.
Now what else can you think of?
Inez Howe Howell