The Wilton Historical Society welcomed Wilton’s fourth grade students this week to the Young Yankees program, where they spent a day learning about Colonial life in New England.
New this year was the opportunity for students to learn about Native Americans in an 18-foot wide Eastern conical wigwam. Jennifer Lee, a Narragansett Indian descendant, portrayed an Algonquian woman of the 1750s. The wigwam, which accommodates up to 25, is equipped with the accoutrements of daily life, such as baskets of birch bark, elm bark and ash splints; gourds; clay pots; Indian-tanned furs and hides; clothing of deer hide, wool, and linen; beadwork; ribbon work; quillwork; traditional bow, arrows and quivers; and drums and rattles. Many of these items were crafted by Ms. Lee, who shared local history and talked about the objects with the children.
The children also visited the historic Abbott Barn where they took turns sawing logs, spoke shaving (barn pegs), and joined in a team effort to raise a child-sized barn frame, under the careful direction of trustee Karl Dolnier and volunteer Rich Furman.
They also pumped water from the well into pails, and used a yoke to carry them. At the blacksmith shop the smithy showed how he heats and shapes iron into nails, tools and other necessaries of Colonial life.
The making of clothing, blankets, and floor coverings required a series of tasks to prepare the materials needed. In the Textile Tent, helped by volunteer Moira Craw and trustee Kim Mellin, the children learned about carding and spinning wool into yarn, and breaking, combing and spinning flax. In the Betts House weaving room they learned how the yarns they prepared earlier would be used.
Learning about how food was prepared is a popular part of the day, and porridge, bacon and corn bread were cooked on the hearth. Children also learned how to trade for goods, as was done in Colonial times.
While eating lunch, the children heard volunteer Dan Kinley, an expert militia re-enactor talk about life in the militia.