Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Gathering at the Nye Homestead, East Sandwich, MA

The annual Autumn Gathering at the Nye Homestead in East Sandwich was held today, delighting visitors with a variety of costumed interpreters, hearth cooking and an archeological dig.  The Nye Homestead is the oldest house in East Sandwich and dates form the early 1670's.

Jack Rickman re-enacting the part of Dr. Samuel Nye, a colonial ship's surgeon, treated visitors with a plethora of surgical instruments and stories.  According to the good doctor, a physician may have been con-scribed into service or he would choose to serve on a ship because the mortality rates of a ship's surgeon were lower than that of a surgeon in the infantry.  Additionally, a doctor would gain valuable surgical experience upon the ship.  While the surgeon would perform amputations and bullet extractions, he would also treat such problems as venereal disease.  Although the array of implements looked daunting, Dr. Nye assured visitors that they are not very different from the tools used today.

Dr. Samuel Nye, re-enacted by
Jack Rickman, holds a
Revolutionary War Surgical instrument

Mary Kennan demonstrates
churning butter

The kitchen welcomed with a merry fire and the scent of Indian pudding, corn bread and roast chicken.  Lynn Cullity dressed in historical garb, prepared an inviting meal in the hearth and bee hive oven.  The process of baking in the beehive oven involves building a fire (scotch pine works well) and feeding that fire for approximately 2 1/2 hours until the oven is good and hot.  Traditionally, the cook tested the temperature of the oven by placing a hand in the oven and counting how many seconds before she would have to remove her hand.  Lynn, using this method, was able to count just above 30 seconds which was the perfect temperature for her tempting Indian pudding.  Lynn says she is not afraid to experiment with receipts in historical cookbooks which are often vague.  Those lucky enough to sample her cooking would agree that her experimentation has certainly paid off!

Lynn Cullity checks on pudding in the bee hive oven

Upstairs, Marguerite Donley explained the process involved in turning flax into linen and demonstrated her skills by spinning wool on an antique spinning wheel.  Visitors were able to view and touch the raw cotton, wool and flax.  Samples of dyed wool show the subtle beauty in natural dyes.

Marguerite explained that the popularity of spinning has waxed and waned.  During the Revolutionary War, without imports from England, spinning fostered a self sufficiency in our new republic.

Rick, a costumed docent dressed as an 1860's
 school teacher, shares the history of the Cedarville School
and library to visitors Leslie, Syndey and Elisabeth.

 One of the museum's docent's, Rick, is dressed as a school teacher from the 1860's.  He regales visitors with the history of the Cedarville one room school house.  An original desk from that schoolhouse stands behind him to the left.

John Cullity and Craig Chartier look at the archeological finds

Craig Chartier and son Alden show
how it's done
Behind the Homestead, archeologist, Craig Chartier of Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project in New Bedford, performs a dig and shares the fascinating results.  Craig, with his wife, Charlene, and son, Alden demonstrated the methodical and careful process of releasing tiny bits of history from the soil.  They uncovered small pieces of broken 18th century creamware and redware as well as chinese porcelain.  Machine cut early 19th century nails and a corner stone for a previous addition (or perhaps a porch) were also uncovered.

The cheery homestead should not be missed.  It is furnished with antiques and interior details that harken from different time periods.  If you missed this year's Autumn Gathering, be sure to visit the museum during their regular in season hours (listed below) or call to make an appointment.  

Once hidden behind sheetrock, the original
 paneling graces the parlor once again
Note the reproduction wallpaper from
Waterhouse wallhangings


upstairs landing

Original desk from Cedarville school

For more information, please visit the Nye Family of America Association's website:


Tue - Sat 12:00 to 4:30pm from June 15th to October 15th, closed Sundays, 
Mondays, and Holidays.

Off season visitors may call to make an appointment:

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