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Susan Gainley describes what she found about the Frohloff Farm after researching the deeds, probate and town records about the land and people that lived on the land.

Susan Gainley describes what she found about the Frohloff Farm after researching the deeds, probate and town records about the land and people that lived on the land.

Nearly fifty people packed into EQLT’s meeting space yesterday afternoon to learn about the history of the Frohloff Farm. Over the past year, Susan Gainley spent significant time working through the registry of deeds searching the ownership transfers since the original colonists claimed the land in the 1700s. She also spent time searching for wills, reviewing the History of Ware and Ware census information among other sources.  All of these pieces of information put together a picture of how the land moved from one family to another and how many people lived in the house and what products they made.

Here’s some interesting pieces of her research:

1. For a period exceeding two hundred and seventy-five years, the property known as the Frohloff farm changed hands more than fifteen times.

2. The only family to own the farm through multiple generations was the Frohloff family. It was lived in by three generations for nearly one hundred years, from 1913 until 2007, before being sold to the EQLT.

3. Three times the farm was sold from one brother to another.

4. The longest any one family owned the farm before the Frohloff family was twenty-three years.

5. Eight men who once owned the farm died while in possession of it.

6. Two owners came into possession of the farm through marrying the widow of the previous owner.

7. According to census records the greatest number of people living in the house at one time was thirteen in 1840.

8. At least twice there occurred a shared ownership of the property, including the house.

9. Except for the last two generations of Frohloffs, all who owned the farm were farmers by occupation.

Ed Hood with an image of the Frohloff Farm house, circa 1800.

Ed Hood with an image of the Frohloff Farm house, circa 1800.

With pictures during the recent renovation coupled with his architectural knowledge of early building construction, Ed Hood placed the farmhouse construction in the Federalist period between 1780 and 1830. Ed shared details from Benjamin Asher’s construction guide that provided builders with design patterns and details for fine homes of the era. The design guide included house layout choices and details for mantels, window and doors, and wainscoting among other architectural details. We know the current ell is an addition because in the attic the original main house roofing is still visible where the ell roof matches the house. However, there must have been a single story ell originally because sections of hand hewn lathing and other sections of machine made lathing uncovered in the current kitchen area. Plus the second door from the kitchen to the formal parlor has different trim that is not as fancy as the original entry. Ed shared these details, plus plenty more during the talk!

Smoke in the sky

Smoke in the sky above the Wendemuth Meadow barn as brush was burned yesterday.

Smoke in the sky above the Wendemuth Meadow barn as brush was burned yesterday.

The sky over Wendemuth Meadow got hazy yesterday morning as we began the process of burning brush piles. It was a beautiful day for burning, but a little more wind would have helped the process! We used leaf blowers to create some of our own wind as we worked to reduce the size and number of piles left on the ground.

Thanks to Harrison, Jeff, Doris and others the property has seen huge changes since EQLT purchased the land in early 2014. Nearly 80 blue spruces used to line Bates Street and they were entwined with multiflora rose and poison ivy. Other pines were planted in various locations. Those trees and invasives were cut down and piled up, waiting for brush burning season to begin.

Shelby, Caren and the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow collaborated with our stewardship committee to begin burning brush. We’re off to a good start, with more to come!

Harrison with his tractor pushing a burning pile.

Harrison with his tractor pushing a burning pile.

Harbour, Becky and Dick are keeping a close eye on the brush pile. Tom and Nathaniel are taking a break as the afternoon passes.

Harbour, Becky and Dick are keeping a close eye on the brush pile. Tom and Nathaniel are taking a break as the afternoon passes.

 

 

 

Burning brush piles near the Wendemuth barn.

Burning brush piles near the Wendemuth barn.

Mark and Linda at a pile.

Mark and Linda at a pile.

The group standing with the historic marker for the Mass Central Railroad in New Braintree.

The group standing with the historic marker for the Mass Central Railroad in New Braintree.

We welcomed in 2015 with a morning hike along the New Braintree and Hardwick section of the Mass Central Rail Trail this morning.  About thirty people and half a dozen dogs explored the area under a beautiful sun and chilly breeze.

Along the way we talked about the rail trail, the origins of the Mass Central, possible connections of this three mile trail eastward into Barre and westward to Gilbertville and Ware. As each portion of the rail trail gets opened for public use the broader vision for a 104 mile rail trail linking Northampton to Boston and all the communities in between gets stronger!!

Taking a break at the pony truss bridge, we enjoyed the view of the Ware River and a brief introduction to the bridge design.

Taking a break at the pony truss bridge, we enjoyed the view of the Ware River and a brief introduction to the bridge design.

We also stopped at the historic pony truss that crosses the Ware River. Mark shared his knowledge of the bridge design, who invented it and the builder. A full article on the bridges will lead off our Winter 2015 newsletter and available in mid-January. Caren shared some of the botanical interests, including wild rice that grows along the river here.

The land trust is interested in getting feedback from users of the rail trail about how they are using the trail, what they like about it, and if they want to be more involved in the rail trail. If you haven’t already done so, please take this quick survey by clicking here. If you do want to be more involved, please email Shelby at servicelearning (at) EQLT.org to get connected.

 

 

Happy Holidays to All!

Party goers helping themselves to some goodies during the holiday open house.

Party goers helping themselves to some goodies during the holiday open house.

Last night friends and supporters of the East Quabbin Land Trust gathered at our offices on Ridge Road to share good holiday cheer with each other.  It’s quickly becoming a tradition to gather on the first Friday of December.  People bring their favorite dish or drinks to share.  With the wood stove on and the room quickly filling up at 5 pm, there was lots of seasonal warmth to go around.

It is a busy time of year. That we know. We thank those who were able to carve out an hour or two in their busy schedules to spread some joy with us! And if you weren’t able to make we hope to see you soon at another EQLT event. We wish everyone a happy holiday season!

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Mark is driving the tractor home after a successful day at the pony truss!

Mark is driving the tractor home after a successful day at the pony truss!

 

We’re pleased to announce that the decking on the pony truss is down, bridging the gap over the Ware River between New Braintree and Wheelwright!! All 160 feet of it. Many thanks to the crew that helped with this last push, including Mark, Denis, Ric, Wyatt, Dane, Jen, Becky, Lucinda, Josh, Ian, Renee, and Dave.

Work at the pony truss will continue in the spring. Other tasks include installation of the railing and curbing. Once that’s done we can officially open the bridge for use!

Becky and Josh rotating and positioning the last couple of decking timbers.

Becky and Josh rotating and positioning the last couple of decking timbers.

Wyatt ratcheting the lag screws with curved washers that hold the timbers in place.

Wyatt ratcheting the lag screws with curved washers that hold the timbers in place.

Beam bridge arrived today

The old wooden beams were removed and new abutment installed. The two bents are left as reminders of the historic bridge configuration.

The old wooden beams were removed and new abutment installed. The two bents are left as reminders of the historic bridge configuration.

 

Repairs to the historic pony truss on the Mass Central Rail Trail continued today, with more scheduled for tomorrow. The new beam bridge was delivered this afternoon, and completes the span back to the rail bed.

Denis and Mark maneuvering a large timber into place.

Denis and Mark maneuvering a large timber into place.

Before the beam bridge could be installed two of the bent cap timbers needed to be replaced. The existing ones were cracked and split. We found lots of tree roots and old tar as we removed the old timbers. Many thanks to Mark and Denis for all their help making these repairs.

The beam bridge segment ready for decking timbers.

The beam bridge segment ready for decking timbers.

Join us 12:30p.m. tomorrow as we lay down the final timbers and secure them to the beam bridge. In the spring we will install the railing and curbing so that the pony truss can be officially opened. We also hope to get the rest of the trail bed heading into Wheelwright finished with stone dust. Be sure to visit the trail often!

Old trees rule the swamp

Caren is explaining some of the unique characteristics of tupelo and why the trees were likely left by colonists.

Caren is explaining some of the unique characteristics of tupelo and why the trees were likely left by colonists.

This afternoon a group of thirty of so weaved along the unmarked trails in the Oakham Wildlife Management Area in search of some of the oldest trees in New England. Black Gum or Tupelo over 400 years old. Ones that sprouted before Columbus set sail!

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An admiring hug!

 

And it was quite an adventure. First along the trails, stopping periodically to talk about other trees and shrubs growing along the way, including white, red, black and scarlet oaks and how you can tell the difference using their leaves. Witch hazel flowers are out and some partridge berry fruits could be found under the leaf litter.

Looking into the canopy

Looking into the canopy

IMG_20141116_141247webThen we headed into the swamp, with warnings about wet boots and hopping from one hummock to another. Everyone made it to the pocket of tupelo trees, growing with hemlocks and red maples. The tupelos top the canopy and have a unique branching pattern so they are easy to spot once you know what to look for.

Many participants are looking forward to making a return trip to admire these old trees another time.

Pulling Knapweed

Digging knapweed at Wendemuth Meadow

Digging knapweed at Wendemuth Meadow

 

Thanks to all the volunteers that helped pull and dig knapweed last Saturday at Wendemuth Meadow Preserve! The front field was weeded, which is a great accomplishment. There is more of course. We are talking about an invasive plant after all. So next spring we’ll ask volunteers to help dig more in other fields!

Knapweed RemovalwebIn the meantime, we’ll also be burning brush piles, clearing brush from stone walls and having a good time reclaiming the preserve. If there is snow, sledding will also be in order! Hope you can join us and bring your family and friends.

Dick Rossman shares the history of how the property came to be protected by EQLT and the Town of West Brookfield.

Dick Rossman shares the history of how the property came to be protected by EQLT and the Town of West Brookfield.

The dedication and official opening of EQLT’s historic gristmill site in West Brookfield was well attended, despite the cold and rainy afternoon. Thirty visitors bundled up and brought their umbrellas as they made the fifteen minute walk starting at the kiosk along Wickaboag Valley Road to the pond on Sucker Brook.

The interpretive brochure was unveiled, which includes stops at the sawmill dam site, white pine weevil life history, Old Baypath Indian Trail background and gristmill information. Pick up your copy of the brochure at the kiosk before walking the site or click here to  print your own copy.

Participants during the Pynchon's Grist Mill site dedication.

Participants during the Pynchon’s Grist Mill site dedication.

Thank you to Dick Rossman from the West Brookfield Historical Commission, Alison Vannah PhD historian, Al Collings from the Lake Wickaboag Preservation Association and Gordon DeWolf from the West Brookfield Conservation Commission for sharing their thoughts about the significance of the property to the community.

More details about Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve can be found here.

“Big” checks awarded!

Ann Hicks, from the North Brookfield Conservation Commission, along with state representatives at the grant award ceremony.

Ann Hicks, from the North Brookfield Conservation Commission, along with state representatives at the grant award ceremony accepting the “big” check to the Town of North Brookfield.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced yesterday its grant recipients for the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant program and Conservation Partnership grant program. Fortunately, two East Quabbin Land Trust conservation efforts underway were among those projects supported!

Wendemuth Meadow has been a joint conservation effort between the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Town of North Brookfield since the land first came on the market four years ago. After years of negotiations and strategizing about how to conserve the land, EQLT and the Town agreed that the land needed to be purchased from its former landowners and the Town would pursue a LAND grant to purchase a conservation restriction on the 30 acres of fields and wet meadow. Now we know that the Commonwealth has awarded the Town of North Broofield the grant that will cover 70% of the conservation restriction value!! Local fundraising efforts have already raised $15,000 towards the remainder of the cost.

Conservation Partnership Grant big check acceptance webThe East Quabbin Land Trust received a Conservation Partnership grant to cover a portion of transaction expenses for the donation of a conservation restriction on 20 acres in west Hardwick. With this funding and other grants, the East Quabbin Land Trust can move forward with conservation of the land which includes part of Canterberry Brook and upland forest soils.

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