November 15, 2007
Farm in Cumberland
Mention of Cumberland Farm in this area brings to mind a chain of convenience stores, but for Adin Ballou in the first years of the nineteenth century, it was home. Here is his recollection of his early life
The Cumberland Farm
My father had over two hundred acres of land, including some woodlots nearly a mile away; also a saw-mill, a cider-mill, a large stock of cattle, and of course there was no lack of employment indoors or out. Plowing, planting, harvesting, and all the multiform activities of farm life, with accompanying incidentals, kept all hands busy through the year. My mother used to say, when we of the younger brood complained of being hurried up in the morning and kept snug at work through the day, “You have a much easier time than your older brothers and sisters had, for your father has grown in years and does not drive ahead as he did when I first came to live with him.” We thought it might be true, but that was no great comfort to us, as we still deemed ours a hard lot in the labor line.
We had a large, comfortable domicile, plenty of wholesome food, decent clothing, and the ordinary necessaries of an agricultural family; but luxuries, fineries, and gentilities were afar off. Brown bread and milk or porridge, different kinds of meat, rye or barley cake, coffee, cheap tea, cider, etc., were the staples of table fare, with plenty of butter, cheese, apple sauce, and simple condiments. Cakes, pies and other home-made delicacies had their occasions, but rarely was anything very rich or of outside manufacture furnished us. Our clothing was mostly of home production, spun and woven from flax and wool of our own raising – the woolen cloth being fulled and dressed at mills three or four miles distant. Some extra cotton and woolen stuffs from other sources supplemented what was made by the family, increasing rapidly as I grew up. In my early boyhood young women pulled flax and assisted sometimes in the hayfield, but this soon went out of fashion. The spinning wheel and loom were in vogue much longer, and their operations in my parental household were memorable.
We were shod in those days chiefly with leather tanned at an establishment two miles away, and made of skins from our own cattle or those obtained in barter for them. Once a year, not long before winter set in, a shoemaker came to the house with his kit of tools on his back to do the family cobbling. He had to stay several days, and to us, younglings, at least, he was an important personage. New boots or shoes, and especially calf-skin ones, which, however, were rare, inspired much interest,not only in anticipation and realization, but in the process of their manufacture. Wonderful manipulations were witnessed from the time of taking the measure of our feet to that of trying on the finished article to see if there was a good fit. Sometimes we were favored with a story or song, or whistled tune from the dignitary of the awl and lapstone as the work went on. This entertaining drama ended with a settlement between father and the craftsman, who usually received part or all of his dues in some kind of farm produce. Adin Ballou, Autobiography of Adin Ballou, pp. 13-15.
More Hopedale trivia from Dick Orff: We have a new leader…….Most years served in one position goes to Joseph Rosenfeld who served 54 years as a Public Weigher. Second is Asa A. Westcott with 53 years as a Measurer of Wood & Bark.
James T. Ayotte, 47, October 31, 2007.
Mary McGinnis, November 8, 2007.
Clinton E. Clark, Sr., November 10, 2007.
November 15, 2007