A Working "Living History" Farm
A visit to Howell Living History Farm brings you back to the year 1900: horses and buggies traveled the roads of Pleasant Valley, and fields were bordered by snake fences and Osage orange hedgerows. It was a pivotal time in U.S. history, and saw the beginnings of exciting new technology that would challenge the power of the workhorse and the skills of craftsmen across the nation.
Here at Howell Farm we offer people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests the chance to learn about their rural history and heritage by rolling up their sleeves for hands-on activities, meeting interpreters in historic costume, and embarking on tours through a farm that's really working year-round.
Depending on the season, you can see and help farmers as they plant and harvest crops, care for animals, build fences, and raise barns – or do the cooking and chores that keep the farm running smoothly every day. Ice harvesting, maple sugaring, sheep shearing, and threshing are just a few of the activities you will find...and if you happen by on the right day, there might even be a hayride, music, dancing, or homemade ice cream in the mix. Stop by on a Saturday if you can – that's when most of the neighbors do!
A Gift for Everyone
Howell Farm was a working farm for 240 years before its last private owner, Inez Howe Howell of Pennington, donated it to Mercer County in March of 1974. Having grown up on a farm, she wanted others to experience the magic she had always found there, and wrote this letter to the Mercer County Park Commission:
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