“Harvesting Our History”

The Talbot Historical Society’s (THS) newest exhibit, “Harvesting Our History: A Look Back at Farming in Talbot County,” is currently on view through September 29 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy a docent-led tour of the exhibit, which includes artifacts, historic photographs and more.

The exhibit chairman is Board of Director member Jack Hall and was created by the Talbot Historical Society Collections Manager Peggy Morey and summer intern Erin Pogue.

According to Jack, “Robins Hollyday’s photographs are clearly the stars of the exhibit. However, they are completed by a number of farm tools, implements and models loaned to us by the Tuckahoe Gas & Steam Museum, Richard and Beverly Tilghman, Andy and Sallie Smith, Robert Hutchison, David Bryan, Della Andrew, and Joe Secrist, to mention a few.”

When compiling photographs and artifacts for the exhibit, Jack had few surprises since he grew up on a farm in the 1950s. Much of the scenes in the photographs and the artifacts were not surprises, he admitted. “However, lifting the bow cradle and imagining the strength that was required to use it all day long was revealing,” he added.

There was one occurrence that gave Jack pause. “The thing that took me by complete surprise was the story of John Singleton, who owned over 1,000 acres, about 500 on the south side of Trippe’s Creek, called “East Otwell,” and another 500 at the head of Trippe’s Creek bordering on the west side of the Easton-Trappe Road. In 1805, while cleaning his ditches, Singleton discovered a deposit of marl. Local marl, much in evidence at Calvert Cliffs, but also at Boston Cliffs, a farm on the west side of the Choptank River in Talbot County, was deposited in the Miocene Epoch, ranging from about 25 million years ago to seven million years ago.”

In Jack’s research, he discovered that these Miocene deposits are found in southernmost Kent, in most of Queen Anne’s, all of Talbot and Caroline, and all but the extreme southeastern portion of Dorchester Counties. Throughout most of this area they are overlain by, and buried under, later deposits. John Singleton tested his discovery by placing it in a bottle and adding vinegar, Jack explains. “The marl effervesced (fizzed) revealing its alkaline nature. Because local farmers then had no ready access to limestone, necessary to reduce acidity in soil, by taking a lesson from Singleton, they turned to marl deposits as an alternative to lime.”

Learn about the Miocene deposits, how to use bow cradle, and much more at the THS’s exhibit, “Harvesting Our History: A Look Back at Farming in Talbot County” through September 29.

In other THS news, on Friday, September 21, THS will host its annual fundraiser in the gardens under a tent from 5 to 8 p.m. With the concurrent exhibit on agriculture, the event’s theme is farming. Guests will have the opportunity to take selfies with piglets and there will be a petting zoo with a calf and baby sheep. Enjoy music by the Free & Eazy Band, too.

For more information, visit talbothistory.org or call 410-822-0773.

This photo was taken in 1953 at the Stinchcomb family farm in Sherwood and was used in advertisements for Massey Ferguson® tractors. That was the year that Massey-Harris merged with the Ferguson Company to become Massey-Harris-Ferguson, shortening the name to Massey Ferguson in 1958. In 1952, the year before the photograph, The Marris-Harris model 23 Mustang, believed to be the tractor shown, replaced the model 22.
In the days before the combine, farmers cut standing wheat with a reaper, which bounds the stacks into bundles. Those bundles were stacked upright in shocks to cure (that is, to thoroughly dry) and later be gathered for threshing. The tractor shown pulling the reaper is believed to be a Case Model L, dating from possibly as early as 1928.
A team of three could draw a larger plow than a team of two. Such a plow would create a trench, or “furrow,” 14 inches wide, as opposed to a 10- or 12-inch plow, reducing the number of passes needed to complete the job. The plow shown is called a “walking” plow because the plowman walked behind the plow rather than riding on it. This team consists of two mules and a horse.
When most farm tasks required extensive hand labor, farmers, and the laborers whom they employed, co-operated with other farmers in the community in gathering hay and silage, slaughtering hogs, and threshing wheat. While threshing wheat, the owner of the farm on which the harvesting was being done supplied a full noon meal, known as dinner, to all engaged in the task. Here, men from the Copperville and Unionville area enjoy a brief respite from threshing while partaking a mid-day meal.
Swarms of biting insects can drive horses and mules to madness. A “fly sheet” provides draft animals a barrier of protection against such tormentors.

Photographs courtesy of the Talbot Historical Society’s H. Robins Hollyday Collections and the Talbot Historical Society Collections of others.

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