Three women huddled together in the parlor of the Poore family homestead. They spoke softly, but their voices were earnest and insistent. Passionate. Whispered confidences exchanged between them, I heard the women talk about the connection they felt to this place. An uncanny knowing. A reincarnation of some inner spirit who told them they’d been here before.
One woman whispered that she didn’t need a tour of the house because she felt she already knew her way around it – perhaps from a previous life.
Walking through the farmhouse and barn myself, I felt a need to whisper – out of deference and respect to the people who long-ago worked this land and built this life – yes, but also because I felt the least little bit intrusive. I’m not completely convinced those proud Poores – New Hampshire North Country pioneers – would want me traipsing around their home.
The last of the family who lived in the Stewartstown, New Hampshire homestead, a 98 year-old, never-married bachelor, died in 1983. And more than thirty years after his death, I felt a little invasive of John Calvin Kenneth Poore’s privacy.
Prior to his death, John Calvin Kenneth Poore established a foundation for the preservation of his family’s homestead: the 100 acre farm, the hundreds of historical artifacts within, and their legacy of sustainability – probably known more commonly to them as survival.
It took a little longer than a decade for The Poore Family Foundation to sift through three generations worth of family history, and it was clearly done with the care and concern of folks who felt like family. Artifacts from a couple decades short of two hundred years of living – from tools to clothes to toys – has been lovingly organized and cataloged sort of museum style.
Visiting the Poore Family Homestead is a peek into a past where you used what you had, made what you didn’t have, and kept what you might need again one day.
Tentative about climbing into the main barn, my heart tendered at the sight of the work-worn boots tucked just inside the tack room around the corner from the door. Every tool, piece of tack, and wooden cart told a tiny bit about the family who worked their land to survive.
The old farmhouse feels as fragile as the long-loved lace hanging from one of the windows. Never modernized with electricity, each room had its part and purpose. From the hand-woven parlor rug to the letters written by Kenneth Calvin Poore to his fiance Emma during the Civil War, each room is filled with the heart, soul, and function of a family whose time here has come and gone … and yet, remains …with all of us as witness.
A simpler time? Maybe. An easier time? Doubtful. I’m sure these people could teach me a thing or two about tenacity. About needs, wants and will. About can do, will do, and must do.
And I’m a willing pupil.
Visit the Poore Family Farmstead in Stewartstown, New Hampshire on weekends from June to September. Special events run from time to time throughout the summer. For more information, visit the Foundation website by clicking here.