Conference Information

Saturday, October 13, 2012
8:30 am–3:30 pm
(click here for FAIR information)
TO REGISTER for the conference (see program below) please download the registration form here, then follow the directions.
(Early Bird, Educator, and Senior discounts; and volunteer opportunities available.)
NOTE: By popular demand, conference registration is now open on a per workshop basis. Attendance at one workshop is $10. Sign up to volunteer and attend for free. Walk-in registrations welcome.

Registration 8:30–9 am
“Rebellious Hilltown and the War of 1812”
Leonard Richards, Professor Emeritus, History, University of Massachusetts

BREAKOUT SESSIONS: 10:30–11:30 am; 1–2 pm; 2:303:30 pm
Three sessions, with time to connect with other history-enthusiasts at the FAIR, check out resources offered by a variety of vendors, and enjoy great food and music.

1st BREAKOUT 10:30–11:30 am

1.  The Line of Forts ~ Michael D. Coe, Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Yale University Report of historical archaeology of the northwestern Massachusetts colonial frontier, including forts in Colrain, Heath, Charlemont, Rowe, North Adams, by the author of “The Line of Forts: Historical Archaeology on the Colonial Frontier of Massachusetts”.

2.  Artist Robert Strong Woodward: the Life and Work of a New England Painter ~ Polly Anderson and Lee Toy Goodman, Friends of Robert Strong Woodward The life and work of the artist, who lived from 1885 to 1957, is protrayed through photographs, images of his work, material from his letters and diaries, as well as newspaper clippings and first-hand accounts of people who knew Woodward and worked for him.

3. Letters from Maud 1905 – 1909 ~ Diantha Wholey, family researcher Romance blossomed on the #10 Trolley between Shelburne and Colrain.   A presentation of letters and photos from Maud Purrington of Shattuckville to her future husband Frank Johnson of East Charlemont  gives a glimpse of rural life at the turn of the twentieth century.

4. Father Silas Lamson, Inventor: Outspoken Eccentric with Peculiar Beliefs ~ Elaine Gompers Parmett, 19th Century American Historian, Independent Scholar  Silas Lamson is well known for inventing his curved scythe snath and for his sons’ business known as Lamson & Goodnow.  But little is known today of Silas’s peculiar beliefs and eccentric behavior.  One son, Ward Lamson, claimed he was just ahead of his times.  Come learn about this inventive, forward thinking but definitely eccentric man who dressed all in white, wore a long beard, spouted prophecies and became known as Father Lamson.

5. Finding Your Ancestors in West County and Beyond… ~  Tina Peters, Genealogy Volunteer for Buckland Historical Society & Buckland Public Library Whether you are new to genealogy or have been researching your family tree for years, this session on finding your roots is sure to inform.  Expect valuable tips and sources for seeking your ancestors, especially in Western Franklin County and the surrounding area.

6. Riding the Rails: Past and Present  ~  Alden Dreyer, Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Alden Dreyer, a retired railroader, and now VP-Administration for the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, the oldest organization in North America devoted to railroad history, will discuss the history of local rail transportation as well as the current and future situation with passenger trains. A brief talk will be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.

LUNCH & FAIR 11:30 am–1:00 pm
Meet the vendors and enjoy activities and resources under the tent! See FAIR information below.

2nd BREAKOUT 1:00–2:00 pm

7. Revisiting Native American History in the Deerfield River Vally ~ Prof. Margaret Bruchac, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania The lecture/workshop re-examines primary sources that articulate relations among Native American Indians and Euro-American colonists in the Deerfield and Connecticut River Valleys. During the 1600s, Pocumtuck people were actively engaged in intercultural trade, diplomacy, and conflict, but by the 1800s, Deerfield historians depicted these Native people as vanished. Dr. Bruchac’s research revisits the complex regional linkages hidden in this history.

8. “Window on the Wider World”:  Early One Room School Houses ~ Timothy C. Neumann, Executive Director, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association  Early school houses were more than places where children learned their “3 R’s”   School houses were also  political units of local control within a town, community centers, bastions of civilization, symbols of social progress, and reflections on a town’s self-image .  They were for children a window on to the rest of the world introducing ideas and attitudes about other cultures and other regions of the US.

9. Hilltown Life 200 Years Ago ~ Sarah Johnson, President, Catamount Hill Assoc.   Who built these stone walls? When, and why? A look into every day life in pre-industrial New England hill towns, including clearing of land, farming, building of stone walls, raising sheep, and cost of travel.  

10. Sanford Tavern, Hawley  ~  John Sears, project historian; Aaron Miller, archaeologist; Ivan Grail, Mohawk teacher and students of Mohawk Trail Regional School  Report on a historical archaeology project. In the fall of 2011, 25 students from Mohawk, under the direction of an archeologist, unearthed artifacts at the site of the early 19th-century Sanford Tavern which once stood next to Hawley’s now vanished town common.  The project continues in the fall of 2012.

11. Reminiscences of a Barefoot Boy ~ Jesus McClean, Curator, Brookline Historical Society Dramatic reading of an address Dr. Ammon Davenport (b. 1827) delivered in 1900, describing life as he remembered it growing up on Catmount Hill in the “the tallow candle age” of the 1830s.

12. Franklin County & the California Gold Rush  ~  Cliff McCarthy, Pioneer Valley History Network The California Gold Rush had an enormous impact on American history: our migration, land development, the slavery debate, and our economy.  Many pioneers from western Massachusetts played important roles in the development of California, and many of those who returned to New England built on their western adventures to achieve positions of stature and importance in our communities.  This talk will tell the stories of some of these intrepid adventurers from Franklin County. 

3rd BREAKOUT 2:30–3:30 pm

13.  The Families of Catamount Hill ~ Sarah Johnson, President, Catamount Hill Association   Many hilltowns have vanished hilltop villages. This case study of Catamount Hill in Colrain reveals the close ties in one such village, with examination of the social, political, religious and economic bonds among its inhabitants, and the migration West that led to the settlement’s eventual abandonment.

14. Shays’s Rebellion  ~ Barbara Mathews, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Three years after the end of the American Revolution, over 150 Colrain men and thousands of other Massachusetts citizens took up arms against their new state government. This session introduces From Revolution to Constitution: Shays’ Rebellion and the Making of a Nation, a website created by PVMA and hosted by Springfield Technical Community College to share the story of what came to be known as Shays’ Rebellion and a crucial moment in our nation’s founding.

15. Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway:  Then and Now ~ Marie Bartlett, author and illustrator of The Little Yellow Trolley Car, a True Story This presentation uses 100 year old photos of the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway juxtaposed with current photos taken at many of the same locations to tell the story of this local and historic transportation system. Marie Bartlett has been a conductor, motorman and docent on the restored trolley car #10 at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum and will have her book for sale.

16. Artist Edwin Romanzo Elmer  ~ Polly Anderson, retired art teacher A presentation about the life and community of the noted painter from Ashfield/Buckland, MA (1850-1923).   Ms. Anderson grew up in Elmer’s Buckland house represented in his masterpiece painting, “Mourning Picture” that hangs in the Smith College Museum of Art.  Ms. Anderson’s talk and slides help to flesh out the artist’s life and the times.

17. Hands and Hearts to Cloth  ~  Bambi Miller, Charlemont Librarian & Mary Boehmer Hawlemont Elementary Librarian  Charlemont Librarians Bambi Miller and Mary Boehmer  will trace the role  of  handiwork and quilts utilized during the activities in the Underground Railroad Movement. Following  the footsteps of the 19th century Ladies  Abolitionists, discussion will revolve around the efforts of 100 contemporary women and their quilting participation, bringing to light our Community’s past, and inclusion of two local historic sites within the  National Parks Service “Network to Freedom.”

18. The Creation of the Quabbin Reservoir: The Death of Swift River Valley  J.R.  Greene, Historian and Author  This narrated slide program on the history of the Quabbin Reservoir will explain how metropolitan Boston’s water supply expanded to cause the Quabbin to be built. There will be a visual and historical description of towns and villages flooded by the reservoir. Discussion will include the social, political and geographical issues involved in the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. The author will have his books available to sell and sign.


Free and Open to the Public  10 am–4 pm
On the Grounds of Colrain Central School

Activities include children’s archaeological dig with Aaron Miller, face painting, dress up with clothes from grandma’s attic, old maps, historical societies, music, book dealers, genealogy, “Ask the Experts”, displays, hands-on activities, demonstrations, food vendors under the big top;  meet Mary Lyon, blacksmith Iron Johnny, a Massachusetts Militia man, a hilltown farmer circa 1812, and MUCH MORE!

Sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation, Catamount Hill Association, Colrain Historical Society, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, and The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage.

This program is funded in part by MassHumanities, and the Leyden, Rowe & Charlemont/Hawley Local Cultural Councils of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.