Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cogswell's Grant

Saturday, we visited Cogswell's Grant in Essex, MA, USA.

1863: big barn built
1880: 1st story of attachment between large barn and small barn (between cupolas)
1890: second story of barn attachment (windowless section with wavy roof lines)

Originally, 300 acres were granted to the first Cogswell on this property in 1635. By the end of his tenure on the farm, it had decreased in size to 165 acres. This 165 acres is conserved as Cogswell's Grant to this day.

The farmhouse was built in 1728, however there were earlier structures on the property.

The Little family owned the farm from 1937 until the 1990's.

The Littles collected folk art which is on display in the house. I hope to go back to see the folk art collection.

Chimney pots are a way of adding height to a chimney, improving the way the fireplace draws and reducing smoke in the house.

I've never seen a chimney pot like this one. I wonder if it was part of the Little's collection. Several other exterior elements on the property were added by the Littles.

The tour we took looked at the uses of this farmland since it was granted to Cogswell in 1635.

This hay field sits atop an esker, a deposit of glacial sediment. Eskers are common in New England and in other areas of the world where glaciers from the Ice Age melted.

The hay fields on Cogswell's Grant are a mixture of red clover, timothy and orchard grass that are plowed and replanted every few years. They are hayed several times a season.

Essex River at Low Tide

Cogswell's Grant borders the Essex River. Many immigrants to this area came from Essex and Wiltshire in England.

A ferry crossed the river at this point. In 1666, a horsebridge was built at the ferry site. The bridge was later removed when ship building was situated up the river. This log is a remnant of the bridge.

Glacial debris under the salt marsh

This field of salt marsh grasses looked familiar to English settlers. They knew how to harvest it as salt marsh hay to use as winter feed for animals.

Salt marsh hay was easier to produce than field grown hay at that time.
  • The salt marsh didn't have to be cleared of trees or brush or rocks.
  • The hay could be stacked on platforms and left outdoors until it was needed because it was water repellent.
  • The hay's salt content caused cows to drink more water and thus produce more milk.
The hay was collected at the low tide for the month. About 4 days before or after the lowest tide for the month were the best days to harvest the hay. The marsh produced hay once a season, so typically it was harvested in sections.

Channels were made in the marsh so flat bottomed boats could move the hay. Once the marsh froze during winter, a sled could bring hay back to the barn.

View Larger Map

In the 1930s, the WPA used the salt marsh hay channels in an unsuccessful attempt at mosquito control. The channels are still visible in this satellite photo.

Today salt marsh hay is used to mulch freshly planted grass because it doesn't contain seeds that can take root in a lawn.

Plants used to build thatched roofs were also part of the marsh. Although they keep water out, thatched roofs did not work well in the Massachusetts winter so were not typically used.

Duck and ducklings in the river

Heading back to the farm

Historic New England will offer this same tour in September. All summer there will be other tours at many of the Historic New England properties.

I love learning about history on these tours!


Renee said...

Oh my! I am so enjoying your posts on your trip. They are very informative and nice to see that part of the country from a personal perspective. I have never been to that area. Perhaps one of these days! Thanks again, -Renee

Marsel said...

Thank you for the combination history lesson/photo tour -- fascinating! Your photos are beautiful.

Delighted Hands said...

It was almost as nice as being there-thanks for the history/tour!

bspinner said...

I can't begin to tell how much I enjoy reading and seeing pictures of your trips. The photos are great and I've learned so much.

Deanna said...

Fascinating! When I read your posts, I always find something new to learn, and something to delight in.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for the encouragement you guys!! I never really liked history in school, but somehow visiting these places and learning about them is really fun for me.

Blogging about it helps me to remember it better too!

Hope you're all enjoying your weekends!


Sharon said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I remember eskers from my geology class but I've never seen any. We don't have glacial debris. We have volcanic debris and I don't think it's as picturesque.

Renee said...

Hi Sue, the Best 100 Art Towns in America posts 11 towns in the New England area! I will list them for you in my comments section. Thanks for the comment. -Renee

Theresa said...

Beautiful pictures! Isn't Essex lovely?