History – always a work in progress

History – always a work in progressIsais Watkins removes bark that had been flattening and drying between pallets. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

Warriors, wigwams, and wampums; if any of these pique your interest, The Heritage Village and Farm Museum is a place where you can learn about all three of these interesting aspects of Native American history – plus lots more. This season starts a special Native American exhibit “Warriors, Wigwams and Wampums” on display currently at the Farm Museum.

Being a warrior is not just about fighting. It means serving the community and protecting homeland. 

History – always a work in progress

Volunteers Casey Smith, on the left, and Mike Kelly work on a display of old school pictures at the Farm Museum. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

A wigwam is dome-shaped, covered in bark or hides and historically used by Native Americans. 

History – always a work in progress

The new Native American display at the Farm Museum showing the different furs, clockwise from top, Western elk fur stretched on large frame; wigwam in progress by Isais Watkins; a variety of furs in the dugout canoe including deer, bear, buffalo hide, possum, fox raccoon and coyote; a beaver hide on a round frame; chainsaw carving of Chief Wetonah by Lynn Randall. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

Most people think of wampum as “money” used by Native Americans in trade. But did you know that wampum was actually an historical record? A wampum belt was used as a memory aid in ceremonies while telling the story of an important event. The white whelk shells represented peace, and the purple beads made from quahog clamshells stood for the conflicts.

One of the special displays includes a life-size wigwam built by Isais Watkins for his Eagle Scout project.

History – always a work in progress

Historic pictures of Troy put together by Joanadele Collins on display at the Farm Museum. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

In the spring of 2019, Watkins was doing some clean up work at the Heritage Village. Deb Lutz told him about her idea for a wigwam she wanted to build to have on display in the museum. 

History – always a work in progress

The new Native American display at the Farm Museum, including the wigwam in progress built by Isais Watkins. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

“It would be new for the museum,” said Watkins. “And new for a scout project.” 

He didn’t think many Eagle Scouts had done a project like this, so he accepted the challenge to build a life-size wigwam from log poles and tree bark.

History – always a work in progress

The new milk house entrance at the Farm Museum. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

And a challenge it was! Watkins planned to get started in the spring of 2020 since normally bark is harvested during the spring. But the spring of 2020 did not provide an easy path for Watkins. He was faced with the COVID-19 virus in full swing at the time he had to start peeling the bark. As a result his project slowed down.

“Because our area scouts are part of the New York State council, we have to abide by the New York State COVID rules,” explained Barb Barrett, secretary of the Bradford County Heritage Association Board of Directors. “That’s part of the delay in finishing the wigwam.”

But even unfinished, Watkins’s wigwam is a masterpiece showing how the Algonquin tribes lived. It is set up inside the museum along with other artifacts and details of history.

History – always a work in progress

The general store at the Farm Museum. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

The dugout canoe was a project done by chainsaw carvers during the “Timber” theme of 2015. Chief Wetonah was chainsaw carved by Lynn Randall. It’s a copy of the one at Mt. Pisgah County Park. 

Most people know that the Native Americans used every part of the animals they hunted. A guided tour of the museum, with its new Native American display will inform patrons about the difference between the fur bearing Pennsylvania wildlife and the meat providers.

“Furs were a very important trade item between tribes, and even more important between the tribes and the white men,” explained Lutz. “It was their form of currency. They traded furs for iron which gave them tools that did a better job and lasted longer.”

History – always a work in progress

Bay 3 is a variety including poultry, apples, beekeeping, tobacco, and shoemaking. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

In addition to the Native American exhibit, there are more changes going on at The Heritage Village & Farm Museum.

The State Game Commission exhibit moved out to be put in a future state game commission museum. Its area was turned into the winter work and play area, which focuses on ice cutting and storage, and also sleds and other ice related items.

The former ice room is now the milk house display. Its entrance was built to look like the front of a milk house. The beams came out of a house that Dale Palmer tore down. He brought them over, still framed together, delivering them in one piece.

History – always a work in progress

The package disaster hospital is still on display from 2018 -2019. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

“It was a challenge,” said Barrett, who explained that all of the wood is from the same house on Palmer’s property.

A newly added item is a display of historic pictures of Troy. Joanadele Collins organized this display board. When she had it at the 2019 Heritage Festival, it drew much attention. Now it will be permanently displayed in the Farm Museum.

Volunteer Mike Kelly is redoing the military service display, putting it in chronological order.

The general store was redesigned with everything inventoried and cataloged.

History – always a work in progress

Pictured, from front to back, volunteers Helen Mickley, Terren Smith and Deb Lutz catalog items and clean in the Thomas School House at the Heritage Village. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

Bay three is a variety, including poultry, apples, beekeeping, tobacco and shoemaking.

Part of the medical exhibit from 2018 through 2019 is still on display.

“The medical exhibit we focused on is the package disaster hospital,” said Barrett.

Volunteers meet weekly, every Tuesday to work on various projects. Since January first this year, they have been updating the museum by taking inventory, photographing, cataloging and doing a condition report. So far over 900 items have been completed.

History – always a work in progress

The new sign for The Heritage Village and Farm Museum on Route 14, located one half mile north of the junction of Route 6. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

“We’re working all corners it seems,” said Lutz. “We look like it’s off season here.”

But it really isn’t. The Heritage Village and Farm Museum is open through Oct. 30 on Tuesday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and by appointment. For more information or to become a volunteer, call (570) 297-3410, visit www.theheritagevillage.org, or find them on Facebook.

If you have never been to the village or museum, or it’s been a while, then it’s time to visit the museum and see something new.

History – always a work in progress

Pictured is the Heritage Village and Farm Museum in Troy. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

Even though the Native American and other exhibits are currently being worked on, it’s an interesting work in progress.

“We’ll always be a work in progress here,” said Lutz. “We’re always trying to display it, and preserve and educate.”

History – always a work in progress

The new “Winter Work & Play” area in the Farm Museum that focuses on ice cutting and storage and also sleds and other ice related items. (Photo by C. R. Wagner)

“If things didn’t change,” Deb Lutz will tell you, “then why even come back?”

After all, history is always a work in progress.

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