Monday, January 23, 2006

a cool root cellar (no pun intended)

my maternal grandparents (they died when i was young, but i remember them) had a root cellar. i remember it fondly. it had a dirt floor and all sorts of tuberous and root vegetables and the walls were lined with rickety shelves. on those shelves were canned fruits and vegetables of EVERY variety. it was always dark down there too. they had a great little flower garden and all sorts of fruit trees. cherry (sweet and sour), two kinds of apples (green and red), pear, a grape arbor and rhubarb planted around the garage. they also had a bunny hutch but i don't want to talk about that..........where was this veritable land of plenty? IN THE NORTH END OF HARTFORD. clark street to be specific.

Root Cellar History Studied

Underground Railroad Site?

The Advocate

January 23 2006

WESTON -- Like historic stone walls, root cellars have survived in Fairfield County as monuments to 18th- and 19th-century New England farmers who persevered despite the harsh terrain.

The cellars, fieldstone structures built into hillsides, stored root crops, such as potatoes and onions, and served as ice houses.

But the root cellar on Ellen Strauss' Weston property may have protected more than crops. Strauss, other town residents and the state archaeologist think this structure from the Revolutionary War era may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, used by slaves heading north to freedom.

"I always heard rumors about it ever since I moved here in the late 1960s," said Strauss, a lawyer, as she walked the perimeter of the roofless structure on her 2.3-acre property on Ladder Hill Road North.

Neighbor Mary Ann Barr, who grew up on the road, said she recalls talk when she was a girl that the structure, 30 feet long by 15 feet wide, had been used by slaves en route to Vermont and Canada.

"It's been a legend on this road since I was a kid," she said. "Now, we want to document it."

The late local historian Jim Daniel, a former Weston first selectman, also speculated that the cellar could have been an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

Last summer, Strauss applied to the town's historic district commission to restore the cellar.

Barr, a trustee of the Weston Historical Society, suggested she contact state archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni to verify that the cellar was used to hide runaway slaves. Bellantoni visited the site, conducted studies and in August sent a team of a dozen archaeologists and students to conduct excavations.

"What we were impressed with was that this root cellar has a peculiar shape to it," said Bellantoni, who works out of the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology Center in Storrs...

No comments: