This week I traveled back in time over 250 years. The year was 1762, a time when a seaport town known as Derby was part of the English colony of Connecticut, and we were all subjects of His Majesty King George III of England.
As one who loves and appreciates antiquities and things of the past, I jumped at the chance to visit the General David Humphreys House in Derby, and to jump into the role of host and colonial squire, complete with period clothing.
David Humphreys was a General in the Revolutionary War, a Poet, Aide to General George Washington and the very first American Ambassador to a foreign country–Spain, in fact. He also started the first woolen mill in Seymour, CT. He lived there with his family starting in 1735, but the house he called home (and which is still named for him today) actually dates back to 1698. It was happily acquired by the Derby Historical Society in 1961. Located at 37 Elm Street in Ansonia, the house is an integral part of the invaluable “Day in 1762″ program where fifth graders travel back in time and learn what life was like for children in the eighteenth century. For seven months of the year, over fifteen hundred children visit and role play at this historic home, using weaving looms, spinning wheels and learning open-hearth cooking on one of the five fireplaces. This and other wonderful programs are available during the school year.
As soon as I put on colonial attire, I was transformed! Breeches, vest and big, full, blousy shirt – I became an 18th-century gentleman, and I liked it. My mind started to fantasize about what it must have been like to live back then. But the thing that really resonated with me was the man, his home and his purpose–and how his legacy gives back to the community in such a unique way. I can only hope that my home will generate the same feelings hundreds of years from now. Now that’s living history.
This little jewel of a museum is in need of our love and attention. The voice of yesteryear can only be heard when we preserve the past. Volunteer your time or talent, make a donation or simply visit.
Learn more by visiting their website: www.derbyhistorical.org