Piecing together someone’s life from scant documentary records is a bit like closing your eyes through a silent film and only opening them for a second every few minutes. Such is the case for the Black men of Windsor who fought in the Revolutionary War. To see more of the picture of their lives, we must fill in the blanks with what we can infer from the records, what is known about other people in similar situations, and what we can speculate might have happened.
This is a regular column featuring highlights from our one-on-one oral history interviews with Windsor residents. Born on December 17th, 1924, to Frank and Ann Peteroski, Frank Peters is a longtime Windsor resident and World War II veteran.
When we receive donations for our museum and archives collections, one of the first tasks we undertake is to determine the importance of the objects and figure out if and how they fit into the history of our town. While that is simple enough to say, the process can be painstaking, alternating between fulfilling and frustrating, but always fascinating.
In 1711, Connecticut outlawed walking “in the night season” to discourage people from being out at night drunk and making a commotion. The following 1770 document from our collection reflects this law in action. It's a detailed and vivid formal complaint about some late-night shenanigans, unappreciated by the victim of those shenanigans.
Written primarily between 1821 and 1894, the Sarah Hayden Fowler Papers collection documents a 19th-century woman's life from childhood through teenage and early adult years, marriage, and life as a mother, stepmother, grandmother, and widow. Fleeting references to events, trends, and celebrities illustrate U.S. territorial expansion, changing culture, and political and economic crises.
As a researcher, women are frustrating to follow over time. Often their names change, they do not regularly appear in land records or tax rolls, many do not leave behind wills. Being a daughter, wife, and mother were primary roles for early American women. Running a household was a full time job. The account books of the Barber family help us shed light on the productive activities of those women.
In 1883, William F. Garvin left his home and family in Windsor and headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, a young and rapidly growing frontier town. He faithfully wrote each week to his younger brother John. 130 years later, William’s grandniece Bev Garvan donated this collection of 300 letters to the Society. She has transcribed dozens of excerpts to illustrate some of the differences between life in Windsor and in the West.
In 1972 the Society received a donation of a day book from a Mrs. Arthur Golding. There was no indication inside the book as to owner of the business or its location, so for cataloging purposes, staff at the time had titled it "1826-1830 Account Book for General Store in Poquonock." Such a vague yet intriguing title has led more recent staff to wonder about its origins.
Adelbert "Del" Coe (1913-1992) lived on Hayden Avenue in the center of Windsor. He took an avid interest in the changes taking place in his community and documented many of them with his camera, the images revealing exactly what he witnessed as the decades passed from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Scrapbooks, what to do with them! For a historical society, scrapbooks are a particularly difficult format to preserve. Generally, they are comprised of a mixture of types of cherished mementos, which each have different long-term preservation needs.