VHF Newsletter 
April 2014

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Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead

Now the noisy winds are still; April's coming up the hill! All the spring is in her train, Led by shining ranks of rain; Pit, pat, patter, clatter, Sudden sun and clatter patter! First the blue and then the shower; Bursting bud, and smiling flower; Brooks set free with tinkling ring; Birds too full of songs to sing; Crisp old leaves astir with pride, where the timid violets hide. All things ready with a will, April's coming up the hill!  -- Mary Mapes Dodge  

Photo: Blue scilla flowers beneath the beech tree by the Homestead gate
A History Mystery

Where in the Woods?

Can you identify this place in the Vaughan Woods? While the exact date is unknown, evidence indicates that the photograph was taken prior to 1900.

Hint: This mystery was inspired by Arbor Day
(National Arbor Day: April 25, Maine Arbor Day: third week in May)

Curatorial News: 
A Favor Returned 
After 195 Years!

Benjamin Vaughan (whose family became the Vaughan Homestead's first residents in 1797) was a good friend and frequent correspondent of Thomas Jefferson -- before, during and after Jefferson's years as President of the United States. In March of 1819 Vaughan and two of his sons collaborated in sending Jefferson a quantity of "swedish turnip" (rutabaga) seeds from their gardens in Hallowell, along with detailed instructions for their planting, cultivation, and preparation. When we learned of this project, we contacted the staff at Monticello, Jefferson's historic home in Charlottesville, VA, to ask if rutabagas were among the heirloom crops still grown there -- and if we might possibly obtain some seeds to be used as part of our effort to re-establish Benjamin Vaughan's garden and farm crops at the Homestead. The response was favorable, and the seeds, which arrived in the mail from Virginia in December, are now planted indoors here at the Homestead where they are safe from any late frost. We look forward to moving the plants outside when the weather permits and hope for a crop that may allow us to renew another of Benjamin's practices -- sharing garden seeds and cuttings with members of his community. With luck we can all have a taste of rutabaga this fall. 





Program Highlights

May Celebration
May 4, 10 am to 1 pm: Grab your friends and neighbors and come on down to the Homestead to picnic and play on the lawn, listen to live music (including a children's spring sing-along), and dance around the Maypole -- some good ol' fashioned fun for all ages!  

Nature & Art Day Camp 
July 7-11:  A collaboration between the Vaughan Homestead, the Kennebec Land Trust, and the Harlow Gallery, this 5-day day camp for 6 to 9-year-olds will focus on connecting kids to nature through outdoor activity and art. More details and registration information coming soon at

Picnic Concerts & Movies on the Lawn
Introducing the Vaughan Homestead Garden Stage series! You are invited to enjoy a sweeping view of the Kennebec as well as the Homestead's historic gardens while listening to live music or watching a movie. The series will feature the Boneheads, Mr. Harley & the Strollers, Ed DesJardins, and Ken Labrecque, as well as outdoor movies. What could be better on a summer night? Concert tickets go on sale in June and movies are free. 

Upcoming Programs

May 1
Vaughan Collections Arbor Day Exhibit opens at The Hubbard Library in Hallowell

May 4
May Day Community Celebration

May 15
Volunteer Training: Docents & Cataloging Assistants

June 14
Interpretive Talk & Walk: The Ecology of Milkweed
Details to Come

March History Mystery 

Last time I was up this way that tree was kind of drooping and discouraged. Grown trees act that way sometimes, same's folks; then they'll put right to it and strike their roots off into the new ground and start all over again with real good courage.
-- Mrs. Todd

Last month we asked you to identify the Maine author and title of the book that Mrs. Todd appears in. The answer: Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), pictured above, of South Berwick wrote The Country of the Pointed Firs, in which Mrs. Todd appears, in 1896. Jewett was an acquaintance and correspondent of William Warren Vaughan and his wife Ellen Twisleton -- at least one hand-written note from Jewett to Ellen is among the Homestead collections, and Jewett is listed as an upcoming guest in an 1890 letter from William to Ellen. Whether or not Jewett ever actually visited the Homestead remains to be seen, but one can certainly imagine a walk in the Vaughan Woods inspiring such a writer.  

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