Xerxes Smith took a few practice sweeps with a corn broom, a replica of one from the 1800s, and pronounced it would be perfect for sweeping his trampoline at home.
“It’s made of corn and it will last for 10 years,” the 12-year-old noted, proving that it’s hard to spend a day at Hale Farm and Village in Bath Township and not learn something about our area’s history.
The Smith family of Deerfield Township was among many visitors Saturday to the living history museum, which marked its opening day for the summer season.
The villagers were busy making candles, weaving cloth, shoeing horses and making brooms.
Jim Hensley of Bedford, a museum educator and broom maker at Hale Farm, showed off the wide variety of brooms he makes, as well as the field right behind his barn workshop where the broom corn is planted.
The museum harvests the corn, which is actually a member of the sorghum family, and Hensley uses it to make a variety of brooms from small pot-scrubbers to long-handled sweepers used for dusting the cobwebs out of barn rafters. He also makes a decorative wedding broom that starts out as two separate brooms, but turns into one.
Sandi and Daniel Smith said they purchased a family pass for Hale Farm this year after attending an earlier presentation on the Underground Railroad. The program depicts how men, women and children risked their lives to escape slavery before the Civil War through the Underground Railroad. He said the family hoped to come back several more times this summer.
Their 15-year-old daughter, Pollyanna, said she enjoyed learning about the lives of the slaves and emphasized how scary their journey to freedom must have been.
Their other daughter, Davia, 13, said the highlight of her day was seeing all the horses that were there on the farm.
The horses came with the Sixth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, a Civil War re-enacting unit, which had made camp at Hale Farm.
Member Chuck Stephens of Canton said when they meet school-aged children, members try to impart more personal bits of history about what a Civil War soldier’s life really would have been like — details that don’t get attention in school history books that focus on the war and the broader political aspects of North versus South.
The group, which is the largest mounted cavalry re-enactment unit in the country, will return to Hale Farm on the weekend of Aug. 10-11, for a full-fledged Civil War re-enactment.
Jane Mason, spokeswoman for the Western Reserve Historical Society which runs Hale Farm, said the Civil War re-enactment weekend is the largest in the state and always draws many visitors.
Also expected to draw the attention of plenty of folks this summer are the four lambs recently born to sheep on the farm, which will soon make their debut, as well as the farm’s team of oxen, Star and Bright, which performed work on the farm just as oxen did in the 1800s.
Jason Klein, site manager for Hale Farm, said other events scheduled for this summer include a home and garden tour June 29-30. The tour features historic buildings and gardens at the village. Another planned attraction is the Country Fair and Antique Farm Equipment Show that takes place July 20-21. The show will include large displays of historic farming equipment, along with livestock demonstrations and other activities.
Hale Farm’s daily summer hours in June, July and August are 10 to 5 p.m. The farm is closed for public visitation on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 330-666-3711 or visit their web site at www.halefarm.org