Field Notes…..Field Report….Field Trip
This summer, I had the pleasure of hearing many authors talk about their books, either in person or on the airwaves via Fieldstone Common or The New Yorker Out Loud. A few common themes run through each talk. Every author—Allegra Di Bonaventura, Michelle Coughlin, Jill Lepore, Eve LaPlante, Megan Marshall, and Marla Miller—worked doggedly doing meticulous research and over a very long period of time, at least ten years. And, even though they were rigorous in pursuit of the facts needed, there was the occasional event of happenstance or luck—a packet of letters given to the author by an attendee at a talk—that often revealed a needed answer.
With the knowledge that my research will need to be as methodical as my mentors, listed above, I headed to our local historical society this past week to begin to unravel a puzzle. On their books, our house is listed as the “Micah Hoskins House”. Ironically, this name never appears in the list of men and women I found in the land registry documents. Thanks to the helpful and knowledgeable historian, we tracked Hoskins via Ancestory.com. Hoskins was born in 1735 and died in 1820, and passed through our town. Perhaps he did build this home? More research needs to be done, much more. And, a local cemetery might hold some clues. Furthermore, I learned that one of the landowners, Giles Andrews, also owned a general store next to the tavern down the road, and the historian thinks the transactions recorded in Andrews’ daybook/account book might uncover clues—trades, residents, lifestyles. Probate records may reveal a host of clues and for this I will head to the records department of the County.
An upcoming field trip to the historic 1750 Bidwell House Museum is in the cards for me and will be most intriguing, for the house is a contemporary of ours and built in the same style–a center chimney saltbox. Walking through the house might give us clues, and maybe answer some questions we have pertaining to both the interior configuration and exterior structure. When restoring the Bidwell house, they were very lucky for the probate records of Reverend Adonijah Bidwell recorded his possessions room by room! I can only hope I am as lucky with our home! Time is of the essence, for we must plan our field trip before the Bidwell house closes for the winter season.