Meeting Mr. Meigs, Mr. Scranton, and Elias Grave

Terry Roberts gives 5th-grade students from Brown Middle School a tour and a  history lesson at the Deacon John Grave house.
Terry Roberts gives 5th-grade students from Brown Middle School a tour and a history lesson at the Deacon John Grave house.

Judge Edward Russell is the judge of the probate court of East Guilford and last week he convened a hearing in the Power House attended by several notable men of the town and members of the family of Elias Grave to read out that gentleman's last will and testament. The year is 1802.

Grave and his family lived in the Grave House during the Revolutionary War, and Grave himself was a veteran of the French and Indian War. He owned land and livestock beyond the house itself and had sons and daughters from two marriages, his first wife having died years earlier. In this large family, who inherited what, and was that settlement fair?

At the Memorial Town Hall, Colonel Andrew Ward, who gained his military title during the capture of Louisburg in the French and Indian War, has convened an important town meeting. The Redcoats have occupied portions of northern Long Island and the residents there have written to their counterparts across Long Island Sound asking East Guilford residents to provide them with shelter and safety. Although the room is filled to capacity, attendees soon discover that most-no, almost all-cannot participate in the discussion or cast a vote. Why not?

Welcome to Madison, or rather East Guilford, from 1776 through 1865. Last week the Madison Historical Society and 5th graders from Brown School spent the morning living out history. The historical society and the schools have joined efforts over the past few years to bring this unique experience to students. Society members, dressed out in typical attire of the time, take on the major roles such as Judge Russell and Colonel Ward. They set the scene and lead the discussion. The students take on the roles of participants, often assigned the names of actual former residents of the period, and provided with scripts to read out if necessary.

In addition to participating in a probate hearing and a town meeting, students also toured the Deacon John Grave House, received a history of the Congregational Church while sitting in its sanctuary, learned about the town's agricultural and commercial economy when they bartered for goods from Sloop Captain Icabod Scranton, and toured the Green to "map" the town's history.

This is history re-enacted and remembered.


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