Thursday, June 6, 2024

Operation Neptune

 
Today we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The amphibious assault part of that invasion was code named Operation Neptune. Recently, we have fielded a number of questions about World War 2 and the roles that local folks played in that conflict. 

The Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room supports research on both an international and family scale.

For example, I was able to discover that my uncle Warren was involved in the development of the amphibious vehicles used on D-Day. He was a mechanic and worked for Donald Roebling, the great grandson of fabled bridge engineer John Augustus Roebling, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge.

Donald Roebling moved to Clearwater, Florida in 1929. His arrived about six months after the Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of September 16, l928, which swept across Lake Okeechobee, inundating newly developed tracts, killing 1,836 a residents and causing $25 million in damages. 

Many of the storm’s victims expired after the hurricane because rescuers were unable to reach them across so many miles of flooded, muddy swamps created by the storm. Roebling realized that an amphibious vehicle that could travel on land, swamps, and across deep water might have saved hundreds of lives. Between 1933-37 Roebling supervised the construction of four increasingly sophisticated amphibious tractors, culminating in the Alligator.

And the rest as they say, is history...


We welcome you to contact the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room to find out about your family's history.

Monday, June 3, 2024

People Who Can't Tell "Entomology" from "Etymology" ...

...bug me in ways I can't put into words.





For example, this is a bug - an Emerald Ash Borer to be specific. 
The branch of zoology that studies insects is called "Entomology." 
 
This bug has a starring role in an exhibit that we at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room helped with and loaned items for. 
 


Entitled Of Baskets and Borers: The Past, Present, and Future of Indigenous Basketry in the White Mountains, the exhibit runs from June 1 – September 14, 2024. 

The exhibition explores the past, present, and future of Indigenous basketry in the White Mountains region. As a museum about a place, their exhibitions seek to present stories about the people, plants, and animals of our region. In this case, they will be exploring the intersection between Indigenous basketry, brown ash trees, and the Emerald Ash Borer.

FMI on the exhibit follow this link here.

This blog is about bugs, but also about words and language. The study of words is called "Etymology." 

Most of the items lent by The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room came from our Laurent family collection. 


Joseph Laurent (seen above) and his family sold ash baskets in Conway, but he and his son Stephen, were also linguists. 

Joseph Laurent's work on Abenaki grammar, vocabulary, place names, and dialogues was published in 1884, under the title New Familiar Abenakis and English Dialogue.
 


The Laurents ran an "Indian Shop" and sold a number of souvenirs. The site was established in 1884. In addition to the gift shop building are the remains of five cabins, one wigwam, a flag pole standard, a totem pole standard, and a monument to Joseph Laurent.

In the 1880s, Abenaki Chief Joseph Laurent (1839-1917) began yearly trips to New Hampshire. At first, he spent summers in Center Harbor. During one of his visits, he met William M. Wyman, the proprietor of the Elmwood Inn. They struck up a business partnership. Wyman offered land for a permanent seasonal camp here in the Intervale area of Conway. This piece of land was scenic and conveniently located to nearby hotels and the railroad depot.

In 1884 Joseph Laurent constructed several cabins and began a successful enterprise of selling crafts and providing entertainment to tourists visiting the area. Every summer, Laurent and his family would lead a small band of Abenaki Indians to the camp where they would sell their wares to tourists and locals alike. Laurent operated the camp on a seasonal basis for 33 years until his death in 1917.

The gift shop was originally owned and used by the railroad as a shed for a handcar and tools, it was purchased by Chief Joseph Laurent from a woman who had bought it from the railroad around 1900.

The cabins you see here today were built or moved to the site starting in 1884 and have been remodeled over the years. They were used for a variety of purposes including cooking, storage and sleeping.

You can visit the site today. For directions and information see this link here

While the entire collection at the library has been inventoried, only 15 items are more fully cataloged in past perfect see link here

We could use some volunteers to helps us document this important collection. 





At the site you will be greeted by this sign.  



The exhibit will also feature Laurent family items from the Conway Historical Society 


On the bottom of this basket you can find a sticker indicating it was for sale at the Abenaki Indian Shop. 


as well as tools and molds, 






For more info on other basket related exhibits see the following links:

Portland Museum of Art, Portland Maine here

Manchester and Nashua NH here.

Farnsworth Museum, Maine here

You can even buy the t-shirt. 












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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Saskatoon Spring: Flowers for Fish and Funerals …

… and pies, basket frames, rope, and tea, as well as many other things.  




It is one of the earliest trees to flower around the Conway Public Library. It graces the entrance to the library park and has a very interesting history. 

One of its many nicknames is Shadbush. 

The "Shad" reference is from the historical era when immense schools of migratory shad fish returned in April to New England rivers, just as the "Shadbush" bloomed.

Other nicknames include serviceberry, sarvis, juneberry, saskatoon, wild-plum and chuckley pear.    

One naturalist suggests this native tree has so many different names because people in New England appreciate the beauty of the earliest flowers so much more at winter's end!
But equally beautiful are the stories and folktales that have been associated with this tree for hundreds of years.

One story is that the first settlers in the New England area often planned funeral services at the same time that the tree bloomed. Its blooming was a sign that the ground had thawed sufficiently to be able to dig graves. So the tree became known as the ‘serviceberry tree.

Traditionally the berries which fruit in June they are often used to make pemmican, a dried mash of lean meat, berries, and animal fat that was historically a common staple food among native peoples. The meat would be whatever’s on hand—bison, elk, deer—and the berries would be whatever’s in season—serviceberries, blueberries, cranberries. When properly prepared, pemmican can keep in storage for up to 10 years!

Shad fry Pembrooke, MA

Shad planking has become a political event in parts of New England. 



There is even a shad museum in Haddam CN follow the link here

Earlier today we explored the shadbush tree with second graders at the Northeast Woodlands Charter School in Conway. If you would like to learn more about New England's "working woods" contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.