The weaver’s shop at Crook Farm was busy Tuesday as fourth-grade students from School Street Elementary School learned the art of carding wool to clean it of all the dirt and seeds to eventually prepare it for the loom.
The session, along with several other programs provided to students to teach them about life in a bygone era, was held in conjunction with the annual spring Crook Farm School Program, now in its 40th year.
Sally Costik, curator of Bradford Landmark Society which hosts the program, said schools from Pennsylvania and New York state visit the farm every spring. She said in the past 40 years, over 28,000 students from schools in the area have attended the program and learned of the history of the property once owned by the Crook family. The historic farmhouse on the grounds was constructed in 1845 and is likely the oldest dwelling in the Bradford area. The farm remained in the Crook family for four generations and was purchased in 1974 by Bradford Landmark, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Beulah Blair, a retired teacher and former volunteer, was responsible for acquiring the historic schoolhouse for the property, which was previously located on Lang Maid Lane. Lessons conducted by volunteer school marms in period clothing include spelling bees and math sessions taught in the schoolhouse. Children also visit the farmhouse, carpentry shop, candle shop and craft barn where demonstrations are provided.
Judy Yorks, longtime coordinator of the school program, and longtime volunteer Angela Monti said they will be recruiting additional volunteers for next year’s program.
“This year we have everything covered, but anytime someone contacts me, they will get added to my list and it sure does help,” Yorks commented. “We have a wonderful group of people who have dedicated a lot of time” but more help is needed. She said volunteers don’t necessarily have to be former educators as they will be trained to work in the program.
Volunteers Linda Brocius and Dean Fox said they enjoy the program because of the children and the history shared with them.
“I love it — that’s why I’m here because I love it,” Brocius said, noting she helps at all the stations on the farm. Fox said he typically works in the carpenter shop, and also enjoys working with the children.
“I love local history so it’s a perfect fit,” Fox added.
Fourth-grade teacher Matt Franz said his students enjoy learning about 19th-century life, along with other periods in history.
“We’ve done this several years now and I do enjoy this,” Franz said. “The kids seem to love it … it’s always nice when we go back and have conversations in class and they share their experiences.”
In the weaving shop, volunteer instructor Mary Gibbs taught the students how to card, or scrape clumps of wool clean with brush-like devices to rid it of debris, seeds and dirt.
“They did some weaving on the loom over here, which is for rag wool,” Gibbs said, noting this is how rag rugs are woven to sell at the farm for the annual Crook Farm Country Fair and Old Time Country Music Festival in August.
When asked what she thought of the class, student Rnejah Hubbart said she liked Crook Farm because “You get to learn about back in the olden days when people didn’t sit around and just watch TV.”
Costik said that in addition to Bradford schools this week, the program hosted schools from Ellicottville, N.Y., St. Marys, Portville, N.Y., and Kane. She said students from the Allegany-Limestone (N.Y.) school district will visit for two days next week.
For more information on the school program, email Bradford Landmark Society at email@example.com or call 362-3906.