My Chance to Reenact 18th Century History at Daggett Farm

Filed under Living History

I’ve loved history and, especially American history, my whole life. And for almost 40 years I’ve done genealogy – piecing together what’s  turned out to be a fascinating and diverse collection of ancestors going back to the earliest days of this country. But up until now, my journey back through time has been mostly via the Internet, books, historical documents and old photos.

That’s about to change. For the first time, I get to reach out and touch history in a very unique way in my new role as a historical presenter at the Daggett Farm in Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan.

The Daggett farmhouse in Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI. The house was built in the 1750s and was moved from Connecticut.

The Daggett farmhouse in Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI.

The Daggett Farm is a working farm from 18th century colonial Connecticut that reflects the Puritan lifestyle of the Samuel Daggett family. Everything – from the architecture of the house to the period costumes to the food for lunch you’ll see cooking on the open-hearth – is designed to give visitors a snapshot of daily life around 1760.

When you walk into the Daggett house, you step back in time.

Cooking lunch on the hearth in the Daggett farmhouse.

A historical presenter cooking lunch on the hearth in the Daggett farmhouse.

Because I have many ancestors who lived in colonies during this era, I’m excited to discover more about their lifestyle in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War – one of my favorite periods of American history. As a historical presenter at the farm, I’ll be learning and reenacting the chores and tasks a Puritan woman like Anna Daggett would have done in 1760 to support her family.

So you might find me working in the gardens behind the farmhouse, helping to grow the kind of food the Daggetts would have eaten. I’ll learn how to preserve food grown during the summer the way Anna would have done to provide a stable food supply during the long New England winters.

Gardens at the Daggett farm. Historical presenters, like me, grow, cook and eat food from the harvest.

Early spring in the gardens at the Daggett farm. Historical presenters, like me, grow, cook and eat food from these gardens.

I’ll also be learning colonial-era recipes to prepare the kind of dishes Anna would have served her family in 1760. All cooking at the farm is done on the open-hearth and with no modern conveniences. Not even a spatula!

Food prep in the kitchen at Daggett farm.

A historical presenter mixing up dough for bread in the Daggett farmhouse kitchen.

And although I’m not usually known for my cooking abilities (to hear my family tell it), I am looking forward to learning how to cook the way they did in colonial times. I’ll definitely post pictures of the first bread I bake (which, by the way, will be the first bread I’ve ever baked).

Making bread at Daggett farm.

The ingredients for fresh-baked bread at Daggett Farm.

Out in the Connecticut countryside where the Daggetts lived, you grew and made almost everything you needed. That included making candles, soap, clothing, spinning cloth, sewing and knitting. Stop by one day and you may find me knitting something warm for the long winter that came all too soon back then – and still does, at least here in Michigan.

The big spinning wheel at Daggett farm that was used to help make clothing for this family in the 1760s.

The big spinning wheel at Daggett farm that was used to help make clothing for this family in the 1760s.

For the Daggetts, a lot of time was spent working the farm and doing the chores necessary to provide a comfortable and safe lifestyle. But in the evenings especially, they would gather in the parlor where they might read, play cards, tell stories and share much-treasured family time.

The parlor at Daggett house.

The parlor at Daggett house.

To me, working at Daggett Farm is something like summer camp for big girls. Think about it. Through this great living history experience –

  • I play dress-up,
  • Do crafts,
  • Spend lots of time outside and
  • Am around wonderful people all day long.

And all of this happens 18th century style. For a history nerd like me, it’s the thrill of a lifetime!

Then to top it off, I get to share the stories about life at Daggett Farm with visitors there – and with you here at Extreme Ancestry. Keep a lookout for my updates in the coming months. Just search for “Daggett Farm” or check out the “Living History” category for more posts on this topic. So until next time, as the Daggetts might have said –

Fare thee well.

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Karen Batchelor About Karen Batchelor

Karen Batchelor is a genealogist and founder of where she blogs about more than three decades of climbing her family tree. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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