For several months, I had been hearing about a large stone that was being donated to the Grand Island Historical Society. As the recording secretary of the historical society, I dutifully added the information about the stone to the society's minutes whenever it was mentioned. I did not think too much about the stone, however, because I was busy with other projects. Early this month, the stone became my project when the editor of the Island Dispatch asked me to write a three-part series about the stone and about the people involved with finding it and with it being donated to the Grand Island Historical Society.
To read part two of this series, please click part two.
The River Lea open house was scheduled for October 19th. It happens several times a year, usually on the third Sunday of the month. In December, there are several open houses, and these are special because the house is decorated for Christmas, and a harpist plays lovely holiday music.
This open house was also special because the unveiling of the stone was to take place that afternoon.
Grand Island Historical Society President Curt Nestark picked me up shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon. The open house was scheduled to begin at two o'clock. When we arrived at the parking lot, I saw the stone. It had been mounted on wood and it was sitting at the edge of the parking lot. I asked Curt about it, and he let me know that the stone will be moved to a garden near the house, at some time in the future. At that moment, a van parked in River Lea's parking lot. An entire family hopped out the vehicle. Curt approached them and asked them if they were coming to the open house. They said that they came to the park to hike a bit and look at the fall foliage. They might come to the open house but they weren't sure yet. Curt said that they were definitely invited.
|Because we arrived early, I had plenty of time to explore the grounds around the house. I have been here, of course. I took black and white photographs here in the winter and I wandered the trail in the summer, looking for raspberries.|
|The gates had once been removed from River Lea. After a number of years of being away, those gates were returned to River Lea.|
|This is a close up view of the ironwork in the gate.|
|Back to the 21st century. Things are being readied inside the house for the reception after the unveiling of the stone.|
|The house is decorated to look as if the nineteenth century is still alive. As you walk through the doors, you find yourself transported back in time.|
|Kids enjoy the sunshine.|
|Docents Jeri Benzing, Robin Shipman, and Maggie Gushue are dressed in nineteenth century finery and are ready for the unveiling.|
|Some of the kids are Boy Scouts.|
|Curt asked for the people who participated in bringing the stone to the Grand Island Historical Society to come forward.|
|Ricky Hoover: It as really fun making it (the stand). I learned to weld and to put in bolts. I never realized what a big impact this would make on the community.|
|Curt: There is so much that we still don't know about the stone.|
|The stone will be displayed on a platform in the garden.|
|Erik Carlson: Ricky asked me if there was something that we could build (so that the stone could be displayed). I said 'absolutely.' I was surprised by the size. It was of industrial scale. We guessed the weight wrong. We forgot about the width of the stone. It seems heavier than 150 pounds. It has the weight of a grinding stone. It might have been used for logging, maybe at the sawmill on Whitehaven Road (in the 19th century). Ricky worked hard on this project.|
|Ricky and his father Rick.|
|People of all ages, enjoying the day and experiencing local history.|
|Ricky Hoover and Scout Leader Scott Swagler|
|The Hoover family|
|Helen Black, publicity chair at the Historical Society, was instrumental in arranging for the stone to be donated to the Grand Island Historical Society.|
|Helen has worked tirelessly in her efforts to have children more involved in local history.|
|Time for the reception! Cake and punch!!! All enjoy a delicious treat in the farmhouse/museum.|