The People Before…

By HHA Member Bob Miner

This is a transcribed oral history of three generations of a Tomaquag Valley Farm Family

It is an excerpt taken from the book “Walking Together In Tomaquag Valley”, by Tom Helmer

Solitude Springs
“Solitude Springs” Bob Miner’s Farm Hopkinton, Rhode Island

The incidents recorded in this history took place within the scope of this picture, or nearby,

Tomaquag Valley is a lot bigger than most people think. Most don’t even realize they are living in Tomaquag Valley. What’s to remind them? You go downstream and your address is Bradford. My address is Ashaway. Upstream it’s called Hopkinton City. We loose track of the lay of the land. Our daily concerns easily distract us from the simple, natural rhythms of life where we live.

Old Times, So Sweet & Simple On The Surface

A long time ago there was a sycamore tree up my driveway. I remember my father getting honey out of that huge old tree, which is now long gone. Honey comes in a jar at the store now, with no bees standing guard. But the old tree had a lot of honey comb in there, and it got spread around among our family After it toppled down, a sprout came out, and got to be 30 feet tall and ten inches in diameter, before that tree also snapped off.

This year the honey bees aren’t quite as dense as they used to be, but right now they are busy with the white clover, later on they get into the pepper bush, the summer sweet and goldenrod. Early on they get into the Black Locust. That’s some of the natural flow out there that is closer to the surface down in the Valley compared to the city. And season after season, year after year, the Valley follows the sun for us, for my grandfather, and for the people who lived before them.

The “King’s Highway” And Environs Have Their Own Stories

Right down here is where the “King’s Highway” came through. It ran East to West, say from Jamestown all the way out into Connecticut. You can see our current bridge over the brook. According to my father and grandfather, that was the main way in and out of this part, the Middle part of Tomaquag Valley, years ago, but no one uses the old road now.

Right down there, where the old road came through the garden, I found an 1801 penny, and a 17 Hundred and something penny. (The last two digits were worn off) Holding those coins in my hand and you can feel the story of some poor soul who stopped for a second, and lost his two cents worth! Later on, I found a diamond ring that fits very nicely on my grand daughter’s hand.

The coins, the ring, they can take you back to 1801, or later. That was before Lewis and Clarke, before the Louisiana Purchase! You bypass Time and connect with someone traveling this road and lost two cents. They were big, the size of Quarters today, and those two cents mattered to the person who lost them. I imagine the woman who lost her diamond ring had to be frantic!

My brother in law had a nice coin collection, so I gave them to him, and of course he lost his complete coin collection, plus my two cents worth, so that’s gone. But in the same area, I found arrow heads. And there were other artifacts from before 1801 scattered all around the farm.

My father had a pantry drawer full of arrow heads and other artifacts. I used to dump the drawer out on the kitchen table and play with them when I was a kid. A traveling salesman came along and bought the whole thing for $35 dollars for the entire box, but at that time $35 dollars might have been a week’s paycheck!

The Tomaquag Sycamore Trees

Along the King’s Highway there is the sycamore, a huge tree, that was a landmark in the 1800’s down to today. In the center of Hopkinton City, they planted one in the exact same spot at their 4 Corners, on the Right hand side heading East. We had that big sycamore honey tree up this driveway . Near the King’s Highway 4 Corners there is another one before you get to the road junction. Way up on Wellstown Road, there was a huge sycamore in the field; they used to call it the “Buttonwood Lot” They were obviously all planted. Maybe it was the same group of people, or they carried out the same idea. And down East on this old highway, on the other side of Tomaquag, I don’t know how many more are out there.

The Seasons: Mud Time

But getting back to the bridge, when My grandfather and father came here in 1923, there was an antique automobile stuck off to the side of the road, and it sank deeper into the dirt year by year, and it’s still there today but below the soil. In the wintertime, when the frost is coming out of the ground, and in the early Spring, that is Mud Time around here.

When my grandfather moved here, he was going up Maxson Hill Road with a truck, loaded with furniture and cows and whatever they had, traveling back and forth, and they got stuck on Maxson Hill. The old farmer came out with his team of horses and got them out of the mud.
My father warned me when I was a little kid “Be careful out there, because there’s quicksand out there.” It was mud that got the car, but there is quick sand in the Valley.

Besides the car that got stuck there, a buggy got stuck over here; so the people that lived here before we moved in ran afoul of places where you would just sink in. And they never got out, using what they had to get things out back in those days. And that car or buggy, tipping over and sinking in, was a constant reminder of the hazards of the same Seasons we ignore now.

In talking about quicksand and mud, it wasn’t just the new gasoline powered trucks and automobiles that got stuck, or the old horse and buggies before the autos were invented.

Back when the Van Vlecks were the family’s neighbor to the North of our home, they had a horse get stuck in the bog, and by the time they got it out, the horse was dead.

A friend of mine I got to know later on, who was only eight or nine years old at that time, came walking down the road, and the Van Blecks were cooking up their horse in wash tubs. They weren’t about to waste anything if they could help it. I imagine they cut themselves a few steaks that went down good.

So we have a car down here, stuck. Two hundred yards further, the old buggy, stuck. I’ve taken a lot of parts from both out of the ground. And fifty yards up from there the horse got stuck and paid for it with his life.

So looking back, you go from “one horse power”, to antique internal combustion vehicles, and now we’re racing back and forth in cars with satellite radios in them. The roads are smooth, hard all seasons asphalt. But there’s a lot of transportation artifacts from before out there, hidden in the mud and brush.

The people before us had to be careful and think whenever they traveled, because you could loose everything to the Valley if you weren’t careful.

The Seasons: Fall, Spring & Tomaquag Brook

Besides the Spring mud, you get the Summer low water and drought, and the Fall or Spring storms that bring seasonal High Water or Major Flooding, scouring down the Valley. We had the neighbor’s bridge come floating downstream. Our bridge washed away. The bridge down below, that went out in the late 1800’s and they gave up on it and built a brand new road with a brand new bridge which we call Collins Road today.

The Seasons: A Mid Summer’s Day At A Valley Farm

So you know what is happening while you are reading this, as Bob talks to me, a flock of Canadian Geese veer, bank in a group turn, and spray slide into the pond. Bob says it’s their break time. The picture of Bob Miner’s Farm at the front of this conversation shows where he found the pennies, the current bridge, where the automobile sank, some of his pastures, and far off, the gate where King’s Road continues on as part of the Hopkinton Land Trust trails.

Tomaquag Brook has been widened out into a lengthy 2 acre pond. And we just had our second flight of geese come in for a landing. There are lily pads in blossom, there is clear, deep water where the geese are. The abundant water is a draw for all sorts of wildlife in every Season.

Where we are sitting, in Bob’s gazebo, there is a vast collection of mud dauber’s nests clinging to the roof. We have a steady supply of yellow jackets that fly in to investigate us. Some of them land at the table, a few land on us, but we are both predominantly indifferent to them and let them alone. They find us incredibly boring and leave.

At any given moment there are at least 3 Humming Birds loitering at the multiple feeders. There is a butterfly bush ten feet away, with Humming Birds, Humming Bird Moths, and a-flutter with August’s Butterflies. And we two are sitting here, talking about Paradise spread out around us.

Even The Changes Change Over And Over

Before, where you are sitting now, it was just dirt. The old barn was off to your right, everything in there was hand hewn, the pegs, trunnels, were whittled and malleted into the hand made mortise and tennoned beams. Everything was much older than the house.

Later on, my father put in a milk house where we are sitting now. And when all of that went, I just had to level the floor out and do the stone work around the outside to make this a comfortable place to get out of the sun and maybe catch a breeze in the afternoon. Sometimes we will have so many humming birds in here that you can’t begin to count them. This is basically a humming bird house now, but they let us use it for a short time.

But you do see a little bit of everything out there! Mother Nature’s otters, beavers, mink, a little bit of everything. Raccoons, getting the duck eggs, getting the ducks, mink killing the chickens. We still have a lot of the same problems today that they had centuries ago.

Beavers

I believe “Tomaquag” is the Indian word for “Beaver”. And you can see places, which are part of the Hopkinton Land Trust now, that were flooded when the beavers had the brook dammed up, and the water killed everything. Who knows how long that beaver pond was in existence. And now, in the last couple of hundred years, the trees are coming back. The water is running free through there now.

We’ve had beavers down in here that have dammed this up and flooded this area. We lost a lot of trees heading down towards Collins Road where the beavers had the brook downstream dammed. Even Swamp Maples can’t take it too long before they die, and then you have their skeletons out there. Eventually they will drop down, and the area will fill back in again through the centuries. There is a lot of Natural History out there, just happening for free if you care to look for it.

There are two species of animals that actively and deliberately alter the natural environment to suit their needs: People and Beavers. When they say busy as a beaver, they mean it! I’ve pulled a dam out here a good many times, and the next day they had it built back up again. It’s nice to have these creatures but some times they are destructive.

If you are going to do non lethal battle with beavers, it helps to have an electric fence set about six to eight inches off the grass. In this case it was snow, and you could see the beaver tracks coming up , and their wet nose hitting that electric fence. Then you could see their tracks when they scurried back to the pond again. They decided not to come back because my remaining apple trees weren’t worth it after that! In the mean time, I lost a few trees that got girdled, and they took some down by the time I made the decision to set up the posts, insulators and wiring for the electric fence.

The Seasons: Winter

This was a Dairy Farm, and before that, it was a Self Sustaining Farm, just the same as a Colonial Farm. You lived off the land. You did the best you could with what you had. Little things made a big difference. You had to look out for predators, which you still do, but you depended upon your own labor to get by as comfortably as circumstances would allow in what ever year it happened to be. The Seasons ran your life, not your own wishes and whims.

And our neighbors after the Van Vlecks moved were the Lindh family. I can remember them outside making soap. And they had a little smoke house built inside a wooden shed, made with a lot of stone, and close to the house. That was where they had to wash and preserve their meat.

You can look out your toasty, warm, living room window and watch the grey squirrels collecting nuts so they can get through the Winter. Well, the old time self sufficient farmers had to do the same thing. They had to get their Winter food ready, canned preserves, squash and potatoes in the root cellar, crocks of salt pork, maybe some horse that died in the bog! You had to smoke the meat because they had no electricity. We had a big wood shed right in back of me, and we kept it filled, mainly wood, and then with coal. Nowadays, with the price of oil at $4 dollars a gallon, you might want to go back to wood again. We did last year. But then, things always change.

Electricity Comes To The Farm

We didn’t get electricity down here deep in the Valley until the fifties. We were way down Tomaquag Road, and way off the road to make it down to the farm! It was real expensive to run the wires for us and the neighbor to finally get hooked up. No electricity means oil lamps and candles, no running water, no refrigerator, no Howdy Doody or Davey Crockett on a TV which we didn’t have, or the Internet and E Mail, both necessities which no one ever heard of. It IS amazing that anyone bothered to even try and live back then, isn’t it? (That was said with Bob’s characteristic smile in his eyes!)

The “Back House”

We had a real nice, fancy “Back House”, which was a three seater, all plastered on the inside. It was beautiful, with a window on the side, a cozy, picturesque, vine covered “Out House”.

Cousin Gilbert

This all brings back memories of my cousin Gilbert, who was four years older than me. Gilbert was always pulling tricks on me. One day he spotted Aunt Alice going into the back house. “Hey Bobby, why don’t you climb up the vine and see what she’s doing?” So of course I climbed up, and pretty soon there came:

ROBERT!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING!”

Medicine

So when I look around the farm, it’s loaded with memories, here, over there, everywhere, there are memories of those old days. I had another cousin, older than Gilbert, Frank Fitch. He and his two brothers lived here when their mother died, before I was born. Medicine back then wasn’t the way it is today.

The Ashaway Fair

Frank would tell me about my grandfather Miner taking them on the horse and buggy, and going out the back way, which at the time may not have been the back way, taking the King’s Road from East to West, all the way down into Ashaway, to the Ashaway Fair Grounds. This was down on that triangle of land where the Fire House is now. Of course that was a big treat for the kids to hop on the buggy and travel all the way to “downtown” Ashaway and their Fair.

So that’s the way it was for cousin Frank, everything was horse and buggy when he was a kid.

But after the Ashaway Fair would come all the harvest work and buttoning up for the Winter.

Tomaquag One Room School House

And cousin Gilbert, who got me in trouble, his mother, Aunt Marjorie, was a teacher up at the one room school house at the corner of Tomaquag and Collins. I have a lot of her cassettes she recorded after she went blind. She moved to Florida, and she would send us letters done as “Voice Mail Tapes”. She would talk about the school, and the old times. I have pictures of the school when she was there, and pictures from before that, when it was much smaller.

I guess there were several one room school houses in this area. I have a map which shows where they were. Aunt Marjorie tells of some of the kids walking, or coming in on horses. The famous “Tarzan” Brown, who won the Boston Marathon twice, went to school there. A lot of people you talk to remember that their parents went there, or with the “Old Timers”, they went there.

Guns In Schools

One of the things you see on TV today is the kids who bring a gun to school and shoot their classmates. When she got the job, it was because the male teacher got sent out to Rockville because he brought a gun to school. Which was probably a fairly normal thing to do back then. At recess, or lunch, you’d go out back and do some target practice, the boys, maybe even some of the girls. You just learned how to shoot back then in the country.

But parents got together and figured you really shouldn’t have a teacher bringing a gun to school. And that’s when she got the job. There are a lot of memories in town about the Tomaquag School. People remember the big white oak as the recess shade tree, and playing on the big boulder. They are still there in the trees, directly across Tomaquag Road from the white house.

Cellar Holes

I have an old map upstairs, and it shows some of the old places, like the Joe Hall place up here off of Tomaquag Road. But there was one special cellar hole, it’s not on the map, and no one knew who lived there, but there was wood left inside from the house. And there are a lot of other foundations, cellar holes, with no wood, and you can see the tell tale signs of a fire.

When I took the old barn down, you can see on the granite where there was a fire. Now when a fire gets pretty hot, the granite will even shale, flake off, and break apart. It will turn red too. And you can see a lot of it right down in this barn foundation, where I know what happened.

But over at this one place, when I was fifteen or sixteen, out hunting rabbits with my rabbit hounds, and the wooden stairs were still there! They went to the upstairs, but the rest of the upstairs part of the building was gone. I could climb up the stairs. There was a landing at the top, facing the North, and I could stand on that. It was like a tree stand, just a little wobbly.

But there was no sign on that map of this house at all. But that wood, some of it is still there today! You remember you saw some when we went there. So whoever built that house, they had a nice two story home , and they used some really good wood. I don’t know what it was, but it certainly wasn’t pine, because that would have rotted out in no time. There was a lot of Black Locust around here, and if they had a sawmill cut that up, it would last forever almost. Of course Red Cedar lasts a long time also. And you see other foundations where there is no sign of a fire, and no sign of any wood. I mean it is just gone, all of it.

Predators: The Panther

The house next door, they still call that Panther Orchard today. Mrs. Lindh told me about what happened on her land back in 1824 when a family named Allen owned it long before her. I got the story the same way you are getting the story, by somebody passing it on.

Everybody had gone to church, except for the two Allen boys, 12 & 9 years old. They saw this Panther, a Mountain Lion, up in a tree, and the older boy rested the rifle on the younger boy’s shoulder and shot it. It caused such a hub bub that the Allens exhibited it to the public! They picked up enough money to buy some apple trees, and they planted an apple orchard. And so they called it Panther Orchard Farm, which it still is today. Now it’s a writer’s retreat.

Predators: The Wolf

They had a lot of serious predators in the Valley. There were Wolves! Another cousin saw somewhere that the Town of Hopkinton had a twenty dollar bounty on wolves. Keep in mind that twenty dollars back then was a whole lot of money!

Predators: The Coyote

Now, some of the coyotes we have in the Valley are almost as big as a wolf. The other name for them is the Eastern Brush Wolf. They are much bigger than the Western Coyote.

But even a Western Coyote is still pretty tough. They are used to living out doors all year round. If it came down to a fight, well, a big German Shepherd wouldn’t have much of a chance against one. The shepherd is fed dog food, he lives soft and comfy in the owner’s house. He goes outside for his business, and to sniff around. But the coyote has to take care of everything himself. He has to scrounge for what opportunity presents itself. They are active predators in the Valley.

Predators: The Panther, Part II

And there is a chance Mountain Lions are still around. My wife saw one on a “Moon Bright” Winter’s night, right there. I was working 2nd shift when it crossed the small pond. There was ice on the pond, with a quarter inch of crusty snow on top of the ice. When I got home, she told me all about it. She chased it off with a broom! She’s much braver than I am!

She didn’t realize what it was. Something was clinking and clanking at the dog’s metal food dish on the front door stone steps. This was a hungry Mountain Lion! She said whatever it was, when she opened the door, it took off running straight across the pond. Before it came to the fence it leaped. Then she noticed that long tail when it was flying through the air. It sailed over the fence and came down far way on the other side!

I followed the tracks across the pond to where they stopped. It was quite a ways from the fence. At the fence you could see where it landed, way on the other side.

About the same time, within a week, somebody up on Woodville Road said there was something scratching at their door, which they didn’t know what it was. And the artist down on Pine Hill Road, Solace Lovin, she reported Mountain Lion sightings. So you still never know. I mean they are nocturnal, and you can walk right by something and not see anything, but they see you.

The Goats Of Jurassic Island

We have an island down here in the pond, where the brook comes through. We’ve planted trees and shrubs, but the brush takes over . Somebody gave me a Pigmy Goat, which I put on the island, and I got a second one, and I used to go over there in the canoe or kayak to give them some grain to tame them up. They had plenty to eat with the brush and browsing. So I went over to put some more grain, and they had been there perhaps two months, but when I checked back, they never touched it. So I searched the area and there were no goats there!

I looked all around the area, the Dog Pound isn’t too far north of here, it’s just woods. My cousin’s farm is right over there. But nobody saw those goats. You couldn’t find hide nor hair of em. Something took them off the island. They had too much if they were gonna swim off this way, and nobody ever saw them the other way. Something must have chased them off and killed them, or dragged them off.

Predators: The Black Bear

From time to time you read in the paper about black bear in Hopkinton. As a matter of fact, close to Kingsbury’s, (there’s a house there now), my dog was driving something heading down Tomaquag Brook over here, getting near the other bridge. And I was following as close as I could keep up.

There was one clear spot that I could look through, and he was driving towards that spot. Very shortly this black object crossed that clear spot. It wasn’t that big, but it could have been big enough to have been a small bear.

I was seventy five, a hundred yards off. It was the only spot you could look through, and the dog was driving it. As soon as it got near the brook, the dog stopped driving it and came back.

It might have been a bear, and it was right across from Kingsbury’s

The Stone Stories Of Tomaquag: Part I

Look at the circular window frame behind you. That is an iron tire off a big, heavy duty wooden wagon wheel. It’s a bit more than four feet in diameter, and very wide. That was from one big wagon. You can hear these people now, the guy who got stuck over here, the guy stuck over there, the guy with his horse stuck, this guy who lost his tire, I can still hear them cussing!

That might have been from an old dump wagon with a bed that will tilt backwards and dump a full load of heavy rock. You see a lot of places where the farmers cleared a field and they’d dump smaller stone off in a corner or along a wall. Most picked rocks in the Spring, the men, women and kids, everyone following a Rock Sled dragged slow behind a horse or a mule.

The Stone Stories Of Tomaquag: Part II

Then you see places where the Native Americans would build a nice stone cairn, stone on top of stone, and they’d build it on a good footing, ledge or whatever, and so it stayed up. Even with trees coming down on top of it, through who knows how long, maybe for many centuries. So those stones talk to us of way back, all the way back to the ‘Peoples Who Were Here Before’. In the Valley, there is always something to whisper in our ears “Before”.

And we try to figure it out, like these stone shelters out back that you’ve seen. They are big enough to have a body in there prone, which is a good way to describe them. They are stoned over on top, facing the Southwest, if that means anything.

And there is one that is a semicircle of stone with no top, and some of the so called Experts call that “The Queen’s Seat”, or they have a theory about this or that, but we all have our theories.

But there is so much else here in the Valley! This had to be a special place.

So many important artifacts, that we know about, are all clustered together within a country mile of each other, all near where we are sitting now. Like the big serpent, which you haven’t seen, which is a hundred and fifty feet long! It’s just like the little serpent we saw together. The Stones are laid out on the ground, zigging and zagging across the land. It’s obvious, once your eye gets to seeing it.

There was a reason for that effigy, maybe like the Serpent Mound in Ohio that is twelve to fourteen hundred feet long, every foot of it hand made, every foot of it needing a lot of willing hands sharing in the hard labor for a reason. Nobody knew that was there either! They thought it was a glacial outwash stream bed. You could walk around on it, but it was only when you got up in the air and looked down, that you could see it in it’s entirety as a monster serpent.

The Stone Stories Of Tomaquag: Part III

In back of this effigy, or “Petriform”, in it’s head area, there are four basketball sized stones. They aren’t round, but they are about that size. They lead to a split boulder right next to it. All of the smaller rocks were placed there by hand. There are a lot of Theories for What & Why, but not a lot of answers.

It is also in an area with a lot of underground springs. Like over where the stone rabbit is. You look at the rabbit and within a few feet or so there is a big man made cairn with a big arrow head on top. So you know that was man made.

Then you look at your panther down in the Valley, pecked out here and pecked out there, sticking out of that cliff.
Then you have this rock pecked out in the shape of a rabbit.

Then you got the Turtle Cairn way over there, which is still in very good shape, built on a piece of ledge.

The thing I first noticed out there was the half buried triangular stone, a good sized boulder, with the two drill holes in the top. They look like they were pecked in by hand, because they don’t look like they were made with an iron drill. And they are in a place where it wasn’t useful for a white person, they are more like eyes. And they are looking at the Big Turtle Cairn.

And one more thing that you can see, which the white man didn’t do, is the ledge platform is bigger than the stones. If it was a rectangle, they only used half of it, and they built that nice Turtle Cairn there. A white man wouldn’t build a turtle. So That goes along with the stone serpent, that you know no white man did, out in the swampy area.

My grandfather and father would talk about those stoned over enclosures, the chambers which are back over there. “What could they have been?”

Were they built for turkeys to have a nest in? No. Because there is only one way in! I mean if a turkey or a goose had a nest in there, in this out of the way spot, the wolves, the mountain lion, the raccoon, they would have eaten them in no time. There’s no way out!

Even a woodchuck will have two entrances to his den. If you come knocking at his front door, he’s going out the back door. You have to catch him out here in the open, before he gets to either of his entrances.

So these were Native American, as well as a lot of other stuff out here that you haven’t seen, and stuff that I haven’t seen. That Petriform of the Serpent, I didn’t see that until maybe three years ago, when I was cutting across the land at a different angle, even though I had often been within twenty feet of it a good many times! Big trees have grown up over the top of the serpent’s ins and outs, and now, it’s unders.

Seeing The People Before

A lot of seeing the things from the people before depends on having a trained eye, and a lot of it also depends on just being fortunate at the right time of day and the right way the sun hits it. A lot of times you can be right in front of something, but you won’t see it, you can’t see it. Then you go around the other side, and there is the man made stuff.

Playing Dice With The Past

So it is remarkable when you come upon these things in the woods. No one knows how old they are. They don’t come with signs that say they were made in 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And yet we find some things perfectly preserved, exactly the way they were left.

Well, some of them are, but some of them are long gone. You see a lot of sites today where the bulldozer has gone through, or the excavator has gone through. And the highways and shopping centers have paved over a lot of stuff.

What happened here was all that land was worthless to the farmer. It’s a glacial dump. This whole area with the Serpent and the Rabbit, it’s a glacial dump. You can walk clear across it on boulders and stones and never have your feet ever touch dirt. There’s a lot of water and underground springs Then there is quick sand. There are a lot of places like that, but in these areas, it’s not a place where you could farm.

Up here, where these artifacts are, there is nothing the farmer could do with that land except maybe log some trees and drag them out. You couldn’t cultivate, you couldn’t pasture. It’s an area that the farmer couldn’t use. You might walk through it because it’s part of your property, and you might wonder “What was here before?” Because somebody built that. It’s all hand placed stones, and someone had a reason for making it.

Raising Sheep

Maybe you could run sheep through there. It wouldn’t make much sense, but you could do it. But then you have to fence them in, and then you have to put them up safe at night. Because if you leave sheep out at night, dogs, even farm dogs, they are bad on sheep. And the people before had wolves, coyotes and mountain lions way back when. When a predator shows up, sheep will turn tail and run. That’s how the aggressor gets them, in the rear end and drags them down.

So if you went to the trouble of fencing them in, and sheltering them at night, you could graze them there for a while. Deer and goats will browse from 8 inches on up, but sheep are different. They browse from 8 inches on down. Then you have to move to a new spot.

My father had a pretty good sized flock. He grazed them on that real fine pasture land and drove them into shelter at night. Even so, dogs got into them, and he had to get out of the sheep business. And that was just dogs, never mind wolves and everything else with teeth and claws.

Forget Why, How About When?

When did they make it? We don’t know that either. You can date the trees that are growing on top of these things, but you can’t date when someone put the rocks there. And the turtle cairn, that’s on a solid ledge foundation, the same with the big stone cairn. So they are going to stay there. We just don’t know when these things were built. The written history of the Colonists only meshes with the oral history of the Native Americans for a brief moment in the recent past. We just don’t know when these things were built.

Abundance, Seen and Unseen

And you pick up little artifacts, small things that could have been a tool. When you pick up an arrow head, you know it was man made. There used to be a lot of them. And we’re still finding things, like yesterday, when I was down with the Hopkinton Land Trust group, doing a little trimming in Tomaquag on the other side of Collins. There was a lot of stuff I’ve never seen.

Years ago, I was putting a water line in through the field, and there was a pile of stone a foot underneath the soil, which went down three feet, because that was how deep I was setting the water line. Somebody put those rocks there, besides Nature. It just happened to be where I was coming through with the water and I hit it.

What was the purpose of that deliberate pile of rocks? There was nothing out there that needed a dry well. And that pile would be inadequate for that purpose.

That also is right along side the King’s Road, which more than likely was built on top of an old Indian Trail, which maybe was a game trail before that. So we have all these “IFS”, “WHENS”, and “WHATS” surrounding these things we find today.

How many years did it take to build up two feet of topsoil to cover over that pile of stone I hit with my pipe line? And over there, it’s a level field. It had to take a lot of time to change and bury those rocks. It’s a flood plain, maybe the Valley dropped a lot of silt. Things change.

Like this little spot here where we are talking, it was just dirt. Then the Milk House was built to expand the old barn. Now the old barn is gone. The milk house is gone We are now sitting in a rest area for people that changed into a hummingbird cafeteria. The silos that were over here are gone. The wood shed is gone. The corn crib is gone…

Our home today was a new house in the 1850’s, but the old barn was much older than that. Looking at the foundation under our house, there was another house here, before, before…

Then you go back to the Native Americans. Whatever they had when they were here, they had to have a place to sleep. Where did they live? We know they moved in harmony with the rhythm of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Seasons. But where did these thousands of people live? We can see their hands all around us, but can we say “This Is Where They Lived.” We have Theories.

Like the stones you see up on a boulder. If you wanted to lay down there, you’d pick them up and put them out of the way on top of the big rock.

Some places you have boulder after boulder with stones on top, little tiny stones where maybe they cultivated.

Their life was going on for centuries all around here, but you don’t know the “When” for any specific event or artifact. All we have is our theories

Those big boulders are glacial erratics, and they have been here for ten thousand years. And sometime between then and now, someone came along and made these objects or picked up those stones and set them just so for a reason. Even big boulders, like this table, would become a man made thing when they placed a semi circle of rocks around that boulder, and roofed it over with flat stones to become “What?”. Always there is “Before”, a “What?” and a “Why?”