Blue Slope

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Blue Slope Country Museum History
September, 2016

In 1940, Alfred and Vivian Staebner, along with their three young children, Ann, Beverly, and Ernest, purchased the farm on Blue Hill Road in Franklin and Bozrah, CT. Ernie (Ernest) took an interest in farming as a child and has stayed with it throughout his life. Ernie and Sandy purchased the Lathrop Farm next door in 1973 and thus it grew to the farm we know and enjoy today.

One farming tool left behind by the previous owner was a crowbar. Being a good steward of the soil, Alfred used it to remove stones from the fields to provide better growing conditions for his crops. One day, while using the crowbar, it broke. Much to his surprise, buckshot spilled onto the ground. The crowbar was hollow. The crowbar was a blacksmiths delight for a smithy had transformed a 1779 gun barrel into the tool which worked so slick to pry out stones from the field. The initials stamped on the gun barrel enabled Mr. Staebner to learn the gunsmith was Henry Nock, a well known 18th century English craftsman in London, England. The crowbar had once been a Revolutionary War musket. This story reaffirms the old saying of "turning guns into plowshares".

The family surmises that the crowbar was the beginning of Alfred's interest in collecting old tools. In 1938, the CT State Department of Agriculture hired Alfred to inspect dairy farms in New London County. He traveled throughout Connecticut and Vermont. At that time years 1960-1962 some Vermont milk was coming into Connecticut and therefore those farms needed a Connecticut milk inspection. During his dairy farm inspections he noticed abandoned tools and implements. Alfred would ask the farmer if he was interested in retaining the old tool. The farmer was usually glad to get rid of it. Alfred would bring it home, clean it, and add it to his growing collection. He started acquiring craftsman tools and farm implements as well as a sizable library of bound agricultural magazines dating from the 1700's and 1800's, agricultural books and other agricultural publications. He soon became a highly regarded authority on agricultural history.

1962 Retirement moved to Champion Road continuing collection. Storage everywhere in house- bureaus, under beds, under the couch and barns.

After Alfred's passing, the family acquired the collection which became the nucleus of what was to become Blue Slope Country Museum. In 1991 a two story building was erected known as Ernie's Toy Box. This first museum building contains the collection of over 4000 implements, tools, books and journals, representing agricultural history from the 1700's to the early 1900's. Ernie's Toy Box also contains a workshop area which includes a --year and make----table saw. Another feature of the Toy Box is a -FEET-- tall overhead door which to provide access to larger and taller farm equipment. The original plan was to bring in farm equipment for service and repair. The lower level exhibits ox yokes; tools for aquaculture, logging, saw milling; the forge with blacksmith tools; dairy equipment and milk bottles; planting and harvesting implements. The upper level exhibits kitchen wares, spinning wheel, 1850's weaving loom, the library, carpenter planes and tools, and a few children's toys.

New London County Farm Bureau

We expanded in 1998, when the Amish built a Bank Barn. It houses four Belgian draft horses and their wagon. The upper level displays many historic wagons and other equipment.

The Bank Barn houses the four Belgian Draft horses, plus their wagon. Antique wagons and larger equipment are exhibited on the upper floor. The third structure is the recently restored 200 year old stone spring house. Visitors riding the horse drawn wagon view these barns, stone walls, woodlands, pastures, hay, and corn fields.

The museum encompasses three structures by the 380 acre Blue Slope dairy farm: the museum, the bank barn and the newly reconstructed stone spring house. Visitors riding the horse drawn wagon view barns, stone walls, woodlands, pastures, hay and corn fields. They see the past in the museum and the present during the wagon ride to draw their own conclusions on buying and promoting local food. Blue Slope Country Museum, Inc., a museum of agricultural history is located on Blue Slope Farm in Franklin. One day.

In September 2000, the museum became a 501(c)3 charitable organization. We established a six member board of directors who were committed to our mission statement. They met annually to fulfill the by-laws.

In June, 2004 the museum was awarded a Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor Partnership Grant Program: Implementing a Collection Assessment At Blue Slope Country Museum, Inc. We acquired a computer and Past-Perfect program.

2006 Advent rides began

In 2009, the time was right to begin restoring the 200 year old stone spring house. Clearing brush and debris away, uncovering the stones and framework, bringing in replacement stones, and then rebuilding the stone house took over two years.

Over the years the museum expanded the age appropriate educational offerings for preschool through middle school. Teachers now have the opportunity to select from over ten programs introducing them to their agricultural roots - how farmers performed their work many years ago before electricity. We will customize lessons to fit curriculums. As the result of a grant for afterschool enrichment, we developed and presented ten different outreach educational hands-on programs.

For the past six years we have offered Summer Family Activities. Each summer three campfires and five square dances are enjoyed by all ages. During the Advent, horse drawn wagon rides through the woods offer a serene activity.

In 2012 the museum was awarded the opportunity to participate in StEPs-CT. This opportunity has afforded our museum to look closely at sustainability and its future.

Blue Slope Sawdust Company started 1968

1940 Purchased Blue Slope Farm
1973 Purchased additional farm land and buildings in Bozrah
1987 Alfred Staebner passed away
1991 Built museum - Ernie's Toy Box
1998 Built bank barn
2000 Received 501(c)3