6/18/09 Doug Roberts interviewed by Ken Feder on the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Baskets


4/11/10 Barkhamsted Lighthouse Baskets made around 1817 - Photo taken by Coni Dubois

4/11/10 Barkhamsted Lighthouse Baskets made around 1817 – Photo taken by Coni Dubois

Tape 1:
 Talk about straw baskets (the basket with bundled straw coils).
 
Feder: “How did these all come into your possession?”
 Baskets came down to Doug Roberts through his “grandparents.” When the Lighthouse people got kicked out from “down below,” the ones left, including Sol Webster, ended up on Hart’s Hill. They lived “next door, through the woods” to Doug’s “grandparents.” Living between the present Rte 20 and the old Rte 20. Became quite friendly. And “the lady” did housework for Doug’s grandmother. The “lady” would, quite often, on Monday morning, come in with a black eye. Then Doug refers to his great-great grandmother paying the Lighthouse cleaning lady twice a week (the husband knew only about the end of the week payment, which he took for alcohol whereupon he would beat her).
 
Talks about Fresh Air Fund girls brought to Barkhamsted from Brooklyn (Union Settlement). Lived in a group house and taught to make baskets. Doug showed us a photograph of the girls. In front of them was a bunch of raffia and cane. Could some of Doug’s baskets be from the Fresh Air Fund girls?
 
Doug talks about the Lighthouse diorama. He states that Mister Lund (?) claimed to have built it, but Doug says it was him and his older brother. Farmington River was varnish. Golden rod in green paint for elm trees. He then claims that the original diorama was destroyed, but later, the state found the individual elements of the diorama (the trees and such) and then they rebuilt it. So the current diorama is, according to Doug, a copy with some of the original bits incorporated. Walt’s kids from Regional school rebuilt it based on a postcard photograph. “A poor imitation” says Doug.
 
Lighthouse cemetery. When they dug into several graves when they dug the ditch for the fence. Then they moved those bones and set up a separate stone to mark their location.
 
Tape 2:
Hiram Goodwin ran for senate on woman’s rights platform. Elected. First women’s rights laws. Troubles out there they’d tell her about their troubles. And that’s how baskets are involved? Roberts implies that Lighthouse community women would complain to his great-great grandmother about physical abuse at the hand(s) of their husband(s). And I guess, as a result of their friendship, they’d give Roberts’s great-great grandmother baskets as a token of their appreciation. (?)
 
Lacy: “Have you collected the baskets over the years or were they all given to you at the same time?”
 
Doug: No they came from two different places out there. Most of them were up there in my mother’s and father’s attic. The others came from (unintelligible) down there in Pleasant Valley, out there. The lady had the family place that she and her sister used as a summer home. And there, the baskets that got from the LIghthouse tribe. And one of the older families in town, out there, Emiline Jones. She had….
 
Lacy: “Were these used in the Lighthouse, for a while?”
 
Doug: Probably, They were new baskets when the two families got them.
 
Lacy: Do you know if anything else survived from the village?
 
Doug: No, I don’t.
Doug talked about the house jointly occupied by Hitchcock and Alford, in Riverton. Mrs. Alford moved in in 1835 and had a “nine-year-old girl from the Lighthouse lived with there and had her run errands for her. The kid went to grammar school in Riverton. Doug doesn’t know her name.
 
One of “them” married a “colored family” and moved to Winchester (Mercy and Isaac Jacklin). Doug says they’re buried up there.
 
One of them married a Green from Sharon. Doug says she went back to Sharon and the she’s buried in the cemetery on the road to Amenia. She, the family, and the kids.
 
Talks about one of the Lighthouse descendants living in Sands Lake in NY, passing for white, changed his name.
 
Lacy: Do you plan on doing anything with these baskets?
 
Doug: Well, eventually, I’ll probably give them to the historical society.
 
Lacy: Now do you know if the people who made these baskets at the Lighthouse, did they sell them?
 
Doug: If they could get money for them.
 
Esther Alford:
Second child died in childbirth.  A Dr Steele from Winsted brought in a 2- or 3-day-old baby for Esther to serve as a wetnurse. Doug thinks the baby may have been a daughter of Mercy and Isaac. The baby was raised by the Alfords. Questionable.
 
There’s lots more stuff in the two tapes, but not much if anything related to the Lighthouse.
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