October 28 - 7:30 pm (Berwick Academy) - "Plowing the Waves: The Four Seasons of Farmer Gerrish" - Nina Maurer will present the tale of a rare survival - a timeless and intimate account of life on the margins of the young Republic, told by mariner and farmer Benjamin Gerrish of South Berwick, whose diary of the year 1791 chronicles the capacity to adapt and the power to endure. Read more...
Nina Maurer will present the tale of a rare survival - a timeless and intimate account of life on the margins of the young Republic, told by mariner and farmer Benjamin Gerrish, whose diary of the year 1791 chronicles the capacity to adapt and the power to endure.
The program, which is open to the public, will be held Thursday evening, October 28, starting at 7:30 pm at Berwick Academy's Jeppesen Science Center on Academy Street. Refreshments will be served by volunteers.
In the late 1700s, the great majority of people living in New England worked the land. Tradesmen and professionals—lawyers, surveyors, and ministers—were also farmers. Benjamin Gerrish of South Berwick was one such farmer, working 40 acres of land along the Great Works River, where potatoes, barley, corn, flax, and hay for livestock grew. But he was also a mariner, shipping out of Portsmouth on trading voyages bound for southern ports and the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. His diary kept in the year 1791 documents a life deeply rooted in a widespread network of exchange in goods, services, and labor—not at all the self-sufficient farm family we have come to expect as the model of early American rural life, but a household dependent of exchange with neighbors and a wider marketplace beyond the Piscataqua region.
Nina Maurer has been a consulting curator at the Counting House Museum since 2007. She was director of Piscataqua region properties for Historic New England and a curator at the Connecticut River Museum and the Mercer Museum. Her interest in collections began with a curiosity about what lay behind the attic door of her grandparent’s summer house in Wisconsin. She pursued material culture studies through graduate work in aesthetics at Temple University and a McNeil Fellowship in early American decorative arts at the Winterthur Museum. In 2010 she completed a survey of farm history in York County for the Maine Archives, which prompted her investigation of the 18th-century farm diary of Benjamin Gerrish.
This event is part of the Old Berwick Historical Society's 2010 series of talks, walks and historical events. The series, supported by member donations, includes seven monthly evening presentations as well as other local history events around South Berwick.