Well one of the comments from the “Borderland” post asked for more of the history of the area. So I have begun to do a little research. I will share what I’ve learned so far. I concentrated on the Ames Family History although eventually I’d like to look into the Native American History of the site if it’s available. Most of this information can be found in the brochures provided by the park if you ever visit. The brochures have some vintage photos that are pretty interesting too.
The land was first developed for farming and industry in the early 1700’s. One of the first locations to be developed was just over the line in Sharon where a dam and sawmill were situated on a brook that is a pond today. That same brook powered a nail factory and two mills that made cotton twine and batting.
Further along the brook bog-iron ore was mined from the exposed swamp. In 1825 General Shepherd Leach built a pond (the one we saw on our visit) to ensure a steady water supply for his iron works. According to the brochure that iron works is still in operation today. That’s something I need to look into further.
Throughout the 19th century the main activity at Borderland was farming. Stone walls divided cleared fields, homesteads were established and then in 1810 a 2nd house was built. All that remains of that home is the foundation But stone walls can be seen winding through the new growth forests and fields.
Oaks and Blanche Ames started acquiring the land in the area around 1900. The small farms in the area were no longer prospering allowing the Ameses to purchase the properties and consolidate them. The Ameses continued to farm part of the estate but created a wildlife preserve with the rest. In order to create a better environment they built dams to turn swamps into ponds that could be used for wildlife and recreation.
The Ameses weren’t just wealthy landowners who sat back and watched their employees do all the work. Both Oakes and Blanche took an active role in the clearing of fields , cutting wood for the fires, gardening and raising turkeys. From the beginning they partnered with foresters to develop the land as a sanctuary and preserve, a policy the state continues today.
Politics was another past time as seems to be the habit of wealthy families in Massachusetts. If in doubt just look at the Kennedy clan, one of Massachusetts most well-known political families.
I’m sure I have much more to uncover about this family and this area of Sharon/ Easton. As more of the history comes to light I will pass it on to you.