Wood Memorial Library


The location of WML at the head of the South Windsor meadows makes it a natural repository for two of its major collections: Indian Artifacts and Mounted Birds. From the mid-19th century on these meadows have been recognized as a prime area for both picking up relics of the past and for sighting birds, with some 240 species recorded. Other collections include: Period Furniture, Paintings, Quilts and several dozen old Cigar Boxes.


WML has two major Indian Artifact collections on display. (Several smaller collections are housed in the archives.) In the second floor museum room is the Ellsworth/Jennings/Sperry Collection, picked up on the flood plain in South Windsor, where several generations of one family farmed. These specimens are supplemented by ones from New York State, Ohio and Indiana where the collectors traveled. These 19thc additions from the mid-west are of legitimate interest to this collecton, as other finds in this same area of flood plain have included Adena and other mid-western materials as well as copper beads from Michigan. The collection ranges from fluted and bifurcate points of the late Paleo and early Archaic Periods, some 8000 years ago, to late Woodland tools from the time of European contact.
In one case, projectile points are arranged along time-lines, making the display an effective diagnostic tool, particularly for amateur collectors, who can drop in directly from the field to check their finds. The cases were laid out by Edith Vibert, the first volunteer librarian, who was also an avid student of Indian history and an amateur archaeologist.

Points, pestles, knives, scrapers, hoes, axes, gorgets, bird stones(atl-atl weights) soapstone ware and pottery are in the display. The collectors were: Erastus Ellsworth (1822-1902), William Jennings (1849-1927), and Ellsworth Sperry (1881-1906). A self-guide brochure, "First People,"
accompanies this display.

In the basement reception area are two multi-drawer chests displaying part of the Barney E. Daley Family Collection, a selection from over 5000 artifacts picked up over half a century of surface-hunting on the South Windsor flood plain. The remainder of this collection is stored in the archives. The entire collection has been entered onto a computer data base for research (soon to be available from this website). For this data base each artifact was assessed for nine variables: weight, measurements, material, eastablished date, name type, etc. Unique among such surface collections, the field location for most of the Daley pieces is also recorded.
Click here for pictures from this collection.


WML's mounted birds includes three collections.
The Newbery Collection of some 117 specimens was mounted by Dwight Ellsworth Newbery (1870-1969) in the 1890's, when he was a young man. The Newberry family owned the now renown "Station 43" site in the South Windsor meadows, which still attracts birders from near and far throughout the seasons. The collection includes a four-foot Great Blue Heron, bitterns, rails, warblers owls, ducks, hawks, eagles, and song birds, among others. Most of the species still use the local meadows as flyway or habitat. This is a good place to start before a walk in the field, particularly for the beginner. In addition, Newberry's collection of birds' eggs is on display.

The Pelton Collection was mounted by Eli Hayes (1812-1893). Several specimens in this collection of 22 birds reveal the taxidermist's methods of creating a bird for display.

The Wood Collection was mounted in the mid 1800's by Dr. William Wod, to whom the Library is dedicated. Although trained as a physician, Dr. Wood was a well-known ornithologist of his day, making considerable contributions to the science. Many articles on his observations of birds in the field were published in scientific journals and newspapers of the time. Some 1000 of his "study skins" are among those at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, still in use by today's students. The Library's collecton of Wood's birds include several tableaux, a belljar of song birds, and a case of South Amnerican Humming Birds.
Click here for pictures from this collection.

Highlights of the WML furniture collection are the 18thcentury pieces done by Eliphalet Chapin, whose home and workshop were located just to the north of the library on the east side of the street. Two of the pieces, a ball and claw foot cherry drop-leaf table and a side chair are documented to have descended directly from the local families who purchased them. There is also a Chapin workshop highchest, a chest clearly made by a Chapin apprentice. The collection also includes an earlier highchest dating from the 1740's; an Empire mahogany card table; a Pier table attributed to Anthony Quervelle, Philadelphia, circa 1830; and several other pieces owned by early town residents. A pillar and scroll shelf clock made by local craftsman Eli Terry is on display.

WML has 13 watercolors and drawings by the Watson sisters of East Windsor Hill, Amelia Montague (1856 - 1934) and Edith Sarah (1861-1944). The sisters were well-known, successful artists in their day: Amelia recognized for her transluscent watercolors, Edith, who went on to master the new art of photography, for her studies of working women in Canada. A high point in Amelia's career was when she illustrated an anniverary edition of Thoreau's Cape Cod. Acclaim came to Edith with the publication of Romantic Canada, illustrated with her photographs. Most of the paintings held by WML were given to the library by Edith after her sister's death, in the belief that townspeople would appreciate the familiar scenes. Many feature old houses, now gone or greatly altered. This collection of artwork by the Watson sisters continues to grow as other works are donated. (WML Archives holds a scrapbook of photos by Edith also of local scenes. (See WML Archives for miscellaneous Watson letters and papers stored there.)

Local artist Albertus Jones (1882-1957) is well represented here with both oil and watercolor paintings. A Post-Impressionist artist, Jones painted his personal response to familiar New England scenes which often feature houses, barns, curving roads and darkly outlined trees. The WML collection also includes a self-portrait and a portrait of his daughter, Dorothy, who became a commercial artist. A charter member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Art, he taught for 20 years at the Hartford Art School; later in several nearby schools and universities. In 1953, he founded the South Windsor Art League and taught in the local schools.

Herbert E Abrams, painter of three Connecticut governors, presidents Carter and G.H.Walker Bush, also painted the portrait of Edith Vibert, the Friends of WML's first volunteer librarian. Abrams, who grew up in Hartford, studied at Norwich Art School; later at the Pratt Institue in Brooklyn and the Art Students League in NYC. The Vibert portrait was comissioned by the WML Association.

A Hudson River School style painting by a young local artist, Nellie Terry Bancroft, dated March 26, 1879, hangs in the upper hall.

WML 's quilt collection includes:
The town's Bicentennial Quilt - This quilt was initiated and put together by the Wapping Community Church Women's Spring Fair Committee in 1975/6, in celebration of the country's bicentennial. Quilt projects were worked on in most towns in the State at the time, and WML is fortunate to have South Windsor's on permanent display. In the end, more than 75 women (and several men) worked on the project. It is composed of 42 squares and meassures 89 "wide X 103' ½ " long. The squares feature well recognized scenes and buildings from the town's past. A brochure is available which describes each square and gives the name of its maker.

.The Long Hill Missionary Circle's Penny Square Friendship Quilt - The squares for this quilt were embroidered in the early 1890's by women and girls (and a husband!) living in the Long Hill section of town. Penny Squares could be purchased for a penny either at a local drygoods store or by mail order, already lightly stamped with a design. The choices were many: animals, flowers, and children of all kinds and configurations. The squares also came with a choice of blue or red thread. The Long Hill Circle chose Turkey red. A booklet fully documents this quilt and the Circle members who made it. The squares were kept in the attic of Suzie Lathrop Briggs, one of the stitchers; they had never been pieced together. In 1977 they were given to WML and sewn into a quilt by the WML Quilters.(A Penny Square bed spread, stitched about the same time by another local group, is also part of the collection.)

An 1894 Crazy Quilt - This quilt has an Odd Fellows emblem embroidered at its center spelling out Friendship - Love - Truth. It was won in a raffle at the Odd Fellows Convention in Chicago in 1895. by a delegate from Connecticut and later donated to WML.

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