The location of Wood Memorial Library & Museum at the head of the South Windsor meadows makes it a natural repository for two of its major collections: Indian Artifacts and Mounted Birds. Since the mid-19th century, the 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: Antique Furniture, Paintings, and Quilts.
Wood Memorial Library & Museum has two major Indian Artifact collections on display. 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 collection, 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.
Points, pestles, knives, scrapers, hoes, axes, gorgets, bird stones(atl-atl weights) soapstone ware and pottery are in the display. A self-guide brochure, “First People,” accompanies this display.
In the basement reception area are two chests displaying part of the Barney E. Daley Family Collection, a selection of over 5000 artifacts picked up over half a century of surface-hunting on the South Windsor flood plain. The entire collection has been cataloged. You can view PDF files here for the of the User’s Guide to the Barney Daley collection and the Collection Inventory. Unique among such surface collections, the field location for most of the Daley pieces is also recorded.
Wood Memorial Library & Museum’s mounted birds includes three collections:
The Newberry Collection of some 117 specimens includes a four-foot Great Blue Heron, bitterns, rails, warblers owls, ducks, hawks, eagles, and song birds, among others. Most of the species on display 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 Wood, 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. The Library’s collection of Wood’s birds include several tableaux, a bell jar of song birds, and a case of South American Humming Birds.
Highlights of the Wood Memorial Library & Museum furniture collection are 18th century pieces done by Eliphalet Chapin and his apprentices. Chapin’s home and workshop were located just to the north of the library on the east side of the street. The collection also includes 18th and 19th century furniture by other artisans that was donated by local residents, and a shelf clock made by local craftsman Eli Terry.
Wood Memorial Library & Museum 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 translucent watercolors, Edith, who went on to master the new art of photography, for her studies of working women in Canada. Most of the paintings held by Wood Memorial Library & Museum were given to the library by Edith after her sister’s death. This collection of artwork by the Watson sisters continues to grow as other works are donated. Other Watson materials, including Edith Watson photographs, are stored in the archives.
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 Wood Memorial Library & Museum 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.
Other art on display include a portrait of Edith Vibert, Wood Memorial Library & Museum’s first volunteer librarian, by Herbert E. Abrams and a Hudson River School-style painting by Nellie Terry Bancroft.
Wood Memorial Library & Museum’s quilt collection includes:
The South Windsor Bicentennial Quilt, finished in 1976, which features 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, made of squares that were embroidered in the early 1890’s by residents of the Long Hill section of town. 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 Wood Memorial Library & Museum and sewn into a quilt by the Wood Memorial Library & Museum Quilters.
An 1894 Crazy Quilt which 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 Wood Memorial Library & Museum.