Nestled just near Ellington and Windsor Locks lies East Windsor, a town rich in history and pride from those who keep it closest to heart. Pride was the best way to sum up their town for Nancy Masters, Ian Neill, Jessica Vogelgesang, and Ceil Donahue, who have dedicated their time to their town in their own ways. Surrounded by an abundance of historical items, it’s evident that the East Windsor 250 committee treasures their home more than any object.
Meeting at one table at the Historical Society, the team gathered to discuss their work. Watching their laughter, jokes and smiles make their rounds in the room, it is evident that the East Windsor 250 committee is not just preserving the past, but that they have become great friends.
The East Windsor 250 committee is composed of a small group of residents, all with one goal: to throw East Windsor an honorable 250th anniversary celebration. Collaborating with local farms, restaurants, gardens and homes, they are accomplishing just that. Throughout the summer of 2018, East Windsor residents and neighbors will have the opportunity to attend several events honoring the town. Among these events is a Special Town Meeting to open the Bicentennial Time Capsule (May 19), a Revolutionary War Reenactment & Food Truck Festival (June 16), and the Farm, Garden and House Tour (June 9).
In keeping with their devotion to their town, proceeds from the Farm, Garden, and House Tour will be donated to the several local businesses who are contributing support to the event. The upcoming activities are wholly nonprofit.
In addition to their dedication to the approaching festivities, their efforts shine throughout the Historical Society location at 155 Scantic Road. A series of buildings surround the property including the East Windsor Academy building, the Broad Brook Barber Shop, East Windsor Probate Court, and two barns. Located in each of these buildings is a plentiful story told by documents, technology, clothing items and weapons spanning East Windsor’s grand past. While they are gifted copious amounts of artifacts frequently, they have expertly organized the museums by category. Each room tells a fascinating tale of East Windsor history.
Perhaps you are interested in testing out an old fashioned typewrit - er. Maybe you’re interested in observing hundreds of arrowheads. No matter what fascinates you, walking into the museum is like stepping into an East Windsor history book.
While this committee was formed to ensure East Windsor is hon - ored properly across several events, each member adds their own per - sonality to the town that has made volunteering so special to them. Take for example Ceil Donahue, who recently released East Wind - sor’s own chapter in the Images of America book series. In collabora - tion with Jessica Bottomley, the incredible overview of East Windsor history can now be found at the historical society and local library. A grand accomplishment, Ceil was just the person for the job, as East Windsor has always been close to her heart. Her uncle was a town historian whose written material was found in town libraries and in her home. She also married a young man from Broad Brook.
Ceil states, “We have a proud heritage. East Windsor is a cool town. We have to show how wonderful these people were that made this town. How hardworking, how dedicated.”
Nancy Masters, whose home is a part of the upcoming Farm, Gar - den and House Tour, has her own ties to East Windsor that power her passion to volunteer. At the Solomon Ellsworth House at 312 Rye St, the first dinosaur bones in North and South America were found in 1818 while a well was being constructed. Nancy is happy to call this 1757 house her home. As we walked through the Historical Society Museum, it was clear that Nancy has spent a great deal of time learning about the rich culture that surrounds the town.
Nancy shared with the group that she believes the statement on the East Windsor 250 poster sums up their work the best. The poster reads, “A family event celebrating the cultural diversity of East Windsor with its rich heritage, agricultural farms, gardens and historical houses.” And a family event it is. Whether you’re into vibrant flowers, classic John Deere tractors, or fluffy animals, you won’t complete the tour with disappointment.
Ian Neill has ensured residents are in the know about the many upcoming events hosted by the East Windsor 250 committee by creating all press releases. Volunteering was important to him for a simple reason: “I wanted to make the tour happen.” And that he has. Sharing that he is fascinated by several of the homes he’s heard about in East Windsor, his assistance will ensure that not only he, but all residents get to enjoy beautiful landscapes, agriculture and homes.
One aspect of their town all members agreed made it so special is the heritage.
Ian shared, “It’s a small town and small group of people involved in everything. It’s wonderful to see that the last names on the street signs match those of my neighbors.”
Ceil included, “It’s so many generations. I had to write the book because all of the villages of East Windsor are so different, but all became one.”
As deep as the roots run in the East Windsor 250 committee, they are always welcoming to anyone who chooses to bask in the rich culture and beauty of the town. Volunteers are always invited to come forward for jobs big and small.
As Nancy puts it, “We’re on the opposite sides of town but, Ian is my neighbor. Everybody is my neighbor. Whenever I see someone new, I pull into their driveway just to say ‘Welcome to the neighborhood,’ and you can do that here!”
Will the work of the East Windsor 250 committee end with their planning of summer events? To hear them speak of their heritage, their job will never be done. One of the future projects for the Historical Society include a tobacco shed paying homage to East Windsor’s history as a producer of the plant.
As Nancy states, “We are an unpretentious little town. We all have pride. We know we have a treasure, and that takes a lot of work. It’s so special. I envision a lot of growth over the coming years.”
Ceil adds “Politics change, but history stays.” No matter how much East Windsor grows, some classic aspects will always stay the same. Whoever said change was necessary? This is a job they have opened their hearts to, and it is a job well done. For more information about the East Windsor Historical Society and their future events, or to volunteer, visit ew250.com