Once upon a time, 211 years ago ...
August 08 , 2006
Amy Leiser, executive director of Monroe County Historical Association, told children about the George Yeisley cabin, an 18th-century building that the Yeisley family donated to Smithfield Township two years ago. The cabin was moved to a new location in Waterfront Park, and restored.
By LAUREL BISHOW
Eastern Poconos Community News Writer
The door of George Yeisley's cabin was open to provide more light. Amy Leiser, dressed a bit formally in a long floral-print dress and bonnet, needed the light to read to the children gathered at her feet. They listened intently as she read them books about Paul Revere's midnight ride and George Washington's teeth. It was a beautiful day in a setting straight out of 1795, yet it was only last week.
"Stories on the Porch," a reading and crafts program geared to children ages 3 through 6, finished its summer program with a trip to the past. Instead of meeting on the farmhouse's front porch at Waterfront Park in Smithfield Township, the program took place inside the restored 1795 log cabin at the park. Leiser, executive director of Monroe County Historical Society, lured the children inside with her authentic period dress.
While she read, Leiser would stop and point to the illustrations and mention how life was different more than 200 years ago.
"Back then, the school had only one room," said Leiser. "How many rooms does your school have?"
"A thousand!" replied one enthusiastic listener.
After hearing about Paul Revere, the children took a break to make modern tri-corner hats out of colorful construction paper, yarn and stickers, and enjoyed drinks and cookies.
The George Yeisley cabin was a dramatic backdrop to the stories. The house, built by the Yeisley family, was donated to the township two years ago by their descendants. Using donated money, labor and materials, the cabin was moved to a new location in the park, and restored.
"I have not used one tax dollar here. I have not used one dollar from the general fund," explained Jacqueline Ocker, township secretary. "This is something everyone in Smithfield can be proud of."
To enhance the setting, a landscape design and plants representative of the period were also donated. Hydrangea, crabapple trees, rose of Sharon, a wisteria arbor and a star magnolia tree are among the many plants that will bring color and fragrance to the cabin.
The cabin will be officially dedicated at the end of September.
Ocker started the "Stories on the Porch" program three years ago.
"My grandmother would read stories on the porch of her house on Fifth Street," recalled Ocker. "It was so important to my childhood. Why not bring it to this generation?"