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This is the first of a series of three posts based on the research leading up to a visit to  where Marshall Parker Felch grew up near the Connecticut River Valley (separating Vermont from New Hampshire) in the 1840 to 1860 time period.    Much of this research was completed by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Joan Alexander and JoAnn and my visit to this area would have been woefully incomplete without their assistance.  My other two posts pertain primarily to Marshall Felch in the West Fairlee area and both the Felch Family and the Eastman Family “stomping grounds” in and around Piermont, Bradford, Thetford, etc.

None of us originally knew a lot about Marshall’s early years other than we knew he was born in Lowell Massachusetts to Parker and Hanna (Gould) Felch,  he probably was a shoemaker, and that he married before the civil war to a Carrie Eastman  and they had a daughter.  We knew that Carrie passed away shortly after childbirth.   We had a gut level feeling about the story but as with any story, you need to dig deeper to find something closer to the truth.

During the trip planning phase for this adventure, JoAnn and I along with our traveling companions Sonny and Nancy Smaller planned a stop at Old Sturbridge Village Massachusetts to visit a New England village in the 1830’s, 40’s and 50’s.  This is a recreated village in the same light as  Williamsburg but focused on a particular time frame in New England and it was this time frame that nicely coincided with Marshall’s experience of growing up.   The fun part of this experience for me was visiting a shoe shop where a young man was making shoes in the way a young Marshall would have, a rather common job for young New England men.   It was also raining rather hard that day and getting inside the shoeshop was a “high and dry” experience for all of us!

A shoemaker working in a shoe shop in Old Sturbridge Village Massachusetts.

A shoemaker working in a shoe shop in Old Sturbridge Village Massachusetts.

We learned that shoe making in New England in the 1830’s and 40’s was major industry and that it was quite common for a young man to become one.

close up of the bottom of the shoe being worked on.

close up of the bottom of the shoe being worked on.

The shoe shop had a number of signs indicating how shoes were made and their significance in early Vermont

sign describing shoe making process

sign describing shoe making process

Shoe making in New England

Shoe making in New England.

 

 

A "shoe pegger" was a young man's trade in New England.

A “shoe pegger” was a young man’s trade in New England.

JoAnn and I have visited sites such as Williamsburg and Plymoth Plantation.  We really enjoyed seeing Old Sturbridge Village and would recommend it to anyone who wanted to capture New England in the 1830’s and before the civil war.

Old Sturbridge Village Entry Area

Old Sturbridge Village Entry Area

 

They have a tin shop, carding mill, saw mill, and many other locations worth visiting!

Rolling a log in a sawmill

Rolling a log in a sawmill in New England. This was an amazing demonstration of “can do” early Americans.