Learning About Old-Style Agriculture at Barrington Living History Farm

After spending the morning at the Fanthorp Inn, Mom and I traveled to the nearby Barrington Living History Farm because we didn’t get a chance to see it during our previous trip to Washington-on-the-Brazos.

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I have no idea why the farmers are growing cactus…

Dr. Anson Jones was the last President of the Republic of Texas. After Texas was annexed by the United States, Dr. Jones became a planter full-time. His plantation (named “Barrington” after his Massachusetts home) was located near Washington-on-the-Brazos. When he died, his family moved to Galveston and eventually his descendants gave the historic house to the State of Texas. They didn’t, however, give the State the land that the house was sitting on, so the State moved the house a few miles to the Washington-on-the-Brazos park area and established the Barrington Living History Farm. The main house on the farm is the original (restored) structure in which the Jones family resided, but the other buildings are reconstructions based upon notes, journal entries, and other historical records.

buildings
House (up top), kitchen (seen kinda behind the house), barn (bottom left), and one of the slave quarters (bottom right).

The most interesting thing about the main house is the dogtrot. Modern HVAC systems didn’t exist in the 1850s, so architectural solutions had to be found for the Central Texas heat. A dogtrot, a breezeway that allows the air to flow throughout the house, is one of the techniques that was used.

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So now I know a way to build a house in order to stay cool after the zombie apocalypse. These excursions are very educational.

Despite the presence of the house, the main point of the farm isn’t to celebrate Dr. Jones. Rather, its purpose is to help preserve the technology, techniques, and types of animals used in farming before the heavy industrialization of agriculture.

Volunteers and staff in period dress do chores as they would have been done back in the day, using the materials that were available at that time. They don’t play characters, and will freely answer any questions that a visitor might have. For example, they won’t exclaim “Witchcraft!” if you pull out a cellphone or pretend to be confused if you ask “When did Dr. Jones die?” They’re cosplaying, not roleplaying.

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Really good cosplaying

They raise real animals at the farm, whenever possible using the types of breeds that were used in Texas during the 1850s time period. The animals are freely available to be viewed by the public.

Mom and I got a real kick out of seeing the giant turkeys. The rooster, however, brought back semi-traumatic childhood memories of my Granny’s rooster chasing me around the backyard.

poultry
Don’t judge me. Chickens are scary. They’re modern dinosaurs, ya know.

The pigs were cute.

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Wonderful, magical animal
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Sibling rivalry

Mom and I leisurely explored the fields, house, and buildings. One of the volunteers gave Mom a few cotton seeds. She plans on planting them in the fall. Time will tell if they will actually grow.

Before we left the site, we relaxed on the porch of the main house while a refreshing breeze cooled us down. I watched the cattle grazing in the distance and the ducks running around the yard. Other visitors at the park posed for pictures in front of something or other. It was all very laid back, one of the most peaceful moments that Mom and I have experienced yet on our adventures through Texas. We were glad that we took the time for this short, yet exceedingly nice, visit through history.

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