Parker Homestead Pays Tribute to Its Devoted Archivist

first_imgThat trait proved invaluable when it came to the down and dirtywork of archiving the possessions accumulated by the Parker family over 300years. “They saved absolutely everything. The attic was chock-full, and the twobarns. They saved every piece of farm equipment, every three-legged chair,every single letter; we have boxes and boxes of letters dating from the 1920sto the 1990s. Liz took it upon herself to start organizing and cataloguingeverything,” said Wells. This article was first published in the May 16-22, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times. In the borough’s April newsletter, Mayor Robert Neff praised Liz’s volunteer efforts on behalf of the Little Silver Garden Club and the Parker Homestead, recalling her discovery of a set of pristine baseball cards packaged with caramels and stored in a tin in 1909. The board also honored their colleague by establishing ascholarship in her memory in the amount of $1,665, a figure of historicsignificance which marks the year the Parker family first settled on the farmthat bears their name. Seven generations of the Parker family lived on theproperty, accumulating through their frugal ways and the passage of time anarchive of everyday American history that is still revealing itself to the homestead’svolunteers. While the initial deadline for the scholarship was May 15, no applicationshad come in as of last Friday so Wells said the application deadline will beextended if necessary. Even after she became ill, Liz continued her work at the homestead,going for treatment in the morning and showing up at the property in theafternoon. “She wasn’t going to let anything like cancer slow her down,” Wellssaid. While some in the original group lost interest, Liz never did,Wells said. “She would never give up. It was probably the most important traitshe had.” When a pipe burst in the house, pouring a liquid avalanche onboxes and boxes of material, “Liz decided she was going to save it all. Shewould open the boxes of paper and go through them page by page. She’d lay itout to dry and then catalog it.” Wells remembered visiting Liz at her “beautifulVictorian” in town, finding that she had strung clothesline-like strings aroundthe rooms to hang the damaged papers to dry. Members of the board of trustees of the Parker Homestead plantedthe tree April 28 at a ceremony in honor of their fellow board member ElizabethA. Hanson. She died March 14 at the age of 73 after a three-year illness thatfailed to dim her commitment to her work on behalf of the borough’s mosthistoric home. By Eileen Moon LITTLE SILVER ­­­­— The flowering dogwood planted on the grounds of Parker Homestead will likely blossom for many springs to come, in living tribute to a woman whose career as a teacher and volunteer work on behalf of her beloved community will continue to bear fruit. Interested students can find an application online at the Little Silver Library littlesilverlibrary.org, the ParkerHomestead-1665.org or request one via email at [email protected] Liz Hanson was involved in the effort from the start, Wells said. “She would come to all the meetings. There was a lot of administrative stuff. We’d kind of sit there at the end and say, ‘Well, what did we accomplish?’ ” When Julia Parker, the last descendant to occupy the property, died in 1995, she left the farm and all it contained to the Borough of Little Silver. “There was no money attached to the gift,” noted trustee Keith Wells. Then-mayor Suzanne Castleman formed a committee to discuss options for the future of the Parker property, but progress was slow until 2012 when, with the backing of the borough, a group of residents that included Bob Sickles and Chester Apy, formed a nonprofit organization, Parker Homestead 1665, Inc., signing a 30-year lease with the borough. “This gave us the ability to do things, to hold events,” Wells recalled. “We started making some progress.” The scholarship established in Liz’s name is open to agraduating senior from Little Silver, who attends any high school, who plans tomajor in history or education in college. Applicants are asked to submit a 500word essay on why the Parker Homestead is important to Little Silver. Parker Homestead site manager Matthew del Guercio, right, and Liz Hanson’s husband Bruce, planted a flowering dogwood in her honor at the Parker Homestead April 28. Photo courtesy of the Parker Homestead A week before her death, Liz called Keith, complaining about howdisappointed she was that there were three more boxes she hadn’t yet archived.“I realized she was saying goodbye,” Wells said. Now residents who visit the Homesteadduring its many public events can enjoy the cards, always neatly displayed in acase, looking as though they’d just been taken from those candy packages by along-ago baseball fan. The cards are part of the legacy that Elizabeth A.Hanson left as a member of the board of trustees of Parker Homestead-1665. Stan Parker was likely the owner of the 1909 Philadelphia Caramel Co. card collection that Hanson found in a small cookie tin. Parker was born in 1897 and would have been 12 years old when the cards were issued. Photo by Dillon Stambaughlast_img

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