Flashback Friday - Episode 5: Mary Harrington, Matriarch of Easton Mountain!
In celebration of Easton’s 15th year; on Fridays, we are looking back to Easton’s past to see where we came from!On this Friday before Mother's Day, I am thinking about the feminine nurturing principal and how it relates to Easton Mountain. The magic of Easton is as much about this valley that John was led to 15 years ago as it is the people who make up our community. This land is infused with the energy of countless men and women, from native ancestors to rugged pioneer families, but there is one woman who lived here on this land for 80 years who we have adopted as an ancestral matriarch of Easton Mountain. Some say she is still here watching over us and the land. Her name is Mary Herrington, and if a door closes by itself at Easton, you will hear a resident or long time guest say “Hi Mary” in tribute to her. (The photo to the left is not Mary Harrington, but it is what she might have looked like and worn as a young pioneer woman)
Mary Allen was born in 1763 in Rhode Island where she married a man named Richard Harrington. Mary joined Richard, along with his parents, his siblings and all of their wives and children in the migration which followed Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga and the end of the Revolution. Conditions were hard in Rhode Island and this first great westward movement brought them and many other settlers into Vermont and New York. The Harringtons arrived in the Town of Easton around 1780, and the place where they settled became a gathering place for the Harringtons from Rhode Island called Harrington Hill. When the family arrived on horseback, Mary could see onlyfive smokes from cabins hidden in the woods. In those days the only road was the one west to North Easton; but her son Richard Jr. led in building one to North Cambridge. Mary rode her horse on this road to Coila, near Cambridge, for church and to Schiedam, now part of the Village of Greenwich with a sack of corn to be ground carried on the back of the horse. There were bears, deer, and wolves about.They kept sheep and cattle. There was no milking in the winter. Horses were for riding and carrying produce. The farmers sold pork and grain in Troy, starting their loads at 11:00 P.M. and stopping for a rest along the way. They took loads to market three times a week. Apples, flax and later on potatoes were also important products. The women cooked over open fires, spun and wove the cloth from which they made clothing, made the candles that lighted their homes, and doctored the sick. Boots were made in the homes. Her many descendants called her "Granny".Her son, Richard Jr. was a farmer on his father's lands on Harrington Hill, living in a house he and his father had built. Mary, lived out her century in the north room of this house with her son. I still have not been able to locate a photo of her (If one exists at all), but she and her husband Richard is buried in a small cemetery here on the grounds of Easton Mountain. Their tombstones are still upright and clearly marked.
Something about her story captivates me. I like to think that her spirit is somehow still here,. I like to remember that the land that once nurtured her now nurtures us. The pioneer spirit that led Mary and the Harrington's to create more prosperous safe haven for themselves is the same spirit that led John to seek a sanctuary for Men who Love Men to create community, to heal and to change the world! We celebrate Mary's Spirit on this Mother's day!