The Tree chart was hung, tables arranged and rearranged, decorations adorned, the 5 century Memorial table with a tea light candelabra was set and the candles lit, a display table with scrap books and a photo album had been spread and the center pieces placed. Evelyn Ranger and Laureen Smithers (Carole Dicks daughter), both from Alberta Canada were ready to handle the sales table, that had heart items to take home as souvenirs. A photo of Brian Moisson of New Zealand was placed on the Memorial table to honor him for his discovery of Isaac Hart's parents and Grandparents. The beautifully decorated sheet cake, with a picture of the Hart house, was delivered, refreshments were brought in, the quilt was laid out for signing. Memory bags, name tags and T-shirts were ready to be picked up. Everything was ready to go . . . .
COUSINS MEET AND GREET
Then, Friday night the reunion officially began with
registration, at 6 pm.
We were all eager and anxious to meet new found family and also see familiar faces. People began arriving quickly and you saw many hugs exchanged between family members that had only known each other through email and could now put a face with the name or it was someone they hadn't seen for a while. There were 40 people present representing 7 States and 3 Provinces. The youngest of these was 7 years old (12th generation Hart) and the oldest was 82 years old (9th generation Hart). Not quite the anticipated "crowd" but a nice family group. It was also very nice to have Louise Hart and Allen Humphries and his friend Marquerite, all from Massachusetts, join us as guests for the opening festivities.
After having a chance to check out the 125 foot Tree chart for your family lineage and trying to meet everyone, it was time to cut the Memorial Cake. Before having "Cake at 8", Betty Patterson welcomed everyone and thanked her committee members for all of their months of hard work. Carole Dick said a few words about the Hart to Hartt Books and Reunions. She mentioned this will be the last reunion of the series of 5 held in the past three years. Following Carole's speech, everyone had a chance to introduce themselves and say a word or two. The cake was then cut, by the four committee members, in remembrance of and to honor family members that are past but live on in our memories and for all those that couldn't be with us at this reunion.
One of that nights events that will live in my memory, is of Paul Hartt from New Brunswick Canada, looking very handsome, dashing and proud to be wearing his Grandfather's Top Hat. Carole told me that she had requested that her cousin, Paul, wear this hat, which is in beautiful condition and looks like it is brand new. The hat dates back to before 1918 when the original wearer, Rev. Henry Hartt died.
I don't think that Paul anticipated having Steve Hart borrow it to "pass the hat" when Steve spoke on behalf of Carole and asked for donations. As the Top hat was passed around, sizeable donations were made, which were very much appreciated. A large portion of the donations will be used to keep the MyHartt web site going year by year.
A little after 9 pm most everyone went back to their rooms and with some help from family members, our displays were quickly packed up and goodnights were said until the next day.
Saturday morning dawned as overcast and was set to be a very busy day and a little damp from the light rain.
The Tour company had to be dropped, because we didn't meet the number requirement and would have cost almost half again as much as the quoted dollar amount. This necessitated renting Vans and asking for Volunteers to drive them. Stephen Hart, of Florida and Carolyn Hartt, of Washington, each volunteered to drive a Van. Don Mellen, of New Jersey and Dick Hartt of New Brunswick, Canada volunteered to drive their own vehicles with Cheryl Fitzgerald leading the caravan in her car. With 27 of the touring Hart/Hartt family attendees gathering in front of the Sheraton Hotel, at 10 a.m., we each quickly climbed into a vehicle and headed for the much anticipated visit to the house that Isaac built. The trip was very short, less than 10 minutes and we arrived at our destination.
With but a few minutes delay, while we milled around in the front yard admiring this well preserved home, the ghosts of Isaac and his wife Elizabeth (Hutchinson) Hart (i.e. Betty Patterson and Steve Hart) stepped out of the house to greet everyone. Isaac didn't immediately recognize these strangers as family and dashed out with his gun drawn, ready to run them off of his property. Isaac was quickly subdued by Elizabeth when she reassured him that this was family coming to visit. After the initial welcome, Elizabeth then reminded Isaac that eventually the house had passed down through other members of the family and she introduced Carolyn Wood as the Great Granddaughter of the last Hart family member, George Hart, that owned the home. Carolyn spoke briefly and then we entered the home that had been standing there waiting for us since 1674. What a thrill that was. Mark Ingaciola, is the present owner and as he put it "the steward to take care of it", had light refreshments ready for us. Mark has furnished the home in a manner that makes it easy to imagine what it would have been like in the 1700's. Seeing the bee hive oven in one of the three fireplaces, going up and down the "good morning" staircase, looking at the heart that was hand carved in a beam, seeing the birthing room and the gathering room . . . . these were only a small part of adding to the feelings of "this was my family" in this old home. I don't think any of us wanted to leave yet but it was time to take some group pictures and move on.
Back into our Vans and cars and we are off down the road a short piece to the Old Meeting House in Lynnfield that was built in 1714. There we were welcomed by the former President of the Lynnfield Historical Society, Edie Richards, who introduced us to the current President of the Society, Mr. Don Harris. Carole Dick gave thanks for our family and our time together and gave the blessing on the food. We then had a buffet lunch, catered by a local deli. After lunch, the Society President told us of the History of the Old meeting House and the changes that occurred to it over the years. It was even a Fire House for a few years. Before touring the rest of the Meeting house, Carole Dick presented President, Don Harris with the Hart Tree Chart, and the Hart Book and Supplement to be kept in the Lynnfield Historical Society. The cost of the books had been sponsored by Stuart Hartt of Calgary.
Some of us then climbed up the narrow staircase to the second floor that still houses the pews and the Alter. A couple of the family members took advantage of the opportunity to try their hands (or should I say vocal chords?) at preaching. Few other landmarks have served such a variety of uses, including public worship, ordinations, prayer meetings, lectures, Balls, parties, town meetings schools, caucuses, trials, conventions, war meetings, picnics and yes, even reunions. In the summer time there are concerts held on the common and picnic baskets are brought to share while enjoying an evening of music. So you can see that this well preserved building is still alive, after almost 400 years and is responding to the community needs of Lynnfield, MA.
Across the street from the common, where the Meeting House is located, is the 1728 Old Burying Grounds, with some Hart's buried there. Also around the corner is another cemetery with Hart names on the tombstones. Someone must have gone back to take pictures that can be shared. Please let us know.
Now it's time to visit the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, so it's back into our vehicles and down the road we go. I won't say we got lost BUT, we certainly took the scenic route (if you like looking at traffic and shopping centers). We can laugh about it now but I was worried about my daughter and great grandchildren until I found out that they had gotten there ahead of us and were probably wondering where we were.
If your part of the Hart family isn't related to the Nurse or the Towne family, you may not be aware that Rebecca (Towne) Nurse was one of the accused witches that were hung. The grounds and buildings have been preserved in their original state and there are docents in the various buildings, spinning and cooking, etc. as was done in the times of the witch hunts. The grave site for Rebecca is not marked for fear of vandalism but there is a Monument erected some ways from the main house and out buildings. Saturday, while we were there, they were holding a Strawberry Festival and some of us gobbled up Strawberry Shortcake. There were "Minute Men" being drilled, marching, displaying loading and shooting of their firearms and generally being informative. Most of us found this interesting to watch and an opportunity to rest for a moment. The day was overcast but we didn't get wet. We were running way behind time and wouldn't be able to visit the Saugus Iron Works this day, so they were called and informed that we would have to cancel that part of the tour.
Now it is late afternoon and time to return to the Hotel and freshen up for the Banquet that evening.
BANQUET AT THE 1640 HART HOUSE RESTAURANT
Once again we gathered in front of the Hotel and our able drivers drove straight to the 1640 Hart House Restaurant in Ipswich, MA without any undue detours. It took between 45 minutes and one hour to get there so we were exposed to some beautiful green scenic hillsides, trees, meadows and streams. There were 40 of us for dinner including our guest speaker Dr. Ed Jackson and his lovely wife Carole and we had asked Mark Ingaciola to join us also. One of the Restaurant Ads describe the place thusly: "The historic Hart House, built in 1640 and now one of the oldest houses in the country, is home to a restaurant that serves classic American cuisine in a truly historic setting. The fireplace alone is 350 years old. Hand-painted tea boxes from the Revolutionary era serve as wall panels." I can't argue with this description at all.
Paul Hartt asked for the blessing and we were served our choice of four different entrees with all of the trimmings. Everything was delicious. When the dessert was served there was a special surprise cake, with a candle, for Paul and Rose Hartt. They were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and we all sung "Happy Anniversary" to them. When you look at the pictures you can tell by the big smiles on their faces that they were pleased to share this anniversary with all of us.
Before introducing Dr. Jackson, Betty Patterson surprised Carole Dick by presenting her with the Friendship quilt that everyone had signed. The quilt was made by Frances Bowman of California, 8th Great grand daughter of Isaac Hart. Though Frances was unable to attend, she made it especially for this reunion, to be presented to Carole for her years of devotion to all of us and the Hart/Hartt heritage.
Dr. Jackson, our after dinner speaker, told us of his adventures with restoring the Isaac Hart House to its original condition. This is the 5th home he and his wife, Carole have restored and had placed on the National Registry of Historical Homes. Carole Dick note: "it was a good thing he restored it as it was in bad condition with the termites eating the walls away, etc."
The check was paid, Dr. Jackson, Mark and Louise Hart were thanked for helping make this day one to remember and our good nights were said. It had been a very full and emotional day and we were all ready to go back to the Hotel and prepare for what we wanted to do the next day.
As Sunday arrived, we all went our separate ways. There were brochures and a sign up sheet to go to Salem, available on Friday night. Many of us took advantage of this and went there to take the narrated Trolley tour and soak in the history of that famous seaport town with its streets of Sea Captain Mansions and Witch lore. The Witches Memorial Garden was visited by some and found it to be a very peaceful area of memorial benches, under the trees, with names such as Rebecca Nurse and Mary Estey (and others) carved into the benches. I can't speak to this myself, but I was told that during a visit to The House of 7 Gables, someone crawled up the chimney to the 2nd floor and nearly got stuck doing it, but they still stated that they saw some beautiful rooms there. (if you need more details, ask Carole Dick)
That evening, as a farewell, family was asked to meet around the pool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I was unable to attend so I have asked Carole to describe these final moments of the fun and good-byes of those last hours.
FROM CAROLE DICK:
AFTER THE "BALL" WAS OVER
Tuesday, following the Reunion, there were 14 of us that got together and took a Boston tour. We called and made reservations so that we could all be on the same Van together. The first stop the driver made was at the bottom of the hill to the old North Church and we had to climb up the hill to see and enter it. It is definitely worth the climb. We also visited the Charleston Navy Base and boarded the U.S.S. Constitution (which you'll remember was built by the Hart Shipbuilding Co.). We visited Longfellows home, Funiel Hall, Copely Square, the Kings Church and passed by many other places that were pointed out to us including the original Cheers Bar, some old burying grounds, the Boston Common, Swan lake, Harvard Yard and many of the local Colleges - just to mention a few things. It was really hot and humid that day for us out-of-towners. We got some great pictures though.
I hope everyone enjoyed this last Hart/Hartt Reunion
as much as I did. I know there will never be another like it and I
thank all of you that did attend and made this such a success. It
goes without saying that without you, there would be no reunion. I
just wish you all could have been there, especially for the time we
had visiting the Home that Isaac built. Believe me when I say it is
not just a house, it is a Home.
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart and your mind, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you. ~Frederick Buechner~
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh, there is a rumor that a few family
members are wanting another reunion, so keep your eyes and ears open.
The game is afoot. . . .
REUNION IMPRESSIONS from a FEW OF THE FAMILY ATTENDEES
..., the Church of the Latter Day Saints is gradually uploading many source books onto their website, but the operative word there is gradually. (Ever wonder if they consider us among the saved - with a family name like Hart how could they not!).
I am glad that you enjoyed your trip here (in spite of the fickle New England weather). You have a wonderful family and there is no greater good fortune in this world than that.
I am sorry that there will not be more Hart to Hartt reunions for as mentioned above, not only did I enjoy meeting all of you, but also, because I believe that in the end it will be found that we are branches (individual expressions) of the same family tree.
We had a wonderful time. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Even the
wet day in Salem and I am not impressed with witches at all. What
a terrible time those people had to go through. It is beyond comprehending.
The Hartt house was fantastic and the owner was so gracious to us.
We stayed right there at the hotel and were with Sherry and Deanna.
I think it was in Deanna Duplisea's name.
Cousin Nancy. (Nancy Lewis)