Seed bags dating 145 years donated to Centennial Museum

Richard Lathwell and Centennial Museum curator Heidi Ferguson pose with 145-year-old seed bags from Howland pioneer Moses Burnett, found on Mr. Lathwell’s property. Mr. Lathwell donated the seed bags to the museum. Coincidentally, Moses Burnett is Ms. Ferguson’s great great uncle. photo by Alicia McCutcheon

SHEGUIANDAH—Last week, Richard Lathwell presented Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah curator Heidi Ferguson (nee Burnett) with a set of pristine linen seed bags stamped with the name of her great great uncle, Moses Burnett, who built the farm where Mr. Lathwell now owns.

Moses Burnett is considered to be one of the pioneers of Howland Township, settling along Townline Road in 1866 where he built a log house and barn on Lot 11, Concession 1, now home to Mr. Lathwell and his Lobo Loco alpaca farm.

Mr. Lathwell explained that he found the seed bags, including one stamped with the name of ‘R. Stringer,’ another prominent Howland name (most likely Robert Stringer, the curator said) and which was also donated to the museum, in the farm’s old grainery. He has seven barns on the property, all of which “are loaded with 100-plus years of collected stuff.” Ms. Ferguson said she guessed the seed bags date from the 1870s. Linen was used, particularly for the use of fine grains and seeds, as the weave was particularly fine. Small patches are evident, some messily done and some neatly stitched, that show the bags were used year after year and are in perfect condition today.

According to the historical tome ‘Reflections,’ he later built a large frame house further back from the road, his wife Elizabeth refusing to move in until a new well was dug close to the new house. Moses and Elizabeth Burnett had 14 children: Laura, Annie, Eliza, William, Sarah, John, Walter, Martha Maria, Mary Melissa, Jesse James, Norman, Amanda and Alice. On their golden wedding anniversary in October 13, 1914 the couple had 47 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Elizabeth died six days later on October 19, 1914 and Moses died on May 18, 1917.

The Burnett farm seed bags will be on display at the museum this summer.