Cooleemee Elementary School students visit Mill House Museum

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cooleemee ó Morethan 100 first-graders visiting the Mill House Museum here Friday learned about how children helped their families to survive 70 years ago.
“A chore is a piece of work that has to be done over and over again,” said Lynn Rumley, secretary of the Cooleemee Historical Association, as she welcomed the youngsters to the museum.
As they discovered at six chore stations scattered around the museum’s yard at Cross and Church streets in this former mill town, the students discovered that chores were a necessity for survival, and everyone pitched in.
The slop was a little nasty, but the two pigs borrowed from Jerry Foster were pretty cute. Children churned butter and tasted the results.
Everyone got to scrub clothes on a scrub board and hang them on the clothesline. Chickens were fed and eggs gathered.
Students also got to hoe, plant their own onion set and see a water-bath canner that helps preserve produce.
There was one chore they couldn’t perform ó walking the cow from the pasture. Natalie the cow was a little too close to labor Friday for walking much.
Each first-grader received a coloring book titled, “Mill Town Kids,” after their walk back to Cooleemee Elementary School. The day’s history lesson was part of the Cooleemee Historical Association’s “Discovering Our Heritage” program now finishing its eighth year.
The program begins in kindergarten and continues through the fifth grade. This year’s fifth graders will received a certificate and a unique local timeline for use in future years at their June 3 graduation.
With a different lesson each grade year, students learn how local ancestors fought a revolution, survived on farms by family and neighbors pulling together and then used every opportunity that mill town life offered.
Nine volunteers conducted Friday’s lesson. “It is time that a younger generation of volunteers learn these stories and pass them on,” Rumley said. “Two hundred members of Cooleemee’s history group are already over 80.”