I recently read an article in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin about an historic home located near the Great Salt Lake in Tooele County, Utah. The home was built in the 1850s predominately out of stone and mortar with 18 inch thick walls. The article outlines the historic nature of the home along with some of its locally-known previous owners. This historic home is privately owned and not open to the public. However, the near-by Benson Grist Mill, featuring identical construction and likely built in conjunction with the home, is a Nationally Registered Historic Site.
This article reminded me of an experience I had with my family about eight years ago. In looking for an activity the family could do together that wouldn’t cost much and could be both fun and educational, I came across a listing for an historical home not too far from where were living at the time. The Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum is a California Historical Landmark.
Our visit to the home and museum gave the entire family a wonderful insight to life in Southern California as lived between the 1840s and 1930s. We were even surprised to learn that the grounds hosted one of the oldest private cemeteries in the Greater Los Angeles region, and is the burial spot of Pío Pico, the last governor of Mexican California.
Over the years, my family has continued to enjoy historical sites and museums, learning not only our local and national history, but also about the way our ancestors lived. I have grown to feel closer to my ancestors and more appreciative of the hardships they faced which have contributed to the life I live today. I believe my children also have a better understanding and appreciation for their predecessors.
Another thought struct me as I reminisced over our trip to the Workman home. I grew up not far from this historic landmark; yet, I had not heard of it until a few days before our visit. Perhaps the sheer volume of landmarks and activities in California make it difficult for any one site to stand out. After all, even the famous California Missions, one of which is only a few miles from the Homestead Museum, have a tough time competing with local beaches, famous entertainment centers, and the “Happiest Place on Earth.” But, then again, perhaps there are more sites of historic interest all around us then we realize. These sites may just waiting for us to find them. The education we could gain, and perhaps share with our children or grandchildren, would be highly rewarding.
The Homestead Museum describes the value of visiting their site in the following way:
“Cracking open a textbook and reading about major political, economic, and societal changes is one way to learn about history, but having the opportunity to see how real people navigated these changes puts a personal twist on the subject matter—and makes it more intriguing.”
So, I wonder, what are we missing that may be all around us. What historical treasure is waiting for you in your own backyard? What day trip can you take to help strengthen your connection with the past? One great thing about the Internet is your are just one Google search away from answering these questions.