Birch bark basket from 18th century heading to Maine State Museum

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Members of the Colonial Daughters Chapter of DAR gathered to take part in the historic basket’s transition. In front, from left to right: Theo Ross, Nancy Flick, Isabelle Foss, Jeanette T. Stevens and Joanne Page; back row, from left to right: Connie Hiltz, Karen Corbin, Linda Bauer, Chapter Regent Melanie Farmer, and MSM’s Laurie LaBar.

FARMINGTON – Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Daughters Chapter, gathered on the University of Maine at Farmington campus Tuesday to transfer a piece of local history to the Maine State Museum.

The birch bark basket with its pristine top popped.

The 8-inch high and 9-inch wide birch bark basket, created in 1781, is to be moved from the Farmington Public Library to the Augusta museum for display. The basket was crafted by Hannah Susup who was the wife of Pierre “Pierpole” Paul, a well known friend of Farmington’s first settlers.  The basket has remained in great condition under the Colonial Daughters care for decades.

In 1956, Austin L. Hardy presented the basket to DAR’s regent at the time, Hardy’s daughter, Achsa L. French. Hardy obtained the piece from William Lockhart, whose grandmother previously had received it from Susup sometime before 1800.

Melanie Farmer, the chapter regent of the Colonial Daughters Chapter, described the basket’s transition as “bittersweet.”

“The basket has been enjoyed here for many, many years,” Farmer said. “We’re glad we found a place where it will be cared for while still being available to the public. We’re hoping more people will appreciate it in Augusta.”

Farmer and DAR considered five different locations before selecting the Maine State Museum as the next stop for the historic basket.

“We’re so honored and humbled,” said Laurie LaBar, chief curator of history and decorative arts at the MSM, said. “It’s a big responsibility that we look forward to.”



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