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Whitford hosts games on the Gerrit Smith Estate

In 19th Century Peterboro abolitionist Gerrit Smith, "daily, during the summer months, was accustomed to play a game or two" of croquet on the court near his house. The public was invited to play lawn games on these same grounds at 2 p.m. on Sunday July 12.

Ross Whitford, a native of Morrisville, facilitated the afternoon of activities. Whitford is the first ever intern at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. Ross graduated from Morrisville-Eaton High School in 2008, and is now a sophomore at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown W.Va., with a major in history and secondary education.

In the summer of 2008 Ross worked with the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry W.Va. Whitford said he enjoys history, especially from the Civil War period. He has been a reenactor for several years, and has provided a learning station at Peterboro's Living History program.

Whitford intends to become a teacher, and as an intern and reenactor, he provides instruction on various historical topics, including the Underground Railroad for which the Gerrit Smith Estate awards the National Park Service Junior Ranger badge. Whitford said he is proud to be a part of the development of the Gerrit Smith Estate. As he puts it, "Peterboro, Another reason why I love New York."

Sonya Lydford and her family provided equipment and instruction for games played in the 19th Century, including graces, climbing bear, Jacob's ladder, etc.

Lydford manages the period game program for a day at the annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend and at the Living History Day. Karen Zamora, who also volunteers management of period games at Civil War Weekend, facilitated a historical nine-station croquet-miniature golf game for adults and children.

"Lawn Games on the Gerrit Smith Estate" is the second program in a summer series provided by the Stewards of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. The Estate is on the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail as part of the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

The visitor center is open during the summer from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment. Programs and tours are $2 per person, $5 for a season pass, and free to stewards and residents of Smithfield with season passes from the lodge. Baked goods are available from the Peterboro United Methodist Church on occasions. For more information on summer programs, or to learn how to become a volunteer contact by e-mail at mail@sca-peterboro.org or 684-3262.

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