Martha Ballard's World

Come Join us May 18, 2024
for Martha Ballard's World 

Old Fort Western celebrates Martha Ballard's life with the program Martha Ballard's World: Wife, Mother, Healer, Horticulturist. Join us on May 18, 2024, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for a look into the life of a colonial woman in Hallowell, Maine. From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., there will be rotating stations centered on activities Martha herself wrote about in her diary during May. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary world of Martha Ballard. Through her diary, you'll step into her daily life, engaging in the very activities she chronicled. This is a rare chance to spend half an hour at five stations, each offering a unique glimpse into Martha's world.

From 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., you will visit three stations. At the interactive Garden and Kitchen Hearth station, you'll delve into the 18th-century use of herbs and plants for consumption and healing. You'll even get to pick your savory herbs for the kitchen. Then, at the kitchen hearth, you'll experience the everyday activity of making butter, just as Martha often did. You'll season it with herbs from the garden or cinnamon sugar for the scones served at the afternoon tea. This interactive experience will take you on a journey from the origins of cinnamon and sugar to colonial kitchens. In the Age of Homespun station, you will learn another vital activity of Martha and her daughters, working with textiles. You will learn about the different fibers of the 18th century and how they were processed, as well as the use of natural dyes, as you work with different types of looms and card and spin wool. Finally, you will step into history at the Martha the Healer station. Guided by Martha Ballard's Diary, you'll visit the actual room in the Howard home where she practiced her healing skills. This is a unique opportunity to get a firsthand glimpse into the past, starting with a visit to William Howard's bedchamber and then the bedchamber of James Jr.

We will break at 2:30 p.m. for Afternoon Tea in the south parlor of the garrison , where Martha came and often drank tea with Susanna Cony Howard (Judge James Howard's second wife). To enhance the authenticity of the experience, we encourage you to bring your own teacups and saucers. 

After the tea, join us at two additional stations. Visit with Dr. Samuel Coleman in the S & W Howard Store. He will share information about those herbs and medicines that are not locally obtainable. Martha often visits Dr. Coleman for medicines she could not grow or make herself. Finally, in Martha Ballard Fact or Fiction, we will explore Martha Ballard in literature. "The Diary of Martha Ballard 1785-1812" by McCausland & McCausland will be the basis of comparison for Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Martha as described in A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 and Ariel Lawhon's Martha as depicted in The Frozen River.


Martha Ballard's World Brochure
Martha Ballard's World Registration Form