CHESHIRE – Hannah Curtis Lewis was annoyed at her new son-in-law Rufus Hitchcock. It took her three hours by horse-drawn cart to get to Hitchcock's house from her house on the other side of the city to celebrate his Christmas party, and she would not be able to refresh herself before the arrival of the guests.
"My son-in-law should have said I'm just coming over Saturday night, but no invitation has been extended," she said. "But then I remembered that my daughter is married to a very rich man, so it's okay."
This little bit of fictional historical family intrigue comes from the historical retellants who played the roles of Lewis, Hitchcock, and his wife Hannah Lewis at the annual Holiday House of the Cheshire Historical Society, which took place on Sunday afternoon at Hitchcock Phillips House on Church Street. The party is an annual tradition for society dating back to 1972.
"Every year we try to do something special and different," said Diane Calabro, the president of the historic society, which also reenacted the role of Hannah Curtis Lewis.
Thomas Mulholland and Taylor Solomon, both 19-year-old residents of the city, stepped into the roles of the newlywed couple, who were indeed wealthy and prominent members of the Cheshire Society. Mulholland, who helped to tell the town's stories in the cemetery, pulled Solomon in.
"We've been friends since elementary school," Mulholland said.
"Before," said Solomon.
Lewis and Hitchcock were married in July 1792 and had three children in five years. Hannah Lewis died in 1799 at the age of thirty. Hitchcock remarried six months after her death.
"She also had a few miscarriages," said Solomon, portraying the new bride. "It's interesting to see how they lived."
The displays in the house range from the average to the unusual. The house contains not one, but two tables that previously belonged to the US president (Millard Fillmore and Ulysses Grant). There is an exhibit on Civil War Admiral Andrew Hull Foote who grew up in the city. Hundreds of tools and goods from the 19th century are shown from room to room. On the third floor, around the 1950s, Mulholland created a typical Cheshire Academy dorm.
"If you immerse yourself in the history of Cheshire, there are so many different activities and so many companies," said Ron Gagliardi, a former city historian.
Amy Cody, who lived in Cheshire, visited the house with her 14-year-old son Colin Cody and her mother Marcia Schoepfer. Mother and son had been inside when they were younger, but it had been a while. Amy Cody said she showed up at Hitchcock Phillips House to engage her hometown.
Schoepfer moved to the city when she was in kindergarten and graduated from Cheshire High School.
"My parents were here and we always enjoyed the city, so I stayed," she said.
Amy Cody returned to the city after completing her college degree to take over the century-old family business G. Schoepfer, a company that makes eyes for dolls.
Colin plans to follow in his family's footsteps and stay in college.
"I like New England. I like the city as you know everybody. There is some excitement not to live like in a big city. It's like living in a small village, "he said. "I would probably live here when I was older because I want my kids to experience it."
The Cheshire Historical Society's exhibitions make it a good thing to put someone on a continuum – after all, there is not much difference between Rufus and Hannah that began in 18th-century life, as it is now. The shabby and shiny artifacts point to the moments that make up a life.
"Everyone has a story to tell," Mulholland said.