Sam Rayburn House in Bonham took time Saturday to celebrate the simple ways of doing things. From churning butter to making ice cream and spinning cotton, patrons of the historic site celebrated farming heritage day at the Bonham farm house.
The annual event brought 300 people to the site two years ago and 400 people to the site last year. Sam Rayburn House Museum Curator Anne Ruppert believes that Saturday’s event brought in around the same amount of people.
“We want to celebrate Mr. Sam’s ranching life,” she said. “A lot of people are not aware that he was a farmer and a rancher. He was not just in Congress for 48 years. He was not just a Speaker of the House.”
Rayburn’s farm in Bonham was 128 acres and he also had a farm in Ivanhoe as well.
“We have cattle, goats, sheep, chickens — all things that he had on his farm,” Ruppert said.
For Ruppert, farming heritage day was also about showing children where food comes from.
“Our food does not just grow in the grocery store,” she said. “There was a farmer involved in getting it there. We see less and less family farms. Back when Mr. Sam built his farm in 1816, there was no electricity. There was no equipment. There was a lot of work that went into making crops, making butter, making ice cream, grinding coffee. Also, Mr. Sam had a cotton farm.”
The Saturday event also included honey tasting, something that was not on Rayburn’s original farm.
“We have a new booth,” Ruppert said. “The Texas A&M Commerce Sigma Alpha sorority brought honey test tasting. They want us to see if we can tell the difference between honey that was made in a laboratory versus honey that was made by bees in the beehive. We also have a young man with the Grayson County 4-H. He has his beekeeping equipment and he brought a bee observation hive.”
Antique tractors were also on site and people could learn how to grind corn to make cornmeal.
“This is all about learning to respect what your parents and grandparents had to deal with,” Richie Burk said. “Things have not always been as easy as they are now. The people in that time did not realize how difficult things were. We need to preserve nature. We need more people out here.”
With life being so busy, Burk said, it is important that children learn about the long way to do things rather than the mechanized route.
“Everything is so easy and easy access,” Wendy Burk said. “Kids should not take the things we have here for granted. There is a lot of history around here and a lot of neat information to find out. I have lived in Fannin County all my life and I am still learning things about Sam Rayburn. People should not just overlook the history.”
Burk said that last year while volunteering at farming heritage day, she truly began to appreciate what people living around Rayburn’s time had to deal with every day.
“Our station was to wash the clothes using the old rub board,” she said. “I had seen that done a lot on television and in the movies, but the whole process was really long when you actually have to do it. You have to soak them and rub them and then wring them out. I knew how, but not all the ends and outs. Drying the clothes was really hard. You had to wring them and then wring them and then hang them up to dry all day long. They still were not dry after all of that. Thank heavens for washers and dryers.”