Fairfield’s Sunbonnet Days ‘like a walk in the past’

Fairfield’s Sunbonnet Heritage Days on Aug. 4 will allow the few hundred people that attend to reflect on what the area was like in the first century of Butler County’s founding.

The event is sponsored by the Fairfield Historical Society and the Four Seasons Garden Club to present exhibits and events focusing on life as it was in the 1800s and early 1900s.

“It allows you to reflect on history, the way things were,” said Fairfield historian Scott Fowler, editor of “Cornerstones,” the historical society’s newsletter. “How simple they were, but yet how hard it was.”

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People will get to watch a vintage 1869-style baseball game with Fairfield’s Blackbottom 9 (game time is at 1 p.m. on Aug. 4), tour the 1817-built Elisha Morgan Mansion, learn about the one-room schoolhouses in the area, and tour the period garden that has plants and flowers that were grown in the 19th century.

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People can also enter a free drawing to win one of 10 U.S. Buffalo nickels in 24K gold plating.

Elisha Morgan purchased nearly 50 acres of land in August 1817 when the government was selling at $2 an acre that was part of the Symmes Purchase. The farm and house remained in Morgan’s family until Morgan died in 1827, and the farm sold at auction two years later.

Other owners of the property included the Hay, Hueston, Mack, Ross and Gilbert families. The city of Fairfield purchased the farmhouse and 16 acres from the Gilbert family to create Gilbert Farm Park. The mansion, known as the Morgan-Hueston House, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1990. It is one of the oldest homes in Butler County.

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The mansion’s exterior was restored in 1996, and its interior was restored in 1998, funded by a Community Development Block Grant.

“For people, it’s like a walk in the past, hopefully,” said Bob Pendergrass, the historical society’s archivist. “It’s important really to remind people in Fairfield there is a history here.”

This year, the Sunbonnet Heritage Days will “charge” for admission. Organizers are asking for a canned donation.

Also, this year, the event is only one day, said Fowler, one of the event’s organizers. Mainly it was a manpower issue, he said, and “it was easier to do it on one day.”

Because it’s on one day, the event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Elisha Morgan Mansion, 6181 Ross Road.

The history lesson will continue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the general meeting of the Fairfield Historical Society when the featured speaker, former city councilman Howard Dirksen, will talk about the mansion and its history.

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