Fosterfields salutes WWI and Thanksgiving

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By Jeff Sovelove

Sunday saw the annual Thanksgiving Harvest Home & Armistice Observance at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township, and commemorated the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in WWI, the war to end all wars. 

This has personal meaning for me since my grandfather, Sam Sovelove, fought in WWI from 1917-1918. 

He enlisted in the army in 1915, worked his way up through all of the enlisted ranks, and then went to OCS, being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and sent to fight in France in 1917.  He eventually would retire as a Major in the US Army Reserve.

Visitors were treated to typical farm life, including cooking, knitting, sawing, and a wagon ride through the farm. 

They also got to see the farm’s 400-pound sow pig, and “Woodie” the cow, and of course, the  American Percheron draft horses King and Major. 

Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove

Doughboy at Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The pigeons brought out this Cooper's hawk. All of the pigeons made it safely. Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A boy milking "Woodie" the "cow," Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Sidesaddle riding demonstration,Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Major, one of the 1800 lb. Percheron draft horses, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Releasing the pigeons, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Sleepy piggies, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The farm's "Chore Boy," Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The farm's "Chore Boy," Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Annie, 12, from Morristown cranks the root cutter to make hog feed, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Volunteers in period clothing, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The crowd pays close attention, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Kids get to touch a homing pigeon, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Michaela, 8, from Mine Hill holding a homing pigeon,Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A boy holding a homing pigeon, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Volunteer cooks at Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Home cooking, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Fresh vegetables grown on the farm, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Pan cornbread in the Farm's Kitchen , Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Major has a snack, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Sheep, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Tom Turkey displaying for his lady turkeys, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A chicken poses for the camera, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A sheep on the farm, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The farm's 400+ lb. sow pig, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Knitted poppies, Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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Fosterfields 171112 (71) - Doughboy at Fosterfields, Nov. 12, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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There were wonderful smells coming from the wood-fired kitchen stoves as volunteers prepared pan cornbread, braised a turkey, and cooked vegetables grown on the farm.  There was apple cidering, too, as well as the chance for kids to hold a homing pigeon.

Volunteers dressed in period uniform explained how animals helped the war effort.  Horses were able to go to places that motorized vehicles couldn’t, and both sides still employed cavalry units in the war. 

Dogs proved useful as guards, companions, in rescue operations, and in the case of Terriers, keeping the rat population in the trenches under control. 

Sheep were raised for their wool since all of the soldiers’ uniforms were made of that material.  Homing pigeons proved to be vital to the war effort on both sides, delivering messages, photos, and even taking aerial photos on occasion. 

The most famous homing pigeon was Cher Ami, a gift from the British to the US Army Signal Corps. Despite being shot through the leg, breast, and eye, she managed to fly 25 miles to deliver her message and save the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of the Argonne, October 1918. After the war, Fort Monmouth was the center of the Army’s homing pigeons unit, until it was disbanded.

Refreshments were donated courtesy of Whole Foods Market and everyone enjoyed the cookies and apple cider.

Pledge of Allegiance at Fosterfields, video by Jeff Sovelove

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi James,

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the article and photos. My grandfather was a lifelong resident of Charleston, SC. Like most veterans of the Great War he never spoke about it even though I saw the photo of him as a Lieutenant in WWI whenever we went to visit. My father remembers playing dress up in his hat and uniform jacket as a kid.

  2. Jeff, was your grandfather a resident of Morristown or Morris Township when he served, or after? If so the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, Morristown and Morris Township Library, is interested in any information or documents you are willing to share with us.

    We are also interested in information, documents or stories of any other Morristown and Morris Township veterans.

    Thank you for writing this interesting article Jeff!

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