Hale Homestead hosts Mother's Day tea with Elizabeth Hale
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., May. 14, 2013
Wethersfield resident Kate Maio saw an advertisement for a Mother’s Day tea at the Nathan Hale Homestead and thought it would be a great event for her to share with her granddaughter, Katelyn. “Katelyn loves tea, and she’s very interested in history, so I thought it would be wonderful for us to have tea together,” said Maio.
The Hebron Elementary School fifth-grader confirmed her love of history as she sat by a window at the May 11 event sipping tea at a table adorned with a teapot filled with spring lilacs. Katelyn was looking forward to a tour of the property, as it was her first visit to the Coventry site, home of the family of Connecticut hero, Nathan Hale. “We’ve been to all three of the historic homes in Wethersfield,” said Maio,“but this is Katelyn’s first visit here.”
Throughout the small front room of the home, a group of women sipped both British and Liberty tea, and snacked on cookies infused with herbs picked in the property’s on-site garden. Area settlers started making their own tea out of locally-grown herbs during the Revolutionary War, “because we didn’t want to support the British tea,” explained Beverly Willnauer, a Coventry resident and long-time staff member at the homestead. Liberty tea was made of popular herbs such as mint, rosemary and lavender. “It was one way we could be patriotic,” said Willnauer.
Willnauer said she had a grandson who recently returned from a military tour in the Middle East. His family kept in frequent touch with him while he was away via Skype, email, and other modern-day methods. “Imagine what it must have been like back then,” said Willnauer. “They had no way to keep in touch. You did what you could, and [drinking] Liberty tea was one of the things they could do.”
Nathan Hale’s family was well-versed in coping with men serving in the military. Nathan’s father, Richard Hale, was a prosperous livestock farmer and built the Coventry homestead for his large family. Ardent patriots, six of Richard’s eight sons served in the patriot army. Capt. Nathan Hale was caught and hanged as a spy at age 21 by the British in September of 1776. Following the American Revolution, three Hale sons died from wounds received in the war.
Elizabeth Hale gave birth to a total of 12 children, according to Linda Pagliuco, who hosted the tea in her role as the Hale family matriarch. Two died in infancy. “She gave birth to 12 children before the age of 40,” said Pagliuco. “Imagine 12 pregnancies in 20 years.”
Elizabeth died during the birth of her twelfth child. “Imagine how much of a toll all of those pregnancies would take on a woman’s body,” said Pagliuco. Richard Hale was left alone with eight sons and two daughters, and remarried about two years after the loss of his first wife. The eight sons were a blessing for a farmer of that era. “Farmers with lots of sons usually became very prosperous,” said Pagliuco.
The Nathan Hale Homestead is open weekends for tours from May through October. For more information go to http://www.ctlandmarks.org/index.php?page=nathan-hale-homestead.