Helen Brooks to Give Lecture About Robbinston's History

By Jarod Farn-Guillette

Helen Brooks, or as she is affectionately known “Grammy Helen,” is an intrepid member of our community, from business school, to the Women Army Corps, to raising a family, to being active volunteer in the community, and now a local historian and member of the Robbinston Historical Society.  

Despite being in the shadow of the more well-known community historical group, The Saint Croix Historical Society, which covers the Calais area, there is no shortage of valuable and rich heritage stories for Robbinston. On this day Brooks took the reporter for a bit of that journey and along the way introduced  the other historian's club along the US side of the Saint Croix River. Self describing as a bit of a reluctant member, it was only after the society sent out a second request to the community for members to join, and ultimately receiving an e-mail regarding the upcoming 206th Celebration of the Founding of Robbinston, that she acquiesced to the historian's call to duty. 

While we talked about the upcoming family fun and festivities to be held on Saturday, February 18th from 1:00 to 4:00 at the Historical Society's visitors center at the former Grace Chapel in Robbinston, little anecdotes and tangents of local lore popped up here and there. With a mission for preserving the local history, another goal, according to Brooks, is the use of history in attracting tourism and interest to the place and more importantly, collecting personal histories and stories of residents in Robbinston. While we talked about the mission of the Robbinston Historical Society, she regaled me  a bit about the former one-room school house that sat at Betty Garret's former property. “If you didn't get your work done during the week, she'd have you come in on Saturday.” She also recalled a school building at a former church at Liberty Point. 

A surprising historical fact mentioned, according to Brooks, is the role of the Brewer House as a safe-house on the Underground Railroad. “The house across from the boat landing is where a lot of slaves would be put up there, and when they thought everything was ok, they could take a boat across to Canada.” Going back even farther to the time of the American Revolution, she mentioned that soldiers camped at the church across from the iconic “Redclyff House.” Though a monument marks the fact, many locals would likely be pressed to know such an important historical event ever occurred. 

 

With such a rich history in Robbinson, the society has a lot of work ahead and plans for expansion. Having aspirations of turning Grace Chapel into a museum, the organization hopes to build a separate building for meetings and society functions. At the upcoming “birthday” celebration, visitors can expect cake and refreshments, a bit of “Robinston 101” or life in 1786, a “Boston Cane Ceremony” along with tours of the chapel and local family stories and sharing of artifacts, ending with a trivia game and prize drawing. Local history buffs and anyone with an interest in local ethnography will find an enjoyable and valuable source of lore and heritage in Robbinston.