Earlier this fall, my book club visited the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden after reading Lilac Girls written by Martha Hall Kelly. During the tour, we learned that Caroline Ferriday, the last private owner of the Bellamy-Ferriday House, put the wheels in motion to donate 81 acres of the property to the Bethlehem Land Trust, making it one of those moments when work and play collide.
One thing that struck me during the tour was how Caroline and her family used their privilege and available resources to help make the world around them better for all. Caroline Ferriday came from a long line of Woolsey women who were activists during their time. She was a philanthropist whose legacy included raising medical funds for a group of women who survived medical experiments at the Ravensbruck concentration camp during World War II. Her mother, Eliza Woolsey Ferriday, assisted Russian women fleeing violence during the Bolshevik Revolution. Caroline’s great-aunts, Abigail, Jane, and Georgeanna Woolsey, were abolitionists as well as pioneers in the nursing field both during and after the Civil War.
Caroline made sure to preserve her family’s stories so that they may be shared with the public. She was a staunch believer in the importance of knowing and understanding history so as to not repeat the mistakes of the past. And she knew the importance of protecting the land.
I loved learning about Caroline’s biography and her tie to the land trust community. The personal connections and stories to the outdoors are at the heart of protecting open spaces and is part of what makes the work we do at CLCC exciting. We are fortunate in Connecticut to have an amazing group of people who work hard to protect these important places.
I look forward to going back and hiking the trails on the property. If you ever find yourself in Bethlehem, I definitely recommend visiting the house and exploring the preserve.
Additional links to learn about Caroline Ferriday and her work with the survivors at Ravensbruck