NEWTOWN, Conn. — Being at the Newtown Historical Society is much like working on the set of “Pawn Stars,” says Newtown Town Historian Dan Cruson. You’re never quite sure what treasure will come in through the door, he said.
Recently, Cruson received a call from William Zilinek of San Diego, whose family used to live in Redding. They were neighbors of Abigail Kelly, a descendant of John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Kelly had given the Zilinek family rare Adams family memorabilia, William Zilinek thought the items should have an East Coast home.
Two weeks later, Zilinek came through Cruson’s door with a “sock-draw donation” of memorabilia. Cruson presented some of the items — there were 52 in all — to the Newtown community at the C. H. Booth Library on Monday night.
The donation, which was made in the name of William’s parents, Charles and Helen Zilinek, includes a special bracelet believed to have been worn by Abigail Adams. Visitors to the presentation viewed some of the items — which were in a wood and glass case — before Cruson explained the history of each item.
The bracelet contains strands of hairs that appear to be two slightly different colors, according to Cruson. It said to be woven from the hair of Abigail and John Adams.
Cruson said the bracelet made him feel particularly connected to history. “You can’t get much closer to the guy than his hair,” he quipped.
The objects also include personal jewelry, boxes made from the wood of the frigate Old Ironsides, inauguration medal, and mementos of the opening of the Erie Canal.
The items spurred extensive research by Cruson, which was “nothing more than a great deal of fun,” he said. But he has many unanswered questions.
“This is still an ongoing process,” according to Cruson. There is still much research to be done, he said.
The items will be on display at the C.H. Booth Library at 25 Main St. in Newtown through the end of the month, according to the historical society. For more information on the society, visit its website here.
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