Girls on Wheels’ Holiday at a Victorian Farmstead

Christmas is a time spent in the warm circle of friends.

Christmas is a time spent in the warm circle of friends.

Vicki Baker

Nestled within the modern suburbs of the Dallas area is an oasis of history, where the spirit of the Blackland Prairie pioneers and some of the earliest settlers of Texas still lives on. It’s here that a grand 19th-century mansion stands on a 4.5-acre farm with old-fashioned barns and other structures that recall early life in the Lone Star State.

Needing to brush up on our turn of the century farm and home life history, Girls on Wheels headed to Plano’s Heritage Farmstead and Museum during the December holiday season. The property included the Farrell-Wilson House, original outbuildings (foreman’s cottage, root cellar, curing shed, carriage house, pole barn, and brood house), gardens, barns, wells, and landscapes in their period context.

The first step of our journey into the past was our docent-led tour of the majestic two-story home giving us a glimpse into celebrating the holidays during the Victorian era complete with sights, scents, and sounds of the times. The exhibit told the story of a family gathered together at Christmas time to trim the tree, listen to stories, and celebrate their faith.

The house was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and we found wonderful surprises in every room. The Christmas tree had a flowing ribbon topper, popcorn/cranberry garland, candles for illumination, and homemade ornaments made from food. Holiday music from the 1800s could be heard in the music room, along with a lovely display of beautiful Christmas letters with penny post stamps and the history of the first Christmas card. The gorgeous dining room was lavishly set with Christmas fare including plum “figgy” pudding and red velvet cake.

We experienced, discovered, and explored the families who once called this property home – from its beginnings as a farm for the tumultuous Farrell family, to its time as the home of the world-renowned sheep breeder, daughter Ammie Wilson. The two matriarchs, Mary Alice (mother) and Ammie (daughter), were both fiercely independent, strong-willed, charismatic, renegade women who forged a life beyond the standard “female roles” deemed appropriate by society and succeeded in a male-driven world.

Everyday life and technology have changed dramatically since Hunter and Mary Alice Farrell built their home here in 1891 along Plano’s Pitman Creek. Yet, some things remain constant – women achieving great successes in their lives and girlfriends still loving to spend time together today just as much as they did over 100 years ago. This unique holiday outing celebrating with friends kept the good vibes going throughout the season. We made it a December to remember.