Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Spending Black Friday Having a Revolutionary Good Time: Moving Through Time, But Never in a Straight Line:

"Moving through the territories of time,
but never in a straight line.
To and fro, slowly and fast
made my way into the past."

It seems I must make it abundantly clear that I am not an employee of Greenfield Village. Yes, I visit there, quite often in 18th century clothing, which always greatly enhances my visits. Dressing period in a historic setting can certainly engulf one's senses, especially upon stepping into a 250 year old home that is staffed with its own period-dress presenters.
But, I must state once again: I am not an employee of Greenfield Village, nor do I pertain to be.
Never have.
With that being said:
Colonial Black Friday
(picture taken at Colonial Williamsburg and used with their blessings)
I am not a Black Friday person. In fact, I spend the day after Thanksgiving wearing period clothing while visiting historic Greenfield Village.
Well...let's be honest, I spend many-a-day at the Village from April through December, and I enjoy it immensely each visit, but Black Friday, being what it is, makes it an even more special visit for me.
Now, for those who live in what used to be the original 13 colonies, I envy you. You seem to have history everywhere you turn. Even more specific, you have Rev War/Colonial history surrounding you.
Here in southeastern Michigan, there's not much of that, unfortunately. Oh, yes, Detroit was founded in 1701 and had its role in the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War, but virtually all remnants of that time are lost to the ages.
We do have Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island at the tip of the lower peninsula of our state, both of which also had roles in those wars as well. But it's about a four to five hour drive to get there from metro-Detroit.
Maybe next summer...
So, for my Black Friday visit, I am blessed to have a little bit of the colonies right near my own back yard:
I walk the road that leads to the Daggett House, my very favorite structure inside Greenfield Village. And right next to it is the Farris Windmill, 
originally built in the 1600s on Cape Cod and is considered 
the oldest surviving windmill in the United States.
I am sure my regular readers know the Daggett House as well as I do. The presenters here do an outstanding job in their representation of a 1760s farming family, and ever since I began to regularly visit the Village in 1983, it has been my absolute favorite. If I had a large sum of money to do fun and frivolous things with, building a replication would be near the top of my list! So, though you will see plenty of pictures taken at some of the other historic homes inside Greenfield Village in today's post, much of my day was spent at this house, for the clothing I had on fit the time period perfectly.

By the way, sometimes I may "doctor up" a few of my photos (by way of the Paint Shop Pro computer photo program) to help give a more authentic accent to my text, such as what I did to the picture below. For you see, I wanted to give a visual of 18th century colonial America during a time when men would devote there thanksgiving harvest day morning to hunting or participating in turkey shoots:
Time to go a-fowling...
The gun I am holding is a smooth bore fowling piece, 
used mostly for hunting fowl, hence the name.
(No, I did not bring a gun inside Greenfield Village. 
This is a composite of three different pictures that I have taken at different times and places.
Yes, I know how to do some computer magic to add a bit more realism to my photos)
During the 1700s, individual colonies commonly observed days of Thanksgiving throughout each year, and the governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire began to make proclamations for an autumn Thanksgiving celebration, though at this point in time it was not on any one particular day each year. So it could be in October, November, or even in December.
(for more on our early Thanksgiving celebrations, click HERE)

The Daggett House was built by Samuel Daggett around 1750 in Connecticut right around the time of his marriage to Anna Bushnell. The two raised three children in this house: daughters Asenath and Tabitha, and a son, Isaiah.
Because most of our homes today are so far removed from the architectural style of the break back homes from the 18th century, it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to visit one, especially in Michigan.
(This wonderful picture was taken by Mary Marshall)

Of course, I always enjoy speaking with the long-time presenters, such as the young lady I am with here, for their knowledge is admirably extensive, and to be able to converse and share at length about minute details of the past - the kind of facts only those of us who dig deep into the roots of history by researching beyond the few popular books most tend to read - makes for a time that I enjoy most of all.
And though I may not have that very expensive piece of paper that says I know history, I do know my stuff, for I have been studying all things historical - especially American history and using primary sources whenever possible - for nearly 50 years. There is something to that, I would say.

Although I have been researching period food here and there, I have not yet had the pleasure of cooking over an actual hearth, which I would find interesting and intriguing (yes, men did cook, too, though not nearly as often as women did).
Would cooking period food over an open bonfire with the same implements be considered the same thing?
Hmmm...yes and no. I suppose.

The two women who were working here on this day could almost be sisters Asenath and Tabitha Daggett in the chores they did.

Are we inside or outside?
I do like window reflection photos, such as the one
here. Look closely to see the windmill, out of doors,
and a spinning wheel inside the great hall.

This could be Samuel Daggett chopping wood for the upcoming winter months. That's one chore that was never-ending, for you can never have enough wood.

Most Colonial homes would have needed at least 40 cords of wood for heating and cooking over the course of a year. A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet or roughly a stack of wood 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long.

Ken being lazy while watching others work.
Naw...understandably, visitors cannot touch such sharp tools as an axe, for obvious reasons. But, once again, a fine conversation centering on early American history took place, including how early Americans would have chopped the trees down by hand with the axe and then split the wood with a wedge.
There was so much to simply heat your home or warm your food.

The presenter here, in his representation of men like Mr. Daggett, spent a good part of his day with the axe in his hand.
On such a cool day as this (mid-30s), he was heated twice: 

the first time while chopping the wood, and the second time by burning the wood he chopped. 

Of course, there was a decent-sized woodpile inside the house.
And how much wood is in your kitchen?
(I know a few of you will have some!)
An interesting fact about Samuel Daggett that I discovered is that he helped to defend the Colony of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War, and was apparently stationed in the State House in New London. In 1774, during a town meeting in Coventry, citizens agreed to a non-importation agreement.
Mr. Daggett also paid for someone named Jacob Fox to take his son Isaiah's place in military duty so that the young 17-year-old could stay home and tend the farm. Coventry sent 116 men to Lexington at the start of the war. The community also sent clothing and supplies to aid the war effort.
(This information came from the Benson Ford Research Center, located on the grounds of The Henry Ford)
Shall we take leave of our situation here and make our way to other home visitations?
Right next door we entered another home from the 18th century, the Plympton Home, originally from Sudbury, Massachusetts, which also has Rev War connections.
The grandson of the builder of this home, Thomas Plympton, was born in 1723, and was prominent in town affairs, as well as a soldier during the American Revolutionary War. It was this Thomas that received the news of the beginning of that War for Independence in the town of Sudbury:
"An express came from Concord to Thomas Plympton Esq., who was then a member of the Provincial Congress in that the British were on their way to Concord - between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning. The sexton was immediately called on the bell ringing and the discharge of Musket which was to give the alarm. By sunrise the greatest part of the inhabitants were notified. The morning was remarkably fine and the inhabitants of Sudbury never can make such an important appearance probably again."
How cool is that?
(Information from the Benson Ford Research Center)
Entering a house that has a connection to the Revolutionary War.
And almost directly across the street, we have yet another home with a Revolutionary War connection:
John Giddings, the builder of this home in Exeter, New Hampshire, and one of the most active and trusted supporters of the patriotic cause in the Legislature, commanded a company of those who marched from Exeter to Portsmouth to support, if necessary, the party of General Sullivan and Laughdon in the raid upon Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth Harbor in December 1774. In 1775, he was nominated for the important appointment of delegate to the Continental Congress, but modestly withdrew his name.
The home once belonging to John Giddings
The idea that I can visit homes in which the owners played a role, no matter how small, in the American Revolution just gives me chills.

I like to think that Mr. Giddings, and even
his wife Mehetable, enjoy having living
historians visit their home in period style.

In this next home, built and owned by Noah Webster, of the Webster Dictionary fame, I found that it was set for a New Year's celebration.
A portrait of Noah Webster hangs over
the fireplace inside the parlor.

The quill'd note is an invitation to a shadow portrait
gathering, to take place on December 19th, though no
year is written.
Shadow portraits were a very popular way of capturing
one's "portrait" in a cheap and fun way.
To learn more about shadow portraits, please click HERE
 Quite the feast was served for the New Year's celebration:
Can you imagine the conversations that occurred around the table as the guests dined on this splendid repast of a feast?
Just to be able to sit in and listen to the stories told of years past... 

"Don't move!"
That was me yelling at Richard to stay right where he was when I snapped this picture, for it seemed to create a silhouette of its own.

Leaving the Noah Webster House: 
yet another home whose owner and builder played a role in founding our new nation (though this house was built around 1822).
As one who mingled amongst the Founders in those early years of our great country, Mr. Webster wrote, in his 1783 edition of his legendary spelling book called 'The American Spelling Book' (which would teach five generations of Americans how to read): "The author wishes to promote the honor and prosperity of the confederated republics of America, and cheerfully throws his mite into the common treasure of patriotic exertions. This country must, at some future time, be as distinguished by the superiority of her literary improvements as she is already by the liberality of her civil and ecclesiastical constitutions. Europe is grown old in folly, corruption, and tyranny---in that country laws are perverted, manners are licentious, literature is declining and human nature debased. For America in her infancy to adopt the present maxims of the old world would be to stamp the wrinkle of decrepit age upon the bloom of youth, and to plant the seed of decay in a vigorous constitution."
The high hopes Noah Webster had for the newly-formed United States cannot be over-stated.

And yet, even though we were visiting homes with connections to the Revolutionary War, we still paid our respects to the "other side" by checking out the Cotswold Cottage, built in England around 1620.
Remember how Aunt Clara from the old TV show Bewitched used to collect door knobs?
This is the kind of ancient door opener I would love to have. It's from the above mentioned Cotswold Cottage.
The Cotswold Door Opener
From the Cotswold Forge

Continuing on my travels throughout the Village, I, again, met with one who is not only a wonderful historic presenter, but someone I consider a friend as well, no matter what time period we are in.
I simply love this picture.
The two of us, both dressed from the same period, were speaking on various historical subjects and had absolutely no idea our image was being captured. To me it has a very natural feel to it, as if two friends of long-ago were enjoying a quick visit, perhaps talking about the recent harvest, before carrying on with the day's activities.

Gary Thomas took this photo. 

I traveled about the Village for the rest of the day, stopping at many of the houses and taking pictures of the autumn celebrations occurring.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I spent the entire opening hours inside Greenfield Village, from 9:30 to 5:00, just enjoying every last bit of time I could before they closed up for the winter, aside from their Holiday Nights Christmas event, which only take place on certain evenings in December - and it is well worth the extra admission price, by the way.
Still, it's hard to say goodbye until mid-April...
So, in between time spent at Daggett and my return to that house before closing, I visited other parts of the Village:
City sidewalks dressed in holiday style...

The Smiths Creek Depot, originally from Port Huron, Michigan, where Thomas Edison once worked as a young boy.
 From The Henry Ford: "Thomas Edison passed by this building regularly while working as a newsboy on the Port Huron-Detroit run. The railroad station was the center of 19th century small-town life. More than a place to catch a train, the depot was where customers sent and received packages and telegrams, caught up on the latest news, and shared gossip."
My friends, Kevin & Beth, both dressed in more of a mid-19th century fashion, were waiting for the train to come in...
(Beth's cloak, by the way, actually made her appear more 18th century than 19th century, 
which worked in a few of the other pictures you saw earlier).

What would a visit to Greenfield Village be without a visit to Firestone Farm - the boyhood home of the tire magnet Harvey Firestone?
The ladies had just cleaned up after their Thanksgiving celebration given for all of the Firestone historic presenters, including the farmers who work the fields. Yes, they cook everything on their coal burning stove right there in the kitchen.
Whew! Are they whipped!

Afterward, there was parlor entertainment played on the old pump organ. It's a rare occurrence to be able to hear the wonderful sounds of music from long ago while inside a home where the spirits of the past still live (and, no, I am not speaking of ghosts here).

And let's not miss out on the rousing checkers game!
Yes, I did spend time visiting the numerous other homes, most of which were decorated for Christmas, but I shall save those pictures for my Christmas posts.

Next we see an 18th century loom situated inside the weaving shop.
It was interesting to watch the presenter show how the
loom worked. The ingenuity our colonial ancestors had
never ceases to amaze me. 
I remember years ago when they used to have a loom of this type inside the great hall at the Daggett House, shown in my pictures below, which helps to make the words from the Village's placard come to life:
"In rural areas, producing cloth was often a family affair. Everyone old enough to contribute had a task...

...growing flax or tending sheep, combing to straighten the linen or wool fibers, spinning fibers into thread or yarn, and weaving the thread and yarn into cloth."
Every-so-often I find myself interested in acquiring a loom. My own 5th great grandfather worked on a loom that I would imagine was something like this, since it was during the same period in time.
Not to be for me at this time.

I would like to close out today's blog by showing some end-of-the-day pictures as I ventured back to the Daggett House. You see, with Greenfield Village closing at 5:00 pm, I wanted to attempt to snap a few shots while the shadows of late afternoon grew. No, it was not yet dark, but definitely nearing sunset time:
Roy continued chopping wood throughout the day, and by nightfall he was building his rick of wood pile.
A rick is actually a description of the way a cord of wood is stacked. 

The day begins to close, and the last remnants
of items used for presenting were emptied. 

The natural light of the waning day shows in this photograph, taken about five minutes to five.
Oh! How I wish I could have stayed later...

One more picture to take before leaving my favorite house...
when the sun goes down and the clouds all frown, night has begun for the sunset...
Shadows on the ground, never make a sound, fading away in the sunset...

I scurried through what I like to call my time-travel bridge - otherwise known as the Ackley Covered Bridge - to return to the 21st century.
(Another Gary Thomas pic that I didn't know he took!)

The streetlights were aglow...
it was time to go.
So, that was my Black Friday, which is pretty much always my Black Friday.
And, though I am not an employee, I still enjoy visiting in period clothing. It adds something to my visits that cannot be explained.
This is what I am all about - I promote what I love strictly on that basis alone. And I know for certain that my postings have lead many first-time visitors who may have never even heard of Greenfield Village to travel here, often times from out of state.
That's a plus for all involved, now, isn't it?
And now that we are into the Christmas season - my favorite season of the year - you can expect some old-time holiday spirits to raise a glass and show the ghosts of Christmas past as rarely seen in our day and age.

Until next time, see you in time.

And here are more links to Greenfield Village structures that I've written about: 
The Daggett House
The Giddings House
The Plympton House
The Noah Webster House
The Ackley Covered Bridge
The Eagle Tavern
The Firestone Farm
The Richart Carriage Shop
Doc Howard's Office - Tales of a 19th century circuit-riding doctor

Information about firewood came from HERE

~     ~


Sue said...

Hi Ken,

A small request: Could you please use different colors other than white or orange print on a dark background? Older eyes, y’know, hard to read. :)

Thanks kindly..
Sue Weldon. :)

Unknown said...

Nicely done Ken , always something new to discover from history which is all in the past. You described my picture exactly what I was looking for, a natural feel to it