Monday, July 20, 2020

Accenting My Journey Through Time: 18th Century Edition - - - Daggett-izing My House

I certainly hope this posting doesn't come off as me being a braggart,  for that is not at all what I'm doing here.  It's more of utilizing what you have on hand for your home decor to give your house or room a period look.  You may recall in a previous posting  (March 19,  2020)  I wrote a bit about the ways I attempt to find solace through not only the wearing of period clothing,  but also in the historic accessories I acquire as well,  many of which I use at the reenactments I participate in.  But,  as you shall see,  these items are not solely for historical events.  
This posting is a re-writing,  updated,  and expanded version of that earlier post from March,  centering specifically on the 18th century in my small attempt to recreate a  'home of the past'  in my own modern  (mid-20th century)  home,  something I've been calling  "Daggett-izing,"  which is named for my favorite historic house in Greenfield Village,  the Daggett Farmhouse,  which is the former home of Samuel Daggett  (1723-1798)  and his wife Anna  (1734-1832). 
Hopefully,  I inspired you to make your historical dream happen,  one way or another.

So what's in your trailer?

.........................................


Yes,  proprietors of Samson Historical,  
I am interested in this costrel.
"We are tellers of stories,  we history folks.  Our decorative and utilitarian objects are not merely things,  but clues to tales of our past as a country.  We don't just purchase a lantern;  we investigate how it was used and the significance of the pattern of the piercing of the tin.
All of the looking back is also a looking forward as friends and families grow closer just as they would have in early America.  Make the right historical environment and let the situations and camaraderie unfold."
Tess Rosch - Publisher Early American Life Magazine



And it takes more than clothing to tell stories of the past...


~   ~   ~

"Oh, we won't give in,
we'll keep living in
the past..."

In 2019 I wrote a blog post called  "Creating a Period Tone in Your Modern Home."  It is about how I recreated a period look and feel in my 1944 bungalow.
You see,  I've always wanted to live in an old home,  whether from the 1800s,  which is pretty feasible here in Michigan,  or,  better yet,  from the 1700s,  which is next to impossible in my state,  unless one has the money to build a replica.
Today's post is an expansion on that original,  combined with the one from March,  for I not only would like to show how I have been turning a portion of my home into a pseudo-replicated colonial farm house,  but how I've been working on bringing to life the hint of a colonial great hall as well by adding a few historical accessories,  which definitely lends a touch of authenticity to the entire look and scope.
You see,  I've studied history now for over 50 years  (yes,  I am that old),  and I've always found myself paying much closer attention to the smaller,  mostly background details that the more casual fan of history tends to overlook;  lighting apparatus,  walking wheels,  types of chairback,  seeing kettles in the hearth or over a fire,  kitchenware,  drinking glasses,  type of writing implements...that's what will attract me to a historical movie,  TV series,  or other living historians every bit as much as clothing.  If we were to rely on museum collections alone,  we might get an impression of a much richer level of material wealth than truly was the case.  This is because most museums save the unusual and the valuable objects,  with commonplace items tossed to the dump.  However,  Greenfield Village's representation of an 18th century rural farmhouse goes against the grain,  for Henry Ford himself collected the commonplace objects found in the homes of the common man and woman. 
But first,  a quick recap of how I accomplished turning a portion of my home into something somewhat historical:
Once I came to realize that my wife and I could never afford the historic house we really wanted,  I got to thinking...what if I added on an addition to my house,  but to my  specifications?  I knew what I wanted in style and decor',  so I needed to find a builder who was willing to work with me and my ideas.
I did find one,  after only a few interviews.  And at a fair price,  too.
So in 1999,  that's just what we did,  and our 1944 bungalow now had an inside look of an 1863 Victorian:
Welcome to our own version of a mid-to-late 19th century parlor,  based on a couple of parlors in some of the homes inside historic Greenfield Village.

~Victoriana~
This became the room in which we entertained our friends and family,  whether it was during a holiday such as Easter or Christmas,  or just having people over for visits.  And,  for a number of years,  our Civil War reenacting civilians would attend our annual meeting here while in period clothing.
It was everything I hoped it to be...and more.
Well,  as you may know,  though I have a strong interest in Victorian America,  my true passion for America's past lies deeply and steeply in the colonial period - the 1760s through the 1780s.  That's not to say I don't love the 19th century as well.  I do and always have.  But there's something about the later colonial/early Republic era that has called to me since my youth.
So,  as a result,  I knew it was time for a change to the room.  Not a big change,  mind you.  But something that would satisfy both of my history passions of the 1770s and  the 1860s.  So it was when I was visiting the Henry Ford Museum,  as I was looking at a timeline of historic kitchens,  that I had an idea...an epiphany,  rather:
It was while I was gazing at this 1840s kitchen located in the    
"Kitchens Through Time"  exhibit when my inspiration hit.
"Kitchens Through Time"  is an exhibit of,  well,  four kitchens - one from the 1700s,  one from the 1840s  (as seen above),  one from the 1890s,  and one from the 1930s - all back to back to back to back where the corners meet to form a circle,  allowing the viewer to easily see the noticeable changes over a 200+ year period at a few step glance.
This 1840s kitchen,  though a half-century into the future from the 1700s,  still had that strong colonial feel to it.  And the look mesmerized me - I wanted something like this in my  own home.  Not necessarily a kitchen,  mind you...but since the Henry Ford Museum has makeshift dioramas  (in a way),  why can't I do the same?
But what I wanted to use as my model was the great hall of the Daggett house:
No,  this is not my home.  Lord,  I wish!
This is a part of the great hall inside the Daggett house.
How can I replicate this?
Now,  it's good to have brilliant friends.  At least,  brilliant to me,  for after thinking about what I wanted to do and planning out the ideas in my head,  I called my friend,  Darrin,  and told him my concept about creating a sort of colonial wall,  but I wasn't sure how to go about doing it.  He suggested checking out the paneling at the local Lowes home improvement store,  that they might have something I could use.
You know what?
They did!
Hand-made nails

This is not your parent's paneling,  that's for sure.
After speaking to another friend of mine,  Al,  who happened to be a carpenter,  and explaining to him through the pictures of the above houses what I wanted,  we came up with a plan:  purchase the paneling then paint it the color I wanted  (brown).  So a third friend,  John,  had a vehicle that could easily carry the load I needed to my house.  Well,  it wasn't really a load - just five 4x8 sheets.
I took advantage of nice spring weather and got all of the painting of the panels done in an afternoon,  and the following weekend Al came by,  measured,  then cut out the pieces.  The two of us then nailed them to the fireplace wall - using hand-made squared nails.
I must say,  I am quite pleased at how it turned out:
Here is what I was able to come up with.
Fake electric fireplace and all.

Now,  it's one thing to have such a cool replication,  but another to make it come to life.
Oh!  I have an idea for
another blog post!
It's been said that what we do as reenactors is pretending;  that we are just adults acting like kids  pretending  to live in a time so long ago.
Yeah...I suppose one could look at it that way.
Others,  however,  liken it to  'cos-play.'
Not even close.
You see,  it's so much more.  The definition for Living History is an activity that incorporates historical tools,  activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time.  Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history,  living history is similar to,  and sometimes incorporates,  historical reenactment.  Living history is an educational medium used by living history museums,  historic sites,  heritage interpreters,  schools and historical reenactment groups to educate the public or their own members in particular areas of history,  such as clothing styles,  pastimes and handicrafts,  or to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history.
Cosplay is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character.  Favorite sources include anime,  cartoons,  comic books,  television series,  and video games.
See the difference?
It's a different realm altogether  (and this is not a knock against cosplayers).
We,  as living historians,  work to bring back real history:  the visual,  the feel,  and the correct historical information.  We spend countless hours researching every minute detail of actual history,  including clothing,  accessories,  hair,  lifestyles,  furniture,  language.... so,  yes,  we are pretenders...but we are so much more than that.
We blur time...
We also teach,  which is why we must be diligent about getting it right.
So my thought then is how accurately am I able to show history.  I mean,  we will never  be able to get it 100% correct,  but attempting to  get there  is part of the fun.
I,  along with so many history people,  am a big fan of the AMC TV series,  "Turn:  Washington's Spies,"  (which had aired a few years ago)  that told the story of  the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.  Now,  I will be the first to admit they took plenty of liberties with history in the storyline,  which does not please me.  But I still very much enjoy the show.
The producers of  Turn certainly spent a lot of  time and effort on the background details - the houses and accessories -  which were pretty amazing.  If only they were as accurate in the storyline...
So how accurate were they in their 18th century presentation?
Well,  you already know of my infatuation for the home once belonging to Samuel Daggett,  so we will use that as our comparison check:
The curators of Greenfield Village are exceptionally meticulous about object placement;  nothing is placed randomly inside the structures there.  The curators carefully consider each and every item before allowing it to become part of the site.  This sort of thing is what gives the appearance of everyday 18th century life that goes beyond most museums,  whether the house is a showpiece without presenters,  like the Plympton or Giddings House,  or one that is in constant historical use,  such as the Daggett House.  And it's this type of vigilance that maintains the appropriate period appearance for each building.  Every object has something to say.  Nothing is there by accident,  and nothing is there that doesn't support the overall story,  including of the house itself.
That being said,  let us do some comparisons of the sets on AMC's Turn and the real deal that is inside Greenfield Village:
Above we see the farmhouse  'set'  of Abraham and Mary Woodhull in  "Turn."
And,  just to show you how authentic this  "set"  is,  below is a 

similar-style photo taken of the actual 1750s saltbox/breakback 
farmhouse once belonging to Samuel Daggett:
Pretty cool,  eh?
Turn was so well done in so many ways,  and the quality improved with each new season,  yes,  including the script and storyline  (like I mentioned,  not all historically accurate,  but still great historical drama),  the clothing  (pretty much  "eh"  initially,  for the most part,  but improved over time)  to the amazing sets.  And given the fact that it is rooted in our early American history - the Revolutionary War! - makes it,  shall we say,  highly prefered!
Here is another look at Abraham and Mary Woodhull's breakback/saltbox house from Season One.  It was perfect:
The Woodhull saltbox house as depicted in  "Turn"...
And below we see another shot of the Daggett 

saltbox/breakback from 1750.
It makes me wonder if the house on Turn was real or truly just a 'set'? 
And if it was a set,  then they did a remarkable job.
I simply cannot visit Greenfield Village without stopping in.
And another  'set'  to actual comparison:
Mary Woodhull sitting near her hearth in  "Turn,"  and below is a 
picture I took inside the Daggett House at the hearth.
The past comes to life in person and on TV.
'Tis a far cry from TV shows of old.

And from museums of old.
In another scene from  "Turn,"  we see not the Woodhull's breakback,  but,  rather,  the inside of a different colonial home.
However,  it still bears a striking resemblance to the Great Hall 
inside the Daggett House in the photo below,  doesn't it?
One has to admit just how authentic these sets 
are in the TV show when compared to the real deal.  The 
designers truly went above and beyond in historic authenticity.
Oh!  If I could live in such a structure,  I would.
But that is not to be...
However - - -
Susan tries out my antique walking wheel in the little colonial 
portion of my back room.
(By the way,  many thanks to Marlene DiVia,  administrator of a Facebook TURN page for
extracting  the photos for me from the show.  I certainly do appreciate it!)

It is because the look and feel of the old saltbox is so colonial American,  and because it seems relatively simple to create,  that I decided to imitate portions of it inside my own home.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,  you know.
The Daggett-ization of Ken's home...
In the night time~
With the house that I live in being a 1944 cookie-cutter bungalow that looks like nearly every other mid-20th century homes in my city,  it is quite far architecturally from the 18th century break-back/saltbox of my dreams.  So mirroring Daggett to any great  extent would prove to be quite the difficult undertaking.
To help in my attempts to authenticate the 18th century rural look I strive for,  I've been trying to acquire some of the everyday items I spy when I visit the Daggett house,  for the curators that I mentioned earlier have placed throughout the house wonderful little morsels of the past unnoticed to any great extent by most,  but are actually true treasures in telling the history.  And without  'em the home would not look as credible.
For instance,  in the buttery off the kitchen are shelves that hold a variety of interesting items:
Above:  
This picture was taken inside the kitchen/buttery of the Daggett 
House.  You can see their leather costrel and drinking vessels on 
the shelf amongst the other necessary bowls,  crocks,  and 
other items of an 18th century farm. 
Below is my own replication:
I searched high and low for a costrel and leather drinking vessel 
to replicate Daggett's.  The Greenfield Village curators guided me 
in the right direction and I purchased these items from the same 
company:  Samson's Leather  (now Samson's Historical).
I may not have everything,  but I think I got it pretty close.
And here are two more buttery pictures:
Showing the Daggett buttery from a bit of a different angle-----
and my replica in a corner cupboard:
The corner cupboard is about 200
years old,  so my cool little accessories
actually work quite well here.
And another Daggett comparison:
This was a little set up inside the great hall of the Daggett House,
and here is my copy:

Again,  not exact,  but it works.
In fact,  I had one of the long-time Daggett presenters tell me 
they had to flip back and forth between my photos to see which 
were Daggett and which were mine!
I suppose that's the best compliment I could ask for!

Here is more of my Daggett-ization:
Inside the kitchen we find the  “Lanthorn,”
which is an archaic word for lantern because of
the translucents coming from cow's horn.
By the way,  note that the bottom of this
particular lanthorn,  where the candle sits,  comes out.
What is so interesting is that,  before the widespread availability of glass,  cattle horn was heated and flattened to separate the layers that were peeled thin enough to permit light to pass through,
and these thin sheets of horn glazing were used to protect a candle or other flame against wind,  similar to a pane of glass.  They could also use talc,  bladder or oiled paper.
Lucky for me,  I found someone who made replica lanthorns.  Of course,  if you know anything at all about me,  you would know that I would do my best to purchase one.
And I did - -
Not exactly in the same fashion as the Daggett lanthorn,
but close.  Very, very close.
Two colonial lanterns:  the one on the left has a cow's horn 
translucent while the one on the right has glass.
Merry Christmas.
As glass grew cheaper it gradually ousted all other materials,  but the horn lantern was still being used in the early part of the 19th century.
Here are a few more of my replicated 18th century lanterns.
Glass - not horn.
To read more about my lanterns and life without electricity,  please see the link  "In the Night Time:  Living in the Age of Candles"  at the bottom of this post.
One of my candle boxes.
By the way,  every candle we have is homemade at my house 

during one of my fall candle making parties,  where each is 
crafted in a traditional manner - either by dipping or by candle 
mold - as you see in the pictures below.
Note the candles still in the molds.
In the photo below the candles have been removed from the molds.

This is an annual tradition for me.
One day we'll do it in period clothing!
A nice brass candle holder works.
This one came from Colonial Williamsburg.
Note the candle snuffer.
Of course,  before our modern wicking,  one needed a snuffer to 
continuously trim the curling wick as it burned,  catching it with 
the receptacle.

A lit candle is a wonderfully simple way to bring back days of old.  You can have the most modern of home decor in a brand new house,  but a flame burning from a candle in a darkened room will always give it that old-time feeling.
But,  if you surround it with items from the past,  well then,  it is almost a time-travel experience.
Yes,  I actually do write by candlelight with quill and ink at my table.

Especially in our modern times,
a living historian's gotta do what
he's gotta do to keep some sort of sanity.

For the picture above and below,  I am inside the Daggett House.
I brought along a couple of items with me for a photo opportunity.

I absolutely made for certain no visitors were about,  and everything was quickly put away after a couple of photographs were taken.
The ink bottle I brought was inkless,  by the way.
And below here I replicated it - sort of - in my own home:
Most people back in the day followed the daylight from room to 
room to accomplish their activities,  for burning a candle in the 
daytime hours,  unless there were very thick dark clouds,  was not 
a common thing.  In fact,  it was considered wasteful.
One of the irritations I have while watching period drama shows,  such as Turn,  Outlander,  or Poldark,  is seeing multiple candles lit - sometimes a dozen or more - in a single room...and it's daytime!
Arghhh!!
Here are a few of my other 18th century replications:
From left we see a sugar cone wrapped in blue paper  (with the 

sugar nippers directly below),  candle and candlestick,  redware 
cup and bowl,  a period-correct knife and two-prong fork,  and 
something to read while I eat - a Farm Almanack from 1771.

My wife Patty and I rarely do any sort of extravagant presents for our birthdays;  usually it's a gift certificate or a DVD or something pretty simple like that.
So this year  (2020),  when she asked me what I wanted for my birthday,  I,  more off the cuff than not,  told her I would love to have a flax break,  like the one used at the Daggett House.  She told me to see if I could find one online  (for we haven't seen any in the antique shops we frequent)  and,  if not too terribly expensive,  we can get it.
Really?
ooooooooo!!
So I popped on Ebay,  where I've searched numerous times before,  and - lo and behold - there it was!  Like,  within a minute - the exact one  I wanted!  I mean,  I've seen them before online but they weren't  *quite right*,  or they were overly expensive plus high shipping costs,  so I waited...and waited...and waited...until -bazinga!- that particular night I found this one.
A problem though---it was  "pick up only,"  and the place it was coming from,  Jeanne's Antiques,  was in a town in Nebraska,  which is a bit of a hike from my home near Detroit,  Michigan  (13 hour drive).  I ended up finding the phone number of the place,  talked to the proprietress,  and we were able to work out a wonderfully fair deal,  which included shipping.
The only downside was it was going to take a couple months to get here,  for the company uses a private shipping firm for larger items.
It was either that or I take the 13 hour drive out to Nebraska,  which I really didn't want to do.
So!
Wanna see what it looks like?
First here is the one at the Daggett house:
The Daggett House flax break.  
The one I wanted had to look like this in order for me to get it.
Patience is a virtue,  or so I am told...
And here is the one I recently purchased:
This is it!
My new/old flax break!
Now scroll back and forth between the two pictures.
Pretty cool,  huh?
Though I ordered it May 20,  it took a pretty long time to be delivered,  for they use a private company for larger deliveries,  so I did not physically have it in my possession until July 9th.
When it finally arrived,  I wrote:
It's here!  My major award!
No...it's not a leg lamp...it's actually a much more awesome Gift - - a flax break!
It was purchased back in May,  the week before my birthday - it's a combination birthday & Father's Day gift.
And it was just delivered about a half hour ago!
I know it's probably the least impressive thing most of you have seen,  but to me it is golden. 
Compare mine in to the one at the 1760s Daggett house.
Yep---Ken is happy...even in this unbearing heat.
I am very,  very satisfied and very very thankful...the Daggett-izing of my house continues!

And to go along with flax  (and, yes,  wool),  we have spinning wheels:
One of my great wheels is not pictured,  
though my Saxony is here,  as is my clock reel.
Before the textile industry of New England grew at the very end of the 18th century,  for eventually the region was known for its textile mills,  most was produced in the home.  The production of fabric first required raw materials:  fleece from sheep,  flax,  cotton,  or silk.  And spinning required nimble fingers,  quite difficult in the wintertime in a room with no fire.  Julia Smith from Connecticut,  faced with a quantity of wool to spin on such a day,  made a fire in the small room in which to spin and asked to have her great wheel moved into the warming space.
Hired girls carried much of the responsibility for spinning.  From Sarah Emery:  "Aunt kept a hired girl through the year.  In the summer she helped in the dairy and housework,  but her chief employment was spinning."
In February of 1780,  Mrs.  Ebenezer Parkman hired two women for one week to spin.

Another  "accessory"  that was a necessity for nearly anyone who lived in those days of old:
a gun for hunting.
I try to add one big item a year to my collection,  and not too long ago I purchased for myself my first musket.  It is a 1760 replica Gentleman's Fusil Musket,  which was an excellent muzzleloader for hunting.  Being that I portray a farmer,  this gun is perfect.
Every farmer needs his gun.
I fired it only a few times last year,  and I was hoping to do so 

again a few times this year.  With all of the cancellations of 
reenactments,  that doesn't look like it'll happen.  However,  I did 
get invited to take it to a firing range.

I can also use it for those few times when I will 
portray Militia,  such as at the Patriot's Day 
event we put on to commemorate 
Lexington & Concord.
I also purchased a powder horn,  a pouch,  and a knapsack.
By the way,  powder horns have become very fascinating to me,  and my interest in them as an important part of American history has grown tremendously.  As much as I enjoy seeing the original powder horns that helped us to win independence,  I also love seeing those that have been replicated from originals as well,  and marvel at the way the modern craftsmen can copy the scroll and designs almost exact to the originals from a couple centuries ago.  For me as a living historian,  it's accessories such as this that can accent my presentations at reenactments,  and,  I must say,  they are kind of cool to have around to show my friends when they come by the house.
In fact,  not long ago,  I found a few horns for sale while at a living history show.  Oh,  I would have loved to purchase every single one,  for it's these kinds of items that help me to keep that  "spirit of '76"  feeling alive.
Ahhh...too bad I couldn't buy them all...but I did find one that  'spoke to me'  and,  well,  I did purchase it.  In the picture below we see a few of the powder horns that had been replicated from originals,  and I almost immediately spotted the one that seemed to scream  "buy me!"   to me:
As I moved along the rows and rows of tables covered with 
literally thousands of different reenacting collectibles while at the 
Kalamazoo Living History Show,  I came across this collection of 
powder horns,  and one in particular here caught my eye - - - 
Can you guess which one...?
Here is the original  William Waller's Powder Horn
Bearing several popular slogans of the War of Independence,  including LIBERTY or DEATH,  
APPEAL TO HEAVEN,  and the sobering KILL or be KILLD,  this engraved powder horn was 
carried by a Virginia rifleman named William Waller,  who was captured by British and Hessian 
forces after the fall of Fort Washington near New York City on November 16,  1776.
(picture from the Museum of the American Revolution)

And here is the replica that I purchased:
Not bad, eh?
I know it's not exact,  but it is as close as any out there. 
And no matter,  for I am very satisfied with it and  
believe it will go well with my Christ  "Old North"  Church 
"lanthorn"  - a replica of the two that were  "shewn"  as a signal 
on the night of April 18,  1775.  The replicas were made for 
America's Bicentennial celebrations during the years 
1975 and 1976:

The duplicate lantern made in 1975 by the Concord Historical 
Society.  In a way,  it's almost like I am creating my own mini-
museum of early American history,  yet,  it's just me collecting 
the past for no other reason than my passion for the past.
Why,  yes,  I am  a proud patriot...and love having my 
history surrounding me.
As for the powder horn - the use of animal horn along with the non-metal parts,  such as tin,  aluminum,  copper,  nickel,  or even an alloy such as brass,  ensured that the powder would not be detonated by sparks during storage and loading.  Horn was also naturally waterproof and already hollow inside.
"KILL or be KILLD"
In America,  a number of period horns dating from the French 
and Indian Wars throughout the American Revolution and beyond 
have been preserved in private and other collections. Many 
decorated examples shed light on the life and history of the 
individuals that used them, and can be classified as a medium of 
folk art. 

"APPEAL TO HEAVEN 1775"
Powder horns were often decorated usually
with engraving,  making a form of scrimshaw,  
which was sometimes supplemented with color. 
Powder horns play as much a role in our history as the Brown Bess,  cocked hat,  and the local period taverns.  But,  like so many other items that were very important to those who lived in the 18th century,  they are almost lost to time.  Thank God for the historic craftsmen who make fantastic replicas of these ancient necessities,  and also historic reenactors for keeping such items in use for the modern public to see and learn from,  for few can bring the past to life better than the serious historic reenactors.
Yep,  count on living historians to,  one way or another,  bring the past to life right before your eyes!

Then there's this chest:
I knew this beautiful old chest would be mine as soon as I saw it
inside the antique store.
You see,  I am the guy that Frank Barone makes fun of on the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond,  because I love to go antiquing  (Mr.  Barone doesn't think antiquing is manly).  And it just so happened my wife and I were at an antique shop called Around the Farm up near Michigan's little Bavarian town of Frankenmuth.  Around the Farm is in our top three antique stores we frequent because they tend to lean in the direction we love - old farmhouse goodies,  old barn equipment,  and garden tools.
Well,  they also had this chest:
The seller told me that her go-to  guy for trunks & chests 
said this was from the later 18th century or early 19th.  

The painting on the front of the chest.

My friend Larissa and I do historical presentations to groups such as schools,  historical societies,  libraries,  and at reenactments,  and we do it with a first person/immersion approach.  We try to bring our audience back to  "our"  time not only through words and actions,  but also by utilizing the pieces from the past we bring along with us. This gives our audience the opportunity to see and even touch history.  In fact,  I had one gentleman tell me upon seeing what we brought,  "I just saw all this stuff in a museum!"
Now that  was a compliment.
In 2019,  the two of us were asked to present about daily life on a colonial farm to members of the local Detroit Macomb Chapter of the SAR: Sons of the American Revolution, all descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers.   For us to present to this American institution was such an honor!  I mean,  to be in a room filled with men who were descended from Revolutionary War soldiers is really quite a historical thrill.  And they were a fine audience indeed,  for they showed a keen interest in learning how most of their own ancestors lived their everyday lives on the farm before and after their tenure in the Continental Army.
Larissa and I with some of the material culture  we bring to our 
historic presentations.  We will get to what's on the table 
momentarily, but what is more difficult to see are some of 
the farm tools behind me:
I see two hand-made wooden farm implements behind me: a hay 
fork and a rake.  In front of me there is a yoke with two buckets,  
and in front of Larissa we see a butter churn.
(Photo courtesy of Chris White)
Beeswax candles set up showing how many dips it takes 
to make a useable candle.

A block of tea from China.
A woman of Chinese descent saw this and could read the writing 
on the block.  I wish I could remember what it said,  but it was 
very interesting to see. 
Before the infamous Boston Tea Party,  tea was the drink of choice for many colonials.

As for the rest of our table items:
I spy with my little eye:  
the tin kitchen,  pure beeswax and candles at various stages of 
dipping,  a tin candle mold,  a brass candle holder,  an actual 
18th c candle snuffer,  a Betty lamp,  a lanthorn,  a butter paddle,  
a wrapped sugar cone and sugar nipper,  sheep shearer,  hog 
scraper,  a block of tea,  carding paddles,  niddy noddy,  wool of 
various stages from raw to spun & dyed,  and,  up front to the 
right,  a  "No Stamp Act"  teapot to show where our loyalties lie.
Larissa explains the process of cooking by way of a  'tin kitchen'.
(photo courtesy of Chris White)

A wooden churn.  I also have one of crock.
We actually used the crock once and the butter

turned out fabulous.

The period-correct buckets I purchased from Lehman's are being 
put to good use here.  It takes a bit of practice to not have the 
buckets swinging too much,  spilling the liquid contents,  but 
young EJ did a fine job.

In the summer of 2019 I had a couple of my early American flags flying at some of the reenactments I was at.  You see,  I collect replicated historic sewn cotton flags to fly at my tent site.  I have a variety, including the Grand Union, the Culpeper, and the  "Betsy Ross"  flags in my collection.   I was happily surprised to find the great interest in these banners and,  in many cases,  wonderful conversations ensued with interested visitors.
A woman walked up to my tent and asked,  "Where are the 
Patriots located?  I know the British are down over there,  
but where are the Americans?"
"Right here!"  I responded
Her knowledge of historical flags was the same as most Americans - just the basic  "Betsy Ross"  and maybe the Gadsden flag - so I was able to take the opportunity and teach her.
This is a perfect example of how the right accessories can lead to a teaching moment:
In the picture below we see the Taunton Flag  (of Taunton,  Massachusetts) - also known as the Liberty and Union Flag.  It came one year after the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the collective punishment from the British as a result.  It is thought that the Liberty and Union flag flying high on Taunton Green was the first documented flag that was raised in the colonies in defiance to British rule - it definitely was one of the first rebel flags used within British North America to express dissension against the British government and The Crown.  It also initially symbolized underlying loyalty to the Crown as the Union Jack was viewed as the King's Colours.
My camp at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne.
The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike.  Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words  "Don't tread on me.”  The flag is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden,  who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution.
Considered one of the first flags of the United States,  the flag was later replaced by the current style of  stars and stripes flag.  Since the Revolution,  this flag has seen times of reintroduction as a symbol of American patriotism,  a symbol of disagreement with government,  or a symbol of support for civil liberties.
Personally,  this is one of my favorites of all American flags for those reasons alone.

Now we have another flag,  one with a mistaken identity:
The Culpeper Minuteman Flag.
My 1944 cookie-cutter bungalow that looks like nearly every other mid-20th century home in my city bears historic flags,  setting it off from the rest.
The Culpeper Flag was carried by the Culpeper Minutemen from Culpeper County,  Virginia.  The men were part of Colonel Patrick Henry's 1st Virginia Regiment formed in 1775.  The flag was a version of the Gadsden Flag created earlier in the year by South Carolina representative to Congress,  Christopher Gadsden,  but with Patrick Henry's famous words  "Liberty or Death"  added on the sides.  This is one of the few American Revolution Flags that we can say with certainty was truly carried in the Revolutionary War.

Below:
The Tree Flag  (or Appeal to Heaven Flag)  was one of the flags used during the American Revolution.  The flag,  featuring a pine tree with the motto  "An Appeal to God"  or,  more usually,  "An Appeal to Heaven,"  was used originally by a squadron of six cruisers commissioned under George Washington's authority as commander in chief of the Continental Army in October 1775.  It was also used by Massachusetts state navy vessels in addition to privateers sailing from Massachusetts.
The design of the flag came from General Washington's secretary,  Colonel Joseph Reed.  In a letter dated October 20,  1775,  Colonel Reed suggested a  "flag with a white ground and a tree in the middle,  the motto AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN"  be used for the ships Washington commissioned.
Depending on the day,  my neighbors get a different history lesson.
And next to the Appeal to Heaven flag we have the Grand Union flag from late 1775.  It was also known as the Continental Union flag,  or sometimes just the Union flag.  It had the British Union Jack as a canton on a field of 13 red and white stripes representing the 13 colonies.  It is said that the symbolism apparently carried a double message–loyalty to Great Britain but unity of the American colonies.
The Grand Union Flag was the flag of the united colonies on July 4,  1776 when independence was declared from Great Britain,  as well as on September 9,  1776, when the name  "United States"  was chosen for the former British colonies.  It remained the first American flag,  though unofficial,  of the United States until the Flag Resolution of 1777,  which was passed on June 14 of that year,  making the 13 star flag the official United States flag.  The new 13 star flag replaced the British Union with  "13 stars,  white in a blue field,  representing a new constellation."

There have been questions of late regarding the historical accuracy of the Betsy Ross flag.  I've done my own research rather than follow the lead of those historians who tend to follow the current public attitude.
Historians,  to their credit,  always want source documentation.  However,  the oral history testimony of Betsy Ross's own daughter and other early family members of her time recount Betsy's story,  and historically the dates and circumstances remain unrefuted.  Evaluating the circumstantial evidence also supports her story,  including the paper star found in a safe in the 20th century.
The infamous  "Betsy Ross"  flag flying at Fort Wayne in Detroit.
Perhaps we'll never be 100% certain on who made the first 13 star flag,  but the evidence,  in my opinion,  though I am going against the grain of historians  (who I believe are mistaken),  supports Betsy Ross as the maker of the first flag,  and to blow off the story as a complete fable is doing our country's history an injustice.
Those who have not been to my  (obviously not saltbox)  home 
before have no trouble figuring out which house is mine!
"All these bungalows look the same!  I wonder which one is Ken's?"

"Um...maybe the one with the historic flags?"
lol
And the rockets red glare,  the bombs bursting in air----
I know...that's the War of 1812,  but it's what went through my mind as I took these pictures on Independence Day evening.
4th of July 2020
4th of July 2020

























Coloring my presentation
This posting is not meant to sound like I am bragging about what I have in my collection,  for I'll bet that many of you also have quite a few historical objects that you bring along to reenactments that can also be incorporated into your home life,  if that is also your desire.  I am simply trying to show my living history friends who are interested in taking their passion for the past to another level,  but feel they cannot  (for some reason or another),  a very simple way of having a period look in your home,  and not at too high of a cost.
 As mentioned earlier,  living history is much more than clothing alone,  and to add to your historical experience during off times by bringing a bit of history into your own home can be done quite easily simply by going through your boxes inside your trailer.  And then,  if your desires are to continue to add to the look,  that,  too,  can be done easily through sutlers and a few antique shops.  It's actually quite easy and a lot of fun to do.
And that's what I look for and use to help Daggettize  my house,  for I am always paying particular attention to the minor,  seemingly insignificant details that help tell the overall story when I visit the original.
And with that I aspire to improve my living history,  whether at home or in camp,  with each new reenacting season,  for it is my hope that when a visitor enters my camp,  or my own home,  they feel as if they stepped out of the future and into the past.
Yes,  it is definitely the little things like what you see here that'll bring history to life.  I know many of you also have replicated artifacts,  for I see them in your camps at reenactments,  so why lock them away between each reenactments when you can have historical uniqueness in your own home?
Ah...home,  home again...I like to be here when I can...
When I come home cold and tired,
it's good to warm my bones beside the fire.
Far away across the field,  the tolling of the iron bell
calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spell

The items I own as seen in these pictures were purchased at a variety of places,  including:
Samson's Historical
Jas.  Townsend
Lehman's in Ohio
Various vendors at the Kalamazoo Living History Show
The various gift shops at Greenfield Village
Flag Shop
And even here and there,  through diligent searches,  on Amazon and Ebay,  just to find just that one specific item.
Most reenactors will purchase such items for their historic events,  and for weeks in between will keep these items boxed up in trunks in their garages or trailers.
I find that some of this stuff is just too cool to keep locked away,  hidden.  There are stories in these objects,  and I will tell them,  even inside my own home.

Also,  remember to click HERE and HERE  for the pages I mentioned that are filled with links to the vendors.


Until next time,  see you in time.

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Postscript:
~I write often about the Daggett Home.  There is simply something that pulls me to it like no other.  And it always has,  ever since I saw it for the first time back in 1983.  Now I always stop in for a  "visit"  every time I go to Greenfield Village,  even if it is just a quick walk through.  And while the Village is closed during the winter months,  I will drive along the road that runs alongside the Village,  and I can see the exterior from my car.
It's like an old friend---a really  old friend - that I enjoy visiting!
And writing about.~

Here is a collection of links to my blogs concerning everyday life in the colonies:

Kitchens Through Time:  Putting Our Ancestors in their Place and Time
This is part history and part family history:  a blending of the two.  I've taken mainly my female ancestors and based a bit of their lives around museum displays to help bring the displays to life.  It's a fun and interesting way to show how you can place your ancestors in their time.
Remember:  our family history is American history.

Travel and Taverns
The long air-conditioned  (or heated)  car ride.  Motels without a pool!  Can we stop at McDonalds? I'm hungry!
Ahhhh....modern travelers never had it so good.
I've always had a fascination of travel back in the day,  and I decided to find out as much as I could about them.
I wasn't disappointed - - - I dug through my books,  went to a historic research library,  'surfed the net'  (does anyone say that anymore?),  and asked docents who work at historic taverns questions,  looking for the tiniest bits of information to help me to understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in the colonial times.
This post is the culmination of all of that research.
Our country's founding relied greatly on the tavern.

Cooking on the Hearth
No stoves or fast food restaurants.  Everything made from scratch.
What was it like for our colonial ancestors to prepare,  cook,  and eat their meals,  and what kinds of food were available to them?  How did they keep their foodstuffs from spoiling and rotting?
If you have questions such as this,  I believe you will enjoy this post.

In the Good Old Colony Days
A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies.  And I do mean  "pictorial,"  for there are over 80 photos included,  covering nearly every aspect of colonial life.
I try to touch on most major topics of the period with links to read more detailed accounts.
This just may be my very favorite of all my postings.  If it isn't,  it's in the top 2!

In the Night Time:  Living in the Age of Candles in Colonial Times
Could you survive living in the era before electric lights or even before the 19th century style oil lamps?
Do you know how many candles you would need for a year?
Do you know what it was like to make candles right from scratch,  or what it was like to visit your local chandler?
That's what this posting is about!

Buried Treasure:  Stories of the Founding Generation
Interesting true tales of  everyday folk of the later 18th century,  including an interview with a soldier who was actually at Concord on April 19,  1775,  the powder horn of James Pike,  the true death-defying,  battle-scarred story of Samuel Whittemore,  runaway slaves & servants,  smallpox inoculations,  and Nabby Adams experience having breast cancer.
Quite a history lesson here!

It's the Little Things
Another post that touches on a variety of subjects,  such as Shadow Portraits, Bourdaloues, Revolutionary Mothers, and a few other interesting historical odds & ends.

A Year on a Colonial Farm
See what it was really like,  month to month,   for farm folks like Samuel Daggett and others as you spend all four seasons on an 18th century farm.

With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence at the Henry Ford Museum
An amazing collection of original Revolutionary War artifacts on display for all the world to see,  telling the story of America's fight for Independence.  An original Stamp Act notification.  A letter written by Benedict Arnold.  George Washington's camp bed,  a coffee pot made by Paul Revere,  a writing desk that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson...yeah...this is some great stuff here!

This posting is geared toward the reader who has a basic interest in the average daily occurrences of  18th century citizens,  and thus,  will hopefully help to give an idea of more of what went on inside many colonial homes.  Thus,  as mentioned,  it is not a  "how-to"  guide,  but a "how they did it"  informational,  for it was a process every man,  woman,  and child  would be quite aware of,  even if  they didn't necessarily do it themselves.

Winter in the Colonial Days - A Pictorial
A modern picture album of winter life 250 years ago,  mostly taken at Colonial Williamsburg and Greenfield Village.  And,  yes,  there is history to be told as well.

A Colonial Harvest
It's the fall,  and that means it's time to harvest your crops.
Let's take a step back in time to see how this was done in the age of the founding generation.

A Colonial Thanksgiving
Aside from what we call the 1st Thanksgiving in 1621,  there is much more to the story in the formation of this most beloved American holiday.

To Drive the Cold Winter Away: ~ A collection of notations of surviving wintertime past - Colonial and Victorian~
Just how did our colonial,  and even Victorian,  ancestors survive in such harsh weather?  How did they stay warm in below 0 degree temperatures?  How did they entertain themselves on cold winter nights without radio,  TV,  or the internet?
This is how.

A Colonial Christmas
Read on to learn that,  contrary to popular belief,  many of our colonial ancestors - from New England to the South - truly did indeed celebrate this glorious holiday ...
...and how they celebrated
Oh!  Myths thought as truth can sometimes be so hard to change,  even with primary sources ~ ~ ~

A Colonial New Year's
In our modern era we think of the New Year's holiday as a time for celebrators to stay up extremely late,  getting stupidly drunk,  watching the ball drop,  and then gorging themselves on pizza,  chips,  and other snacks for 12 hours-plus while watching more football in one day than anyone does in an entire season.
My how times have  *somewhat*  changed...

Hallowe'en Through the Ages
This posting shows a varied celebration of Hallowe'en,  and interspersed throughout are snips and bits of Hallowe'en history and lore.  The many pictures and the historical information should hopefully bring what was  (and still is)  a children's holiday up to the level of adults as well,  for,  initially,  Hallowe'en was actually meant for adults.

Researching 18th Century History
Here is a collection of my favorite books in my library that I use,  seemingly,  on a daily basis,  especially when writing in this Passion for the Past blog.
Other people spend their money on sporting events and the like,  I buy books.

Diaries,  journals,  letters,  newspapers/broadsides,  remembrances...this is what I used to garner these very personal stories from those who were there - actual witnesses,  men & women,  of the Battle of Lexington & Concord.
Their tales will draw you into their world.

Sarah and Rachel: The Wives of Paul Revere
Paul Revere was married twice and,  between his two wives,  he fathered 16 children.
What I attempted to do in this post was to find virtually everything available about these two Mrs.  Revere's.  I think I succeeded - -

Unsung Patriots: The Printing of the Declaration of Independence
There is so much more to this most important American document,  from the idea to composing to printing - who is going to print this? - to delivery...oh yeah,  there is a lot more history to our Declaration than I ever realized!

Declaring Independence:  The Spirits of  '76
Something very special happened almost 250 years ago,  but is that story being promoted?
Come on a time-travel visit to colonial America during that hot summer of 1776 and learn,  first hand,  of the accounts on how we were making a new and independent nation.

Revolutionary War History - Preventing Tyranny at Salem in 1775 
How Salem townsfolk pulled together and beat the British - a true pre-RevWar story that'll make you raise your fists and shout for America!

The Boston Massacre
The causes and tribulations that occurred on that March evening back in 1770.  Some say this was the spark the lead the colonists to unite against the British.
You be the judge.

The Extraordinary Story of Sybil Ludington
Some say her story is not true,  though history tends to side with our young female patriot.  Check out what I wrote in this posting and then decide for yourself if her own daring ride is true or just a fable.

Modern historians like to relegate Paul Revere as more fable than fact,  no thanks to Longfellow's poem.  But this man deserves his place in our history,  and rightfully so,  for his ride was as important as nearly any other occurrence of his time.
I have searched multiple sources to find the true story of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride,  and put it all here.
I think you just might be surprised at what Revere actually did.

William Dawes' Story
Supposedly,  this man was relegated to the footnotes of history due to his name being Dawes.   But he,  too,  has a story to tell of his ride as a partner messenger with Paul Revere.

Other riders who rode out on the night of April 18,  1775...and there were plenty more.  This was the 18th century version of the telephone...or messenger...or e-mail.

What many visitors don't realize is that inside these hallowed walls of history  (Greenfield Village)  there are three specific homesteads which are situated near each other,  and the long past inhabitants of  each of these historic 18th century houses played a role to some varying degree in the Revolutionary War.
This is their collective story.



Before you leave - - -
From the  "A Cool Thing That Happened To Me"  dept.:
~When you're at the Henry Ford Museum on New Year's Day and a young family recognizes you as Paul Revere~
Yes,  I was in modern clothes with my wife Patty and our son Miles when this younger couple,  who had four or five kids in tow,  came up to me and asked if I was Paul Revere,  for they remembered me from Historic Fort Wayne  (Detroit)  from the summer of 2019.
I responded that I was and they thanked me for helping to bring history to life,  for they homeschool their children and are always on the look-out for reenactments to help their children learn about American history.  They told me they very much enjoyed my presentation as Paul Revere and they planned to be back this coming summer  (unfortunately,  covid-19 prevented that).
This really made my day,  and it was a great way to start off the new year.  Such an honor for me.




































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