Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Days of Autumn Past in Photos

For this week's posting I thought I'd show mostly pictures that I took over the last couple of weekends of my favorite season.
Oh, and there are a few videos to boot, to whet your appetite for my updated historical fall posting.
Anyhow, I don't know about where you live, but here in Michigan, the months of September through early November is cider mill time, where thousands of city folk trek out to the country to experience, in a way, "old-fashion" traditional family fun. Cider mills are packed with people this time of year, and people cram to watch the apple presses squeeze the apples into pulp, all the while collecting the juice to make cider. They buy caramel apples, apple pies, apple cider, apple butter, pumpkins, gourds, and all kinds of fall decorations. They spend exorbitant amounts of hard-earned cash to climb haystacks, get lost in corn maizes, take hay rides, visit haunted houses, pet the animals in the petting zoos, and take pictures posing behind wooden stand ups. It's also this time of year when people love to take scenic country drives to enjoy God's splendor and marvel at how He painted the leaves the beautiful colors we now associate with autumn.
With me being the historian that I am, what better place to take fall pictures and to enjoy the old-time autumn atmosphere than at the historical open-air museum of Greenfield Village? Much better than the over-priced cider mills, Greenfield Village has so many wonderful events for folks who love history, but I believe they present autumn the best, as you shall see:
Welcome to the world of autumn past.

I didn't know they had pumpkin trees! But here in the 1920s, we came across one as soon as we came out of the time-tunnel.

Now we're in 1915, and I see a home with a splendid garden.

This is the garden as it might have looked at the Edison cottage in 1915.

Though this picture is from southern Michigan, it certainly has a southern United States feel to it. Maybe Tennessee or Georgia.

As we continued on the road to autumn past, we saw some cows out to pasture at the 1880s Firestone Farm.

Walking toward Firestone Farm, I noticed the hay baler sitting in preparation to do its work.

Here's another shot of the hay baler.

And that's just what they're doing here: baling hay!

The horses are getting ready to plow the fields.

Wait---who is this I see plowing?

Yes...that's me looking determined to do it right for my first time out plowing behind a team of horses. What a thrill it was to have that opportunity. The Firestone Farm workers told me I didn't do bad at all, especially considering it was something I've never done before.

It was hard work, and I only did a couple of rows, but I did it.
I thank the powers-that-be at Greenfield Village for allowing me the opportunity to experience this chore from the 19th century. I also thank Steve Opp (pictured with me) from Firestone Farm for his wonderful guidance and direction to help me do it correctly. I was even welcomed into the "very small group of people who actually done this" club by one of the hands! Yep---this was a major highlight in my living history 'career.'

Here are a few of the trees in the Firestone heirloom apple orchard. The tree on the right is a Belmont from the 19th century.

The heirloom apple tour was very cool, and we not only were able to learn of the many heirloom varieties here in the Firestone orchard, but we were able to taste six or seven of them. Here's one of the tour helpers cutting up the apples for tasting.

And here are the rest of the apple guides. They use no pesticides other than what was used in the 19th century, and yet the apples fair wonderfully every year.

The kitchen garden has been harvested as well. The Firestones had a fine year and should be well-off over the winter months.

The ladies in the Firestone kitchen were very busy cooking a meal - a thresherman's dinner - for all the hardworking farmers harvesting the crops. Boiled dinner, potato salad, squash biscuits, fried green tomatoes, and pumpkin bread.

The candle sticks and holders upon the mantel.

The cellar will soon be filled to over-flowing.

The country road leading you further into the past...

A country store - JR Jones General Store (1880s) - has a fine selection of gourds.

We passed the Scotch Settlement School on our time-travel journey, looking every bit as it did when Henry Ford went here in the 1870s.

While in the 1870s we visited the Ford kitchen...

...where they were boiling grapes to make jelly.

Greenfield set up a few fall displays throughout the Village.

Nothing says autumn like pumpkins!

Now we're in 1860 and visiting the kitchen of the Susquehanna Plantation from Maryland where the ladies of the house are cooking up a seafood meal.

The food from Susquehanna Plantation: fish croquettes, fricasseed oysters, caramel carrots and corn bread. And please watch the following videos to see more of Susquehanna.

After smelling all of this fine food, we decided to head to 1850 and enjoy a meal at the Eagle Tavern

My wife looked lovely as she sat awaiting the dinner bell to be rung.

Awe heck! We both look pretty good! Like we were made for each other!

A warming fire was roaring in the dining room fireplace.

Being it was pretty cold outdoors (a damp, windy 48 degrees), standing by the fireplace was the perfect way to warm ourselves.

Taking another leap back in time, we landed in 1760 Connecticut, at the home of Samuel and Anna Daggett, where we find the men of the house brewing beer. During the formative colonial years most of the brewing and drinking was done in the home. Although the young villages would soon witness the establishment of commercial breweries it was in the home where most beer was produced.

Yes, it's true. Beer was brewed quite frequently in colonial times. Now, the silly introduction the the all-knowing History Channel's "Founding fathers" series makes a point to state something along the lines that it was a wonder the Founding Fathers could stand up with all the beer they drank. Hey! Guess what? Although there were those who drank to get drunk, most drank because it was healthier than water. Even kids drank beer.

Ale and beer was a major dietary staple in the colonies. Literally everyone partook. It was the common item which spanned generations, from cradle to grave everyone drank beer. Infants were fed beer and it was especially recommended for nursing mothers. Farmers, laborers, merchants, lawyers, and craftsman all drank beer. It was a common thread in all their lives and this democratic beverage would even play a role of mid-wife in the formation of government.
It was not uncommon for drinking to begin even before breakfast and it continued with every meal throughout the day. See the video below with more beer brewing information.

Inside the 1760 Daggett saltbox farm house, the kitchen was also bustling with activity, where a fine harvest meal was being prepared.

Onion pie, sausages, potato cakes, dressed vegetables, and a pupton of apples for dessert.

Dried herbs and spices hang near the kitchen hearth.

More herbs and spices hang at the back window.

The walnuts are also drying in preparation for dyeing wool.

Even the Daggett table has a feel of autumn about it!

Since we were in colonial times we decided to visit one of the fancier city houses, the home of John Giddings.

Mrs. Giddings awaits her guests for a harvest tea.

She had a special fruit tree. Please watch the videos below to hear more about it and of the house itself.

"Oh! My guests shan't be too much longer, I pray."

In the Giddings kitchen, the servant girl prepares to make mussel stew along with saffron and queen cakes for the tea. Again, please watch the videos below to learn more about her life at the Giddings home.

I thought this little fall vignette inside the Giddings kitchen looked nice.

Americana: an Independence Hall replica against an autumn sky. So long til next time, 18th century!

Time to leave before the old lamplighter comes around to light the street lamps.

I hope you enjoyed this fall journey through America's past. As I mentioned at the top of this posting, I am working on a new version of my autumn post from a few years ago, including a lot more videos. It should be posted in two to three weeks or so.

~   ~   ~


Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

Wonderful post Ken! You definitely showed Autumn at its best, just beautiful. Nice pumpkin tree. :)
I liked how you showed glimpses of so many time periods in one post.
Take care and have a great week.

An Historical Lady said...

Wonderful post! I enjoyed it so much! You are right too---Lovely couple you and Patti, and made for each other indeed~
Hope you may have had a chance to visit our website. After 16 years here we finally are able to get around to DIY 'doing' our upstairs 'guest bedchamber', and it's looking like the room of our dreams if we do say so! I have thought of you and hope that you two will come East, and stay with in our '17thc. guest chamber' sometime!
We're just finishing the project, but will have the big reveal photos on the site in a few weeks. In the meantime, there are a number of pictures of some of our progress.
Wishing you a lovely fall from your friends in the 18thc. "old brown cape" in New Hampshire!


Kat said...

Hi Ken. Lovely post as usual. The pictures are beautiful. I'm so envious of your cooler weather and you are already seeing color! Here in my state in the South the dogwoods are beginning to turn and I'm watching my maples closely as they are starting to show a little color towards the top. Everything else is still Summer green. The end of October
through early November is when we will be saturated with the beautiful fall colors. I'm looking forward to your next installment of Fall.
I know I've said it before but have to say again that your enthusiasm is contagious and when I see you get to participate in an activity for the first time I get really excited for you because it is so clear how much you enjoy it. I appreciate your detailed descriptions of what is going on with every picture. You succeed in transporting me "in time". I don't visit but a precious few living history blogs and yours is the very best by far. I have very recently made the decision to drop all but yours and one Williamsburg blog. Your labor of love always makes me feel well informed and all the better for visiting you.
Even though I rarely comment please know that I check in almost daily and have also spent a lot of time going through your archives.
Oh, I almost forgot to say that I love the side view picture you took of your wife. It is really a beautiful picture, she looks so content.
Have a good week and let us know when the grand baby arrives.

Historical Ken said...

So many kind comments! Thank you!

Gina - Showing autumn from numerous time periods is Greenfield Village's specialty. I just kinda put them in order...
Thank you kindly for writing - it really means a lot.

Mary - Thank you so much for the kind words.
Don't be surprised when (and I do mean "when") we take you up on your offer and spend time with you and your beloved in your beautiful 18th century home. Of course, we'll be wearing our period clothing for most of our stay...!

Kat - And thank you, too!
I am so honored you feel the way you do about my blog! It really is a labor of love for me, and the greatest compliment is hearing that I had transported you through time. That's what I attempt to do for my readers each and every time, and I never know if I succeed.
Thank you again!

JacquiG said...

Such beautiful pictures and a lovely post. You make me want to visit Greenfield Village. I just spent some time on the website and did a Google map to see how long it would take me to get there (3 1/2 hours). Maybe next summer I can talk my husband into a weekend away :) It looks like a large but lovely village. And you and your wife to look made for each other :)

the bee guy said...

My wife an I were sitting on the left of the fireplace with some friends when you were getting your picture taken. The thick roasted pork chop with walnut ketchup was great. We really like eating at the Eagle Tavern.
We love going to the Village during Fall Flavors Weekends. It's a must see.