Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bringing Historic Homes to Life: The 1750 Home of Samuel & Anna Daggett

The whole point of this post is to get visitors of historic homes to look at these wonderful old structures that sit inside open-air museums with  "new"  eyes - in hopes that instead of just being an old home,  it may now become seemingly alive - - - 
Every-so-often I like to spotlight a specific structure inside historic Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan.  Past postings of this nature have included Dr.  Howard's Office,  Firestone Farm,  the Richart Carriage Shop,  the Ackley Covered Bridge,  and the home of Noah Webster.
But I try not to write about the buildings as if I'm a tour guide reciting lines from a script.  Like many of Greenfield Village's own presenters,  I like to go the extra mile when I write and bring out the building's past in such a way that when you visit it you will look at it with a different mindset...with a different set of eyes that will bring it to life.
I'm hoping for the same for this week's post about the Daggett Farmhouse
Welcome to the 1750 Daggett Farm House
Many of us visit museums - specifically open-air museums - quite often.  And we love to enter the historic homes and just simply take it all in,  don't we?  We enjoy watching the living historian interpreters as they go about the daily activities that emulate and teach visitors about the past:  preparing meals  "the old-fashioned way,"  cooking over a hearth or wood-burning stove,  laundry,  cleaning,  and maybe even some out-of-doors labor.  Many visitors at such places have at least a minimal interest in history,  therefore probably know the basics of life  "back then,"  and are enthralled with the general information often given.
But there is so much more...
Since I've discovered the publication of actual journals and diaries originally written a hundred years ago,  or a hundred and fifty years ago,  or even two hundred-plus years ago,  I no longer look at the old historic houses quite the same,  for these writings tell tales of everyday life as the occurrences happened.  And the menial tasks written all those years ago that meant very little at the time  (and still means little to most modern day historians)  are like gold to a social historian like me,  especially when one understands the purpose behind these chores and tasks.  I feel to fully grasp the times in which the diaries are taking place,  reading and researching the details of everyday life in books that go beyond politics and wars are a must.  This is why I look at a historic home very differently than most normal human beings. 
Let's take the 18th century Daggett Farm House,  for instance. 
From the back corner of the Daggett Farm House
The original location of Samuel Daggett's
homestead that is now in Greenfield Village.
As you can see,  he was right next to his 
father's property.
I have been in this building hundreds of times and always seem to learn or discover something new with each visit.  But it wasn't until I began to read journals and diaries of those who lived in the 1770s and 1780s that I fully understood and appreciated what this house actually represented.
To help explain,  let's do a little background history of this New England structure to familiarize ourselves with its story:  
The Daggett house was built by Samuel Daggett in Coventry  (now Andover),  Connecticut around the year 1750,  just a few years before he married his wife,  Anna Bushnell  (on April 17,  1754 in Lebanon,  Connecticut).  Samuel and Anna had three children:  daughters Asenath  (b.  1755)  and Talitha  (possibly known as Tabitha,  but Talitha is on most records),  born 1757,  and a son,  Isaiah,  who was the youngest and was born in 1759.
Samuel Daggett was a housewright by trade and built this particular home on a spot known as Shoddy Mill Road,  atop 80 acres of land,  half of which had been deeded to him by his father.  Samuel also framed nearly every other house in the surrounding area,  as his account book at the Connecticut Historical Society attests.
Ceiling beams hand-hewn by Samuel Daggett himself back around 1750. 
How cool is that?

In fact,  Samuel Daggett was quite the busy man.  Again,  according to his own notations in his account book,  he... 
sold flax seed
Making beer.
Yes, beer was a very popular and even
necessary beverage for colonials,
including the Daggetts. 

cradling oats,  bale
digging stones
making cider
reaping and mowing
looking for timber for a house
keeping cattle
digging stones for a school house
had a loom and selling flannel cloth by 1756
use of his oxen and mare
mending carts,  wheels,  and making yokes
built a road along his house to his neighbor’s farm
grew and sold tobacco
built and sold coffins
sold bushels and pecks of oats,  wheat,  corn,  and flax
sold cart and wheel
ploughing fields for neighbors
work about a meeting house
drawing  (pulling)  teeth learned from his father John
eight days work of hewing and framing,  reaping and mowing
lent oxen to William Jones October 1756 to go to Haddown with a load of cheese
One would think that would be enough to keep the man plenty busy,  but in order to provide for his family,  Daggett had his hand in additional sources of income,  including making furniture such as chairs,  as well as spinning wheels,  and even,  as mentioned,  coffins.
The account book also refers to Samuel being paid in pounds,  shillings and pence. 

And here is a real treat:  a page from Samuel Daggett's actual account book written with his own hand!  (Imagine...this was probably written all those years ago right inside this house that now stands inside Greenfield Village!):
In the case you have trouble reading what Daggett wrote,  here are a few of the lines deciphered:
Taken from another place in this book dated June 11 1763
Nathel house junor  (junior)  Debtor for a pair of cartwheels 1-2-6-0
more to drawing of 2 toth  (teeth?)  and mending a cartwheel 0-1-6-0
more to 14 pound of veal and half 1 pney hapenny pr.  Pd  0-1-9-3

February 14 – 1754 Credet to Nathel  hous ju cash 0-75-0-00
more to ox work of two days and cash 5 shillings 0-06-3-0
more to 2 quarts and a pint of rome 5 shillings pr. ? 3-10-2

January 15 = 1760 Samuel Blackman Debtor for mending of a foot wheel 0-2-8-0
more to making of a yoak – trimming of it 0-1-0-0
Credet in full for the above acomp in cash of Blackman
The home life and daily activities of Anna and the children were closely connected to the work that Samuel did.  On farms in the colonial era,  each family member played an important role in producing food,  clothing and household goods for the family.  Anna Daggett ran the home and cared for the family.  She prepared and preserved food;  spun yarn;  made clothing,  towels and sheets;  gave the children their earliest lessons in reading and writing;  and fed the animals including chickens and pigs.
Asenath and Talitha
The three Daggett children were prominent in helping out in household duties:  Asenath and Talitha would have learned the skills of  "housewifery"  from their mother.  They would have prepared yarn by carding and spinning;  made clothing,  soap and candles;  tended the garden;  and prepared food.  The following diary entries gives us a hint of an idea of what life may have been like for Mrs.  Daggett.  Though the notations presented here were not written by Anna Daggett herself  (they were written by one of her contemporaries,  Martha Ballard),  the writings do show a glimpse of everyday life as lived through the eyes of one who was there and can easily be assimilated into the Daggett Home:
Working in the garden:  "I sowd parsnips and Carrot seed in the garden by the Barn."
Family health:  "Mr. Ballard  (Martha's husband)  went to meeting.  Dolly is unwell.  Pukeing in the night."
Visiting with friends:  "I went to see Mrs. Meloy.  Find her Tolerable Comfortable.  Old Lady Coutch there."
The hustling, bustling farm of the Daggetts
Chores and friendly visits:  "My daughter Pollard and Mrs.  Dingley here,  helpt me do my work,  washt my kitchen.  I brewed also.  Daughter Lambert came before I had finisht.  She assistd me."
"I have been washing.  Mr.  Livemore,  his wife and Cousin,  & Mrs.  Holdman took Tea.  I feel more fatagued (fatigued) this Evening.  I laid my Washing aside when my Company Came and finisht it after they went away Except rinsing."
Making extra money: "Mrs.  Holdman here to have a gown made.  Mrs.  Benjamin to have a cloak cut." 
The book goes on to say that Martha and her daughters bleached newly spun thread on the grass and hung laundry on such fences as they had, though there were risks in such a practice:  "Hannah washt Daniels Blankett & our swine tore it into strips."
Then there were problems with the neighbor's animals:  "Mr. Livermore's swine in our field a number of times.  I went my self & informed him."
Excellent examples of daily life in colonial times.
The War begins,  and
the Daggetts heard the
news as it happened.
Isaiah may have also helped his mother and sisters with some of the chores around the house,  but more than likely spent most of his time learning farming and other skills from his father. 
Like other families in the colonial times,  the Daggetts used,  sold,  or traded items they made for those they needed.
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.

Below you will find our Daggetts as they were listed in the 1790 census - the first year for the United States to do this count.
This first census began more than a year after the inauguration of President Washington and shortly before the second session of the first Congress ended.  Congress assigned responsibility to collecting the data for the 1790 census to the marshals of the U.S.  judicial districts.  The law required that every household be visited,  that completed census schedules be posted in  "two of the most public places within  [each jurisdiction],  there to remain for the inspection of all concerned..."
Here is an explanation for the data collected below:
1st column - Name of Head of Household
2nd column - Number of free white males 16 and older
3rd column - Number of free white males under 16
4th column - Number of all other free white persons
~The Daggetts in the 1790 census~
(Census day was August 2,  1790)
In studying the data here we can see that by this time both Isiah and Samuel were listed as heads of household,  and can safely assume that Isiah,  Samuel's son,  was married with a family and living in his own nearby home,  for,  besides himself he had five other  "white males"  living with him and two  "other free white persons."  I have not done research on Isiah but I will take an educated guess that this could be a wife,  daughter,  and five sons.
Directly below Isiah's name we find Samuel  (abbreviated to Sam'l - a very common abbreviation at that time)  with only one  "other free white persons,"  presumably his wife,  Anna.
I will also suppose here that by this time the daughters of Samuel and Anna  (Talitha and Asenath)  are married and now live with their own husbands:  Aseneth to Nathaniel Kingsbury  (she died in 1823),  and Talitha,  who passed away in 1846,  to Joseph Carver.  
If and when I decide to take it to the next level and research the Daggett family further,  I will post my findings here.
The tombstone of Anna Daggett:
Birth:  1734
Death:  Jan. 28,  1832
relict of Samuel;  age 98
(From "Find A Grave")
The tombstone of Samuel Daggett:
Birth: 1723
Death:  Aug. 24,  1798
Rev. War Veteran.  Age 75
(From "Find A Grave")

Samuel died in 1798 at the age of 75.  His wife,  Anna,  lived to the ripe old age of 98 and stayed in this house until her death in 1832.
Both are buried in the Old Andover Cemetery.
In Samuel's will he mentions his cider mill situated near the home as well as his workshop.  It's said that the original site location still has the remains of his extensive apple orchard. 

 In fact, here is a snippet of Samuel's actual will:

4 Feb 1799
"In the name of God amen...
I Samuel Daggett of Coventry...having weak in body,  but of sound and perfect mind & memory...give and bequeath to my beloved wife Anna the use and improvement...described real estate during her life.
Beginning at the south side of the barr post standing on the west side of the road leading from my son Isaiah's,  by my Cider Mill at the southeast of a piece of fallowed ground,  these running westerly in the line of the fence to a pasture in the line of the fence to the cross fence on the north side of said pasture.
...I likewise bequeath  (my wife)  five bushels of wheat,  twelve bushels of rye,  twenty five bushels of corn, & two barrels of old mare,  and her colt,  three cows  (to wit,  one called Old Blind,  the great heifer),  three of my youngest swine,  the north half of my dwelling house,  above and below;  one half of the cellar,  one half of my household furniture,  the side saddle,  west end of the barn together with the barn floor..."

Daggett House plans:
click to enlarge
Now  little about the house itself:
The saltbox house  (known as breakback-style during the 18th century)  was a very popular architectural style in colonial Connecticut.  I have read that this form gets its name from the similarity in shape to the small chests used for storing salt at that time.  The most distinctive feature is the asymmetrical gable roof,  which has a short roof plane in the front and a long roof plane in the rear,  extending over a lean-to  (see the various exterior photos).  English settlers created this manner of engineering by adapting a medieval house form to meet the different needs and weather of northeast America.  The design was perfect for the harsh New England climate. 
How long the house you see in this posting remained in the Daggett family is unclear.  By the time antiquarian Mary Dana Wells discovered and eventually purchased it in the early 1950s,  the structure was referred to as the  'Jack Hunt House.'  The old home was originally brought to Mrs.  Wells' attention by a Mr.  George Watson,  an employee/architect of  Old Sturbridge Village,  located in Massachusetts.  That open-air museum could not use a 1750 saltbox due to it not being appropriate to their 1790 to 1840 span of collections and turned it down.

The 1977/78 dismantling of the the 
Daggett House to bring to Greenfield Village.
You can make out the fireplace and the beehive 
(or bake)  oven on the 1st floor, and the 
hall chamber fireplace on the 2nd floor.

And how it now looks inside Greenfield 
Village.  It was rebuilt using hand 
construction methods. 
When Mrs. Wells was told of the 
dwelling as it sat in Andover in 1951,  she had it disassembled and moved 35 miles to Union,  Connecticut,  where she had much of the  '19th century updates'  removed in her own restoration project and,  in doing so,  found the original facade It was this 18th century design that prompted Mrs.  Wells to actually purchase the house for herself.   Once in its new location and restored,  the structure served as Wells' home for the next 26 years,  until she could no longer keep it in its pristine colonial condition.
It was then,  in 1977,  that Mrs.  Wells decided to donate this wonderful representation of colonial New England America,  complete with most of the colonial furnishings she collected, as well as an endowment fund to maintain it,  to Greenfield Village.  
Restoration specialists Watson and Donald Graham watched carefully as the Greenfield Village crew painstakingly dismantled the house and diligently reconstructed the numbered pieces at the far-end of the Village.  The only change made was on the outside wall of the parlor where they found a portion of the house was rotting.  The workers cut in the room a bit and were able to make it work,  though it was now slightly smaller in width. 
With continuous labor,  it was ready for public viewing by the 1978 season.
And now,  with this wonderful New England addition in its new location situated near the other early American structures such as Plympton House,  Giddings House,  the Farris Windmill,  and the English Cotswold Cottage & Forge,  the colonial section of Greenfield Village was complete.  And just down the road a piece is the 1780 log cabin birthplace of William Holmes McGuffey.

Just before opening up for visitors inside the Village in 1978
(photo courtesy of The Henry Ford)
Preparing wool for spinning
"...our research revealed that a family named the Daggetts had lived there during the 1760s,  the period of our interpretation.  From Samuel Daggett's rare account book,  we could reconstruct what the Daggett family did at their farm during that time."
Donna Braden,  Senior Curator and Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford~ 

Employing living history,  the docents who work inside Daggett are dressed in accurate period farm-style clothing of the mid-1700's,  and they work the house seasonally as if they truly lived there 250 years ago.  However,  rather than present in a 1st person verbiage,  such as Plimouth Plantation,  the Daggett presenters remain in 3rd person while employing acts in a 1st person manner,  and it's in this way they can verbally teach the visitor while showing the everyday life of our colonial ancestors.  This includes the preparation and cooking over the hearth of daily meals,  dyeing wool and spinning said wool into yarn by way of a great  (or walking)  spinning wheel,  weaving,  gardening,  chopping wood,  and more.  And the knowledgeable historians who work inside and outside of this house are ready and willing to accept the patrons' many questions.

As you enter the front door you are greeted by a tight,  steep winding staircase to access the upper rooms  (or bed chambers)  now used for storage. We will come back to this area momentarily.
If we turn left at the stairs we will enter the parlor or  "best" room.  This was a more formal and private room reserved for the more formal entertaining of family,  the preacher,  and close friends.  Due to the centrality of the chimney,  it also has its own fireplace.  You see,  aside from the structure's unusual shape,  another thing you may notice while visiting  (or in the photographs here)  is the single central chimney,  allowing for a simple design of having a fireplace in each room on both floors. 
In this video clip,  a Daggett presenter gives us a tour of the parlor:
And here we have a side view of this beautiful home showing the outside wall of the parlor.
Note the cut-a-way wall mentioned in the above clip.
As this room is known as the parlor,  I was somewhat surprised to find a bed there.  But upon asking the  "experts,"  I've come to learn that this  'press bed'  would have been acceptable in this  'best room,'  and would have been used when guests traveled through the area and had no other place to stay,  or even for the mother when she was in labor.

So,  since there was a press bed there and I was a bit tired,  and  I was kind of a guest...sort of...I thought I'd take a little nap.  How was I supposed to know I wasn't allowed to do that?
Boy!  Was I wrong!
Ha!  Just kidding.  It's just a little photo trickery.
I hope you all know me better than to think I would actually do 
this...but it sure does make for a fun picture,  doesn't it?

And just to show the dedication of the presenters who work in Daggett House:
This the underside of the  'whole cloth quilt'  that’s on the press 
bed in the parlor  (see in the picture below).  
"We wove and dyed and quilted it.  It’s the initials of all the
employees who worked on it."

And here is the quilt on the press bed:
Isn't it amazing?

Here is a photograph of the parlor from the window looking 
toward the kitchen.  Ahhh...there's the fireplace to help keep us 
warm during the winter.

The parlor from the opposite end.

Looking into the parlor from the kitchen. 
Note the colonial shoes under the bed.

Now,  let us go to the right of the stairs where we will enter the main room of the house - the  "great hall."   Click the video clip to watch a short presentation about this room: 
The way this room is presented in the Daggett home is as an all-purpose area with a large fireplace and hearth where most of the cooking,  eating, and chore presentations occur. However,  originally,  the great hall would not be too far removed from our modern-day living room.  Whereas the formal parlor was reserved for the closest of friends,  the great hall would have been the room where family and friends of all kinds would congregate for visits,  where crafts and tasks such as quilting,  spinning,  and weaving would occur,  and,  yes,  even eating a meal could take place.
A corner of the great hall...

A slight shift to the right and we can see 
the front door behind the wood box.

And another slight shift to the right with the front door open

The great hall fireplace at night

...and the opposite corner of the great hall, looking toward the kitchen

And the fourth corner of the great hall - that's the kitchen entry to the left.
Relaxing on a winter's eve in the great hall

From the great hall we step into the kitchen.  This elongated room in the Daggett home was built along the back wall under the lean-to,  and,  like the other main rooms,  also includes a large fireplace.  Besides a kitchen,  this rear room could be divided up into a pantry,  buttery,  and sometimes an additional bedroom.
As presented in Greenfield Village,  to the immediate right,  is the buttery.  The buttery was similar to our modern pantry  (or larder) storing food and other provisions,  wines & liquor,  and utensils needed for cooking and eating.
In the buttery

To the left of the entrance way we see the kitchen itself.
Anna Daggett in the kitchen
This is where most of the food is prepared by the presenters.  In Anna Daggett's time,  however,  she would have also cooked over the kitchen hearth,  but since this room is so elongated,  it would be difficult to get very many visitors to comfortably witness colonial hearth cooking.   
At the kitchen hearth in the evening.
This is why,  thankfully,  all hearth cooking takes place in the fireplace located in the great hall where everyone can watch and learn,  especially the little ones.
At the far end of the kitchen we see another small room separated by a doorway.  This may have been an additional bedroom,  though,  according to the floor plans,  this little room is called the borning room. 
~The far end of the kitchen~
The "borning room" is through the doorway you see, 
and the parlor is to the left.
"Just what the heck is a  'borning room'?"  I asked myself.  So I put the call out to my historical friends and have been told that this would be where a woman would give birth,  though there is no proof that this space inside Daggett was actually a  'borning'  room.
I suspect it may have even been Isiah's bedroom. 
The kitchen from the opposite end

Would you like to check out  "above stairs"  in the Daggett house?  You would? 
Well then this next section is for you - what you will see here are some rare images of the bed chambers on the 2nd floor.  

Here is a short video clip explaining what you will see at the top of the stairs:

So,  now,  let's head to the 2nd floor of the Daggett home:
Won't you come along with me?  
Be careful - the winding staircase is narrow.
The general public is not allowed access to this part of the home for it is used mainly for storage,  therefore the pictures are only glimpses.  However,  seeing past the boxes and other items,  it is a fascinating look at the upper bedrooms of an 18th century saltbox house.
Up the stairs we go. The room we see directly in front of us is the 
parlor chamber, directly above the parlor.

A parlor chamber was considered the master bedroom and would keep the most elegant bedroom furniture.  You'll notice,  however,  in the floor plan that the parlor chamber is smaller than the hall chamber.  This is because,  as mentioned in the video clip about the 1st floor parlor,  when the house was being restored it was found to have irreparable rotting wood in that particular area and,  therefore,  the side wall had to be resized and rebuilt to smaller dimensions than the way it was originally.
At the top of the stairs and into the parlor chamber. 
Yes,  that's me looking out the window.
Note the hand-hewn ceiling beams by 
Samuel Daggett himself directly above me.

Parlor Chamber - directly above the parlor - now used mainly for storage.

The parlor chamber fireplace - connected to the central chimney.
Bring on the winter - we have a fireplace!

The other large bedroom was called the Hall Chamber.  This would have been for Samuel & Anna and maybe their children as infants.
The hall chamber (directly above the great hall).
Anyhow, again we see more storage.
Now used for storage,  this could have been the room where Talitha and Asenath slept.  (Maybe the borning room off the kitchen could have been Isaiah's room?)
It's here where the furniture of Mrs. Wells is kept, numbered and wrapped. 
I was told it was specified by her that her furniture was 
to remain in the house as
part of the deal.  Since it was not all 
correct to the period in which Greenfield Village wanted to represent,  they held up their end of the deal and kept the furniture 
inside the home,  even though it's not displayed downstairs.

On the opposite side of the room in the hall chamber we see 
another fireplace meant for warming during winter nights. 

The hall that connects the two bed chambers - 
from the hall chamber to the parlor chamber. 
The stairs to go down to the first floor are 
along the orange barrier.

Heading back  "below stairs"
I would love to one day see Greenfield Village set the 2nd floor up in the way it might have been nearly 300 years ago and keep it for viewing on special occasions.
Maybe one day...

Let's take a step out the kitchen door and head to the magnificent garden behind the house. 
Heirloom plants are grown back here and used for cooking and presenting purposes.  If you catch the presenters on a slower day,  don't be afraid to ask for a tour of the garden,  for this is where one can see the extent that Greenfield Village goes for that extra mile in its authenticity.
~The Daggett garden~
I do apologize for not having photos of the plants themselves. 
I will rectify that situation this coming season.
Seasonal Daggett - - - - 
Gardening: springtime preparation
After the long,  cold winter,  it's time to get the ground prepared for planting
Gardening: springtime planting
Along with the more common vegetables and herbs known in our modern times,  this garden is filled with such a variety of heirloom plants as such one never sees or hears about unless in a historic situation. 

Gardening: summer care
Gardening: Summer care
By later June the garden is in full bloom...
Besides the varieties of squash,   beans,  lettuce,  asparagus,  and other vegetables used to help sustain the family,  Anna Daggett would have also grown plants for medical purposes as well,   including wormwood,  which was a purgative for stomach issues or worms,  tansy was used to stop bleeding and bruising,  and chamomile,  which was used,  same as it is today,  to make a calming tea.

Gardening: fall harvest
By early October,  much of the garden was nearly ready for harvesting 
Gardening: fall harvest 
And by early November we will see one of the Daggett daughters 
bringing in the remaining necessities for food and health purposes. does one water the garden during a dry spell when little or no rain falls?
From the well,  for sure,  but how to get the water from the well is the question.
Colonial farmers were known to use well sweeps.
For those who have visited the Daggett house in person,  have you noticed that long wooden pole coming up from the ground with rope and a bucket tied to the end that sits just outside the kitchen/buttery door?  That's a well sweep.  Largely used in colonial America and on the frontier,  well sweeps were vital simple machines used to gather water deep in the ground in a time before the more well-known  "wishing well"  style wells became popular.
Notice the well sweep to the right.
According to Early American Life Magazine  (June 2018),  few survive today,  so we are very lucky to have one within our midst at Greenfield Village.
What our ancestors were able to do to survive is simply amazing.  Folks like Samuel and Anna Daggett were every bit as smart as people today,  they just lived in a different time.

And for scenic purposes,  here are a few winter pictures of the Daggett home:
Morning has broken at the Daggett House
Pic by Tom Kemper

As beautiful in the winter as any other season. 
Maybe even more so!

Asenath sweeps the snow from the porch

In a world all its own...the beauty of winter at Daggett
And there you have it,  a visit to one of my very favorite - if not my actual  favorite - houses inside Greenfield Village  (yes,  I do love the others there as well).
The Daggett homestead from a distance...a time long ago...
Now let's take this history just a bit further...just imagine...the Daggetts,  who lived in this house,  were once living human beings and not just characters in a book.  They had feelings the same as we do:  they felt happiness,  sadness,  anger,  pain,  concern,  and contentment.  They celebrated the coming of spring and of  the harvest time.  They enjoyed church picnics and weddings,  and certainly mourned when loved ones,  whether friends or family,  had passed away.  They spoke of their crops,  the weather,  told stories,  and studied the Bible.  One can only imagine the discussions and probably even debates they had of the news of the day - how wonderful it would be to be able to hear conversations and opinions about Paul Revere's famous ride  (for it actually did make the papers/broadsides of the time),  of the Revolutionary War itself,  their thoughts on the Declaration of Independence,  the forming of the new nation with its own Constitution,  and hearing of George Washington becoming our first president  as it was happening!
I mean,  if the Daggett house walls had ears,  they most certainly would have heard at least some talk about these great events. 

I can only  imagine…
Yes,  let's do imagine life in this old break-back house as it may have been in,  say,  1770:

Asenath awoke,  startled.  Had she overslept and not heeded her father's call?  She jumped out of bed on to the strip of rag carpet laid on the cold floor.  The sun was just rising and a cool,  northwest breeze was blowing on this May morning.  The well-sweep creaked in the breeze,  and a whiff of the smoke of the kitchen fire,  pouring out of the chimney,  blew up the stairway.  The past week of housecleaning had been a busy one,  for she and her younger sister,  Talitha,  had cleaned the dooryard and the entry as well as the back room and the loft bedroom.
Their mother,  Anna,  was ill and the housework was up to the two girls.
“Daughter,”  called Samuel,  her father,  from the foot of the stairs,  “the day comes on apace,  and it promises a clear sky for your cleaning.  Grandmother is tending your mother,  and Isiah and I will need the porridge hot when we come back from foddering.” 

In the kitchen,  a glowing bed of red-hot coals burned on the hearth,  streaks of sunlight glanced through the windows and touched the course cloth on the dinner table.  Soft reflections shone from the porringers hanging on the dresser;  a sunbeam flecked with bright light the brass candlesticks which were set on the mantel over the hearth.  
All winter the family had gathered in the kitchen and,  in its warm coziness,  Azenath had spun on the spinning wheel,  darned mittens,  and knitted stockings.  Being in the kitchen was a reminder of that cozy time.
The simple but nourishing breakfast was soon over.  Samuel spoke occasionally to his son,  Isiah,  about the work of the day.  “The flax patch must be harrowed and sowed and the sods turned for the corn,”  he said.  
“This is likely a drying day,  Isiah;  the wind and sun will draw the dampness from the earth,  and take the dust from your rages,  too,  Daughter,”  he added as he rose and picked up his broad,  soft hat.

After breakfast,  Samuel had set the churn near the hearth and the cream was warm enough to beat.  The brick-oven was well-heated,  and Asenath could bake apple pies,  using the last of the dried apples.  Isiah should take down the few strings of apples which were left hanging on the kitchen rafters,  and Talitha should wash them at the well.  It would not take long for Talitha to clear away the dishes and fold the table cloth and napkins.  The family had few dishes and most of those were pewter bowls and porringers.  

Grandmother slipped briskly to her large wool spinning wheel.  She was white-haired and full of years,  dignified and graceful in carriage,  but still she plied her task of spinning energetically and skillfully.  For many years of her life she had walked back and forth at her wheel,  lightly poised and alert.  She lifted her spinning wheel,  and with awkward help from Talitha,  carried it into Anna’s room.  
“I must need to be out of your way,  Asenath,  and will spin in your mother’s room today.”
And the daily activities of the Daggett household continued on...

(This was a slightly modified story taken from the book  A Day In A Colonial Home by Della R.  Prescott.  I added my own feel to it to fit the Daggett House)

                                            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~Epilogue  (sort of) - - - or---What Happened to the Descendants of Samuel & Anna?~
The following information came from Find A Grave - - 
We'll begin with the eldest child, Asenath:
Asenath was born in her parent's home in January of 1755.  She married a man named in 1778 named Nathaniel Kingsbury and they had two children:  Asenath and Allen.  Asenath Daggett Kingsbury passed away in September of 1823 in Cazenovia,  New York.
Something interesting upon further digging;  it seems her daughter was known as Cena,  for I found:  DIED.—At Hebron,  Miss Cena Kingsbury,  aged 22.” — (The Connecticut Courant  Hartford,  Connecticut,  Wednesday,  July 6,  1808, p. 3, col. 4.)
Could Asenath  'the elder'  have gone by the name Cena as well?

Next we have Talitha Ann,  Samuel & Anna's second child,  who was born right there in the Daggett house in August of 1757.  Talitha married Joseph Carver,  though I cannot find a year.  As far as I can tell,  the couple had no children.  She passed away in August of 1846 in Connecticut.

As for the youngest of Samuel & Anna's brood,  Isaiah,  who was born in 1759.   He married Esther English  (no year listed)  and they had two children:  Chester and Isaiah.
(This photo below and the information with it came directly from  The Historic Buildings of Connecticut  website):
Isaiah Daggett purchased land for a house from his father,  
Samuel Daggett,  in 1793.  According to a Daggett family diary,  
Isaiah built the white house you see above at 233 Route 6 in 
Andover in 1805.  Isaiah had been born in his father’s old saltbox 
house,  which is now part of Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford 
Museum in Michigan.  
Now,  this 1805 home was owned by Daggett family members 
until the 1960s,  and then by the Goodman family.
(How very cool!
Though I must admit,  if I were a descendant I would have done everything in my power to keep the house in the family - - -)  
Isaiah died in August of 1835 in Connecticut.

So there we have a little information on the home,  the family,  and the lives may have lived of the Daggett Family.  I hope this little excursion to the past helps you during your visit to their restored home.
Bringing historic homes to life indeed!

Until next time, see you in time.

Special thanks to Sharon,  Larissa,  and Beckie for their help in assisting me in finding answers to my many questions,  and to Cindy and Larissa for their wonderfully informative videos.
Also,  everyone willing to pose for me!
And,  of course, the helpful people at the Benson Ford Research Center.

And HERE is a  "part 2"  of this posting,  with many more photos and much more information to help in bringing the Daggett Family to life in a way that has not been done before.
Also,  HERE we have an even deeper history of this house and of the Daggett family - a sort of  "part 3"~.
For fun,  HERE is how I turned a portion of my house into a Daggett room.
~If you are interested in learning more about the different aspects of colonial life based around the Daggett House  (and Giddings and Plympton as well),  please check out the following links  (with loads of photographs):
Done in the same manner as Samuel Daggett himself would have made it. 

Revolutionary War houses situated in our favorite open-air museum

In the Good Old Colony Days
A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies  

Colonial Cooking: On the Hearth
A post dedicated solely to colonial-era kitchen and cooking - lots of pictures!

Travel and Taverns
To help you understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in colonial times.  

Colonial Ken & Friends - 4th of July 2014: Celebrating Independence Day in a Colonial Way
For the first time, a few of us celebrated our Nation's birth as if it were 1776.

Colonial Christmas
A history of Christmas in America's colonial past. 

~And if you are interested in some of my other postings on the structures at Greenfield Village, check out these links:

Ackley Covered Bridge 1832
At one time, covered bridges were commonplace. Not so much anymore. But Greenfield Village has one from 1832.

Doc Howard's Office - The World of a 19th century Doctor
It's 1850 and your sick. Who are you going to call on? Why, good ol' Doc Howard, of course!

Eagle Tavern
Learn about the Eagle Tavern and 19th century travel

Eagle Tavern: Eating Historically 
Taste history while being immersed in the 1850s
Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village
Learn about the boyhood home of Harvey Firestone, the tire magnate.

The Giddings House
Revolutionary War and possible George Washington ties are within the hallowed walls of this beautiful stately colonial home.

Noah Webster House
A quick overview of the life of this fascinating Founding Father whose home, which was nearly razed for a parking lot, is now located in Greenfield Village.

The Plympton House
This house,  with its long history  (including American Indians)  has close ties to Paul Revere himself!

Preserving History
Henry Ford did more for preserving everyday life of the 18th and 19th centuries than anyone else! Here's proof.

Tales of Everyday Life in Menlo Park (or Francis Jehl: A Young Boy's Experience Working at Menlo Park)
Menlo Park is brought to life by one who was there. First-hand accounts.

Richart Carriage Shop
This building was much more than a carriage shop in the 19th century!

And for some haunted fun, 
Ghosts of Greenfield Village
Yep - real hauntings take place in this historic Village.

"Opening a diary for the first time is like walking into a room full of strangers."
So writes Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,  social historian and author of numerous books including -
A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary 1785 - 1812.
I love reading the journals and diaries written by those who lived so long ago.  I have numerous of these books that can tell us more about lives once lived than any school history book can ever hope to.  And if the reader researches the finer details of everyday activities of the period,  as Ms.  Ulrich has,  a complete new world of the past can open up,  allowing the reader to almost seemingly take part in the experiences of the written word.

Other books that I highly recommend to dig deeper into the everyday lives of our colonial ancestors:
Our Own Snug Fireside
Tidings From the 18th Century
Home Life in Colonial Days
There are plenty more than this - what I have is only something to get your feet wet.

~   ~   ~


Suzanne said...

Such a great post-thoroughly enjoyed it. I also love to read old journals, they really give a window into what life in early America was like:-)

Historical Ken said...

Comments about this post from Facebook - -
Linnie wrote: Once again you have posted a wonderfully informative , interesting and visually delightful blog post!! (One worthy of Early American Life or A Simple Life Magazine article)!!!!!Thanks for sharing

Gary wrote: Very informative and detailed, though I'm somewhat envious of the limited areas for me to take pictures.

Brad Wrote: Thank you Ken. Your blog is a treasure trove of information on the Daggett house. Love the upstairs photos (I too have never been up there) Mr Daggett was a very busy man indeed. Thanks again!

Shelley wrote: Such great detail and information partnered with great photos! Mr. Daggett was definitely a self-made man. Thank you for a great blog post and the information you provided!

Mona: Oh my goodness! Thanks for another lesson on daily life way back when! I sure do appreciate your insight and interest in history-and your time to post these informative "lessons" ! You rock Ken!

Lenore: Another great and informative blog! Thanks for making history so interesting.

Unknown said...

Hi! Great page. Looking for information and found your site. I'm in a very curious state as the possibility exists, that you may be able to help me connect a few generations to my family tree. The last known person I have on my family tree is an Alanson Daggett who was the father of John Wallace Daggett. I am wondering if perhaps Alanson was of any relation to these Daggetts? Perhaps the grandchild of Samuel and Anna? My family tree brings me over the border several times. If you have any knowledge of Alanson Daggett or John Wallace Daggett, please feel free to contact me. I would love to be able to extend the branches of my family tree (correctly). Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,
Neil M Daggett

Historical Ken said...

From Nancy Kelley:
A Passion from the Past. This was a fantastic documentary of the Daggett Saltbox House. You wove the thread of History throughout your presentation and it felt as though we were visiting the homestead during the mid 1760's. I learned so much from the videos and enjoyed the lesson on wool. You are right... when I walk into the Daggett House in April, my observations and appreciation for the home and its family will be have grown thanks to your writing.

Historical Ken said...

Thank you so Much Nancy!
That was exactly what I was hoping to accomplish!

Unknown said...

Awesome post on the Daggett House. It is my favorite place inside Greenfield Village and I've visited it dozens of times. I had never viewed the parlor or the second floor. Thanks for the tour and the video segments. Wonderful photos too!

Unknown said...

Wonderful tour of the Daggett House. I've studied aspects of that house to enhance my Rev. War period re-enactment interests, but I had not viewed the parlor or 2nd floor. Great photos, video, and commentary. A very nice tribute to my favorite place in the village. Thank you!

tina said...

I loved reading this post very much. So very informative. Thank you.