Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Part 2 - Bringing Historic Homes to Life: The 1750 Home of Samuel & Anna Daggett - The Four Seasons

Don't you just love how an idea will just  *pop*  into your head,  and then something you are simply  
"okay with"  all of a sudden becomes exciting?
That is exactly how I feel about today's posting.  I've written about Samuel Daggett and his family  (and house)  numerous times before,  but not quite in this manner;  I believe this is as close as one can come to sort of meeting the man who once lived in that wonderful house with the long-slanted roof at the far-end of Greenfield Village.  It is my hope that after reading this,  visitors to the Daggett House will see it with new eyes...with an engulfing awareness,  and will look at this historic 18th century building with a more discerning and intimate mindset;  to see beyond the walls and presenters and feel the spirits - not ghosts,  mind you - of those who once lived within the walls during the time of the good old colony days.
Ahhh...if only walls could talk indeed!
And yet,  they do. 

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

A number of years back I did a posting called Four Seasons at Firestone Farm,  where I spent over a year photographing the old farmstead from the same location as it sits inside historic Greenfield Village.  Every month I would snap a shot from the same angle in order to see the natural changes in the seasons that occur within a year's time.
Well,  I decided to do the same project again,  though with another historic house inside the Village,  the Daggett Farmhouse,  built around 1750.
Though it took me nearly two years to get them all,  seeing the seasonal changes over the course of a calendar year is,  to me,  quite interesting.  But it became so much more...for this post I did something a little different than the Firestone post:  not only did I include a bit of  historical seasonal information beneath each picture,  I also included notations taken from the actual account book of Samuel Daggett himself,  which you will see italicized beneath each photo.  
Now,  when reading the accounts of Samuel Daggett,  pay close attention,  for all the extra labor he was involved in was quite varied.  And it gives us a good idea as to some of the activities that went on in and around this home and his community during the period from about 1750 to the 1770s.  I think you'll agree after reading them that Mr.  Daggett was an amazing man.  I mean,  with all of the extra work he did,  when did he have time to farm,  much less eat and sleep?  
The spelling is mostly as it originally appears in his own write,  by the way,  lest you think I am a poor speller myself  (lol).
So first let's take a peak into the life - the background - of Samuel Daggett by looking into his background and the environment in which he lived:
The sun rises on another day in the 18th century
(this wonderful photo was taken as a favor to me
by Tom Kemper)
Daggett built this particular house in Coventry  (now Andover),  Connecticut around the year 1750,  right about the time he married his wife,  Anna Bushnell.  Samuel and Anna had three children:  daughters Asenath  (b.  1755)  and Talitha Ann,  born 1757,  and a son,  Isaiah,  who was the youngest and was born in 1759.
Daggett was a housewright by trade and built his 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 and barn in the surrounding area,  as his account book at the Connecticut Historical Society attests.  In order to provide for his family,  Daggett had his hand in additional sources of income,  including making furniture such as chairs,  making coffins,  as well as making and repairing spinning wheels and even cart wheels.
Although built in the mid-18th century,  the Daggett House retains a 17th century, 
post-medieval pattern of construction and interior layout.  This style of construction continued to be popular in rural New England even after home styles changed into
a more contemporary feel,  incorporating spacious central-hall plans,  for an example.
The use of living spaces in the Daggett house represents a sort of transitional period that incorporates both earlier modes of living,  where room functions overlapped and there was little concept of personal privacy,  to a move toward greater room specialization and a growing appreciation for privacy.
Note the following photos and descriptions of functions for each room to have a better idea of the living situation inside the walls of this 270+ year old home.
The Great Hall:
This was the general gathering spot for the family,  not unlike our modern living room.  It was used for sitting,  family eating,  prayers,  sometimes for sleeping  (perhaps during the cold winters when all other rooms may have been shut off to preserve the heat),  
reading  (mostly the Bible),  sewing,  spinning,  and other textile work.
The great hall fireplace with the beehive oven

The Kitchen:
The kitchen was mainly used to prepare and preserve food,  though additional chores may have also taken place here,  including dairying,  laundry,  candle-making  (when done indoors),  and,  like the great hall,  it could also had been used for spinning,  sewing,  and other textile work as well.

The Parlor:
This was a formal space and would have been used for special occasions,  including dining,  observing social rituals,  entertaining outside guests - possibly the preacher - and it would have the most expensive and best household furnishings.

The Above Stairs Chambers:
The 2nd floor rooms were likely used for semi-private sleeping quarters,  though if 
this house was built before the 18th century,  which it was not,   these chambers 
may had been used primarily for storage space for textiles and grain rather than for sleeping.  The above photo shows one of the fireplaces in one of the rooms,  which 
helped to keep the room somewhat warmer.
Today the rooms on Daggett's second floor are,  once again,  used as storage,  though they now store items used for the house presentation programs offered 
at Greenfield Village rather than grain,  as see in the photo below.  
Here are a few of the items in storage above stairs.
By the way,  according to the folks at Colonial Williamsburg,  "above stairs"  
and  "below stairs"  were the common terms used for upstairs and downstairs.  
Was this a Virginia/southern thing,  or were these terms commonplace 
throughout the colonies?
I'm working to find out.

By the mid-18th century,  even common homes came to be filled with objects of usefulness and display,  in number,  in kind,  and in variety previously reserved only for the very well-to-do.  The typical dwelling of 1750 had three times as many furnishings of a house with owners of the same social status from 100 years before.  It is assumed the Daggetts were no different.
It also should be understood that no farm could be called self-sufficient---all,  at some time during the year,  had to call on the outside world for material goods of one sort or another.
The Daggett house would have been furnished according to room use as described in the photos above,  and included would have been Anna's  "marriage portion,"  which would have consisted of furniture,  domestic textiles,  domestic equipment  (pots,  pans,  and other cooking utensils,  among them),  and possibly tableware like ceramic and glass that Anna's parents would have given to her when she and Samuel married.  These would have been purchased by her parents or taken from their own furnishings.
Then there were the additional furnishings made by her husband Samuel.  From the account book we know that he made chairs,  chests,  bedsteads,  and spinning wheels.  Because of this we can assume that he was also handy at fashioning smaller wooden items such as storage boxes and kitchen utensils.
Other necessary commodities  (like wrought iron and perhaps leathered goods,  coopered items,  redware,  pewter,  hardware,  cast iron,  and pewter)  would have been produced by local artisans.
Besides the locally made products,  farmers might travel on horseback to the nearest market town to make small purchases as needed for themselves and perhaps for others/neighbors to bring back.  
Coventry,  Connecticut landowners
at the time of  Samuel Daggett
Occasionally,  peddlers with small-wheeled carts would exchange needed products for farm produce or even ashes that could be made into potash for soap.
So let's visit Coventry,  where the Daggett's lived,  to help give us a clearer look at Daggett's environment:  
(click the picture to the left to get a better idea of Samuel  &  Anna's community)----in laying out the town of Coventry,  the traditional Puritan plan of settlement  (with village green,  commercial center,  small home lots,  and common land)  was abandoned in favor of large,  individual farm lots scattered across the countryside  (78 in all).  But people were far from isolated.  They felt a strong sense of community,  cemented by networks of trade,  by frequent visits between neighbors,  and by the ways neighbors helped each other out.
Coventry,  like other scattered farm communities,  did not have a town center,  but it did contain artisans  (Daggett,  of course,  was one),  mills,  and probably one or more retail shops  (possibly out of a farmer's home).  Taverns,  in addition to feeding and housing travelers,  were important social centers for local men to converse about politics,  trade,  and agriculture.  In 1774,  Coventry had no less than seven taverns!  But one must remember:  taverns were the pulse of 18th century life,  and their importance to the local community cannot be overstated,  for with most communication being by word of mouth,  they were also the  main source of information for the locals. 

Aside from the house itself,  to my knowledge there are no actual
samples of  Samuel Daggett's wood work known to still exist,  so the
furnishings you see in these photos are well-researched similar examples, 
and we can assume their design would have been familiar to Samuel & Anna.

Oftentimes we hear from the presenters inside the Daggett home that he and his family were Congregationalists in their religious beliefs.  However,  what is a Congregationalist in comparison to a Presbyterian,  Methodist,  or even Catholic? 
Congregationalism in the United States consisted of Protestant churches that had a congregational form of church government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England.  Their churches have had an important impact on the religious,  political,  and cultural history of the United States,  for their practices concerning church governance influenced the early development of democratic institutions in New England.  Congregationalists were also known for their interest in an educated clergy.  For that reason they founded Harvard College.  Later,  colleges such as Dartmouth,  Olivet,  and Oberlin were organized by their efforts.
The American Congregational community was a part of the Great Awakening,  a widespread religious revival movement that began in 1734 under the influence of Jonathan Edwards.  The Awakening,  however,  revealed the differences emerging between two wings of Congregationalism.  On one side were those who maintained the Calvinist tradition with a greater emphasis on the affective elements in religion.  On the other was a rapidly growing Unitarianism,  which paralleled a similar movement in England.  With the exception of the churches in Connecticut  (where the Daggetts lived)  where Congregationalism had taken root and remained the established church from the 18th century into the 19th century.
One thing we are told at Christmastime is that Congregationalists did not celebrate Christmas.  However,  did they celebrate Easter or any other holidays/holy days?
I see Anna,  Asenath,  and Samuel...
but where is Talitha and Isaih?
Though Congregationalists did celebrate Thanksgiving,  I have found nothing either way if the Daggetts celebrated Easter,  though from what I can gather,  most Congregationalists did not.  They viewed it much in the same manner as they viewed Christmas,  thus the Holiday being another Papist  (Catholic) Holiday,  of which they despised,  and the date not being biblically based.
The Daggetts came from strong Puritan stock,  and Puritans,  from whence Congregationalists came,  valued order over other social virtues,  reasoning that men required rules to guide them and bind them to their good behavior.  Authority dominated people's lives,  beginning with the highest authority of God,  then the authority of religious leaders,  and finally the authority of the male head of the household.  
Now,  in the 1760s,  though changes were on the horizon,  many of these attitudes would have still described rural New England families.  They still perceived themselves as deeply religious people.  They observed the hand of God in everyday occurrences.  They believed in order,  hard work,  and maintaining high moral standards. 
And this could definitely apply to the Daggetts.

So...are you ready to go back and visit with Samuel,  Anna,  and the other Daggetts?
Well,  then,  let's begin with...
Samuel Daggett:  In His Own Write~
Yes,  this is an actual page from Samuel's own account book.
Just imagine...he wrote what you see here while living in this house that now sits
 inside Greenfield Village.
Pretty cool,  eh?

January
This picture was taken soon after a mid-January snowstorm.
One can just imagine...
Even with the cold and snow,  Samuel & Anna Daggett,  with their children,  kept  
themselves busy;  Anna in the kitchen preparing and cooking a meal in the hearth 
while the children did their assigned chores as well.  
Husband,  Samuel,  possibly out doing odd jobs and making more money or 
bartering for needed goods.  
Once their son,  Isaiah,  was old enough,  he,  too,  would have his chores,  for there 
was plenty of wood to be chopped and stored for hearth and home,  and perhaps 
learning his father's wood and housewright trade.
18th century life.

January 20,  1750:  Jacob Gill,  debeter,  for looking for timber for his fraim  (frame) 

January 15,  1760:  Samuel Blackman,  Debtor,  for mending of a foot wheel
more to making of a yoak  (yoke) – trimming of it

January 18,  1760:  wid.  (widow)  Sarah Loomis,  debtor,  to mending of a wheel

January 1766:  Joseph Clark,  debtor,  a pair of fliers to a little wheel


February
And here is a bright sunny February afternoon to let us know that,  as assuredly
a
s the sun will rise in the morning,  springtime is nigh.  
Although it is still wintertime,  the planning of planting the fields come
springtime will take place by farmers.

The dried apples from last October certainly taste good!


February 6 yr.  1749:  Peres Sprague,  debtor,  for two chears 
(chairs)
more to making of a slead  (sled)
more to hanging a lithe  (sythe?  laithe?)
more to cradeling of oats / more to bail

February 23,  1750:  Peres Sprague debeter for a half a booshil  (bushel) 
of  pertators 
(potatoes)
more to a seed plow and to a whorl
more to a peck of pertators and 4 pounds of tobacco
more to creadling
  (cradling)  of two akors   (acres)  and 1/2 of an akor
more to hanging of a lithe
  (sythe?  laithe?)  and making a cain  (cane)
Capt Obediah Nucomb,  debter,  for a cart and wheels
(a worl is a flywheel or pulley,  as for a spindle)

February 9,  1761:  Abraham Blackman,  debtor,  for making of a spoll  (spool) 
and fliers 
(flyers)  to a  (spinning)  wheel.

February 24,  1764:  Ephraim Shalfer's widow,  Debtor,  for mending of a wheel
~(more than likely a spinning wheel)


March
It is now March - very early in the spring - and we can still see the last remnants
 of the winter snow 
melting.  This would be the time of year when the colonial
farmer 
might be repairing his farm tools to work his fields
for plowing 
and planting.

March 3,  1757:  Jacob Sherwine,  debtor,  for ceeping of  seven cattel  5 weeks
and three days : 1 three year old 4 two year olds 2 one year old
more to one booshil 
(bushel) of ots  (oats): allso for my oxen one day to plow
more to my oxen to plow one day and more to my oxen to plow two days
more to my oxen to dray*  apels 
(apples)  half a day

March 1,  1758:  John Sherwine,  debtor to flaxseed  half a booshil  

March 11,  1760:  Capt Obediah Newcomb debtor for mending of 8 chairs and a wheel.

March 13,  1760:  Joseph Crooker debtor for eleven booshil  of heyseed at seven pence cash pr.  booshil.


*A dray is 
a low,  strong cart without fixed sides,  for carrying heavy loads.

April
Plowing,  harrowing,  and planting may also be on Sam Daggett's mind at this time,  especially as the sun gradually warms the ground.
Caring for the pregnant farm animals was also a top priority,  for this would
ensure continued generations of cattle,  pigs,  
sheep,  and horses.

Aprail 7,  1749: Reverend Samuel Lockwood,  debeter,  for two days work hewing timber

Aprail 4,  1750:  more for fraiming of  (Jacob Gill's)  house fraim  14 days 3/4 of a day

Aprail 16,  1750:  Rebeckah Gibbs,  debeter,  to a woolen wheel

Aprail 2,  1751:  Mary Woodworth,  debeter,  to a plow
more to a spindel

April first 
(1763):  more to 3 days 2 hours fraiming  (of the school house)
more to timber for one thousand 4 hundred and seventy of shingels / more to draining of the shingels
more to 2 days of work about the school house

April 25,  1767:  Samuel Sprague,  debtor,  for 65 booshils  (bushels)  of hayseed
5 pence per booshil,  cash price

April 6,  1769:  Abraham Burnap  (father of Daniel Burnap,  clockmaker),  debtor, 
for work about a pair of wheels and axletree

April 15,  1774:  Samuel House,  debtor,  for 4 hundred  (pounds?)  of hay at 2 shillings 3 pence pr hundred cash proce

May
'Tis the month of May - mid-May to be exact - and the ground is mostly prepared
for planting,  which can commence at any time. 
This was also time for washing & shearing sheep and scouring & carding wool.

May 30,  1749:  one day work digging of stones

May 10,  1758:  Daniel Nucomb,  debtor,  for a coffain  (coffin)

May 22,  1758:  Credet to John Stedman in cash

May 6,  1765:  Benjamin Buel,  Debtor,  for one booshil  (bushel)  and two
half quarts of seed corn

May 11,  1765:  Thomas Bishop,  Debtor,  for one booshil & half of rie cash price

May 21,  1765:  more to 7 days work framing of his  (Thomas Bishop)  barn
more to 7 days woork of Thomas in framing
more to six quarts of barly and eight --?-- of flaxseed

May 5,  1770:  Mary Lutchins,  debtor,  for one bushil of wheat and one bushil of rye 
more to 2 pigs,  5 weeks old and a half of a peck of corn
~(It looks like by 1770 Samuel Daggett learned how to spell "bushil" correctly!)

June
This picture was taken on June 21st - the first day of summer,  and that means 
summer's here and the time is right for caring for the farm crop and kitchen garden. 
And still more planting to do.

June 16,  1749:  Jonathan Merait,  debeter,  for eight days work of 
hewing and framing

June 21,  1749:  Thomas Perceins debeter for a coffain  (coffin)

June 11,  1763:  Nath(el)  junior ,  Debtor,  for a pair of cartwheels
more to drawing of 2 tooth and mending a cartwheel
more to 14 pound of veal and half 1 pney hapenny pr.  pound

July
For the colonial farmer,  it was usually in July that made for haying. 
Summer produce is ready for harvesting.

One can almost feel the heat on this humid July 15th day.
This was also time for weaving wool on the loom,  which would continue for pretty much the rest of the year,  or until the weather was severely cold

July 11  ye 1749:  Thomas Wisse,  debeter,  for cradelings*
more to cradeling two acor and 3/4 of otes

July 13,  1749:  Josiah Bumpus,  debter,  for one days work of reaping

July 25,  1763:  Solomon Saveary,  debtor for a coffain  (coffin)

 *The way wheat & oats were cut years ago was by  'cradeling'  (cradling). 
That is,  using a tool known as a cradle.

August
Feel the heat:
June 21st may be the longest stretch of daylight,  but the hottest days usually take
place in July & August.

Even though it was August 16 when I took this picture,  one can see and feel the 
season begin to change ever-so-slightly. 
Farm work continues both inside and outside the house.

August 31,  1753:  Samuel House debter to a plow

August 1764:  Joseph Griswold,  debtor,  for a coffan 
(coffin)  for his child

August 27,  1765:  (added to Joseph Griswold's account) 
more to twelve pounds of leather
more to one quarter of lamb mutton
more to one calfskin tand 
(tanned)
more to two shillings worth of leather

September
I snapped this shot on September 9,  and it is easy to see the shadows of the sun grow longer.  Hints of summer past and autumn future are in the air...harvest time is nigh.

September 12,  1751:  Sam Benet,  debtor,  for two days and half of work about mill
and a pound of tobacco

September 17,  1757:  Rufus Rude,  debtor,  for 11 pounds of p-barke and for
one pound of butter
more to one pound of butter
more to my oxen to draw a load of bords

September 21,  1757:  Elisha Bill,  debtor,  for two days work about his cyder mill 



October
We are nearing the end of the month - October 22. 
The housewife's universe spiraled out from hearth and barnyard to tending a 
kitchen garden and perhaps a large vegetable garden,  both now in full harvest. 

October 25 ye 1748:  Nathaneal House,  debter,  to work about his barn fraim  (frame)

October 1756:  David Carber,  debtor,  for 17 yards of flaniel  (flannel)  at 
2 shillings pr.  yard
more to 64 pounds of cheese at 3 shillings per pound

October 1757:  Joseph Crocker,  debtor,  2 B  (bushels)  of wheat

On October 23,  1767,  Samuel Daggett noted in his account book that he had sold:
4 1/2  (pounds)  of pork
10 quartz of cyder
15 quartz of cyder
5 quartz of cyder
2 quartz of seed corn
19 gallons of cyder by the barrel

November
Picture taken November 11
The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold...
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
(English lyrics by Johnny Mercer)
Late fall harvest keeps the farm family busy,  as does winter preparations.

November 3  ye 1748:  William Peters,  debeter,  to work about his cool house

November 16  ye 1748:  Credit to Nathanael House for making of cyder 
and toward other work

November 23,  1749:  Aaron Phelps,  debtor,  for work about his mill
more to drawing of teeth for his wife

November 25,  1749:  Thomas Lymon,  debter,  for work about his house
more to worl
more to mending his cart
(a worl is a flywheel or pulley,  as for a spindle)

November 4,  1755:  Cr debtor to forty five pounds-three fourths of butter at 
five shillings pr pound  
more to four yards of plaincloath at two pounds eight shillings pr yard

November 9,  1757:  Beriah Loomis,  debtor,  14 yards flannel cloth and half at 2 1/2 pr.  Yard

November 15,  1757:  John Stedman,  debtor for a coffain  (coffin)  for the 
making therof
more for a coffain for his child
more to drawing of a tooth

November 30,  1762:  Doc John Crocker debtor for 276 wait  (weight)  of porke at 
three pence pr pound
more to going and drawing of a tooth
more to three fourths of a days work
more to one pound and a half of tobacco

November 7,  1764:  John Crocker,  debtor,  for one hundred and 72 pounds of  poarke at 24 shillings pr hundred money price
more poarke - wait  (weight)  of it 322 pounds - price 2 pence hapenny pr pound

November 22,  1764:  Joseph Griswold had two hundred and 49 pounds of beef
and thirty five pounds of tallor  (tallow?)
more to a tap and facet and four quartz of cyder
more to one booshil  of ingain corn
more to going and draw a tooth
more to two booshils of indun corn cash price
more to half a booshil of seed corn  cash price
more to one peck of seed corn  cash price
more to half a booshil of common seed corn
more to five gallon of vinegar
more to half a days work of oxen to draw wood
more to one third part of a cord of bark

December
The harvest,  for the most part,  is ended,  and only a few very late vegetables await.  
Maybe some cabbages,  brussels  sprouts,  lettuce,  beets,  potatoes,  and possibly a few late carrots are all that's left to pick.

December 31,  1756:  Nathan Ingrham,  debter,  for  a half a peck of corn
more to 2 booshils   
(bushels)  of corn

There are a few undated notes that Daggett left in his account book where he cites various other jobs:
I suspect this is from 1770 - 
In the year 1763 I made 21 barils of Cyder
in 1764  07 barils
in 1765  16 barils
in 1766  08 barils
in 1767  10 barils
in 1768  20 barils
in 1769  19 barils

And then,  also listed with no dates,  Samuel wrote:
Jacob Lyman,  debtor,  for setting a worsted comb
more to two spindils
more to four days fraiming his house
more to two spindils

John Pain,  debtor,  work about his fulling mill*

*A fulling mill was a water operated mill with big wooden hammers that pounded the cloth as it was being washed.  Fuller's earth was used to help the cleansing process.  The finished fabric was shrunken into a tighter,  tougher cloth.  It was similar to today's boiled wool.

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

I don't know about you,  but to me,  seeing and reading the actual words of Samuel Daggett just...I don't know...makes him real.  Yes,  I know Samuel and his family were actual people,  but because I've heard his name and story so often - for I have visited his home so often - it almost makes him mythological...just a story to tell the story rather than a real actual human being that once lived.  But he and his family did live...and had feelings the same as we do:  they felt happiness,  sadness,  anger,  pain,  concern,  and contentment.  
The tombstone of 
Samuel Daggett:
Birth: 1723
Death:  Aug. 24,  1798
Rev. War Veteran.  Age 75
The tombstone of 
Anna Daggett:
Birth:  1734
Death:  Jan. 28,  1832
Inscription:
relict of Samuel;  age 98
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  - I wonder how Samuel felt making coffins for those in his community,  for those he knew?  
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),  and the battles of Lexington & Concord that followed...and of the Revolutionary War itself,  for  research has shown that Mr. Daggett 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.  This was not an uncommon practice of the day.  I also see on Samuel's tombstone that it states he was a Revolutionary War veteran,  though I have found nothing stating he was in the military.  He did,  however,  play a vital citizen's role in agreeing  to a formal collective decision made by the local merchants and traders not to import or export items to Britain in 1774.
The tombstone of
Talitha Ann Daggett Carver
Birth:  Aug 5,  1757
Death:  Aug 28,  1846 
(aged 89)
The tombstone of
Asenath Daggett Kingsbury
(and her husband)
Birth:  Jan 25,  1755
Death:  Sept 26,  1823 (aged 68)
I wonder of Samuel's 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. 
One more note of interest:  I have recently read that spinning wheels and the like were not used nearly as much as has been previously stated in history books.  
The tombstone of 
Isaiah Daggett
Birth:  1759
Death:  Aug 24, 1835 
(aged 75–76)
Well,  through my own research I have found just the opposite - I have seen that the omnipresence of spinning in people's lives is evidenced by the many references to spinning wheels and spinning wheel parts and repairs noted in not only Daggett's account books,  but in numerous other writings,  such as the journal of Martha Ballard.
And along those lines it was in Samuel's own will that he bequeathed  "the loom"  to his wife.  It has to be assumed this was a large item for him to mention it here specifically.  Though it is not known when this was acquired or used by the family,  but he was selling flannel cloth,  probably woven on the loom,  by 1756.
See how history  - how the past - can be brought to life through research?
I beg people to please stop passing along so-called historical information found on memes and the like as fact until it can be proven or have a strong researched-based probability.

I hope you enjoyed this seasonal excursion into the past,  and I hope the writings of Samuel Daggett,  along with my additional researched farm chores,  helped to bring the man,  his family,  his community,  and even, to an extent,  his house to life.
If these walls could talk...they kinda do...

Until next time,  see you in time.


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.  And now I always make sure to stop in for a visit every time I am at Greenfield Village,  even if it is just a quick walk through,  from the front door through the great hall into the kitchen and out the back door into the kitchen garden.  And while the Village is closed during the winter months,  I will drive on the road that runs alongside the Village,  just so I can see and somewhat enjoy it from my car.
The man you see to the left is about as close to seeing Samuel Daggett  (without the beard,  however)  as we may ever get:  it is a late 19th or early 20th century photograph of Samuel & Anna's great grandson,  John Kingsbury  (1817 - 1913)  (grandchild of  Asenath Daggett).  John Kingsbury was 15 years old when his great-grandma Anna Daggett died,  though it is hard to say if they ever met,  for by the time John was born,  his parents and grandparents had moved roughly about 250 miles northwest to Cazenovia, New York  (near Syracuse),  while great grandmother Anna remained in Andover,  Connecticut.
Now sitting as pristine as it did over 250 years ago inside the walls of Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan,  the Daggett house,  and those who once lived in it are,  to me,  like old friends---really old friends...and there are still stories it can tell us~


My sources for today's posting comes mainly from 
~The Collections of the Henry Ford  (Benson Ford Research Center)
~Our Own Snug Fireside by Jane C.  Nylander
~Find-A-Grave  (for the tombstone pictures and information)
~Everyday Life in Early America by David Freeman Hawke


Here is a collection of links to my blogs concerning everyday life in the colonies:
In this posting we learn more about the Daggett House itself,  including its own history and how it came to be relocated to Greenfield Village,  a more in-depth tour and study room by room,  with virtual tour videos included as well from the presenters who work there,  and even information on the kitchen garden.  Sixty photos,  most of which you may not have seen before.

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.

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 Spring
March was the first month of the new year back in the good old colony days,  and there were plenty of chores and other work that needed to be done.  The whole family would pitch in to ensure survival for the coming year.
This is how how ancestors did it.

A Colonial Summer
Beating the heat,  hiding from bugs,  sowing and growing plants for survival,  milking,  pulling flax,  haying,  and preparing for the fall harvest.
Welcome to summer in the 1700s.

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.

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.

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...

Going into far greater detail than today's post,  this is an overview through twelve months in the life of an 18th century farmer,  giving the reader a deeper sense of a colonial farm family's seasonal life.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

To learn more about the beginning of Greenfield Village,  please click HERE
To see the Four Seasons at Firestone Farm,  click HERE













~   ~  ~











Monday, February 8, 2021

A Day In the Life: Spending Time in Winter 1771 - "This day Jack Frost bites very hard..."

~A personal account of being immersed in the 18th century at the Waterloo Cabin,  with no outside public and no modernisms to bring one back to the present.  For what we as living historians accomplished here one simply cannot help but feel to be a part of the past in ways other forms of reenacting cannot replicate~

~   ~   ~

Experiencing the past.
That's what I'm about.
It's not enough for me to  "visit"  those days of old---I want to feel what they felt in a very real sense.  
Even in the cold,  cold winter.
These experiences do not happen nearly as often as one would think.  However,  if you find the right people and the right setting - if you did your historical research and have somewhat of a grasp of the time being portrayed - something wonderful can happen..

~   ~   ~

As I wrote the text of this posting,  I asked for recollections from others who participated in this excursion for additional views,  and so interspersed throughout you will find some very interesting and thought-provoking perspectives from Charlotte and Rebecca. 
In fact,  Rebecca entitled hers:
The Sound of  Winter Memory, 
or a Day Given to Provision
- Rebecca Getchell
"On a frost crisped sunny January day,  four reenactors find themselves huddling in a reconstruction of a Colonial log cabin.  In wintertime in 1771,  we found that the cold in the cabin was colder on the inside than out,  and against practical logic we opened the house and let the hearth gradually heat outwards.  The hearth became a bustle of feminine energy,  and the planned stores of peas were dipped into for a thick Pease soup that would give warmth,  sustenance,  and last in this cold well past 9 days." 
I am prepared for the growing season
with the latest 1771 Farm Almanack.
To order this Almanack and other
period booklets,  please click 
18th Century Bibles
Living history,  in so many cases,  seems to be put on hold during the months from November through March.  A few of us,  however,  buck the system every-so-often.  We're kinda like rebels,  you might say.  If you recall,  a few of us who practice this form of the hobby spent an autumn day in 1770 last October,  and it felt like a true time-travel experience.  Well,  as close as one could get  (see the link at the bottom of this post).  
Living history
You see,  this facet of our hobby is about keeping the many aspects...the character and lifeblood...of the past alive.  So we were very recently at it again,  though this time we spent a winter's day in 1771. 
I know,  I know:  baby,  it's cold outside!
It certainly was!
And that's the point.  You know how I like to experience sort of first-hand what our ancestors felt,  and so I came up with the idea of spending a winter's day in and around the frontier log cabin,  living as if it were the 18th century.  And a few of my friends were very excited to take part.
So why did I choose the year 1771?
To comply with the Farm Almanack I have acquired  (see the picture to the left),  an implied accessory to help recreate farm life before the Revolutionary War with hints of the upcoming storm on the horizon. 
Here in 2021 we are living in a historically unhinged period,  with the covid,  the politics...yeah...you know...
So why leave one precarious time to visit another?
Because we did not choose to go back to a frontier cabin on January 23,  1771;  we were sent...we had no choice.  The four of us just happened to find ourselves --zap! -- there -- on a time-travel journey where we,  out of necessity,  had to utilize and hone the colonist's skills as our own.  
Your hosts for the day~
Oh!  The powers in this strange universe...giving us this grand opportunity to experience a small snippet of  what our ancestor's lives were like during an 18th century winter's day.
With the pictures that were taken  (each of us  *snuck*  a mostly stealth camera of some sort back in time with us),  and with the text included,  it is my hope that a picture of the past can be painted,  as well as recorded - a sort of journal you might say - of our time back  there.  Though we are 21st century folk,  I like to think we accomplished our goal in having a pretty fair idea of  how life looked in 1771.  We were not perfect,  mind you.  But we certainly were headed in the right direction.  
I hope you enjoy the journey...

Ah...here we are---our home on the Pennsylvania frontier,  1771!
Why,  just how did we get here?
Wonders never cease...
The cabin on the right is used for storage,  while the one on the left is...

...our little cabin home.
"This day Jack Frost bites very hard..."  says a 1772 diary entry.
I could have written that note,  for my toes in the leather buckle shoes I wore felt the stinging bite of Jack Frost from almost as soon as I arrived,  and especially after being in the cold and snow - they had not ached like this in a long time - and because the inside of the cabin wasn't really much warmer than the outside,  it took a while for the  "thaw"  to take place. 
They did,  however,  somewhat come back to life when I defrosted them while standing at the fireplace.
The homespun yarn mitts Larissa
wore inside and out.
In the attempt to cope with cold,  winter could be anything from inconvenient to challenging to deadly for most American colonists.  We,  just like the forebears we were emulating,  put up with the inconvenience and took up the challenge of keeping warm and busy in a colonial winter.
Anne Eliza Clark thanked her mother for the yarn mitts,  which were of  “great service to me when I sweep my chamber and make my bed.”  Mittens were commonly worn inside as well as outside because,  in many cases,  there was little difference in the temperature.  Much of the heat escaped up chimneys,  and drafts were always a problem.  Without the aid of room screens and fireplace screens,  a person could feel both hot and cold  at the same time standing in front of a fire. 
The time we are representing here was during what we now call  "The Little Ice Age,"  a period when the world saw much harsher winters - a noticeable lowering of temps in comparison to today with higher amounts of snow.  
As horrible as all of this may sound for our colonial ancestors,  we must remember that this was the environment in which they lived.  Yes,  it was still cold,  but they survived for they were used to it and could deal with it much better than we imagine they could,  similar to those of us in the modern age without air-conditioning who are accustomed to the higher temperatures of summer better than those who have that a/c luxury.
For us at the cabin,  our January day was one of the coldest of the 2020/2021 winter season up to that point,  with temperatures in the teens and low twenties.  That,  in a historical sense,  pleased us more than if we had a January thaw instead.
We felt the cold.
The three ladies:  Rebecca,  Charlotte,  and Larissa.
Getting ready for the day's chores.
We did not have defined roles for this excursion,  as in husband-wife,  etc., 
but there were hints of  an order to our gathering.
The frontier farm couple of modest means relied heavily on their family for labor,  and what they grew during the growing season depended on their location.  But in general,  aside from the wheat and corn,  as well as a variety of squash and vegetables from their kitchen gardens,  farms typically would have nearby orchards of apples and fields of strawberries,  blueberries,  and raspberries,  all of which would have been made into jams,  jellies,  tarts,  pies,  fritters,  or dried...and all would help sustain the family over the cold months from late fall until spring.
Farmers also grew cotton,  hemp,  and flax,  cobbled their own shoes,  and constructed their own furniture;  there was never a shortage of work for the eighteenth century family:  women's chores included  (but were not limited to)  laundry,  sewing,  spinning & dyeing,  washing,  candle making,  preparing & cooking food,  and caring for young ones...
There were only four of us for this private wintertime event, 
which actually worked out quite well.  This was Rebecca's first venture into
reenacting.  However,  this young lady is very familiar with
period clothing and 18th century life due to her years working,  like Larissa,  
at the 1760s Daggett Home in Greenfield Village. 
I am happy to say she had a great time with us on this day.
The men,  too,  had their chores to fill their days as well,  including  (but not limited to)  preparing and then farming the fields  (manuring,  plowing,  harrowing,  planting),  repairing of fences and tools,  the cutting,  splitting,  and hauling of wood,  banking the nighttime fires,  hunting and fishing,  house and outbuilding repairs,  animal care,  carrying water,  and helping with seasonal projects.
Coming up from the creek with two bucketsful of water.

Imagine having to carry water from the stream on a daily basis.
Lucky for me,  due to my bad back,  I needn't've worried about it!

The colonial household ran like a well-oiled machine:  everyone had their part and place,  and one missing link could throw a wrench into the entire operation.
We are no longer an agricultural nation,  which is a recent occurrence in the great scheme of things.  The cycle of domestic life,  which was closely tied to the land and seasons,  had little changed from the beginning of time until very recently in the timeline,  for it hasn't been that long in comparison that a new world of technology of refrigeration,  gas stoves,  electric lighting,  and home furnaces transformed the old world into one where the times of the seasons mean little. 
Larissa and I do historic presentations together,  mostly on farm life,
but sometimes as Patriots Paul Revere and Sybil Ludington.
But it's our farm life presentation that we enjoy most.

Going to go a-fowling...
A nice plump turkey would go a long way to keep us fed this winter.

Yes,  we took time early on for picture posing,  as Larissa and Rebecca did here.

Here is an image of Charlotte and I in the warmth of the sun.
As cold as the temps were,  the sun shining down felt very welcome.

A peak inside...

Just like last October,  we had a fire in the hearth for not only a hearty meal, 
but also in our attempt to bring in any bit of warmth that could be mustered.
On a bitter cold January morning,  Thomas Chaplin wrote,  “The thermometer is
down to 20 degrees in the house at eight in the morning,  and everything is
frozen hard,  including eggs,  milk,  and ink,  and every piece of crockery that
water was left in overnight is cracked.”
With the right preparation of supplies,  transport,  and heating sources, 
the more rural residents of the 18th century made the best of  the
cold winter months,  and they survived.  no matter the situation.

18th-century settlers made the appropriate preparations for winter by gathering up the dried meats,  fruits,  and beans as well as root vegetables that had been stored since the fall harvest.  They would then throw all of these ingredients into a pot to make a hearty if not always appetizing stew.
Let the food preparations begin!.
Here is a diary entry from Mary Cooper,  Long Island farm wife,  who wrote in 1769:  "Sabbath.  A fair day but the wind north east still.  O,  alas,  I am more distrest than ever.  I have dinner to get and nothing in the house to cook.  My company will not go to meeten.  Dirty and distresed.  I set my self to make some thing out of littel on."
Keeping a family thriving by making  "some thing out of littel on"  shows that the colonial women who nourished their family with  "nothing in the house to cook"  were nothing short of culinary geniuses.  
Larissa came up with the idea of having pease porridge.  As our story goes,  it was
made from peas we harvested last fall that were dried and stored, with added
salted ham and some stored root vegetables including parsnips.

Vegetables from the cold root cellar.

My wife,  Patty,  is not a living historian,  though she is a fine
historical presenter at reenactments.  That being said,  she helped us
out and added to our meal by preparing homemade bread the night
before to be warmed in the hearth.
So good!
What people chose to eat and how they cooked their meals was what they considered to be edible and familiar.  Colonists cooked many dishes from memory and experience,  eventually acquiring an  'American character,'  and they certainly encountered new foods which,  in some cases,  came from the local Indians.
Larissa...
Though cookbooks did exist,  most colonial women cooked many dishes without the use of one;  they learned from their mothers how to make the everyday foods that the majority of people in their area ate,  therefore,  unless the meal to be served was for a special occasion or an important guest,  it was done by memory as she was taught.
Charlotte

Rebecca...

The ladies worked well together preparing our meal;  as was done last fall, 
this cabin experience and experiment had brought the past to life in ways unexpected.

In days of old,  the fireplace had always been the one area in the home where all the 
activity would take place,  and it was the same in colonial times;  life tended to center around the hearth,  for that's where most women of the house  (and even some men)  
seemed to spend a good part of their day,  preparing the family meals.
And,  oh!  the familiar smells! 
In my historic culinary research,  one of the things that has noticeably changed in recent times is how much actual time is  spent making meals today by modern cooks  (no,  this is not a male-female thing.  I am speaking in generality here).  With  "innovations"  such as microwaves,  frozen  "tv"  dinners,  pre-packaged foods,  and fast food restaurants,  the time and energy spent doing this oh-so-important job of food preparation is nowhere near what our ancestors did.
Pride in cooking seems to have gone out the window as well.
As an orange-red flame burned on the hearth,  streaks of sunlight gleamed through
the east windows...the sun warming the floor,  thus warming the room...a little...
Yes,  we left the east door open as well,  for the sun did help to bring the temperature
inside up slightly. 
'Twas noticeably chillier on the opposite side of the cabin.
"Warmth becomes a communal pursuit in such frigid weather.  Heat from the hearth
radiates only a small distance.  Drinking water and liquids could easily freeze on
the opposite side of a room.  Breaking out the cider was quite literal in our year. 
Cider would be left in barrels to freeze the water in Fall's apple pressings and harden
into ice,  leaving behind hard cider."  Rebecca
Many of the furnishings and tools you see we brought to the cabin ourselves.  A few of us collect replicated 18th century items for use either in our own homes or at events such as this. 
At the bottom of this post will be a link to what I have in my 18th century collectables.

Sometimes we need a moment or two to take it all in...so Charlotte grabbed a few spare minutes to herself...
"While sitting on the tree stump I was just taking in the warmth of
the sun and the sound of the birds.  I couldn’t hear any motors or
traffic or anything like that...it was just serene.  I said a prayer of
thanks for the beauty all around us."

Rebecca took time out to read from the Farm Almanack -
the one from 1771 shown at the top of this posting.
There is much that can be learned about everyday life by
reading the old almanacks and journals.

By the way,  just as was in the 1700s,  the  "necessary"  was outside, 
a distance from the cabin - distant enough to hinder any odors when
the weather is warm.  But here in winter,  the trek seemed to take forever!
Rebecca captured this moment as I was leaving for the...um,  great outdoors.

I found this to be an interesting photo:  the sun's rays mixing with
a bit of the smoke from the fireplace...the wind a-blowing down
the chimney,  smoke finding its way into the cabin
The deep fireplaces of most homes,  which permitted indoor cooking,  also let a significant amount of smoke into the home.  The failure of chimneys to carry smoke out of the dwelling remained problematic through the eighteenth century.  Until a better understanding of the true nature of heat became widespread,  chimneys lacked designs capable of effectively heating as well as drawing smoke out of the home.  It wasn't until the 1740s that Benjamin Franklin invented the  “Pennsylvanian Fire Place”  to improve the efficiency of heating homes.  Franklin also published the pamphlet  “Observations on the Causes and Cure of Smoky Chimneys”  in 1787.

Meanwhile...
Cooking on the hearth - the center of the colonial home - has 
been thoroughly romanticized,  and yet it remains an art 
that few today have experienced. 

Larissa adds water to the porridge.
As mentioned earlier,  Larissa and Rebecca are long-time Greenfield Village employees and are well-versed in 18th century domestic life.  However,  Charlotte,  in the picture below,  is another Greenfield Village employee---or,  rather,  former employee,  for she recently retired from there,  though her job was as a worker inside the 1850s Eagle Tavern,  one of my favorite historical dining experiences.  She, too,  earned quite a bit of hearth cooking experience during our cabin excursions.
A learning experience for all.
Charlotte fried up the bacon.

Because we all had our chores to do and kept busy,  the day flew by...unfortunately.
I've spent countless hours inside the 1760s Daggett House watching Larissa and Rebecca  (and other presenters)  cook on the hearth,  wishing and hoping that one day I could somehow possibly spend an entire day there,  taking part in the historical activities with them and the other presenters,  and perhaps even join them in feasting upon the 18th century meal.  Well,  I knew it would be impossible for something like that to happen for me at Greenfield Village,  for I am not an employee there.  
But I did get  "the Daggett experience"  here...and more:
As the man of the house,  it was I who gave thanks to our Lord for all of His blessings upon us:
Okay---so I look dorky as I pray - God still appreciated it!
But I posted this shot to show the delicious food the girls
worked on most of the day.
It was so good!
So,  for our dinner on this cold January day,  we had pease porridge.
Porridge is,  by etymology definition,  a  "thickened soup of vegetables boiled in water,  with or without meat,"  and is also an alteration of the Middle English  "pottage."
As Charlotte mentioned,  "I loved how we began the day with a recitation of  'Pease Porridge Hot'  in a round."  Yes,  each one of us took a line as we stood in a circle.  
The earliest recorded version of  "Pease Porridge Hot"  was written as a riddle found in John Newbery's Mother Goose's Melody  (from 1760):
Pease Porridge hot,
Pease Porridge cold,
Pease Porridge in the Pot
Nine Days old
Spell me that in four letters; 
I will:  T H A T - 
The pease porridge was so thick you could eat it with a knife.  And we also had bread, 
cabbage with bacon,  onion,  and smoked sausage,  as well as sweet potato pan bread. 
Cheese and pickles,  too.
A savory meal indeed.
Note the two-prong fork,  eating knife,  and horn spoon.
One of the interesting features of our dinner was the use of the various 18th century dinnerware we had, including eating knives and horn spoons.  Prior to the American Revolution, most Americans ate with spoons made from shell,  horn,  wood or gourds.  The blunt-tipped knives imported to the colonies were the precursors to the fork and often food was brought to the mouth on the flat edge of the knife.  Until the later 18th century,  forks,  usually two-pronged,  were still uncommon in the colonies and in some cases deemed a curiosity;  their job was to hold onto the food item on the plate while cutting it into smaller pieces.  It was the spoon and knife that was the most common way to bring the food to your mouth.  Since the new blunt knives made it difficult to spear food,  the two-prong fork was used in its stead — yet still not so helpful for holding bites of food.
We did use the utensils in the traditional manner of our colonial counterparts:  the horn spoon,  the eating knife,  the two-pronged fork for holding the meat.  I like that we had all of what we needed for our mealtime to also be historically correct.
Charlotte told us that she  "went into the root cellar last night to gather some cabbage,  carrots,  and onion.  Brought in some sausage and bacon from the smoke house. 
I’m going to fry some sweet potato flat bread at the cabin too."
And she certainly did!
There also could be wooden bowls,  trenchers,  and plates among the other types.
But it was not only wood tableware that folks ate from.  Stoneware was popular and would have been seen in middle and lowering classes.  Redware was popular,  especially with the middling class,  depending on the location for access to the iron-stained red clay.  
Though not brought for this event,  pewter was also fashionable amongst colonists.  However it was more expensive than stoneware or redware.  Initially pewter was for the upper class,  but by the time of the American Revolution it was seen on many merchant-class table-boards.
Tankards for drinking were made of all three materials listed here:  wood,  redware,  and pewter.  Oh,  and leather also.

After dinner I read aloud from the Almanack and then we simply sat back and 
enjoyed pleasant conversation,  speaking mainly of  how those who actually 
lived in the colonial period survived in such frigid weather.
But it was not long before we found the coldness seeping into our bones 
once again.  Time to get moving to get the blood circulating.

Contemplating my next chore - hopefully one that will keep me warm~
"Although winter was not the season for hard fieldwork,  it was a time when processing of harvests and spinning and weaving of textiles could more easily be accomplished for the upcoming year.  Although the days were shortened by the available light,  the sounds and memories of winter in the house guided hands even in darkening rooms." - Rebecca
The textile arts:  preparing flax for spinning...that's up next!
Wool preparation for spinning is more commonly shown today at historic reenactments,  and more often than not,  that's what we usually will see in the museums as well.  So I thought I would present a quick - very quick - lesson on flax:
The flax-production began in the spring,  as Matthew Patton,  a New Hampshire farmer,  did on May 18,  1787,  when he reported in his diary:  "I sowed about 1 of a bushel of flax seed and I suppose near as many pease."   The very same day,  150 miles away in Hallowell,  Maine,  Martha Ballard's husband was engaged in similar work:  "Clear...Mr.  Ballard ploughed flax in,"  she wrote.  Since the seed was light,  it took skill to distribute it evenly and well. 
"I wed  (weed)  flax,"  Ballard wrote on June 16,  1788,  a month after her husband completed sowing.  Her patch of flax was an extension of her garden.  Patton's crop was larger.  With three quarters of a bushel he could have seeded half an acre.  
Just before it matures,  it is pulled from the ground,  roots and all.  The harvest for these folk began the last week of July or the first week of August and lasted three or four days.  "Finished pooling flax,"  Matthew Patton wrote.  Martha Ballard and her daughters usually did their own pulling,  lifting the plants carefully by the roots,  holding the stems as straight as possible to avoid tangling,  then stacking them in neat bundles for later processing.  Sometimes they were spreading cloth made from last year's crop on the grass to bleach while they were harvesting the new one.  Growing flax and turning it into linen for clothes requires growing a variety suitable for fiber to spin.  
Once picked,  the plant is submerged in water in order to rot the useless part.  This is called retting,  considered one of the most important stages in the flax process.  The flax is then spread on the grass  (called dew retting)  to dry.  
In the crate we see flax,  already retted and ready for the process before spinning can begin.  After the three steps of flax preparation is completed,  roughly 10 to 20 percent of the plant will be useful as fiber for spinning while the other 80 to 90 percent is unspin-able chaff.

Pulling the flax from the crate,  the next step occurs,  which is using the flax break:
A flax break is a tool with wooden blades on top and bottom.  The top blades are hinged at one end and can be raised and lowered to smash the stalks.  A large bundle is centered at the hinge  (or wider)  end of the break;  the upper meshes with the lower and comes down with a bang upon the flax which is struck as it gradually moves to the smaller end,  softening the brittle stalks as well as removing the useless parts.
The flax break~
A special birthday gift from my kids to me last year.

Let's move on to the next step:  scutching.
After using the flax break,  the remains are then scutched to remove more
broken shives from the tough line fiber.  Scutching is a scraping process where the broken flax is laid over the top edge of the upright board and a wooden knife is used
to scrape off the chaff from the line fiber
.

My wife,  God Bless her,  surprised me with a scutching board & knife this past Christmas!  Unbeknownst to me,  she had our friend,  Tony,  make it,  and did so from the pictures sent to him of the board inside the 1760s Daggett House.
What an awesome gift and a wonderful surprise!
This was my first time using it - almost a month after Christmas.

After the flax break and scutching board,  it was time
to use the hackle  (also known as a heshle or hatchel).
"I am heshling flax."
Molly Cooper November 15,  1769

"I have hatcheled 14 pounds flax from the swingle."
Martha Ballard March 16,  1795

"I have been carding tow."
Martha Ballard March 24,  1797
The hackle is one scary looking but important tool,  for it is the last of the 
three steps in preparing/softening the flax fibers to be spun. 

The flax is pulled through the hackling spikes  (also referred to as combs),  which parts the locked fibers,  splits and straightens them,  cleans them,  removes the fibrous core and impurities,  all to prepare them for spinning.
The short,  tangled fibers left in the combs of the hackle,  which are useless for spinning,  are called  "tow"  flax and were used for stuffing mattresses,  cleaning rifle barrels of black powder residue,  as a scrub pad for cleaning cast iron utensils,  as fire starter  (tinder)  for flint & steel  (flax fibers are quite flammable in their unspun state and can catch a spark easily),  and even to be made into rope.
As for the softened flax,  its use was for spinning:
Due to the patriotic fervor of women in the later 1760s and into the 1770s,
spinning - "homespun" - became extremely popular throughout the 13 colonies. 
Women in the American Colonies played a critical role in boycotting the importation of British goods 
in protest of increased taxation on everyday items. Although Parliament repealed the Stamp Act,  they replaced it with the odious Townsend Duties.  Suddenly clergymen,  militia captains,  printers,  politicians,  and urban gentlewomen who had never before touched a spinning wheel took a new interest in household production.  “Women determined the Condition of Men,  by means of their spinning wheels.”
Between March 1768 and October 1770,  New England newspapers reported more than sixty spinning meetings held all along the coast from Maine to Long Island.  Soon there were reports of large gatherings all along the coat of Massachusetts and into Rhode Island. 
Out on the frontier,  however,  spinning was a necessity.
Rebecca tied the prepared flax onto the distaff  using ribbon.

Larissa and Rebecca working
at the wheel
Larissa and Rebecca working
at the wheel


Flax spinning wheels are generally smaller in diameter.  The smaller
the diameter the faster the wheel turns,  and flax can take a hard twist
to make a strong thread.

Once the flax fibers are spun into a line of thread,  
it is called linen at that point.

Because the flax fibers are jointed,  like bamboo,  it is the interlocking of
the joints during spinning that prevents the thread from unraveling
and makes flax such a perfect spinning fiber.

From raw flax to linen thread.
Since I first posted these photos publicly on Facebook and MeWe, 
I've had two period book binders contact me about using the linen
thread to bind their books.
This was my first time actually going through the entire process,  from  "raw"  flax through linen thread,  and it made me feel so good knowing that though both have spun linen,  this was Rebecca and Larissa's first time taking part and witnessing the complete  process as well,  for the flax they spin at Daggett comes to them already processed.

                      ~Sounds: Hearing History as our Ancestors Heard It.~
These are the shadows 
of things that have been...
Throughout this flax process was when it struck me:  I was taken at how prominent the sounds of the past were so strong a part of our experience.  And it was as I worked the various tools that I came to realize just how immersed we actually were;  I heard the crunching of the dried flax between the hinges of the flax break,  while the clanging of the cast iron pots and pans - lids lifted for checking the food then lowered...and spoons stirring - came forth,  with the women speaking to each other about the dinner being prepared,  all the time the fire in the hearth snapping and crackling to fill in the gaps.  And then the smacking and scraping of the hard wooden sword against the scutching board as I continued softening the flax,  and the sounds of the ladies again as they continued creating their feast.  Even while I was outside on the small porch,  pulling the flax through the hackle,  I could hear the continuous sounds of the clunky 18th century shoes thumping across the cabin floor as the ladies moved about.  My shoes added to that particular sound when I,  too,  was inside.
What I did not hear was a radio/music playing or voices coming from a TV as background noise or the tapping on a computer keyboard or smart phone bleeps.  No cars or trucks or booming bass speakers.
Rebecca noted the sounds of the past as well,  and I enjoyed her perspective:
"The clicking of knitting needles,  clipping of flax breaks,  scraping of scrutching knives on their boards,  flicking of hanks of flax being combed by the hackle,  the whirring of the flax wheel,  rhythmic walking of processing of any wool that was left from last Spring's shearing on the high wheel,  the beat of the battening of the weft on the loom of the itinerant weaver,  and the slipping of the needle through mending,  and made clothes and linens,  these were the sounds of winter industry."
Perfectly put,  Rebecca.
Just the sounds of the past...most of which we heard.

The late afternoon was nigh,  and thoughts of the day commenced.  Charlotte said,  "I was so thankful for a little snow and a warm sun.  As the day warmed and then the temps dropped by afternoon I was struck with the reality of always being cold and planning your every task to deal with the cold.  My inner core just tenses up in the cold.  Just imagine how mentally and physically wearing the long winter was on our frontier ancestors.  We are such whimps!!   Without constant preparing for winter your life and those of your family could be severely compromised."
And you know the sun's setting fast,
and just like they say nothing good ever lasts...
But that's not necessarily true;  the day was wonderful,  
and the memories made will  last for a long time to come.
As the sun set,  it was actually darker inside the cabin than what the following photographs depict.  A couple pictures show this well while others made it look a bit brighter than actuality.
I wish the true look could have come out in all the images:
So...evening had come to pass...and we see Larissa & Charlotte at the hearth~
If you look to the left you can see the lit lanthorn of which the translucent was
made of cow's horn - very period correct for the time.

Rebecca and Charlotte enjoyed the bit of warmth
emanating from the hearth.

Rebecca and I also made the attempt to gather some warmth from the fire.
We are very happy to have her become a part of Citizens of the American Colonies, 
for the fact that she is well acquainted with the colonial past and the chores & duties
of a young lady of the period is such a bonus.  History is in her soul.. 

As we sat and conversed,  we came to realize just how close we were to living out the ancient diary entries we've read.   As experienced we are to living history,  this experience truly was,  for us,  living  history.
When the sun goes down,  and the clouds all frown...
The four of us had a wonderful day learning about the past through experience.
I am so very proud and happy of the members of Citizens of the American Colonies
for taking on such an endeavor.  
There will be more to come.

Some people call what we do  "pretending."
I am here to say this is not  pretending.  As historians we make the attempt to live history and bring to life what we read from journals,  diaries,  letters,  and even broadsides/newspapers.  In doing so we can pass these experiences on as teaching moments we have during our events and presentations.  It also satisfies the hunger and thirst we have - this passion we have for the past.  It may be sorely overlooked in history books at schools and colleges,  but history is made from regular everyday people - the citizens - who survived under what we would consider harsh conditions.  We need to learn of those who are not unlike you and I - the majority - who may not have gotten their names in the history books,  but were,  nonetheless,  every bit as great and important as anyone else - (like  you and I).  Unfortunately,  many folks have a tendency in our day and age to over-simplify the roles of a colonial family with the insinuation that those who lived before our own  "enlightened"  time were backwoods,  backwards,  and just not as intelligent as we are.  But I heard such a great line from someone on C-Span a few years back that explains it all perfectly:  "People in the past were every bit as smart as people are today.  They just lived in a different time."
That's how we can,  as historians,  fully understand the times in which they lived.
And perhaps not be so judgmental in looking back at them from the 21st century.
They do not deserve such harsh judgment.
So for our latest historical experience,  this winter day spent in 1771 was biting cold with the temperature in the teens and twenties.  A few inches of snow covered the ground,  with icy spots here and there.  A frigid wind blew in from the north.  It was perfect for what we wanted to experience,  however way we could,  in a similar vein our colonial forbearers did,  even if only for a day.  We were living the time rather than presenting the time.
And we did.
But then the magic ended...and we returned to 2021.
Just like that.
This was as close to time-travel as one can get....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I cannot thank the good folks at the Waterloo Farm Museum enough for allowing us to live out long-time historical dreams.  I appreciate the trust you have given us.
See you in the spring!
Also,  so many thanks to the wonderful living historians who joined me - Larissa,  Charlotte,  and Rebecca - for it was because of their want of these time-travel experiences that we could,  together,  make it happen.
I am proud to call you my friends.
And it's to them I also give thanks for taking great pictures:  between the four of us,  our day was captured in the sixty-something images you see in today's posting.

As for a few sources - - - - - - 
Flax information taken from the pamphlet  The Textile Tools of Colonial Homes By Marion & Walter Channing
Some of the dinnerware information came from THIS site.
Chimney and fireplace information came from HERE.

But wait!  There's more - - - - - - - !!!

Ken's Blooper!
So----I was walking backward,  attempting to set up a  "quick sketch"  picture  (farb!)  and,  thinking I was in the clear of the stump from the tree we felled last fall,  I fell backwards right on top of it---hard!  So hard,  in fact,  that I literally bounced off the stump and slammed flat on my back onto the cold,  hard,  snow-covered ground.
Oh,  it's hard to go down easy  (as Dan Fogelberg once sang)...and I had to laugh alongside everyone else.  I mean,  what could I do?  According to Larissa,  my feet went above my head!  I felt like a dork!  

But I got up,  with a little help from my friend,  and,  all covered in snow, 
carried on with the day's activities.

Anyhow,  yeah,  the next day my tailbone hurt pretty good,  and the pain my back,  with my sciatic problem,  let me know it was not happy with me,  and I was walking like a decrepit 90 year old man for a day or two.  But I got over it,  and within a few days I was almost back to my  "normal"  self...except for my tailbone - - three weeks out and it still hurts. 
Yeah,  I hit pretty hard.
Of course,  it was good of them to get a few pictures of me lying there on the ground!  At least they waited until they saw I was still breathing  (lol).

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read about our autumn in 1770,  please click HERE.
To read a bit about my reproduction18th century collectables,  click HERE.
To read about winter in colonial times,  please click HERE.
































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