Friday, April 29, 2022

Bringing Historic Structures to Life: The J.R. Jones General Store

When you hear of  the decade of the 1880s,  do you think of  the fabled  "old west?"
It seems like most cowboy movies I remember watching years ago depicted that decade more than any other.  And how about the actual well-known old west outlaws and lawmen who made the papers during the 1880s,  such as Billy the Kid  (who died in 1881),  Jesse James,  who was killed in 1882,  wealthy cattle baron John Chisum,  who died in 1884,  the gunfight at the OK Coral involving Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp which took place in 1881,  and famous Native Americans,  Geronimo and Sitting Bull,  both still making news that decade?
And more recently we have a new  'old west'-type series called  "1883."
Well,  at the same time all this  "old west"  was taking place on the American frontier - when the west wasn't so old - those who were living in a certain small Michigan town very well could have visited the store in which you are about to read...for the 1880s is the decade we will visit for today's posting,  telling us about a certain restored building standing in a very different location and environment than the western US,  though now inside the hallowed walls of  Greenfield Village:


Although this building,  built in the mid-1850s in Waterford,  Michigan  (about 30 miles north of Detroit),  was not the first acquisition Henry Ford made for his new outdoor museum - as far as I have read,  that distinction goes to the Scotch Settlement School -  it was,  however,  the first structure to arrive at the village site,  according to the book,  A Home For Our Heritage.
This building has been in its Greenfield Village location longer than its original
Waterford location.
Fruits and vegetables...
...from local farmers.
Once settled inside of Ford's new Village,  this store was called the Waterford Country Store,  in honor of its original location.  But shortly after,  it received the name Elias A.  Brown's General Store due to its stock coming from Mr.  Brown's store in New York.  This stock was passed on to Mr.  Ford with the understanding that the name of the old gentleman who had once been proprietor of that New York store be placed above the door.  However,  aside from providing display stock,  Brown had no connection with this particular building what-so-ever.  But that's where the name remained for over 50 years,  so this mish-mosh and mixing of product -  ranging from the 1830's through the 1930's,  as well as having candy and ice cream for sale to the visitors - continued from 1929 through the early 1990s, forcing the presenters to treat the store as a sort of  generic  general store from a  "typical"  rural community.  
Things began to change when Harold Skramstad became the director of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in 1981.  Under Skramstad the Village became more research-oriented.  This was the period when the true history of numerous Village structures came forth,  and the correcting of some errors and misrepresentations at the famed repository of Americana occurred,  including the Mattox House and Susquehanna Plantation.
And the Elias Brown General Store.
It was in the early 1990s when,  due to extensive research,  Greenfield Village began a serious transformation of the store,  from the Elias Brown General Store that's been in place since just after its arrival to the Village,  to the 1880s J. R.  Jones General Store,  with completion by opening day 1994.  
J. R.  Jones was the proprietor during the 1880's while the building stood in its original Waterford location,  and the Village decided to portray it from that period.
Inside the General Store.
As they planned the transformation into its new/old look,  the curators had found the store,  as Henry Ford had it,  was inconsistent in its presentation with their new vision;  as mentioned,  it was not historically accurate as what would have been seen by 1880s shoppers,  meaning there was much work - physical and research - to be done.  So,  in 1990,  a project team was appointed and began their tedious historical research to restore,  reinstall,  and reinterpret the building.  They researched all resources about general stores,  including account books.  They also researched local Waterford history,  including newspaper advertisements of the 1880's.  In doing so they learned that the store was referred to as a farmer's supply store at one point,  and that Mr.  Jones added a stock of sporting goods in 1884.  They scoured over Michigan supply and trade catalogues of the time,  for a goal was to incorporate goods specific to what was sold in stores from the general lower Michigan area.  They even asked visitors at the Village what they expected to see inside the store.
As to product placement,  the researchers read actual interviews with Mr.  J.R.  Jones himself during his visit to Greenfield Village soon after the store was brought there!
Jugs,  iron pots,  tinware,  and even seeds for planting could all be purchased here
at the General Store.
Recreating the store to its 1880s appearance was extremely important as the overall goal,  and so accurately reproduced items were needed to accomplish the end result,  for many original objects were rare or too fragile,  with some being in too poor condition.  
Since re-opening in 1994,  and to this day,  the J.R. Jones General Store appears much the same as it would have in the mid-1880's.  Over 3,000 original objects with 2500 reproductions were installed to simulate an actual working store,  implying that folks of the late 19th century had a greater quantity and variety of product to choose from than otherwise was believed,  as well as showing how said product fit into people's everyday lives.  The items upon the shelves were chosen based upon their historical appropriateness and how they would fit with the overall story to be told.  It all ties in together.
By doing this they turned the General Store into what they call a  "working"  store,  implying that there are quantities of the same objects,  as a store's inventory would have had,  and that the items would appear new and not faded antiques.
The 1880s had plenty of canned goods for sale.
And cheese,  too.
With this new transformation,  the J. R.  Jones General Store now shows how most stores of this era housed everything needed for the surrounding community in which it served.  From dry goods and tools to certain foods,  patent medicines,  household utensils,  fancy jewelry,  material for clothing,  shoes,  hats,  sugar,  cracker barrels,  coffee,  sometimes mail for pick up,  and maybe even a bit of hard candy and a small selection of toys,  the general store was the heart of the community.  The store served as a meeting place for friends,  who swapped stories and debated politics out front in the warm weather and near the potbellied stove in the cooler months.
The pot-bellied stove near the rear of the store.
For presentation they have costumed presenters who speak in a third person vernacular,  and rather than just present,  the interpreter will bring to life the way things were in that vacation town of Waterford,  and also speak of purchases in the same manner as a customer from the 1880s might do.  It's not the a-typical monotone drone:  "Welcome to the general store..."
When the revamped store with its new more historically accurate look was presented to the public for the first time in spring 1994,  visitors took immediate notice and were very impressed by the dramatic change.  The turn-around helped to bring this store as it was in the 1880s successfully to life.

Waterford Village,  during the summer months in the 1880's,  drew a large number of vacationers from Detroit and Lansing,  as it was a resort community with its many nearby lakes.  And,  Greenfield Village now entertains visitors during the summer months by presenting a 15 minute skit about a pain-in-the-butt  "city"  lady customer and how she irritates the proprietor,  Mr.  Jones.
"The Disagreeable Customer"
Meet Mrs.  Cleveland,  the wife of a Detroit physician who fled the city during the summer to vacation in Waterford.  In this skit,  we see the conflicting concerns between the city and country attitudes.

James R.  Jones was but one of nine different proprietors who operated a general store in this building between 1857 and 1927.  August Jacober was the proprietor of the store when Henry Ford purchased the building in 1927,  and these storekeepers knew the latest news and often served as the Justice of the Peace and the Village Postmaster.
Here is an original shot of August Jacober's General Store in the late 1920s,  still on the
corner of Dixie Highway and Andersonville Street where it originally stood in
Waterford,  Michigan,  about to be transported to its new home at Greenfield Village. 
Just beyond is the new brick building Henry Ford built in exchange for
the original  (plus $700).

With the original being relocated to Greenfield Village,  there was a replication of 
the structure made,  which was built inside the Waterford Historical Society Park.  
The society was allowed to take measurements and extensive photos of the original to 
build their replica.
Where Greenfield Village has the original as it was in the 1880s,  the Waterford Historical Society maintains their replica as it looked in the early 1900s when it was owned by Mr. Jacober.
Yeah...that's me and my buddy John sitting on the bench in front.
So now the restoration process of the General Store has been done as accurately as can possibly be done,  and one can safely assume the time-travel feeling when entering the structure.
What was it like to visit such a place in the 1880s?
You're about to find out:
Let's switch on the time machine and see...and we shall base our trip around this particular store.
So here it is, 1880.
Vacationers shopping at Mr.  Jones'  store.
They seem to be giving him quite a time!
Perhaps,  like the majority of people in your time and place,  you live on a farm.  Yes,  you are able to get along independently by making tools you may need or by growing the food you eat.  But you still may need to go to town every-so-often to purchase some provisions,  such as sugar,  new shoes,  to purchase a bit of fabric to sew new clothing,  or,  perhaps,  you may possibly have mail waiting.  This means every-so-often you will need to take the journey,  either by horse and buckboard or farm wagon,  or even by leg power,  to the store,  which could easily be several miles away,  taking a half day or longer to get there.  
The usual arrangement in the general store was to devote one side to dry goods.  Here the women bought goods by the yard:  ribbon,  thread,  silk,  corsets,  bustles  (usually made of cloth stuffed with bran,  hair,  cotton,  rags,  or old newspapers),  fans,  gloves,  handkerchiefs,  shawl pins,  and artificial flowers.
Could this be Mrs.  Jones helping as Mrs.  Cook contemplates purchasing a new corset?
On the same side the men could buy paper collars,  cuffs,  bosoms  (the part of a garment that covers the breast),  ready-made neckties,  suspenders,  hats,  shoes,  and underwear.
Across from the dry goods section,  near the front of the store,  were the candy jars,  a small selection of toys,  the tobacco & cigars,  the cough drops and such patent medicine as Perry Davis'  Pain Killers,  Radway's Ready Relief,  Log Cabin Bitters,  Hostetters'  Bitters,  and Beecham's Pills.
On the shelves were crockery,  including table ware,  wash bowls,  and pitchers.  Glasses,  lamps,  and earthware crocks and jugs also occupied shelves.
Looking for a new pair of fancy shoes?
We do have the latest fashionable footwear.

Looks like the Jones' daughter was of the latest fashions.
Now I do not know if JR Jones was even married, 
much less if he had a daughter.
(But it makes a good story,  now,  doesn't it?)

Next came the grocery section,  with its spice-grinder and tins of spices and tea and coffee,  the cheeses and cracker barrels,  and the sugar barrels.  The casks of rum,  brandy,  and gin,  and the cider barrel were at the rear,  where were also kept the farming implements - pitchforks,  rakes,  hoes,  scythes,  snares,  whetstones,  and a circular rack of horsewhips suspended from the ceiling.
Farming implements.
The local general store was usually a dim,  gloomy place.  There were seldom windows along the sides,  because the walls from the front of the store to the back were covered with shelves loaded with stock.  With no electric lighting in most places in the 1880s,  the main light came from the front window daylight or,  sometimes with additional lighting in the rear from an oil lamp or candle sconce.  "We had three gas lights,"  said one former store clerk,  "one in front,  one about the middle of the store,  and one further back.  Then,  for the very back part of the store,  we had to use candles or small oil lamps - not kerosene - to light the way. It was an advantage to the merchant in the days of hard and tricky bargains to have his store in cave-like darkness.  People were often astonished at the quality and the color of their bargains when they got home.
There could be truth to the story of a deacon who is supposed to have called out to his clerk:
"John,  have you dampened the tobacco?"
"Yes sir."
"Have you watered the rum?"
"Yes sir."
"Have you sanded the sugar?"
"Yes sir."
"Then come in to prayers."

In addition to fulfilling his role as a storekeep,  the merchant was often also a politician,  banker,  accountant,  post master,  or held a number of other prominent positions.  He had great knowledge of his customers,  their likes and dislikes,  problems,  and even financial situations.  This was important since he had to deal with credit and bartering.  He also had to have a good handle on the needs and wants of his customers.
P. T.  Barnum,  perhaps the most famous showman of the 19th century,  once worked at a general store. 
"I stood behind the counter and was polite to the ladies,  and wonderfully active in waiting upon customers,"  he said.  
Being polite to the ladies was a top priority for a young apprentice.
"We kept a cash,  credit,  and barter store,  and I drove some sharp bargains with women who brought butter,  eggs,  beeswax,  and feathers to exchange for dry goods,  and with men who wanted to trade oats,  corn,  buckwheat,  axe-helves,  hats,  and other commodities for tenpenny nails,  molasses,  or rum."
It was customary for storekeepers who had apprentices to board and lodge the young men in their own families,  working them from early morning until late at night and paying them little or nothing while they were learning the tricks of the trade.  Stores opened at seven in the morning and stayed open until at least nine o'clock at night.  If there was any buying activity,  they were kept open until ten or eleven o'clock.  From another merchant who worked at such a store gave an account of his days as a young clerk back in 1854:  The hours were very long and the younger clerks had a variety of work,  from sweeping out the store to delivering goods.  Another clerk and myself slept in the store and built the fires and swept out.  There was a large hogshead  (a large cask holding approximately 63 gallons of water)  in the yard behind the store to catch water from the roof and we used that to sprinkle the floor. 
"A great many remnants of prints were sold at sixpence,  8 1/3 cents a yard,  or at twelve yards for a dollar.  We used to sell nine yards for a dress pattern and the usual price was 12 1/2 cents a yard.  Customers would generally try to beat down the price.  Then we would come down to a dollar for the nine yards and sometimes we would have to throw in the hooks and eyes and lining for the dress in order to make the sale.
The latest styles of hats for men.
Farmers drove to town and hitched their horses on Main street,  hitching posts being provided for that purpose.  They also hitched their horses to the awning posts which were in front of every store.
We used to try to have customers take their parcels whenever they could,  but when they would not do it we used to have to carry their goods to their homes in wheelbarrows.  When I first started that was part of my job.  It was no easy task to wheel a load of goods in a barrow.
The merchants used to get their goods on long time payments - six months,  nine months,  and even a year being taken to pay for them.  Gold,  silver,  and paper money were all used.  We  (also)  heard a good deal about shillings and sixpences,  terms carrying over from colonial times.
And now for the rest of the story:
the visitor saw an advertisement for the riches of lands to be had in Montana,  bought himself a stagecoach ticket,  and headed west...

So,  there you are.  I hope to have given those who have visited this store in person a bit of a different view and thought process.  And if you have never been,  I hope you can visit one day.  It is pretty amazing to see in person.  
I enjoy the thought that this 1880s store is of the same time period as the old west.
How's that for perspective?

Until next time,  see you in time.

My sources for today's posting came from the archives of the Benson Ford Research Center as well as from a very old book I own  (copyright 1938)  called  "American Village"  by Edwin Valentine Mitchell.

Here are links to learn the deeper history of many of the structures inside the Village:

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

Daggett House  (part one)
Learn about the 18th century house and the family who lived there.

Daggett House  (part two)
This concentrates more on the everyday life of the 18th century Daggett family,  including ledger entries.

Doc Howard's Office - The World of a 19th century Doctor
It's 1850 and you're 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.

Loranger Gristmill  (and mills in general)
Learn about the importance of the gristmill to the populace of the 18th and 19th centuries.

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.

Yes,  some of the structures that now sit inside Greenfield Village have connections to America's fight for Independence.

Follow the route that Thomas Edison took as he rode and worked on the rails in the early 1860s.

I searched out the local Michigan locations,  and another sought out the east coast locations to find where many of the buildings that have been relocated to Greenfield Village originally stood.
I compiled the photos here.

~   ~   ~

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Opening Weekend 2022 at Greenfield Village (including a New Historic Structure and Easter Sunday)! My Cup Runneth Over~

"Last Friday  (April 8),  we celebrated the Detroit Tigers Opening Day.  Today  (April 15),  we had another opening over in Dearborn as Greenfield Village opened its gates for the first time this season."
WDIV  TV  Newscasts

Closed since the last evening of the wonderful Holiday Nights on December 28th,  2021,  Greenfield Village reopened its gates on April 15,  and it was like a  "Welcome Home"  celebration for so many of us.  As  Members of the Village,  where we pay one flat annual rate and can visit as often as we want for the year,  we are itching to return by the time April finally arrives.  Now,  one might think we'd be bored visiting so often,  but we are not...not at all.  
And for a variety of reasons:
~seeing our presenter friends.  And they are  friends...neighbors,  even,  in a way.
~it is also a place to walk and clear one's get away from modern anything,  even for a short while.
~many,  many photo opportunities.  That goes without question.
~but mostly,  for me,  just to be in the midst of  all that history - - - - - - I can't explain.  It feeds my passion for the past until my cup runneth over.
And it's here where we can see - witness - the seasons as they change...I do especially enjoy seeing the way history is presented throughout the year as it would have been in times past.
Welcome to Greenfield Village
For instance:
spring - plowing,  harrowing,  planting,  and cleaning
summer - haying,  4th of July celebrations,  summer harvest,  and period baseball
autumn - fall harvest and food preservation,  wool spinning & dyeing,  beer brewing,  and winter preparations
Hallowe'en - spooky fun throughout the Village,  including a haunted train ride 
Christmas - period decorations,  music,  nighttime homes lit by candle & oil light,  food,  and general historic Christmas and New Year's festivities
There is also Motor Muster,  Old Car Festival,  and numerous other events throughout the year.
The only season the average visitor is not able to enjoy in Greenfield Village is winter.  We used to be able to many years ago,  but they now shut down for the first three and a half months of the year,  and so those of us who love  "seasonal history"  in this part of the country either have to travel a ways to experience wintertime past or just read about old time winter activities.  Unless you are a living historian and can plan period winter activities  (as a few of us do).  As for Greenfield Village,  from what I understand,  these winter months are used for cleaning and repairs in preparation for the rest of the year.
Anyhow,  due to the fact that they are closed for so long,  Opening Day in mid-April is cause for celebration for us history buffs.  Yeah,  let the media clamor over the Detroit Tigers'  opening day;  million dollar sports stars ain't got nothing on our country's past!
So it was on this Good Friday,  April 15th,  here in 2022 - a members-only Opening Day - and many of us fought the wind and the off-and-on rain and damp,  cold weather for our excursion.  Yes,  we are a brave and perhaps a bit crazed lot,  but we love  "our Village."
Of course I had my ever-present camera with me and took plenty of photographs of  this exciting first day.
I hope you enjoy what I have here:

Speaking of cameras...
The re-opening of Greenfield Village was a bigger deal than I thought it would be to the local media.  Local TV  news station,  WDIV,  was there to do a story on it.
Well,  at least one news station covered it:
Charlotte - you know Charlotte from our 18th century cabin time - was being interviewed by our Local 4 news.  She did a bang-up job!
Click HERE to see the news story.

Then,  at 9:30 in the morning,  the Armington & Sims steam whistle blew,  letting everyone know the gates would open!  For the first time that I've seen,  when the whistle blew everyone in line began to clap!
Into the gated past we all went.
Not raining at this point...but the ominous clouds in the background are there...
The weather was not the best ever:  we had cool temps  (low 50s),  off and on rain showers,  gusty winds,  and just a dampness throughout.  But most of us persevered...I mean,  it's Opening Day for Greenfield Village,  for Pete's sake!  We've not been inside this open-air museum since December!  Imperfect weather was not going to stop us!
One structure in each of the sets of windows makes for an interesting photo.  The Cotswold dove cote is on the left  (1620),  the 1750 Daggett House is center,  and the Farris Windmill,  from around 1633,  is on the right.  What's cool is that the building I was standing in when I took this picture is the Cotswold Cottage, 
built in England about 1620.

"Oh!  Oh!  Wait!"  I said as I saw a red-hooded colonial woman moving quickly down the street.  I knew she would pass the Giddings House so I ran up a bit to take this picture. 
Yeah,  this almost 61 year old still runs when he gets excited - - lol!

And then down the road a piece...
Here comes the horse and carriage.
How could I not make the valiant attempt to snap another  "must have"  photo? 
And I also have the 1780 McGuffey Cabin there in the background.

Over in the Ford yard we have the sheep all lined up for inspection - - - 

Being that this was April 15th,  I knew I had to stop in at the Logan County Courthouse.
"Why?"  you ask.  Because our 16th president,  Abraham Lincoln once used to practice law in this building as a circuit-riding lawyer.  And since this date was the 157th anniversary of his death,  I felt it only right to pay an homage the best way that I could at the moment.
So I made sure to visit an actual building in which Lincoln once stood.
Research shows that when he was a young attorney Abraham Lincoln practiced law in this walnut clapboard building,  which was built in 1840.  Mr.  Lincoln was a circuit-riding lawyer and would travel upon his horse to the tiny country towns within a certain perimeter - Lincoln and the other handful of circuit riding lawyer companions with him covered the Eighth Judicial Circuit which covered around 11,000 square miles - and they would follow the judge to the courthouses of the towns.
The presenter mentioned that visitors continuously came into the courthouse mentioning that it was the anniversary of Lincoln's death as well as the date of the Titanic sinking.
I  did that  (lol) - I posted on the Friends of Greenfield Village Facebook page a few historical events that happened in April,  including the two mentioned here - - the members paid attention and reminded the presenter!  I love when that happens.
For much of the 19th century in rural Illinois,  court was in session only twice a year,  and could be a raucous affair.  It was quite entertaining for the folks sitting on the hard wood benches or peeking through the windows  (which were oftentimes opened due to the heat from all of the bodies inside).  
This photo was one I set up during the Civil War reenactment a few years back,  and gathered a number of my reenactor friends together to sort of give a glimpse of what
it may have looked like during a session. 
It was quite the  "to do"  for the country townsfolk,  for this was about the only time a small town could have some real big-time excitement.  People from all around the neighboring communities would travel to the court building to be enthralled by the legal battles at hand;  I liken it to a modern-day court-room television drama that are always so popular today.  Of course,  the local businesses always had red-letter days during the time the court was in session as well.

By the way,  this was no ordinary Opening Weekend for Greenfield Village;  for the first time in 22 years,  a new historic structure was added to the collection of history here:
Detroit history~
Welcome the Detroit Central Farmer's Market,  originally built in Detroit
in 1861 - the newest addition 
to Greenfield Village.  
Over the last few decades,  the Village has been focusing a bit more on food and drink history,  which I have found to be fascinating.  I have purchased numerous books on the subject to further my food history research,  including replication cookbooks from the 18th and 19th centuries,  as well as some that concentrate on heirloom vegetables & fruits,  especially apples.  Even books about heirloom plants such as Love Lies Bleeding and Hollyhocks.
Jim Johnson,  Director of Greenfield Village & Curator of Historic Structures and Landscapes at The Henry Ford,  spent all opening weekend,  including Easter Sunday,  giving a history lesson of the Market and told us about its restoration and what went
into bringing it to the Village,  where it will be preserved,  God willing,  for
generations to come.
From WDIV:
A piece of Detroit history that was nearly torn down has been made new again,  and is ready to be seen by visitors at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.
Now on display at Greenfield Village is a 160-year-old pavilion from the Detroit Central Farmers Market in Cadillac Square.  The structure,  which opened in 1861,  is part of the original farmers market.
It’s one of the buildings where vegetables were primarily sold,  according to Jim Johnson,  director of the living outdoor museum.  Johnson says the Central Farmers Market was originally in Cadillac Square,  although the photographs taken then are a bit misleading now.
“A lot of the buildings you’ll see in the photographs no longer exist in that area,” 
 Johnson said. 
 “There was a whole block surrounding the market of brick structures that were all brick and mortar shops,  in addition to all of the hucksters,  as they were called,  and the stall owners -- everybody that was here selling their goods.  And that spilled out into the street.  There was a huge area where guys just sold right out of their wagons.
Some of the downspouts were actual
downspouts doing the job they were
made for,  while others held
electrical wiring.
The historic pavilion isn’t just part of Detroit history,  it also helps tell Detroit history -- like why the building,  and the farmers market in general,  was needed in the first place.
“The city of Detroit grew by leaps and bounds each decade through the 19th century,  and by the 1860s,  they had a huge population to feed,”  Johnson said.  “So,  this became one of the central points where you could go and buy your groceries.”
The market was only open for about three decades,  officially closing in 1893.
“That’s when the city decided the area needed to be beautified,  opened up traffic,  and the central market was literally shut down almost overnight,”  Johnson said.
Re-construction took place throughout the pandemic,  and now the structure will be open to the public.  The piece of 19th century architectural beauty has been saved for us,  and for the history books.
“This is extraordinary,”  Johnson said.  “This is a very wonderful,  rare building,  and we’re thrilled that we’re able to save it and now present it..."
It is 80% original.
The last historic structure that was placed inside Greenfield Village was in June of 2000 when the Detroit,  Toledo,  & Milwaukee Roundhouse opened.  The interesting thing about this Central Market in comparison is we now have a far more open internet,  which includes a few popular sites that didn't exist at the time,  such as social media,  and photographs are now a constant normal and very popular item to post.  So interested folks had been able to see the step-by-step process of the Central Market being re-stored and re-constructed.  I think what I am waiting/hoping for is to see it utilized as it once was:  selling seasonal fruits & vegetables in summer and autumn,  perhaps flowers and heirloom seeds in the spring,  and even pumpkins for baking and carving jack-o-lanterns,  gourds,  maybe decorative cornstalks,  beeswax,  and other items with a fall flavor.
Of course,  much will depend on the weather...but one can hope.
A small Opening Day vignette inside the Detroit Central Market.
Maybe one day it will be more than a vignette.
Either way,  I am so excited to see how they will use this!
So,  let's look at a couple photos of before,  during,  and now:
This is the way the spot which the Market now sits has looked for a couple of decades.  Right near the yellow silk mill building was where we would set up our campsite for Civil War Remembrance.

And this is how that same spot looks now.

And in between the then & now photos:
Summer 2021
Not from the same angle,  but one can see the construction of this historic
building going up. one who has been very interested in period farming,  I really love the idea of this Market.  And I do hope it is utilized in the right historical manner.
I am certain it will be.

So,  due to the not-so-pleasant-weather,  it was not long after that we found ourselves back in the van and on our way back home.  But I was so glad to make it to another Opening Day - it truly is quite an event for us.
However,  I was back at Greenfield Village only two days later,  and this time brought my wife along.
Yes,  we came on Easter Sunday.  You see,  in my family we hold our Easter celebration on the Saturday before the actual holiday so our family can all be together instead of coming over at differing times throughout the day.  That means Easter Sunday itself is somewhat quieter and gives us time for church and perhaps a visit or two.
And,  on the rare occasions that Easter falls a bit later in April,  such as it did this year,  we also have time for Easter at Greenfield Village!
So back we went,  and enjoyed Easter Sunday in a historic setting!

Now,  I'm not sure why Mr.  Ford did not find and purchase an authentic period church for his Village,  but instead he instructed his right-hand man,  architect Ed Cutler,  to design and build one right there on the Village Green.
I went down a small embankment on the side and behind the church to take this picture. 
Churches were a center of community life in the 1700s,  a place where townspeople came together to attend services and socialize.  The Martha-Mary Chapel,  with its architecture inspired by New England's colonial-era churches,  was built in Greenfield Village in 1929.  
The bricks and the doors came from the building in which Henry Ford and Clara Bryant were married in 1888 - the Bryant family home in old Greenfield Township  (from which the Village name was taken).
The name  "Martha-Mary"  came from the first names of his mother and mother-in-law.
Sticking by his original New England village plan,  Ford made sure that the steeple of the church was the highest point in Greenfield Village.  This was as it was in most towns across America.  Once a very religious nation,  towns and villages were built around the place of worship,  and the buildings of the towns were never taller than the church steeple,  therefore, no matter where a townsfolk was at,  they could always find the church because of its height.
"Joseph Warren Revere cast the steeple bell circa 1834. 
Revere was the son of the famous silversmith Paul Revere who
had an extensive knowledge of metallurgy and opened his
own foundry in 1792. 
This bell hung in the belfry of the Universalist Church in
Hingham,  Massachusetts from 1834 to 1927,  before being
installed at the Martha-Mary Chapel in Greenfield Village."
This is so cool!
Did you know there is a second Martha-Mary Chapel?
Set atop a grassy knoll in Massachusetts on the grounds of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn,  the 2nd Martha-Mary Chapel was built in 1940 by Ford by using trees that fell during a 1938 hurricane.  A small graveyard lies between the chapel and a Red Stone Schoolhouse,  the school to which Mary took her little lamb back in the day.
Yes...very  cool indeed!

Let's jump to the year 1915 and head to the Edison cottage that once belonged to the inventor's grandparents:
The ladies of 1915 Edison were making chocolate Easter eggs,  which is a tedious task.

Gigi pours the chocolate into an emptied egg shell.

This real egg shell,  all cleaned out,  is now filled with melted chocolate.
Now to wait and let it harden.

And over at the 1880s Firestone Farm,  they,  too,  are celebrating the Easter Holiday.
Using natural dyes,  the Easter eggs of Firestone Farm.

Easter eggs decorated - love it!!
In Christian tradition,  Easter Sunday is the day Jesus came back to life after dying on the cross on Good Friday.  For many people - Christian and non-Christian alike - this holiday represents rebirth and new life as well as the coming of Spring,  and has then been linked to the egg,  which is an ancient symbol of new life that some believe may have pagan origins.

The Easter Bunny was at the new Central Market.
The Easter Bunny is a German tradition - 
they are first mentioned in the 1682 book  "De Ovis Paschalibus"  ("About Easter Eggs")  by Georg Franck von Franckenau,  which told of the German tradition of a hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.
This was my second time visiting on an Easter Sunday.  My first time was a few years back.  In fact,  I wrote a history of the holiday HERE.

Now,  not all was about Easter:
What we have here is the back corner of the McGuffey Cabin,  the smokehouse,  and there,  slightly in the distance,  we see a horse and carriage.
Spring is in the air...

Being that this was April 17 - only two days away from Patriot's Day - I had to stop at the Plympton House.  
This little red house has a Revolutionary War connection:
I originally learned the following while researching the little red house while at the Benson Ford Research Center.  Then I found other resources that verified the information - in various books on Paul Revere and the battles of Lexington & Concord.
This house,  built in the early 18th century,  originally stood in the vicinity of the
Wayside Inn in Massachusetts.

In the wee hours of April 19,  1775,  "An express came from Concord to Thomas Plympton Esq.,  who was then a member of the Provincial Congress,  in that the  (Redcoats)  were on their way to Concord - between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning.  The sexton was immediately called on the bell ringing and the discharge of Musket which was to give the alarm.  By sunrise the greatest part of the inhabitants were notified."
(The above photo was taken a couple years ago)
Historical biographer and author,  David Hackett Fischer,  wrote that Abel Prescott  "went to the home of Thomas Plympton,  the leading Whig in Sudbury,  and the town's alarm bell began to ring...  Warning guns were fired to summon militia companies on the west side of the Sudbury River and also in East Sudbury,  now Wayland.  Within thirty-five minutes the entire town of Sudbury had been awakened."
The interior of the Plympton House.
What makes this story even more exciting is that Abel Prescott,  who lived in Concord,  was told by his brother,  Samuel,  to ride out to nearby towns to warn them of the King’s Army marching toward Concord and to prepare their militia.  Samuel Prescott was one of two men who rode with Paul Revere a few hours earlier!
The plexi-glass made this a difficult picture to take, 
but I accomplished it!
The response from Sudbury?
“The morning was remarkably fine and the inhabitants of Sudbury never can make such an important appearance probably again.”
Looking at the Daggett House from the Plympton House.
No,  these two structures were never near each other until
 they were brought to Greenfield Village.  The Plympton
House,  as mentioned,  came from Massachusetts, 
and the Daggett House came from Connecticut. 
But both stood in their original locations during the time
of the American Revolutionary War.
And to further the information on this house’s Revolutionary War history:
Thomas Plympton also had a Revolutionary War son,  and his name was Ebenezer Plympton. Ebenezer is listed on the muster role as a private in Captain Aaron Haynes'  Company of Militia,  which marched to Concord during the Lexington Alarm on the nineteenth of April,  1775.
So this little red Plympton House sitting inside Greenfield Village has direct connections to not only the Revolutionary War itself,  but to the very beginnings of it:  the Battle of Lexington & Concord,  and even to Paul Revere.  It truly is a special part of American history!

Over at Firestone Farm - - - 
Firestone farmer,  Tom,  over looks the fields,  planning his spring plowing,  harrowing,  and sowing.  And the day after I took this photo he informed me that they  "harrowed the ladies  (kitchen)  garden this morning...before the snow."
Snow?  What snow?
Ohhh.....that  snow!
For the the very next day...that Monday following a blue-sky Easter...
Tom,  the farmer in the previous shot,  took this picture  pretty much near the exact same spot.
Such a change in one day!
April in Michigan does not mean we have a Disney spring,  with leaves suddenly sprouting,  butterflies flying about,  and flowers blooming throughout the land.

My friend,  Ian,  also journeyed to the Village on that snowy Monday.  Knowing what a fan I am of  the Daggett house,  he took a couple pictures for me.
Photo of an early spring snowstorm of Daggett,  Plympton,  and Susquehanna taken by Ian Kushnir

I can just imagine Samuel Daggett out working in the barn with son Isaiah,  preparing
for spring planting  (even with the snow),  while his wife,  Anna,  was in this house
with the girls,  Asenath and Talitha. 

Photo by Ian Kushnir

My friend,  Loretta Tester,  took this shot of the Daggett House.  I am blessed to have
such friends who are on the look out for me!

Well,  that's Michigan for you. 
But we know we are at the end of one season and the beginning of another.  And the date on the calendar says spring started almost a month ago.  But does the earth know that?
A.D.  1546
The church bell rings out nine times. 
"Nine of the clock,"  remarks Tom.
"What is  'the clock'?"  I ask.  Being that I am from 200 years previous,  I have not seen  'the clock'  before and know not of what he speaks.
He looks at me.  "How can you not know what a clock is?  It is a machine for telling the time.  With weights and cogs and things like that.  Surely you've heard one?   All the folks live by its time.  But there are those who are constantly saying  'sorry,  sorry'  for their lateness - and why?  Because their clock tells them so.  If they didn't have a clock,  they would never be late.  No one would know."
I am still mystified.  How do you get a machine to tell the hour?  Time is reckoned by the motion of the sun around the Earth,  which is down to the Will of God,  so how do you make a machine that tells the Will of God?
(taken from the time-travel book The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer)
I suppose we can liken this to a calendar as well,  wouldn't you say?  I mean,  doesn't the Earth know the month is April and the season is spring?
In the Ford yard,  under the  "watchful clock"  of the replicated Independence Hall, 
we see the Merino sheep grazing in the grass while the Torch Lake steam locomotive
chugs past.  Built in 1873,  the Torch Lake is the oldest continuously running locomotive in the United States,  encircling the Village daily from
April though September. 

More Greenfield Village to come in future posts ~ ~ ~!

Until next time,  see you in time.

Here are a few other postings you might enjoy:
A Taste of History

~   ~   ~