I have made the most - and am enjoying the heck - out of the fall season this year. Just like my
4th of July celebration this past summer, I've just been putting my entire being into this season as I do in most of my historical and traditional excursions.
It's been two years but I finally made a return to celebrate the autumn and Hallowe'en
at my favorite local place of history, Greenfield Village.
In my previous post you saw my Hallowe'en pictures as that I took while there,
and now...here's a post loaded with fall photos... - -
|The façade of the Henry Ford Museum is an exact replication of Independence Hall.|
Henry Ford built this unique front of the museum that houses a Smithsonian-style
collection of Americana as an exact replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia,
and it's here we'll begin our autumnal stroll to Greenfield Village...
~ Welcome to Autumn past ~
To me this photo of the front of The Henry Ford Museum, taken by Miranda Renaud
on the last weekend of October, exemplifies autumn past like few I have seen.
It was taken from the opposite direction of the picture above this.
Yes, we still have a touch of color left in our trees, though soon they will be lying
brown and dead on the bricked street. Because the fog hinders the distant view,
with a little imagination this could be a picture of old Detroit circa 1900.
Or, perhaps, Philadelphia around the same time.
I suppose you know by now that the autumn time of year is my absolute favorite. And something that many folks do not know is that with the autumn and the fall-harvesting activities comes a historic connection to Hallowe'en, for you see, the telling of ghost stories on Hallowe'en derives from both the Druids' belief that the ancestral dead arise on this night and the Christian directive to honor the souls of the departed at Hallowmas.
|The full "Hunter's Moon," taken at my home|
during the pre-sunrise hours of October 10.
It was only natural, then, at early American harvest time get-togethers, when the communities would gather for such activities as corn-husking parties, apple paring parties, sugar and sorghum making days, and even at thresherman dinner parties after the grain had been prepared to be taken to the gristmill, that ghost stories would become an integral part of these autumn celebrations. Many American ghost stories evolved from actual superstitions and rituals practiced by those who lived in the British Isles. These tales of the ancestral dead were told and retold by the elders to a spellbound crowd, late at night, after all of the activities were done, when the moon was fully risen and the trees outside shook with the autumn wind. That's when people gathered around a fire and told one another tales of the silenced dead lying in graves nearby.
The above description aptly describes harvest time gatherings, oftentimes around Hallowe'en - or All Hallow's Eve - and other times close to that date of October 31st, as the way it was celebrated centuries ago. Much of what Greenfield Village does this time of year is bring all of this together - both the harvest activities and the Hallowe'en celebrations past and present. This all also ties in with the photo of the Moon in the above picture. Historically, many of the nicknames we use for full moons come "from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional North American sources passed down through generations," according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. October's Hunter's Moon was given its name because it is believed that it signifies the time to go hunting in preparation for the cold season ahead.
(Yes, it's this sort of smaller, seemingly insignificant information that can feed my historical soul like little else can).
Whereas my previous post shows Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village, this one shows the beauty of fall past there. You see, the Village is closed to the general public for the month of October, except for their Hallowe'en event. However, they do have something they call Members-Only Strolling Days. This is where rides, historic buildings, and most shopping experiences will not be open, but our playground, Frozen Custard, and the serene setting for 300 years of history will be all yours to enjoy.
Weekly Members-Only Strolling Days feature access for those included in your membership to walk the grounds of Greenfield Village on days when we are closed for general admission. While you will certainly see other members, you may also catch a glimpse of some of the work our staff does throughout the year to maintain the historic structures, transportation and grounds.
I enjoyed the serenity of it, I must say.
With that being said, then, let's enjoy a peek at the past in a colorful way:
|Just a scene right out of the 1850s, with the brown JR Jones General Store|
and the Eagle Tavern sitting there in the center.
It was a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.
Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field.
(From "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving)
|Note the 1831 Ackley Covered Bridge to the left, and the circa 1800 birthplace of |
famed horticulturalist, Luther Burbank, there in the center.
Yes, I see trees of which are "sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the
tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple,
and scarlet" in this picture...simply beautiful.
If I had to choose just one photo that would give me the impression of what the Daggett House may have looked like when and where it was built back around 1750, this great picture (below) by Ed Davis would be the one. I do not see one iota of modern here…Ed did a magnificent job naturally hiding all modernisms without the means of photoshop.
|A great shot of the 1750s Daggett house by Ed Davis.|
A walk along the tree-lined streets surrounded by homes and buildings of long ago greatly emphasizes the beauty and ~woodenness~ of the season.
I do hope the fall harvest celebrations will return with its own weekends next year, as they used to have it before the dreaded covid struck. It's a shame to have to spend money to witness what used to be free for members. Plus, the harvest deserves its own weekends, not unlike Old Car festival and Motor Muster.
This, like all seasons, is a time of change.
The new awaits, the old must pass away.
But this is autumn’s theme, however strange:
Beauty is interwoven with decay.
Now, you have heard of the Wayside Inn, correct?
Built in 1686, it became an inn, called Howe's Tavern, in 1716, making it the oldest continuously operating inn in the United States.
Though not as old as the Wayside Inn, the Eagle Tavern, built in Clinton, Michigan in 1831, is well-preserved as if it were 1850, and patrons who frequent the tavern can eat the same style fare as those from the mid-19th century did.
|The Eagle Tavern, built in Michigan in the early 1830s, was one of a number|
of stops for travelers heading to Chicago from Detroit (or vice-versa).
The Eagle Tavern does not, however, have the same fame and notoriety as the Wayside does, even though both were restored by Henry Ford.
|The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts.|
One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.
The photo here and the italicized quote below is courtesy of Stephen Fletcher
As ancient is this hostelry
As any in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grander way,
With ampler hospitality...
"When you drive down Route 20 through Marlborough and Sudbury, Massachusetts, it’s all totally developed. All you see are strip malls and fast food chains . . . that is . . . until you get to the Wayside Inn. Suddenly Route 20 becomes a winding country road and you happen upon this oasis of peace, quiet, and open space. It could be 1820 for all you know."
Tales of a Wayside Inn is a collection of poems by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The book, published in 1863, depicts a group of people at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts, as each tells a story in the form of a poem (this is the same book that carries the infamous verse "Paul Revere's Ride," by the way). Henry Ford purchased the Wayside Inn in 1923, and he envisioned transforming the old Colonial Inn into a living museum of American history, an interest that predates the development of both Colonial Williamsburg and his own Greenfield Village. Pursuing his vision to create a living museum of Americana that would be the first of its kind in the country, Ford purchased 3,000 acres of property surrounding the Inn as well. In the wonderful book entitled 'A History of Longfellow's Wayside Inn,' there is a note that explains in good detail how Henry Ford not only restored the Wayside Inn itself, but numerous other buildings on the land surrounding the inn that he purchased, including "one house, the circa 1700 Plympton House on Dutton Road, (which was) disassembled and moved to Greenfield Village."
Imagine that! This house has a connection to the infamous Wayside Inn!
Longfellow's prelude itself evokes an imagery of the past through the written word penned so eloquently:
By the way, the above photo was taken at twilight time. It was actually darker out
than this image depicts - my camera grabs every speck of light it can when I don't
use the flash.
Below is the same house taken a week before, roughly from the same angle, though much earlier in the day:
This little red house is listed in a folder at the Benson Ford Research Center as
'Plympton House on Wayside Inn estate.'
But there's even more history to this ancient building: this Plympton House sitting inside Greenfield Village also has direct connections to the Revolutionary War itself - to the Battle of Lexington & Concord, and even to Paul Revere, for, as is written: (In the early morning 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 British were on their way to Concord - between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning.
The express rider? Why, Abel Prescott, the brother of Samuel Prescott who
rode with Paul Revere!
It truly is a special part of American history!
So now you see how Tales of the Wayside Inn ties in with the Plympton House
, which now sits inside Greenfield Village, off to the side, back from the road, almost unnoticeable as a historical home...and, though many people tend to pass it by without realizing this little red house holds some amazing history - history that begins nearly a century before the United States declared Independence from King George III.
And look what's just a short distance away:
|The 1750 home of Samuel & Anna Daggett.|
It's a must for me to visit each and every time I am there.
I took a few pretty decent shots around the Daggett House.
|Looking toward the Plympton House from the Daggett side (kitchen) door.|
|This is probably my favorite Daggett shot of the day.|
Similar to the Ed Davis pic earlier, but this one's mine.
Next on my list here we have the Martha-Mary Chapel:
This non-denominational chapel design was based on a Universalist church in Bradford, Massachusetts. 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), and the bell, according to the 1933 guide book, was cast by the son of Paul Revere.
|Martha and Mary were the names of Henry Ford's mother and mother-in-law.|
Just two weeks after the previous picture we can see just how fast the autumn season passes us by.
|In the evening, when the sun is sinking low...|
|This glowing New England look truly shines in autumn.|
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 the height of its steeple.
|The George Washington Carver cabin on the left was built inside Greenfield Village|
in 1942 and was very loosely based on the descriptions provided by Carver himself,
and, therefore is not an original period structure. The Logan County Courthouse,
built in the 1840s in Illinois (where Abraham Lincoln once practiced law), is in the center (with the tree blocking much of it), and Doc Howard's Office, built as a schoolhouse originally in 1839 Michigan, is on the right.
|Meanwhile, over at the Detroit Central Market, we get to enjoy a fall harvest |
as our local ancestors may have back in the 1860s.
I very much enjoyed this fall visit, for it is always my favorite time to be here. The whole seasonal feel just seems to come alive. And, yeah, I believe it was good for my soul.
A week had passed and it was back to Greenfield Village I went to partake and witness some of their actual harvest activities that I look forward to seeing more than nearly anything else.
As I've heard it mentioned, ever since the pandemic, it's been rough hiring new employees. So, unfortunately, my favorite weekends of the year - the Fall Harvest/Fall Flavors weekends - have been incorporated into the Hallowe'en event. That's all fine except that now one needs to buy a ticket - member or not - to experience a historic fall, including the activities of harvest time, whereas before it was free. And rather than full weekends as before, we now get to only see two (or so) hours worth of the activities folks would do in days past.
Barely a snippet.
So, because I do very much enjoy seasonal history, I ended up purchasing Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village tickets. In fact, I went twice: by myself on October 16 (to do what I wanted to do, which is the more harvest-y stuff), and then with my kids and grandkids two weeks later (to do what they wanted to do, which is the more Hallowe'en-y stuff)).
So here are photos of my next adventures. The first set is from my solo harvest experience.
Of course, my first mission is always to head straight away over to the Daggett House.
|Dyeing wool was taking place.|
In the basket to the right you can see previously dyed wool - just look at how vibrant the colors are.
Hollyhock, tansy, black walnut, brazilwood, long soaking indigo, golden marguerite, sanderswood, osage orange, madder root, and other popular plants of the period were used to create these bright colors.
I still recall that myth I heard as a young lad that most people of the 18th century dressed in drab, plain colors. But as research continues, we find just the opposite to be true. And the colors you see in the above picture shows this.
|The process of wool dyeing actually begins about six weeks earlier |
when the presenters begin collecting nature to use as the dye.
And closer to the house we have Roy and Devin making beer.
Roy, in the background, has been brewing beer for
nearly a decade, and it is a fascinating process.
I want to do this at one of my living history events!
What a great set up!
(Thank you Chris Robey for the use of your photo!)
Presenters such as Roy have always been so welcoming to me when I come in my period clothing. Of course, this was during the Hallowe'en event, but I was not dressed for the holiday; my period clothing is actual clothing and not a costume. I just wanted a few pictures of myself with the activities of my Daggett friends.
However, though I am friendly with visitors, I never speak as a presenter to them. I make sure to keep my distance.
Lucky for me, there was no one else around when I zipped over to visit my favorite house!
|Roy and I always have a good historical chat virtually every time we see each other. |
This man is so knowledgeable - I love sharing information with him.
|Roy pulling the mashed grains out of the pot to drain. |
"The pot was used to mash the grains. Mashing is converting starch in the grains to sugar. I’m using malted barley (sprouted barley grains) to convert starch to sugar in the cracked grains. This sweet wort will be fermented into a slightly alcohol but mostly sour tasting “small beer” that would have been the safe and nutritious drink consumed by most of the families in the 18th century."
|Stirring the mash.|
|I always appreciate that I can help, even if it is only for a few moments.|
|You see the beautiful orange-brown leaves there in the background?|
Well, the green bush-looking plant straight ahead in front of them
are the hops that were grown in the Daggett kitchen garden and were what
was being used to make the ale.
At this point people - visitors - began to accumulate to watch both the dyeing of wool and the making of beer, and I didn't want them to think I was a part of the scenario, so I felt it was time for me to fly on out and visit another area.
|The front of the Susquehanna House from Maryland, built sometime in the 1830s.|
The original owners had about 75 slaves working on the property.
And that story is told when presenters are present.
On this day, however, I was in awe of nature's beauty
surrounding the house
|Heading to the other side of Greenfield Village, I passed by this beautiful fall scene|
so I snapped a picture of it. It is the back of the McGuffey Cabin and Smokehouse.
The 1780 log cabin was the birthplace of William Holmes McGuffey, who would,
beginning in 1836, publish the most popular school text books of the 19th century,
The McGuffey Eclectic Reader.
I continued scurrying, and soon found myself at what used to be the Firestone Farm wheatfield:
|I found out that the Firestone Farm field had been transformed into the Von Tassel Farm, from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow short story by Washington Irving.|
Much of the Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village event is based around this ancient American tale.
But more on Hallowe'en coming up. I wanted to see what harvest activity was taking place at the farm:
|God's beauty shone upon the fields, once drab but now as colorful as the NBC Peacock.|
|And here we find the 1880s Firestone Farm, originally from Columbiana, Ohio, |
and how they were preparing for the coming winter.
Long-term food storage was critical to the pre-refrigeration household.
|In this photo we have Sam drying apples - one means of preservation of the fruit.|
Firestone Farm has a wonderful heirloom apple orchard.
|Elizabeth was making a corn-husk rug,|
perfect for wiping dirty, muddy feet.
|She said it took about two hours to make - start to finish.|
|Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to rest a bit.|
It was a mighty long walk from Daggett.
|As I left Firestone Farm, I found myself sheltered by these beautiful auburn leaves.|
Though it took me a while, I did make my way back to the Daggett House one last time for the evening, for it's not often I get to see my favorite house in the twilight and darkness of night. Lucky for me I found the three presenters still there, closing everything up, and was able to say a fond farewell until next time.
|And darkness does swoop in quickly in the fall months.|
In the 18th century, Goblins, imps, fairies, and trolls were thought to do a lot of mischief on Hallowe'en; it was the night spirits were out and about, and farmers bolted their doors and avoided walking alone at night. This was the night when doors were blocked with carts, or attacked with a fusillade of turnips. Plows and carts were carried off and hidden. Gates were taken off their hinges and thrown into a neighboring ditch or pond. Horses were led from the stables and left in the fields a few miles away.
|Yes, I stuck around the old 1750s home after dark...alone and unafraid. |
In a weird sort of way, it was quite peaceful. I almost half-expected to meet up with Samuel Daggett himself. It would have been a bit more pleasant, I would think, than meeting up with "Goblins, imps, fairies, and trolls, (who) were thought to do a
lot of mischief on Hallowe'en."
Alas, though I remained for a while, I was all by myself.
That was a first for me---being along in the dark near the Daggett home...
And then I decided to go and spend the rest of my time there enjoying the Hallowe'en activity fun.
...two weeks later I returned, only this time with my family.
Most of this Hallowe'en visit is documented HERE
, but I did manage to knock off a few decent fall photos as well, a couple you may have seen, but most not:
|Here's a shot of my wife and I standing near the Firestone Farm field.|
For this event we dressed in a Victorian manner - well, okay, I dressed in
a Victorian manner while my wife gave off a strong hint of colonial.
I dressed Victorian because, well, since we were staying for the Hallowe'en event, I thought a top hat and cloak would be a bit more eerie than a cocked/tricorn and knee breeches. Both my wife and I just chose something simple and easy.
To see a photo of the rest of my family, please see the link at the bottom of this post.
This Martinsville Cider Mill is a replicated 19th century mill that was constructed inside of Greenfield Village in 1942 to conform with the 19th century cider making machinery Henry Ford had in his collection. Demonstrations of pressing apples into cider used to take place here every fall for many years up until the later 20th century.
Sacks of apple seeds were first brought to North America by colonists in the early 1600s. Before that time, the only apples native to this continent were crab apples (also referred to as "common apples").
By the mid-1600s, apple orchards with thousands of trees had been planted specifically for cider, a replacement for the poor quality water that was not fit for drinking. The proliferation of apple trees grew to the point where cider became the national drink of choice and was also used for barter.
After the establishment of orchards along the Atlantic coast, a second wave of apple varieties much further inland began with the distribution of seedling trees by none other than John Chapman, more popularly known as Johnny Appleseed.
"Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider," writes Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, "In rural areas cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water."
A beautiful golden glow...
Built in 1930 in the Village, this building houses many various
old-time farming implements and tools such as scythes, hayloaders,
spiketooth harrows, handcorn planters, sulky cultivators, and so
much more. If you are into historic farm tools, as I am, this is a
great building to visit. Especially knowing that you could step out
and walk a few paces to the Firestone Farm to see many of
these same tools in action.
|My wife looks every bit the weary traveler, and is pleased to finally see a place to|
rest after a long and arduous journey.
This inn served originally as the first overnight stagecoach stop for folks heading west from Detroit to Chicago, offering food and drink for the weary travelers, back during a time when stagecoaches and horses were the main mode of travel. The travelers could find a place to sleep in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Rooms contained several beds, with two or three people - who were often strangers - sharing them.
|Say hello to Cindy, master presenter at the|
Birthplace home of Henry Ford.
One of the best presenters, bar-none.
Cindy brings this old farm house to life like few can. She tells the main story of Ford and his life here, but accents it with the small nuances, filling in the lives of Henry and his family to where one can almost envision he and his family living there.
|Toward the right we see the Mattox Home.|
The Mattox House was originally thought to have been constructed during the
pre-Civil War days on the Cottenham Plantation near Ways, Georgia, but was
found to have been built in the late re-construction era of the 1880's. It was the
home of several generations of the Mattox’s, an African-American family.
Toward the left we see the back of the Sarah Jordan Boarding House.
|From the Edison yard we see a wondrous feast of color.|
|My son, his wife, and a few of our grandkids watched a |
bit as the presenter dyed yarn over at Daggett.
And, as happens every day, night time rolled in.
There is something about being inside the Village at night, especially this time of year.
I wish I would've taken more nighttime pictures when I used to spend the night there during the now defunct Civil War Remembrance.
|The Wright Brother's House.|
Originally built in 1871 in Dayton, Ohio.
It was on July 2nd, 1936, that Henry Ford purchased the Wright Brothers' home as well as their Cycle Shop. He had the buildings carefully taken apart and even removed the dirt under each to be removed to Greenfield Village. Ford and Orville Wright were heavily involved in the restoration process of this home and wanted every minute detail to be perfect to the year 1903, the era of their first airplane flight.
By November of 1936, both buildings were gone from Dayton and up in Dearborn, Michigan.
Orville himself was a guest of honor at the dedication.
|It's only a paper moon...|
Naw...that's the real deal, right there in the center, and I believe that is Venus
a bit above it.
Even the lights of a 1900s town doesn't dim the light of parts of our galaxy.
And, for our final photo of the post we have yours truly with my wife.
This could just very well be one of my very favorite pictures of my wife and I~
Leaves are falling all around
It's time I was on my way...
But now it's time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
Yeah...the autumn moon was behind the photographer, but I did think of
the lyrics to this Led Zeppelin song "Ramble On" while we posed.
October shines here in Michigan brighter and better than most other states, with the cool fall weather, the leaves changing colors, pumpkins practically on every corner, cider mills, and Greenfield Village!
And, well, there is still much autumn left so plan to see more activities right here, in living color.
Until next time, see you in time.
To learn about Hallowe'en past, please click HERE
To learn about autumn's 18th century early American past, please click HERE
To learn about autumn's 19th century Victorian past, please click HERE
Autumn at the Cabin 2022 - click HERE
My 2022 Hallowe'en celebration - Click HERE
Family Fall Traditions 2022 - click HERE
How Greenfield Village used to celebrate the Fall Harvest Weekends, click HERE