Monday, January 29, 2024

Historic Hearths (and Some Fireplace History)

In mid-January of the year of this writing,  2024,  we had some of the harshest winter weather in a few years.  During that time,  there were areas all around us here in southeastern Michigan that lost power due to ice  &  snow,  sleet  & rain,  single-digit temperatures,  and high wind.  And here we are...without a fireplace to keep us warm should we have any issues.  Perhaps I should have one built - - ....I can dream,  can't I? 
But which style should I go with?

I would like to submit a directory of the locations of the hearth images in today's post:
The Daggett House Hearth was built about 1750
The Giddings House Hearth built about 1750
The McGuffey Cabin Hearth from 1789/90
The Waterloo Log House/Cabin Hearth:  not original to the 1840s cabin,  but still gives us the impression of 18th century life.
The Firestone Farm Hearth:  The Firestone Farmhouse was originally built in 1828 but was  "updated"  in 1885.  The sitting room fireplace itself is probably an original,  though updated as well.


The idea for this Historic Hearths posting came to me more or less as a fluke.  On my Facebook page I posted just over a dozen of these photos while we were  "enjoying"  the first real winter blast of the season:  a hard & fast snowfall followed by a bitter cold spell.  So I thought it might be mentally relaxing to post such cozy photos.
It certainly was relaxing for me to look at them.
I hope they are for you as well.
But,  as I combed through my many fireplace photos one question plagued me...
Yes,  I'm talking about fireplaces here - - when did they come about?  And how did it all happen?
I am a curious person,  and over the years I've learned to question everything and bury myself in research to find answers.  In doing so I've learned so much.  
A 1750 Fireplace inside the Daggett House.

Before we get too much into the photos,  I thought a short bit of fireplace history might be fun...and,  really,  quite interesting.
Yes,  even fireplaces have a history!
Humankind’s fascination with fire dates back to the earliest civilizations.  Fire provided warmth,  protection from predators,  and a means for cooking food.  The earliest fireplaces,  known as fire pits,  were simple depressions dug into the ground or carved into rock shelters.  These first fire pits were rudimentary,  but provided a controlled environment  (for the purposes mentioned).
Once fire was able to be somewhat controlled by humans,  a far more complex social life took place.  The idea of a home-base was taking root for the first time,  around which a community could organize its life more cooperatively and efficiently than when permanently on the move  (nomadic).  
Enter the river rocks and basic masonry era,  where craftsmanship met elemental resources.  The construction of early hearths reflected the availability of materials and the level of technological advancement in each region.  Common materials included:  
River rock
Basic masonry  
As humans developed masonry techniques,  they began to construct hearths using stone,  slabs,  or bricks.
In these early stages,  simplicity wasn’t a stylistic choice but a necessity.  The designs were born out of the need for efficient heating,  cooking,  and safety. 
A Medieval fireplace - I do not know the year built
It was in the medieval period that the open hearth fireplace became more common.  Those living in the early Middle Ages saw the fireplace grow in leaps and bounds,  with the key change being its location in the household migrating from the center of the dwelling to the exterior walls to prevent the hall or room filling with smoke.  Also,  as two-floor buildings became more popular,  homeowners moved their fireplaces to the outside wall which led to the invention of the chimney to direct smoke outside.  The earliest existing chimney can be found at Conisbrough Castle,  in South Yorkshire, England,  which dates back to around 1185.  The addition of the chimney was a significant advancement, improving indoor air quality and allowing for larger, more efficient fires,  and is one of modern civilization’s greatest developments for the fireplace.
The fireplace was a necessity in early America.  As the hub of the house,  a burning hearth provided heat,  housed multiple fires for cooking and baking,  and served as the nucleus of family gatherings.
In New England and the Mid-Atlantic,  colonial homes had central chimneys with multiple flues so that fires could be lit in two or more rooms on each floor.  The central mass of stone or brick also tended to retain heat,  keeping the house warmer overall. 
The Daggett House - a lean-to  (or salt-box)  style home
The Daggett Home,  a lean-to style house built in Connecticut in the mid-18th century,   is a great example of this,  for it has this central  (or center)  chimney mentioned above.  The massive framework common of these lean-to's  (often referred to today as a  "saltbox house")  is built around one vast,  central chimney which provided fireplaces for most of the rooms in the house.  In colonial New England,  having the chimney to the center of the house and including multiple flues meant that fires could be lit in two or more rooms.  These central fires would effectively heat the home's center mass,  thereby keeping the building warm for longer periods of time especially during cold winter months.  In the Daggett House this includes the main floor  (below stairs)  and the 2nd floor  (above stairs);  the main floor has a central fireplace in the great hall,  the kitchen,  and the parlor.
Great Hall - Daggett House
It was so relaxing to gaze at the hearth in the Daggett great hall  (the room which would be considered the living room today).  
The halls of late 17th,  18th,  and 19th-century country houses usually functioned almost entirely as impressive entrance points
to the house,  and for large scale entertaining,  perhaps for holidays or a party.

The Daggett kitchen hearth~

Kitchen - Daggett House
This fireplace in the Daggett kitchen is part of the same central chimney.
There is an interesting and touching story we hear on how Elizabeth  (Lizzie)  Melville,  the wife of American novelist Herman Melville,  wanted to modernize their old 1780s home to be more fashionable to their mid-19th century time.  Her first goal was to get rid of the big central chimney,  which had gone out of fashion long before.  Husband Herman would have nothing to do with that notion.  He loved the old chimney and actually wrote a short story about it called  "I and My Chimney"  (published in Putnam's Monthly Magazine in 1856).  In the article he wrote:  "It need hardly be said,  that the walls of my house are entirely free from fire-places.  These all congregate in the middle—in the one grand central chimney,  upon all four sides of which are hearths—two tiers of hearths—so that when,  in the various chambers,  my family and guests are warming themselves of a cold winter’s night,  just before retiring,  then,  though at the time they may not be thinking so,  all their faces mutually look towards each other,  yea,  all their feet point to one center;  and when they go to sleep in their beds,  they all sleep round one warm chimney."
Needless to say,  the old central hearth remained.
And this is the third hearth on the 1st floor,  though I have never seen it used before.  It is in the room to the left of the front door and was known as the formal parlor,  the parlor,  or simply  "best room."
All three fireplaces are a part of the same central chimney.
But that's not all!
On the 2nd floor of the Daggett Home there are two bed chamber fireplaces,  and I’ve been told there is a smoke chamber in the attic.  (The smoke chamber is the part of the chimney system that is located just above the damper and connects the firebox to the flue.  It's shaped like a reverse funnel and is designed to guide smoke from the fire up into the flue so that it can quickly and effectively exit the home.  I have not ever seen the Daggett smoke chamber.)
This is one bed chamber fireplace located on the 2nd floor of Daggett.  

And here is the other 2nd floor bed chamber fireplace.
I do not believe either of these 2nd floor/above stairs hearths have been lit since the house was brought to Greenfield Village.  I mean,  why would they light them,  other than to know if they are still in good working order?   Visitors are not able to go to the 2nd floor so,  unless 2nd floor tours were allowed - and they won't be,  due to numerous reasons,  as I have been told,  including only one escape route in case of a house fire - they will not be used.
But these hearths,  should they ever be lit,  would still use the same central chimney.  Imagine,  five fireplaces and one smoke chamber - - all centrally located! 

When I was young,  we had two fireplaces in our house,  one in our living room and the other in the basement,  and my father would begin lighting fires right after Labor Day Weekend - as soon as cool fall weather hit - and continue all the way through the beginning of the warmer days of spring.  Most of the fires would be lit inside the living room hearth  (we spent most of our time there rather than the basement).  To me,  it wasn't fall until dad had that first fire of the season and mom would light the candles.  All electric lights would be off.  On a few occasions the TV might be on,  but we all found ourselves watching the fire more than the TV until finally mom  (or dad)  would shut it off,  then the only light would come from our hearth and the candles.  I remember my dad telling me how he heard that President Lincoln used to read by fire light,  so I would try to do the same.  Often,  I would sleep out in front of the hearth,  the glow becoming a sort of night light.  
As a friend commented:  "That explains a lot!"
I also remember asking my dad if mom could cook over the open fire,  and he said no.  I really wanted that but,  well,  he was dad and what he said was law.
The look my mom gave me also told me she had no such interest  (lol).
Clear remembrances...
This is my father and mother taken in the early 1970s standing in
front of the living room fireplace I just mentioned.  Sadly,  there are no
photos to be found of  only the fireplace.  That's okay - I miss my
mom & dad so I suppose it all works out  (thanks to my sis for finding
this great image - such memories!)~
These are some of my most cherished memories,  so to this very day,  seeing fireplaces,  no matter the location,  is always a draw for me...almost like having my long-passed parents near.
AND I also have plenty of historic hearth pictures from historic locations,  mostly taken at Greenfield Village in the late fall or on those cold December evenings during their Holiday Nights event.  And a few from our Waterloo Cabin excursions as well during our 18th century cabin days - - the Waterloo Cabin is almost like a second home to me,  to be honest.
Waterloo Cabin~
The wrought iron two-candle chandelier hangs from a ceiling beam while a nice fire can be seen in the hearth.  The four of us here in this picture - myself,  Jackie,  Larissa,  and Charlotte - had just spent a long autumn day immersed in the 18th century dipping candles and making dinner,  so we enjoyed a moment's peace relaxation in a non-electric world. 

Great Hall of the Daggett House~
Though the home and hearth were built around 1750,  there is still an air of  
the Renaissance period,  generally described as taking place from the 14th century  (1300s)  to the 17th century  (1600s),  which followed the Middle Ages  (from about 500 AD to 1500 AD).  To me,  this has the look of  the later Middle Ages/Medieval period into the early Renaissance.
And why wouldn't it?  We need to remember that change,  which is at a lightning pace in our modern world,  went at a snail's pace centuries ago.  If you research world history,  you'll find inventions generally did not get around very fast.  As a great example,  the first wheels were not used for transportation.  Evidence indicates they were created to serve as potter's wheels around 3500 to 4,000 B.C.  in Mesopotamia  (in Lower Mesopotamia - now modern-​​day Iraq),  where the Sumerian people inserted rotating axles into solid discs of wood for them to spin in helping to make bowls and drinking vessels out of clay.  It then took about 300 years more before someone figured out to use these spinning pottery tools/wheels for mobility on chariots.  Three hundred years!
Since time and news and change moved much slower in those B.C.  and early A.D.  periods,  naturally some forms of architecture - the fireplace,  for example - did not change quickly either and often had a look and feel of earlier times.
Daggett House Great Hall
This was a daytime photo - a dingy gray day,  in fact.
As visitors to Greenfield Village,  the only time of year when one can enjoy a nighttime atmosphere inside the Daggett home is during the month of December.  In fact,  it's the only time of year the homes are open past dark,  though one must purchase Holiday Nights tickets to visit. 
It's a different world at night there - - - - - -   
Great Hall Daggett House is so different at nighttime.
The extra candle light glowing on the right may or mayn't have happened during
the Daggett's time.  The hearth may have been the only light at night.

Great Hall Daggett House - - 
If you look close,  you can see a presenter looking out the window on the left.
Perhaps if I ever do add a fireplace to my fireplace-less home,  I would add one like the one in the Daggett great hall.  Wouldn't that be awesome?
Only time will tell...
Great Hall Daggett House
This was a bitter cold night with temperatures in the single digits.
And look at how I am dressed!
Yes,  aside from my feet,  I remained toasty.  My feet warmed up at the hearth.

Now we'll head over to the more urban city house once belonging to John Giddings,  shipping merchant.  This house was built roughly the same time-period as the Daggett House.  However,  the fireplaces tend to have a little more modern look in the more well-to-do homes,  as far as 18th century is concerned,  and it is easy to see this when compared to the rural Daggetts'.
Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room

Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room
This photo was taken back when Giddings was opened during daytime hours.
I did not place the wood inside the fire,  by the way.  I just held it as a pose
for the photographer.
Like the other houses inside Greenfield Village,  it is only during December's Holiday Nights event that one can experience the nighttime atmosphere of the old homes.
Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room
I very much appreciate my friend,  and former Village presenter,  Jordan,  for taking such wonderful pictures with me.
Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room - Jordan & I~
This is one of my most favorite photos of all time.
I believe my wife snapped it.

Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room.
To have three candles lit in the same room as the hearth - they must be rich!

Giddings House everyday parlor / sitting room.
I captured this  "moment in time"  of presenter Melissa in 2023.
I love how the darkness,  even with a fire in the hearth,  can plainly be seen.
Oftentimes my camera will gather all the light and make the room look much 
brighter than it actually was.  So many of the photos here,  to me,  are gems.

The Giddings kitchen hearth~

Let's head over to the McGuffey Cabin hearth,  where the duel purpose of warmth and  food keeps the fire blazing.
Cabins were generally smaller than a typical clapboard home, 
with one room and probably a sleeping loft for the second floor. 
And if the fireplace is built correctly,  it may heat a larger portion of the room. 
But nowhere near what we hear in the myths:   “A forest of logs, 
heaped up and burning in the great chimney,  could not warm the other
side of the  (room).  Aunt Lois,  standing with her back so near the blaze as to be uncomfortably warm,  found her dish towel freezing in her hand.”

Cooking may have been a monotonous job for women,  but I am certain they didn't mind it nearly as much during the winter months of January,  February,  and even March.

At the tiny McGuffey Cabin a fire in the hearth is plenty to light the room,  and to keep it warm.  However,  they also decided to enjoy a bit of candle light as well.

Here is the 18th century Plympton House:
The fireplace here was built in 1640 and survived a fire about 60 years after - they rebuilt this house around the original fireplace.

And here is another cabin...Waterloo Cabin...
Waterloo Cabin
The three of us,  and sometimes one or two more,  spend a day in January or February  "experiencing our research"  at the frontier cabin.
Yes,  we've learned a lot by coming out on cold winter days,  most often with teen temps and a snow-covered ground.  This gives us a  (very)  basic understanding of what our forefathers and foremothers lived through.  But we only are there for one day!

Waterloo Cabin
On this bitter cold January day,  we found the perfect way to keep
our feet warm inside 18th century footwear!
We learned that a fire in the hearth doesn't necessarily warm the entire cabin.  

Keeping warm at the winter cabin excursion.
This is a great way to experience our research.
I was probably reading the latest jokes - 18th century jokes - which, 
even as old as they are,  can still be very funny.
Yep---entertainment of the 1770s.

So now we'll jump into the future to a 19th century farmhouse.
Another fireplace invention - - mantels.
True mantels were rare before the 1800s.  The very earliest American hearths were flush with the wall.  In English colonial homes,  fireplaces typically were surrounded by simple,  floor-to-ceiling paneling,  usually plain vertical or bead-edged planks.  Full-relief fireplaces with mantels and surrounds finally emerged after the Revolutionary War.
Fireplaces served as the heart of the home,  a gathering place for families and communities to share stories,  celebrate milestones,  and forge bonds.
The information provided above on the fireplace history that I have included in this post all came from multiple sources,  listed and linked at the bottom.  I copied and pasted it word-for-word from the various sites,  sometimes intermingling them,  so I am not claiming to have written the italicized  words herein,  lest any feel I am plagiarizing anything-------
I am not.  I am giving credit.
The fireplace in the sitting room of Firestone Farm.
The great hall of the Middle Ages,  Renaissance,  and into the 18th and early 19th centuries sort of morphed into the sitting room and/or front parlors,  which was a gathering room of sorts,  not unlike the living room of today.  The fancy formal parlor,  normally kept shut up with no one entering without permission,  was only used for special occasions,  such as perhaps a visit from the local preacher or another special guest(s),  or even for holidays such as Christmas.  However,  the sitting room  (also known as the everyday parlor)  can be used by family and friends on,  as the title suggests,  on a more regular basis.  Again,  not unlike our modern-day living room.
Note the mantle.
"True mantels were rare before the 1800s.  ...fireplaces with mantels
and surrounds emerged after the Revolutionary War."
On those cool fall days before Greenfield Village closes up for Holiday Nights,  visitors are often treated to a warming fire in the Firestone sitting room fireplace.  
Firebox is the formal name for the inside of the fireplace – the place you build the fire.
And the Firestone's firebox is simply beautiful.
Also that metal coal holder there  (center right)  is known as a coal scuttle.
 "Make up the fires,  and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i,  Bob Cratchit."  is what Ebenezer Scrooge says to his clerk after his reformation on Christmas morning
(from Charles Dickens'  "A Christmas Carol").

The mastery of fire was a major technological improvement for mankind,  and nearly every science and early history book I've seen tend to agree it was the homo erectus who discovered it.  However,  when  this discovery occurred seems to be a matter of debate,  for I've found it to be anywhere from 450,000 to 800,000 years ago  (of course,  for those who believe in a  "young earth,"  all of this would be quite different).


As what happens often while writing a blog post,  I'll come up with an initial idea,  oftentimes for a Facebook post,  such as some of the fireplace photos here,  and that idea will seep into my brain as a  "Hey!  This would make a cool blog post!"  and then I'll morph my Facebook post with more information,  such as the fireplace info I put here.  That's how my brain works:  I question and research pretty much everything,  and then something like  "Hmmm...just where did the idea of a fireplace come from?"  will pop into my head.  I then will look it up,  gather the information,  and all of a sudden,  my original post of pictures suddenly turned into a fun history lesson.
I hope you enjoyed it.
Oh---and thanks to my family for searching for a suitable photo of our fireplace!

Until Next time,  see you in time.

For more reading upon subjects mentioned in this post:
To read about the Daggett Family,  please click HERE
To read about the way the Daggetts lived,  please click HERE
To read the history of the Daggett House,  please click HERE
To read about the Daggett Well-Sweep and how it was made,  please click HERE
To read more about the Giddings House,  please click HERE
To read more about the McGuffey Cabin,  please click HERE
To read about spending a bitter cold 18th century day at Waterloo Cabin,  please click HERE

Much of the historical information about fireplaces came directly,  word for word,  for the most part  (italicized)  from the following sources and sites:
Golden Chimney
The Human Dawn  (from the Time-Life series TimeFrame -p. 55)
Our Own Snug Fireside  (book)


Monday, January 22, 2024

History in Miniature

It's no secret - I like  'stuff.'
You know...what many people call collectibles.  
But I don't collect for resale value - I collect because I like whatever it is I am collecting!
I'm not a hoarder by any means.  All of my stuff has a purpose and I actually use it or display it.  Maybe not all at the same time,  but,  well,  for instance,  for the past few years I've been collecting American Bicentennial items collectibles,  and that's what I have up displayed on our shelves at this time.  Other times I'll show my Franklin/Danbury Mint cars or Beatles collectibles.  
Or replications of historical items.
I also like to show a variety of my ceramic lighted houses.
And that's the topic where we are heading for this week's post:  lighted ceramic houses.
But they've changed for me - they aren't just for Christmas anymore...
.     .     .

~There's a lot here - - but you will note how the quality of these lighted houses and accessories improved over time...some of the most authentic items in my collection are nearing the bottom of this post~

The more I read and study history,  the more I want and try to recreate it one way or another.  Most often through my living history excursions,  where I don period clothing and make the grand attempt to live as people once did long ago.
Another way is by reading the well-researched history books.
Then there are those few movies that tend to  "do it right" - not Hollywood history out to make a buck,  but quality film-making to show,  for the most part,  real and true history - and to show that real and true history can have a large audience.
Antiquing is also a great,  but expensive,  way to delve into history.
Writing in this Passion for the Past blog is another way for me to get my fix.
But there is still another way,  though one that can,  unfortunately,  also cost a small fortune...unless you have patience and comb the internet and garage sales to find these items relatively cheap.
I'm speaking of collecting miniature lighted houses and accessories.
I've written about my lighted ceramic house collection in years past,  but I don't believe I've included bits of each of my collections like I'm doing today.
During the off-season of reenacting  (well...okay...there's not really an  "off-season"  for me---just a  "slow down"  season lol),  I will spend more time on books,  movies,  and collecting.  And that's what today's post is about.  We are in the cold winter season here in the north,  and oftentimes attempting to find something of interest to keep occupied can be a bit of a trial.
It was in,  I believe,  1988 when I picked up my first lighted ceramic house.  It was part of the fairly new and ever-growing Dickens Village by Department 56.  And with Charles Dickens'  "A Christmas Carol"  being my all-time favorite Christmas book/story/movie,  it was a must have for me.
So there it one lone lit tiny ceramic house in the center of our table.
It needed more.
I found more.
I bought more.
My collection began to grow.  And grow it did!
This was the last time I had my complete Dickens Village set up.  The part closest to the camera is the outskirts of town - more  "rural" - while the further away you can see the  "city" - my pseudo London.  It took me about a week or so to get it how I wanted it. 
I need to organize my basement so I can do this once again.
Within a few years,  my Dickens Village pieces began to look more like an actual village.
Now these early pieces weren't historically accurate.  But as the years went by,  the quality and accuracy grew higher and higher.  And they replicated some actual Victorian English buildings.
I suppose for the Dickens Village I have to think of it more as old 19th century-themed  London designed to capture the spirit of Christmas in Victorian England rather than a mostly historically accurate collection.  That being said,  there are a few ceramic buildings in this series that were actually replicated from bonafide structures,  such as Gads Hill Place and Elizabeth Tower,  which is the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster that contains the Great Clock known as Big Ben.
The Scrooge & Marley counting House---and there's the Horse & Hounds Pub.
I remember that I would take the day after Hallowe'en off of work to begin working on setting my Dickens Village up.  I would play old world carols on the stereo to keep me in the spirit - what a fun and absolute joyous time I had doing it.
I see Wassailers and/or Mummers moving down the cobblestone road of London, 
making and creating Christmas merriment!
I then began to collect a few of the Dept.  56 Snow Village pieces,  which centered on Americana -  mostly mid-20th century Americana.  Some fit in well with the Dickens Village,  though there were some pretty cool historical architecturally strictly American  houses and accessories as well,  including some showing the autumn time of year. 
And then it hit me that there were more than just Christmas Villages...and history began to creep in more & more:
The mid-18th century Daggett House and the
17th century Farris Windmill
inside Greenfield Village.
A friend of mine was at a local collectables store and made sure he stopped by to tell me that he had seen a lighted ceramic Dept.  56 Daggett-style house for sale there. If you know me at all you know I am a huge fan of the 18th century Daggett House that now sits inside the walls of  historic Greenfield Village  (click HEREHEREHERE,  and HERE),  so of course,  I went to the store myself to see it.
Yep - there it was!  And it was beautiful.  In fact,  there were four of these houses sitting on the shelf,  but they were considered used  (they're  "retired"  from Dept. 56 - no longer available from the manufacturer)  and had no box or packaging of any kind.
Unfortunately,  they were also rather pricey,  so I decided to pass on purchasing one.
I thought about how cool it would be to have a miniature Daggett house.  I really wanted to get it,  but money was tight.  However,  after some time  (and by saving my pennies),  I decided to see what I could find on Ebay.
There it was! 
 It was listed under the title  "Home Sweet Home."   Dept.  56's website said that the house was  "Inspired by the East Hampton,  NY historic landmark home of John Howard Payne,  composer of the American classic,  'Home Sweet Home'."
And guess what?  With it,  in the same box,  was a windmill.  A windmill that looked very much like the Farris Windmill that sits next to the Daggett House inside Greenfield Village.
The windmill wasn't included at the store I went to - - - hmmm...something's amiss here...
The price for both the house and the windmill in the original packaging from a seller on Ebay was less than half the price of just the house itself from that rip-off  collectables store I went to.
So I went ahead and bought it off Ebay. 
I touched it up a little bit by re-painting the house a darker gray to match the color of Daggett,  as well as removing a few unnecessary attachments,  such as a redbird that once sat atop of the house  (I abomination to collectors,  but I don't purchase items to resell - I purchase them because I want them for my own satisfaction)~
I added numerous fall accessories in my attempt to recreate more of an 18th century fall harvest scene.  If you look  (from left) you can see vegetables,  apple cider making,  baskets of apples,  a woman cooking,  butter churning,  spinning on a spinning wheel,  candle dipping,  and kitchen garden harvesting.  
A wonderful miniature scene of my favorite season at my favorite historical house.

Some of the accessories are from various Dept.  56 villages while other pieces came from hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics.  They all work together well.
A close up of the butter making,  spinning wheel,  candle dipping,  and the harvesting what looks to be cabbage.  Oh,  and I see bales of hay and a pumpkin on the cart  'neath the autumn trees.  The spinner is porcelain from the 1950s.
Now,  notice the quality and actions of these accessories - pure Americana.  And notice the quality of the houses and accessories improved as well.
That's when I began my search for more like this.
And that's when I discovered a new Village series;  "Williamsburg  (which)  delighted Village collectors and history buffs alike."
Williamsburg?  As in Colonial Williamsburg??
More harvesting - perhaps root vegetables? - and gathering eggs.
I was ecstatic when I found out,  seemingly out of nowhere,  that Department 56 had a lighted house series of Colonial Williamsburg,  and I immediately set out to get as many from this collection as I could,  for prices could rise and items could disappear in the blink of an eye.  Some,  like Independence Hall,  came from Snow Village,  though most came from the Williamsburg series.
The long road to nowhere...or all roads lead to Colonial Williamsburg.
They did a truly wonderful job in recreating the historic houses of Colonial Williamsburg.  In fact,  I did a blog post showing the accuracy,  bouncing between the actual houses and the miniatures - - please click HERE.
The Colonial Williamsburg accessories were very well made.
Aside from the couple strolling,  we see a cooper  (barrel maker)  and a woman sweeping the front of her home.
We are heading into America's 250th anniversary as a country,  and this is the perfect way to celebrate.  As of this writing in early 2024,  many of the Colonial Williamsburg houses and accessories are no longer available except through places such as Ebay,  sometimes at way too exorbitantly high prices - patience can be a virtue in such cases,  unless you can afford to pay such an amount.
And here we have a woodworker and,  perhaps,  his apprentice.
I do like the fact that they've included African Americans in this series.
As they should.
Though I really like the houses in the Williamsburg collection,  to me it is the accessories that bring it to life.  The detail is top-notch.

There is also a pretty awesome Hallowe'en Village,  initially a part of Snow Village.  And some very cool accessories to go with it.  But what I liked most was when they put out a Legend of Sleepy Hollow  series.  Spooky Americana.
It was around 1990 when Dept.  56 put out their first pieces in the Sleepy Hollow series.  I didn't initially set out to get this particular collection;  I began my Hallowe'en Houses with what was pretty much simply a haunted house with eerie sounds and lights flashing.  It grew from there,  and then I saw the headless horseman figurine,  bought that,  and for years following I collected the pieces to  (mostly)  collect the Sleepy Hollow village.  
The Headless Horseman.
This is based on American author Washington Irving's  "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's"  plot and even its ties to the American Revolution.  The story,  written in 1820,  is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town  (historical Tarrytown,  New York),  in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. 
As for me I just collect the buildings and accessories that can tell the story.
Pieces from my Hallowe'en Village~
See the guy on the left there reading?
That's Ichabod Crane.  And that's his horse,  Gun Powder,  next to him.
Oh,  yeah...and I see a hearse as well.  I use this particular horse-drawn hearse for my Dickens Village as well,  for Marley.
We do have a bit of history thrown in.
A key component of the short story  “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”  written by Washington Irving in 1820 recalls the tale of Major John André for whom  “Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains,  and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major André was taken,  and which stood in the neighborhood.”   The giant tulip tree which features prominently in the tale was  “connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André,  who had been taken prisoner hard by;  and was universally known by the name of Major André’s tree.”
The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery next to Jack of the Lantern holding his candle-lit turnip.  The Major Andre Hanging Tree is center right.  And there's an eerie covered bridge.

At the base of the Dept.  56 depiction of Major Andre's Tree~
But there is more history coming from Dept. 56 and their ceramic villages & accessories,  including Jack O' Lantern - - or - - Jack of the Lantern,  vegetable and fruit carvings,  which is an old tradition and exists across the world,  and the traditional illumination for guisers  (or pranksters)  abroad on the night,  which was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels,  hollowed out to act as lanterns,  lit with coal or a candle,  and often carved with grotesque faces  (see in the photo below).
Stingy Jack of the Lantern and his lighted turnip.
You can even make out the face carved into the turnip!
Turnip lanterns usually represented supernatural beings and were used to chase evil spirits.  Guisers used them to scare people,  while in some cases they were set on windowsills to guard homes against evil.
Irish immigrants brought the jack-o’-lantern custom to North America.  Here,  turnips were slowly replaced by pumpkins to make the iconic Halloween decorations,  and eventually became the plant of choice.
I just love when history can be interspersed with items such as this. 
Imagine walking through a corn field...and coming across
"The Corn Creeper" --- a two story high pumpkin skeleton!
And...I saw the  "real deal"  at Greenfield Village:

Yes,  that's me in my colonial clothing standing in front of
the life-size  "Corn Creeper"!
And the real deal at night...even spookier...
The miniatures are certainly getting better and better...
Out of the graveyard comes a ghost - perhaps it's the ghost of Miles Dibble
from one of my favorite childhood stories,  "The Ghost of Dibble Hollow."

The past is there in these cool ceramic's just a matter of finding it...for instance:
The more I read of and study ancient history - the early A.D. and B.C. periods in civilization - the more I understand the times that followed...the whys and the wherefores of the past become much clearer.  And I clearly can see that the past - history - is not all black & white,  as so many tend to think,  but,  instead,  is mostly gray areas.
Never say  "never,"  and never say  "always."
That's my motto.
Early in 2023,  my wife,  Patty,  & I began watching  "The Chosen"  TV series,  about the life of Jesus Christ and of the times in which He lived.  This series,  which is still on-going,  totally blew me away,  for it brought Jesus to life in such a remarkable and natural manner;  it is as if I am actually watching Him in His time.  I do like how the actors are not all stiff and 1950s/1960s Hollywood-y like in virtually every other filmed depiction.  Jesus and His Apostles in  "The Chosen"  are portrayed as regular people as I have always imagined them to be,  and shows how they would have lived 2000 years ago.  Besides learning about Christ and witnessing miracles,  viewers see such things as wine making,  bread making,  catching fish,  lighting,  homes,  pathways,  traditions,  differing occupations...just as I have read in my world history books.
Long-time past comes to life.
So it was when my wife Patty & I were visiting the Bronner's Christmas Store - the World's Largest Christmas Store - in Frankenmuth,  Michigan,  when we came upon a ceramic village depicting the time of Christ.  It wasn't put out by Department 56,  however.  It was made in Italy by a company called Fontanini.  Fontanini figures,  which have been manufactured and hand decorated by the Fontanini family for over 100 years,  are considered classic works of art.  "The Fontanini tradition dates back to the late 1800s when company founder Emanuele Fontanini began creating creche figures in the little town of Bagni di Lucca located in Tuscany,  Italy.  Today,  the fourth generation of Fontanini's follow in their father's,  grandfather's,  and great-grandfather's footsteps."
As with all new collections,  you start off slowly...
This shows daily life in Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth~
(from left):  a wine maker  ("The Wine Shop" & the Vineyard Fence),  blacksmith  ("The Blacksmith Shop"),  a carpenter  ("The Carpenter's Shop"),  a baker  ("The Bakery Shop"),
and a produce stand  ("Produce Shop"),  along with a vegetable seller  ("Fruit & Vegetable Stand").
Who'd've thought there would be such an awesome set such as this depicting life
from 2,000 years ago?
I must admit I am blown away by such miniatures!
To me,  it goes along with THIS post,  and even THIS post.
And each figurine has a story - - - 
If I were a carpenter - Herschel the Carpenter
As a young boy,  Herschel stood at the door to his father's carpentry shop.  The smell of fresh cut wood filled the air and wood shavings and sawdust covered the dirt floor.  For hours he watched his father make yokes,  wooden carts,  window frames,  tables,  chairs,  storage chests,  and posts and beams for those throughout Bethlehem.  
Herschel continued to learn each day by watching.  And when Herschel turned fifteen,  his father fulfilled the promise he had made to his son;  Herschel proudly became his father's apprentice.   
In no time he was using all of the tools in his father's shop:  an ax,  hatchet for chopping wood,  an adz  (a tool similar to an ax,  with an arched blade at right angles to the handle,  used for cutting or shaping large pieces of wood),  iron saws for cutting wood to precise sizes,  a bow drill and bits for drilling holes,  a stone-head hammer for pounding chisels or hammering wooden surfaces together. 
The Carpenter's Shop

Orion the Blacksmith
Being a blacksmith in Bethlehem was a demanding job - villagers needed many tools and household goods,  and repairs to be made.  Orion knew his job well,  and was pleased to be of service.  He also was a kind man,  willing to share this knowledge with the village children who visited his shop.  Young Herschel stopped by one day to show off the new cradle he had made,  with the metal tools Orion had crafted for him.  Herschel had heard that a small child had been born,  and was laid in a manger in a stable - he didn't want other babies not to have a fitting place to sleep.  The cradle was a fine piece of work,  and Orion was pleased - not only of the craftsmanship Herschel had shown,  but of the kindness of the boy's heart as well.
Blacksmith Shop

What I like most is,  obviously,  the realism shown.  From what I understand,  all of the different structures and figurines show shops and homes and workers that would have been around during the time of Christ's birth and His lifetime.  
And if you are not a believer,  it still shows accurately life of 2000 years ago.
Where else can you find that?
Each figurine has a story card that comes with it,  explaining  not only the figure's relationship in the story of Christ's birth,  but of their occupation...historically.
For instance,  Ruth:
Ruth...but not the  Ruth of the Bible.
This Ruth is a bread baker.
The story card that came with the young lady kneading bread is not the Ruth from the Book of Ruth in the Bible,  but just the story of a young lady that may or may not had lived and perhaps was one of the many  "extras"  in the populace of that time.
"Light crept over the horizon as Ruth,  her mother and father arose,  dressed and sat down to breakfast.  When they had eaten their fill,  Ruth jumped up to clear the dishes.  "I have a busy day ahead tending the sheep,"  Ruth's father remarked.
"And I should visit your sister Rebekah,"  added her mother.  "She may need help with the baby."  Ruth nodded and waved goodbye to her mother and father as they walked out into the sunshine.
The young woman turned her attention to the daily task of baking bread.  A special treat would grace their Sabbath that night.  Kenan,  her sister's husband,  brought a basket of wheat from his fields the day before and a fresh-made wheat loaf would take the place of their everyday barley bread.
Grain for the day's bread was ground first.  As Ruth turned the millstone,  she fondly recalled childhood memories of working the mill with Rebekah.  One child poured the grain into the center hole as the other turned the heavy millstone.  Even now the sisters sometimes shared this task,  chatting while grinding enough grain for both families.
Ruth mixed water with a small lump of yesterday's dough for leavening,  then added the freshly ground flour and a dash of salt.  Kneading dough was hard work:  press the dough,  push it forward,  fold it in half,  turn and start over.  The rhythm lent itself to a recitation of Ruth's favorite Psalm:
Psalm 104:1–9
When the dough was kneaded to the proper consistency,  Ruth leaned back to stretch her tired neck and shoulders.  The dough was set aside to rise for a few hours.  That afternoon Ruth divided and shaped the risen dough enough for three loaves.
Soon,  Ruth's bread turned golden in the oven. 
The Bakery

And then there's Dionysius:
Dionysius,  wine maker
Dionysius's family owned a large vineyard outside of Bethlehem.  There they made wine using a traditional wine press hewn from solid rock.  The harvest would go into a large stone basin.  There,  men,  women,  and children would crush the grapes with their feet.  The juice would flow into a second lower basin connected to the first.  There it would be left to ferment for a few days.  When it stopped bubbling,  the juice had become wine.  Year after year,  Dionysius watched this process unfold,  certain he could improve upon the family's traditions.  But every time he approached his father,  Dionysius's ideas were dismissed.  His father would always say that the vineyard was built upon the old ways and those traditions would continue.  Dionysius was undeterred.  He was certain he could make better wine.  During the growing season,  he built his own wine press not from stone but from wood.  He began with a sturdy barrel inside,  his design would effectively separate the crushed fruit and its juice.  He crafted a handle-press that would allow him to crush the grapes without relying on the footwork of his friends and neighbors.  Then Dionysius waited.  As summer began to turn into fall,  he sampled the grapes.  He knew that those at the northern edge of the vineyard had a brightness unlike the others.  At the southern edge,  Dionysius found the sweetest grapes,  and just beside the watch tower were the grapes with a heartiness that was unmatched.  As soon as the grapes were ready,  Dionysius picked the fruit from his carefully selected vines and brought it to his wine press.  Pressing was much harder than walking on the grapes but somehow Dionysius knew it would yield something extraordinary.  As the wine fermented in its barrel,  Dionysius joined his friends and neighbors in the old traditions.  But when it was time for his father to taste the newly vinted wine,  Dionysius switched his father's cup with one filled with wine from his press.  Bringing the cup to his lips,  Dionysius's father was surprised and declared the harvest the very best the family had ever produced.  Dionysius's father knew this was not the wine that had just been drawn from the stone wine  press.  He looked to his son and together the pair walked to the watch tower where Dionysius had hidden his wine press.  His father was amazed.  He never imagined a wine with such subtly and dimension could come from something so simple.  Father and son agreed that this extraordinary wine had been given to them by God for a very special purpose,  and they very carefully stored it in wine jars.
Wine Maker's Shop

There is also Antonia,  though there is little history for her:
Antonia,  village vegetable seller.

The story about this figurine is how Antonia visited the Christ Child in the manger,  and of how she had nothing to give but the food she had grown.  Not that it's a bad story or anything,  but I was hoping for more about her own story of what it was like to grow,  harvest,  then sell the vegetables and the kinds/varieties she sold.
Ah,  well,  perhaps I may find out more information in my research of the time in which she lived and can include that instead.

Produce Shop

Fruit & Vegetable Stand

Another Fontanini miniature...this time a donkey working at the grain mill,  grinding cereal grain into flour,  while we have Judah,  on the left,  holding a sickle,  and Lamech,  on the right,  with his scythe.  A great depiction of harvest time of 2000 years ago.

I've often wondered why Greenfield Village had no ceramic houses available.  Then,  on a very lucky note in the fall of 2023,  I received a surprise gift from an on-line friend and Greenfield Village fan.
As my story goes,  I was having a fairly rough day one Monday in late October - it happens,  right?  I prayed for some  "sunshine"  to enter.  Oh I know...I always seem like everything is fine and dandy,  but that's because I don't air the rough details of my life on the internet.  Ain't nobody's business but my own,  doncha know...
It was later that day that the sun  (Son?)  broke through my thick clouds and put a smile on my face,  for I received a package in the mail...and look what was inside:
No...not the pumpkin!
On the left we have a ceramic Eagle Tavern.
I absolutely love the Eagle Tavern - its history,  its food...taverns played a vital role
in our nation's history - - my state's history.
And on the right,  my very favorite building  "in history" - the Daggett Farmhouse!
I have done extensive historical research on both structures  (click HERE and HERE)  and have visited both countless times over the past 40 years or so---you can imagine my thrill and excitement upon seeing the ceramic replications when I opened up the box.
I knew I was receiving something,  for the person who sent them asked for my address because he said he had something I would like.  But I had no idea.  And I don't believe he had any idea what these mean to me.
Mudlen End Studio  was first registered in June 1977 and was dissolved in November of 1993.  The registered address for the company was in Felsham,  Suffolk,  England.  The pottery was owned and run by James Hart.   Mudlen Originals  was established in the US as a result of a collaboration between an American businessman and James Hart,  initially marketing models produced by Mudlen End Studios but later making models themselves.  The models made for the Henry Ford Museum celebrates a number of the key buildings in the Greenfield Village and were made for sale in the museum shop.
The only Greenfield Village buildings done by Mudlen Originals that I have seen in on-line searches are
Daggett House
Eagle Tavern
Elias Brown General Store
Firestone Farm
Heinz House
Mack Avenue Ford Plant
Martha-Mary Chapel
Scotts Settlement School
Webster House
I have no idea if there were any others made.  According to a collector on line,  these Greenfield Village houses that I listed are in the  "Hard to Find to Scarce"  category.
Here is the actual Daggett House,  originally built in
Connecticut about 1750.

And the Mudlen Originals  from roughly the same angle.

Here is the Mudlen Originals  version of the Eagle Tavern.
So  well done!

And here is the original Eagle Tavern,  a bit tree covered but still can be seen.
Built here in Michigan around 1831.
I guess it's just what I needed  (as The Cars once sang)~
Just a bit of Greenfield Village in my own home.
Thank you so much to the person who sent these to me - you know who you are.
These will be treasured.
.  .  .

I am being told through magazine articles and other means that I should be getting rid of things like my collectibles - things that mean something to me...things I enjoy - because my kids won't want them after I die,  and they'll be the ones to have to get rid of everything and they shouldn't have to go through all of that  'work.'
I like what I have...and I'm not dead yet.  I like my stuff.  My kids can do whatever they'd like with it after I'm gone.  But I'm still here now and if I like what I have,  and if my stuff makes me feel good and happy,  why should I get rid of it? 
By the way,  just the other day,  while standing in line at the post office,  I met a  (young)  woman who collects perfume - old perfume.  Some of which goes all the way back into the 1920s!  Perfume is not my thing but I think it is so very cool for her!  And I encouraged her to keep it up.
Aren't hobbies awesome?  Keep what you like - - - - 

Until next time,  see you in time.

For more on my studies of the B.C.  & early A.D.  period and the books I have of this time,  click HERE
For information on ancient farming,  please click HERE
For more about the Daggett House,  please click HERE 
To learn more about  "The Chosen,"  please click HERE
To learn more about The Eagle Tavern,  please click HERE