Sunday, November 30, 2008
Throughout the decade that the Village was open, Henry Ford had many projects going on at the same time, adding structures numbering in the 60's. While he was adding to his Village, it seemed he nearly forgot a home brought here back in 1929 - the home of a former school teacher who once taught at the Scotch Settlement School (http://gfv1929.blogspot.com/2008/08/scotch-settlement-school.htm), John Chapman.
Mr. Chapman is said to have been Henry Ford's first teacher as Ford himself wrote so on the back of a photograph of Mr. Chapman. Others disagree and say a Miss Emilie Nardin, who roomed with the Ford family, was. Still others suggest it might have even been a Mr. Frank Ward.
I believe we'll go with Henry's memory - after all, it was Chapman's home that he installed in Greenfield Village, not Nardin or Wards'.
Mr. Chapman kept his pupils from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily with a half hour recess and an hour lunch. This man was massive enough to easily deal with the huskier students, the emphasis being on strength over scholarship. As described by John Haggerty - one of Ford's schoolmates - in the book 'Young Henry Ford' by Sidney Olson: "They used to pay the teacher $45 a month. But, we used to need extra discipline when Henry and I went there, so they hired a cooper (Chapman) and they paid him $5 over scale. He weighed 275 pounds and it was the weight that really counted."
The official Greenfield Village website says it was a boy named Edsel Ruddiman who caused the trouble with Henry. I suspect it could have been all three boys!
Henry enjoyed the good-humored teacher so much that when Chapman transferred over to the Miller school, he followed.
The Chapman house, decorated and furnished in the late 19th century style, had been up on blocks inside Greenfield Village for 11 years before Ford settled on a permanent site between the school where Chapman taught and the Adams Home in 1940.
It now houses old weaving machines that date from the colonial period through the 19th century, and are demonstrated by skilled weavers.
An experienced fly shuttle loom weaver can produce about a foot of fabric an hour. Also on display are a modern electric powered loom and knitting machines.
Today, the process of weaving cloth is demonstrated, from colonial hand methods to 20th century power looms. Presenters demonstrate the skill of weaving on a colonial hand loom; the fly-shuttle loom, the first steps towards mechanized textile production; and the jacquard loom, a 19th century weaving machine that could be "programmed" in much the same way as today’s computer.
Of all the looms in this shop, the Jacquard loom (see photo above and below) is perhaps one of the most fascinating, for it's actually a computer from the early 19th century. The Jacquard loom, a mechanical loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, was the first machine to use punched cards to control a sequence of operations (can anyone say IBM?). Although it did no computation based on the cards, it is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware. The ability to change the pattern of the loom's weave by simply changing cards was an important conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming. This simplified the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade and damask. The process of the punched card system works in this way: the loom is controlled by the punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order. Each position in the card corresponds to a hook, which can either be raised or stopped dependent on whether the hole is punched out of the card or the card is solid. The hook raises or lowers the harness, which carries and guides the warp thread so that the weft will either lie above or below it. The sequence of raised and lowered threads is what creates the pattern. Each hook can be connected via the harness to a number of threads, allowing more than one repeat of a pattern. A loom with a 400-hook head might have four threads connected to each hook, resulting in a fabric that is 1600 warp ends wide with four repeats of the weave going across.
Natives of the district of Bryan County, Georgia, say that the framed structure was the only building on the plantation left standing by General Sherman when he passed through the district on his march to the sea.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
William Alston had erected this brick building 1787 (Fairfield Web Site).
Once situated on the Fairfield Plantation at the Waccamaw River near Georgetown, South Carolina, this building housed the threshers, grindstones, shafts, and pulleys needed for the miller to do his job of threshing the grains of rice. A rice huller or rice husker was an agricultural machine used to automate the process of removing the chaff and the outer husks of rice grain and, although I have no positive proof of this, was more than likely used in this building.
The building is now the pottery shop where visitors can watch artisans complete the traditional process of making pottery, from mixing and forming the clay to decorating, glazing, and firing it in the kiln. The types of useful items made here range from mugs and bowls to plates, various sized pitchers, and other period ware. In fact, utensils used in the historical homes throughout the village are made right here as well.The best part is that most of what is made here can be purchased in the various gift shops. High quality items, buy the way.
At this time, I do not have a year of when this structure was originally constructed but I do know it was brought to the Village in the 1939/1940 era.
|The various kilns to cook the pottery.|
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(From the book "The Wright Brothers: from Bicycle to Biplane" by Fred C. Fisk and Marlin W. Todd).
The Wright Brothers began their bicycle business in 1892. The building consisted of a salesroom, office, store room, repair room, and machine shop.
Money earned from the bicycle business financed the brothers' flying experiments. They built their early gliders and planes in this building, often referred to as the "Birthplace of Aviation." And, yes, it was here that they constructed their first successful plane.
Much of the original machinery that the brothers used to manufacture the first airplane had been located with the assistance of Orville Wright, and was re-installed in the shop in the exact location when originally in the building in 1903. The wind tunnel, however, which the brothers used in making many of their discoveries in aerodynamics, had to be reconstructed.
When brought to Greenfield Village in 1937, this brick shop received the same attention to detail as the brother's home: Orville and his one-time assistant Charles E. Taylor, who began working for the Wrights in 1901 and built the engine for their first plane, studied the surveyed drawings for accuracy, along with architect Ed Cutler and Mr. Ford.
Because of all involved in the reconstruction process, the Wright Brothers collection was meticulously restored.
Monday, November 24, 2008
A summer kitchen was a separate entity from the main house, used mainly in the warm weather months for cooking as it was too hot to cook big meals inside the house during the heat of summer in the days before air-conditioning.
Orville arranged with his father to use the small out-building for his printing endeavors (during the cool winter months he used the dining room inside of their home).
At one point he darkened the tiny building and used it to develop photographic slides.
Have you ever noticed that homes from the early part of the 20th century and before do not have indoor bathrooms?
Mr. Webster defines this structure as "an outbuilding with one or more seats and a pit serving as a toilet."
And there you are.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Orville (b. 1871) and Wilbur (b. 1867) grew up in this house along with their sister Katharine. In fact, Orville and Katherine were born here.
The brothers added the front porch; on a neighbor's lathe Wilbur personally turned the big posts and Orville made the small turnings.
They also re-made and rearranged an inside stairway in the sitting room, along with other changes to the house. The following two photos are of that same stairway and of the sitting room itself.
The opposite view in the sitting room
Capitalizing on the new national bicycle craze, they opened up their own repair and sales shop, known initially as The Wright Cycle Exchange (later, The Wright Cycle Company). Money earned from this bicycle business financed the brother's flying experiments.
It was also in this house that the brothers did much of the design work for the airplane. Their mother, Susan, died before they even began to work on their experiments. Their father, Milton, supported his sons experiments and their bicycle business.
And here's the front parlor...
On the opposite end of the sitting room is the dining room
Neither of the brothers ever married. In fact, they made an unspoken pact, along with their sister, to never allow a romance to enter their lives - they considered their work far too important to have something as trivial as a marriage interfere!
This from the Wright Brothers internet site:
In the mid-1890s, Wilbur, Orville, and their sister Katharine were in their twenties, the age young people of their time typically began to seriously contemplate marriage. Yet none of them showed any interest in finding a mate. They seemed bound by an unspoken agreement to remain together and let no one come between them.
Katharine was extremely close with Wilbur and Orville, and became involved in her brothers' expeditions, even traveling to France with them in 1909, where she became a celebrity in her own right. After Wilbur's death she put all of her time and energy helping Orville continue the brothers' aeroplane business, The Wright Company, an aeroplane factory.
It was unfortunate that Wilbur contracted and died of Typhoid in 1912. As was written in a diary their father had kept:
May 30, 1912
This morning at 3:15, Wilbur passed away, aged 45 years, 1 month, and 14 days. A short life, full of consequences. An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadily, he lived and died.
In the 1920s, Katharine renewed correspondence with an old boyfriend from college days, newspaperman Henry Haskell, a widower who lived in Kansas City. They began a romance through their letters, but Katharine feared Orville's reaction. After several attempts, Henry broke the news to Orville. He was devastated, and stopped speaking to his sister. When Katharine wed in 1926, Orville refused to attend the ceremony. Katharine and her husband moved to Kansas City, but she grieved over her broken relationship with Orville. She tried many times for a reconciliation, but Orville refused.Two years after her marriage, Katharine contracted pneumonia. When Orville found out, he still refused to contact her. Another brother, Lorin, persuaded him to visit her, and he was at her bedside when she died. She was 54 years old (this passage is from Wikipedia).
Here is a photograph of the hallway leading to the family member's bedrooms
The first room we see at the top of the stairs is sister Katherine's bedroom
Next we have Wilbur's room...
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Seven miles from William McGuffey's birthplace, near West Finley Pennsylvania, one such bridge spanned what was then known as Enlow's Fork of Wheeling Creek. It was built in 1832 by Daniel and Joshua Ackley, from whose land the great oak timbers came. There was much help from the men of the community in its construction.
|One can actually see, feel, and hear what it was like to cross Ackley Bridge by horse and carriage|
The wooden covering on these bridges protected its structure. Unlike the structure of the bridge, the covering was inexpensive and easy to replace. A number of local folk at the time felt the bridge should have been constructed of hickory in honor of the then president, Andrew Jackson, known by his nickname, 'Old Hickory.'
105 years later, in the late fall of 1937, it was a rotting, deteriorating vestige of the past, and was scheduled to be torn down. Ackley's granddaughter, Mrs. Harleigh Carroll, acquired the bridge and gave it to Mr. Ford. By summer of 1938, it proudly stood over a man-made water way inside of Greenfield Village. The Ackley descendants, as well as numerous McGuffey descendants (for it has been felt that William McGuffey crossed this bridge), were at the dedication ceremony.Roy Schumann was in charge of the bridge restoration project, and he said that, "There was about eight inches of snow on the ground and it was ten degrees below zero. We went ahead and started tearing (the bridge) down. It stayed cold all the time we were there which was one of the best things because when we dropped a roof board (on the water below), the ice was there to catch it. All we had to do was pick it off. We tore the whole thing down. I would say we were down there about three or four weeks.
The next morning (after completion and clean up) it rained, turned warmer, and took all the ice out of the river. If it had done that a week before, and that ice hadn't frozen, it would have taken the bridge and everything down the river. The timbers were numbered and went back to the place they originally came from. We had to dig all the stones out of the bank and bring (them) back with us here. We went down there the first part of December and came back the 23rd of December. It was just two nights before Christmas when we got back."
"One thing (might) be of interest to you in connection to the bridge, in about the year1879, when a lot of people in the hills of West Virginia - not far from this bridge, were very poor and not much schooling - there was a young man by the name of George Meris who made "lasses" (molasses) from sorghum cane, he fell in love and went a-sparkin' a young girl. He finally popped the question and wanted to get married. She said she had no dress except the old faded calico one she had on. He had .50 cents. They went to the little store and got calico enough for .35 cents to make a dress. And, dressed up in that they went up to the creek to this bridge, and so happened that the 'Circuit ridin' parson' came along. And they got married on this same Ackley Bridge you have. And he gave the preacher the .15 cents he had left of the 50 for his fee. THIS IS THE TRUTH."
The Ackley Bridge was re-erected over a specially dug man-made river in Greenfield Village, where today it is seen and appreciated by thousands of visitors each year. Few covered bridges will ever find a safer or more pleasant environment in which to spend their retirement years.Couldn't have said it any better.
One of the most picturesque areas of Greenfield Village.
Please click HERE to go to the Ackley Family website
Monday, November 3, 2008
(All photographs were taken by me at the Adams home except the one of male mourning)
The death of a loved one in the 19th century was treated far differently than it is today. During Memorial Day Weekend (known at Greenfield Village as Remembrance Day), 1860's era mourning is presented inside the Adams House.
One must understand that death happened quite frequently during the Civil War, and not only due to the battles; more Civil War soldiers on both sides died of disease than getting shot ( a total of over 600,000 men died either in battle or of disease during the four years of the war). Too, infant mortality rate was extremely high, in some cases nearly 30%; death during childbirth was the number one cause of a woman's death; and then there were the "everyday" causes: consumption (TB), influenza, cancer, pneumonia, dysentery, etc.
The following (from "Rachel Weeping: Mourning in 19th Century America" by Karen Rae Mehaffey) gives a basic overview on how society dealt with death: 'Americans responded to death as a constant companion, and even embraced it with resignation and ritual. Americans...were intimately acquainted with death. Victorians embraced mourning as a sub-culture. It impacted how people dressed, how they behaved in society, and even how they decorated their homes.'
Once the widow left deep mourning, she would then enter second mourning. At this stage she could stop wearing the veil in public and could begin to trim her bonnet with a little bit of white fabric. She could also wear decorative mourning buttons and jewelry.
The next mourning stage was called half mourning. This stage allowed the widow to reintroduce some color (purple, gray, lilac, etc.) back into their clothing. Dresses with bold prints were also acceptable fashion.
What I have written is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 19th century mourning etiquette.
The folks at Greenfield Village do an excellent job in their mourning scenario and, in my book, they get high marks in showing a part of 19th century life rarely seen anywhere! The Adams home is accurately depicted and, with this visual as well as the presenter's information, the visitor gets a complete understanding of Victorian mourning.
My hat goes off to the Village and the wonderful presenters in this presentation.
Civil War Remembrance