Friday, February 29, 2008

Sign of the Times...

What's more exciting than three blog entries in one day?'s a brand new entry sign at Log Cabin Village!
Our old, hand-routed wood sign was taken down months ago when our beautiful new wrought-iron fencing was installed. Alas we have been making do with paper signs. That is...until NOW!

Allow me to now present a brief photographic essay I shall call "Installation of New Sign":

The sad, temporary, paper signs

Dennis Gabbard, owner of Rockhill Group Ltd. Exhibit Services (the great company who has designed our new exhibit panels and this sign) carefully marks a level line for the sign

Drilling holes...can't bolt a sign to a fence without holes!

Attaching the nuts...sign'll fall off without the nuts!

Proving that they're multi-talented, Museum Curator Ivette Ray and Museum Director Kelli Pickard help attach the sign.

Not willing to let Kelli have ALL the fun, Museum Educator Rena Lawrence pitches in.

Ivette expertly holds the wrench as Dennis makes the final adjustments.

Always the consummate professional, Dennis cleans the sign front AND back...

The beautiful finished product.

Log Cabin Village present...and past.
Wonder what the future holds?

That "olde tyme" rock n roll...

Come on out to the Village on Sunday, March 2, to hear Wichita Bob! Bob volunteers his time to be out here, so it would be wonderful if he had a big crowd to play for. He will be here from 1:30-4:00 p.m., sharing stories, folk tunes, and cowboy songs in the Marine Schoolhouse. Banjo, guitar, and mountain dulcimer music will all be featured.

Wichita Bob's other Log Cabin Village performance dates (all are Sundays from 1:30-4:00 p.m. unless noted):

March 9th

March 16th

March 21st (Friday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm)

April 6th

April 13th

May 4th

May 18th

Come sing along!

Top Ten comments from our Guest Register

We are very fortunate to have many wonderful visitors from many parts of the world. Every year, intrepid souls from all fifty U.S. states and more than 70 other countries come to experience Log Cabin Village.

We learn a little more about them when they sign our guest register. And if you've been here on a day when Iris was working up front, more than likely you've been gently nudged (i.e. forced) to sign "her book." We faithfully record where our visitors come from, and we relish the comments they provide.

Without further ado, in celebration of Friday fun, here are our top ten guest register comments from recent entries:

10. Woohoo! We need something like this in South Dakota.

9. How did you hear about us? Visited the Patanical {Botanical} Gardens, a wagon train passing by, forced to come

8. Like your cats!!

7. The park itself is great but the staff are what made this an extraordinary experience!!!

6. I like it here. It will be better when I learn how to walk (Eli, 8 months)

5. So glad this place has survived through the years

4. Really great! Made us feel like kids again!!

3. It gives me a chance to pretend I’m a real pioneer.

2. Sweet! Can’t wait to come back with my family.

And the Number One Guest Register comment...

Drumroll please...

1. It was so cool I almost fainted.

Can YOU top that? :) :) :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some helpful tidbits...

Here at Log Cabin Village, we are fortunate to have a number of fun titles in our library in addition to the works we keep on hand purely for reference.

One such tome is Keeping Hearth & Home in Old Texas, compiled and edited by Carol Padgett, PhD.

Padgett has lovingly compiled words of wisdom from a variety of nineteenth century sources (cookbooks, periodicals, domestic manuals) into an anthology of advice for the frontier homemaker. Living life in the wilds of Texas was certainly difficult enough on its own; fortunately guidebooks like the ones from which Padgett collected her work helped pave the way to domestic bliss in an uncertain environment.

As we read the entries now, we get a glimpse into the social history of the time, and everyday life in frontier Texas. Please enjoy this excerpt on children's diets from Padgett's delightful collection:

Rules for Their Diets
The quality of food intended for little children should be carefully studied, as the firmness of their flesh and the hardness of their bones is so dependent on it.

Let nutrition, variety, and time of year guide selections.
Every care must be taken to supply children with a variety and abundance of nutritious and digestible food, in which fruit, the cereals, vegetables, milk, mutton, beef, and poultry should be included together with simple sweets and plain puddings chiefly composed of milk, eggs, and flour or bread.

Feed their hunger.
When children get hungry more often than the occurrence of the regular family meals, they should be supplied with a light repast of digestible character. If a child is hungry, it cannot be well or happy.

Don't forget milk.
Wherever milk is used plentifully, there the children grow into robust men and women; wherever the place is usurped by tea, we have degeneracy, swift and certain.

Serve their meals thus:
  • The breakfast should be early and plentiful.
  • Mid-day dinners should be varied and always hot--indeed all food is most digestible when warm--and composed of some plain meat dish, at least two vegetables, and a simple pudding. Soup is invaluable for children, but it must be plain.
  • The supper, given about two hours before retiring, should be light and nutritious and may include warm bread, any form of porridge and milk, custard, simple stewed fruits, and either cool water or cocoa.

Never give a child under two years of age these foods:

  • Ham, bacon, or pork in any other form.
  • Cabbage, pickles, or other succulent vegetables.
  • Coffee, tea, beer, wine, cider, or any other alcoholic liquor of any kind.
  • Bananas, berries, or other fruit except prune juice.
  • Pastries or preserves.

Excerpt taken from pages 45-48 of Keeping Hearth & Home in Old Texas

Monday, February 25, 2008

Can you name this artifact?

Bonus points if you can tell us what is wrong in this picture are a couple of hints:

1. Although the model to the left is from around 1900, this artifact was first made in the 1840s.

2. This artifact allows users to experience "three-dimensional" views of tourist sites.

If you guessed that the artifact in question was a stereoscope (designed to read dual image photos called stereographs, stereograms, or stereoviews), you are RIGHT!

Between the 1840s and 1930s, millions of stereographs were produced. Stereographs featured two images printed side by side at slightly differing angles. When someone viewed the stereograph through a stereoscope, each eye saw a different image combining the two into one seemingly three-dimensional image. The concept of stereography was based upon Charles Wheatstone's 1838 paper of the same topic.

Stereographs first gained widespread attention, however, when they were displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition. Praised by Queen Victoria, they were popularized in the United States by Oliver Wendell Holmes when he created a handheld viewer and promoted instituting stereograph libraries. He recognized the important role of the stereograph in entertainment, education, and virtual travel.

Stereoscopes and stereographs enjoyed mass popularity until the advent of motion picture technology in the 1920s. Children today, however, still enjoy viewing the 3-D images on the contemporary version of the stereoscope, the View-Master by Fisher-Price.

Did you catch our error in the first photograph? The stereograph is upside-down (oops...even museum professionals make mistakes. Especially when the exhibit area is dark)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Let's talk transferware--A visit with the Village Curator

Okay...well I hinted at talk of transferware in one of yesterday's blog entries. I took a few minutes to catch up with Ivette Ray, Log Cabin Village curator, to ask her a little more about the new content in one of our exhibit cases:

Rena: What made you decide to put together an exhibit on transferware?

Ivette: We have a small but nice collection of ceramics and I thought people would be interested to know not only the history of transferware and but also what ceramic can reveal about the past. The exhibit also contains an iron stone set with the tea-leaf pattern that is not transferware.

Rena: What role did transferware play in 19th century life and culture?

Ivette: Transferware was popular in the 19th century because it gave middle-class families the ability to have nicer tableware since the transferware process allowed for mass production. The designs in transferware also reveal some of the popular styles at the time, such as a craze for things from the orient. There were also many patriotic themes exalting the new nation.

Rena: What piece do you find particularly interesting? Why?

Ivette: The purple transferware piece is beautiful. It is interesting also because of its pattern. Although there is no potter’s mark to help date the piece, I was able to find someone who could not only date it but identify the potter simply because of the pattern.

Rena: Why should visitors check out the exhibit?

Ivette: They should check it out once they are here to enjoy the beautiful pieces. Although the exhibit is only one case, they will also learn the history of the willow pattern which continuous to be quite popular to this day. Also, I think it will help dispel the myth that pioneers didn’t have anything pretty. Not everything on the frontier was hand-made and merely functional. Many families made room for what was important to them. In many instances, the china made the trip west.

Thanks Ivette!!

For more information on transferware, please visit the Transferware Collectors Club...

--Rena--Museum Educator

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen...

In true "Thursday Thirteen" blog style, may we present thirteen reasons to visit Log Cabin Village...

  1. We have incredible historical interpreters who love to share their skills and knowledge.

  2. We have new, interactive, bilingual exhibit labels.

  3. Did I mention that we have cabins from 19th century Texas? Oh yeah...we have those too.

  4. We have staff members named Bugles, Charlie, Chester, Taffy, and Yellow Cat. Yes...they are furry felines.

  5. We have the Marine Schoolhouse, the oldest school still standing in Fort Worth.

  6. We have a hands-on cabin...perfect for kids AND adults.

  7. We have fun and educational family programs.

  8. We grind corn into cornmeal available for sale in our museum store.

  9. We have hands-on touch baskets in each cabin.

  10. We have a beautiful wooded setting, perfect for "escaping the present and experiencing the past."

  11. Admission is inexpensive! You can actually afford to bring your whole family here...

  12. We have a great new exhibit case featuring transferware. Be watching for a new blog entry about that soon!

  13. We're easy to find...just down the street from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and right across the street from the Fort Worth Zoo!

The log days of summer...

Already trying to figure out what to do with the wee ones this summer? How about one of our summer camps?

Here's more info:

June 12, 2008
9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
Pack the wagon and head to 1800s Texas! Learn how cabins were built, explore the herb garden, grind corn, and make your own “homey” crafts. $15 admission includes craft materials and a snack. Reservations required by June 6. Please call 817-392-6769 or e-mail for a registration form. Camp is for 2nd-6th grade.

June 13 OR 27, 2008 (pick one)
9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
Be a 19th century Texan for a day! Wagons West is a program of hands-on activities recreating elements of a typical school-age child's day. The children wash clothes using a washboard and lye soap, card wool, grind corn by hand and weave on a child's scale loom. This popular group program is open for individuals on these two days only! $15 admission includes craft materials and a snack. Reservations required by June 6 and 20. Please call 817-392-6769 or e-mail for a registration form. Program is for 2nd-6th grade. *note: this program duplicates some elements of the daycamps, so you may not wish to sign your child up for this in addition to the camps.

June 19, 2008

9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
Learn about everyday life and chores in 19th century Texas. Wash clothes, spin and weave wool, go to school, and more. Make your own glycerin herb soap and 1800s toy to take home! $15 admission includes craft materials and a snack. Reservations required by June 13. Please call 817-392-6769 or e-mail for a registration form. Camp is for 2nd-6th grade.

June 26, 2008
9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
Discover the multi and cross-cultural aspects of Texas through exploration into the importance of corn, clay, and the role of trade. Make your own corn husk doll and clay creation, and trade with the Villagers to get materials for a bead bracelet. $15 admission includes craft materials and a snack. Reservations required by June 20. Please call 817-392-6769 or e-mail for a registration form. Camp is for 2nd-6th grade.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What is the "job" of a museum?

Why do museums exist? Different people have many different answers to this question. Some relish museums as keepers of our culture, adding to the collections through artifact and monetary donations whenever possible. Others use museums as a place to learn more about history, science, art, and animals. And still others think that museums serve as a great distraction on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

So which of these views is correct? If you said, “D”--all of the above--you are absolutely right!

According to the International Council of Museums, the American Association of Museums, and professionals in the field, there are generally five essential functions of a museum: collect, preserve, educate/interpret, exhibit, and research. In layperson’s terms, museums:
  • gather and keep “schtuff*,”

  • take care of “schtuff,”

  • teach others about “schtuff,”

  • show the “schtuff” to people, and

  • let people research the “schtuff” while also researching the “schtuff” themselves.

    I think the general public tends to easily recognize the collecting and exhibiting roles of museums, but sometimes forgets about preservation, education, and research. As a museum educator, I am intimately involved with the education side of things, but often have trouble conveying what my role in the museum actually is. My answer: I’m a bridge. My entire job is to connect the museum to the visitor in a meaningful way, be it through experience, event, outreach, or written article.

    Preservation is one of the MOST important parts of museum work. I read an article once stating that at any given time, you may only find 1-3% of a museum’s collection on exhibit. The rest is being carefully preserved in storage, so that future generations may benefit from the wisdom the objects have to share.

    And then there’s research. We get a number of calls every year from writers, genealogists, and frontier-Texas buffs wanting to know more about what we have. They want to research our collection of letters; they want to know more about a structure’s history; they have a 5th grade essay on pioneer life and need to know what a butter churn is. Helping these researchers is part of our function, yet they and this work are largely invisible to the average visitor.

    We have a writer coming today to explore the Parker Cabin, a favorite amongst local historians and romantics seeking to connect with Cynthia Ann’s plight. Research? You betcha. One of the reasons we exist? Most definitely.

    *highly technical museum term meaning artifact, art, animal, or other item being collected

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hands-On and Age Appropriate...

If you haven't visited Log Cabin Village lately, you're in for a real treat! We unveiled our latest educational endeavor at the end of September: the Seela hands-on cabin. Although it is sometimes billed as a cabin for kids, we have found that adults are enjoying it just as much (if not more).

The cabin is exactly as the name implies: completely hands-on. You can help fluff the feather ticking on the rope bed, prepare dinner at the hearth, try on clothes, and card some wool. We even have an outdoor area now, complete with a chicken coop and a pump to draw water. A garden plot and wagon loading area are in the stay tuned! As one young visitor said in our guest book, "The best is the one to touch."

You will also want to check out our touch baskets available in each cabin. History is now hands-on!

Postscript: some of the winter honeysuckle is in bloom here at the Village. I always look forward to this time of year, because the air outside is literally SWEET! Seems early this year, but I'm sure Mother Nature is just as confused as the rest of us by this crazy Texas weather.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's's pouring...

"Thy fate is the common fate of all; into each life some rain must fall."--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Since today is a special event day here at Log Cabin Village, it seems only fitting to use it as the day we kick off our brand new blog! Please stay tuned for exciting, intelligent, engaging, and maybe even interesting information about Log Cabin Village, museums, and living history in general. Don't be shy! Please post YOUR comments as well (Note...for your protection all comments will be read by Village staff before being posted)! is an event day. But as sometimes happens, Mother Nature has NOT quite cooperated. Rather than the hoards of eager scouts with their noses pressed against our wrought iron fence when we opened, we instead were greeted with rolling thunder and torrential rainfall. IS February. And while our event highlighting the "fiber arts" of the 19th century frontier is compelling, so is a warm fire and a hot cup of cocoa at home.

We did have 10 wonderful souls brave the elements to join us at our event today, including a lovely couple from Grand Prairie, TX, celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary. How wonderful that they thought of Log Cabin Village as the place where they wanted to spend their time together today. We feel fortunate when we can truly be a part of people's lives and experiences.

Another good point to mention...we're here RAIN OR SHINE. The only time the Village closes is if the weather is dangerous (i.e. ice, tornadoes, anvils falling from the sky). You can always call us to make sure...

Please keep checking in! And please subscribe to our blog via e-mail or in a reader. We hope to see you here soon!