Thursday, December 31, 2009

Whatcha Got Cookin'?

Do you dream of chestnuts (or anything else) roasting on an open fire? Do black pots make you green with envy? If so, then we have the event for you!

Join us on Saturday, January 9th, from 1-4 p.m., as we host the Prairie Dog chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society! They'll be preparing a number of items, all using cast iron implements and cooking tables. They may use "modern" charcoal, but their methods are definitely frontier. From appetizers to dessert, you'll see it all!

Admission is $4.50 for adults age 18 and over, $4 for ages 4-17 and seniors 65+, and no charge for ages 3 and under. There is a $2 craft fee if you wish to collect frontier recipe cards to complete a book.

We hope to see you then!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Furlough and Holiday closure...

Hello Village People!

This is just a reminder that due to City of Fort Worth budget cuts, Log Cabin Village and most City facilities will be closed for furlough on Thursday, December 24th. In addition, the Village will be closed December 25th through January 1st. We will reopen at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 2nd. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to serving you in 2010!

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't forget our holiday event!

Just a reminder, "Holidays at the Hearth" will be taking place on Saturday, December 19th, from 1-4 p.m.!

You can help make pomander balls and tamales, string popcorn, play dreidel, and take home your own "winter count" coloring sheet! For a nominal $2 fee, you can even make your own embossed greeting card to take home. Did we mention that there will also be holiday music (and we encourage you to sing along)? And the delicious smell of onion soup wafting from the Parker cabin's kitchen?

Here's a video with more information...

We hope to see you here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hey! We're a favorite place on Google!

Guess what, Village People? We're a "favorite place" on Google! Based on searches, "between July 1 and September 30, Google users found {our} business listing 12,234 times, and requested driving directions or other information...723 times." Cool!

What's even MORE cool? Google sent us a great looking sticker with a bar code that visitors can scan with their phones to access our Google business listing. This will allow direct access to read and write reviews as well as to add us as a "favorite."

No...we aren't affiliated with Google in any way. But you have to admit, it's great that so many people searched for us AND that we have a great informative barcode right on our front door.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking for stocking stuffers?

Just a reminder that we have lots of great merchandise in our museum store perfect for stocking stuffers, unique gifts, and that "difficult-to-buy-for" relative. From "old-tyme" penny candy (15 cents now--inflation, you know) to books with picturesque photos of Fort Worth, we've got something for everyone! The store is open any time we are, so come on by...

Also, we can't help but notice that our new backpacks are a lovely shade of TCU purple. What a great fan gift for only $2.95!

We will be closed December 24-January 1, so stop by today!

T'was a woodworker's shop, it was...

It occurred to us that we didn't share photos of the interior of the "final product" of the Howard project. We hesitate to use the word "final," since it's still very much a work in progress (i.e. more tools, a tool cabinet, etc.). Regardless, we wanted to share! Here you are!

Note: the official dedication is slated for May 2010. Stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How does your garden grow?

As many of you know, we are very fortunate to have gifted fire pit and hearth cooks on staff here at the Village. And if you read this blog regularly, you also know that we are fortunate to have gifted gardeners to tend our beautiful herb garden.

A couple of weeks ago, these talents collided (in a harmless way, of course). Village interpreter Fred and his wife Gail, a volunteer interpreter and member of the Greater Fort Worth Herb Society, demonstrated the use of herbs in dutch oven cooking. Their captive audience was none other than Herb Society members themselves! We love it when a good collaboration comes together!

There were no leftovers, so we're assuming the food was VERY TASTY as usual. Thanks Fred and Gail!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving closure...

Greetings! We just wanted to let you know that we will be closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 25-27. We will reopen at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 28.

More information:

Our office is closed for furlough on Wednesday, November 25, due to budget cuts. Fort Worth City Hall, Municipal Courts and most city buildings will be closed. Also, November 26 and 27 are city holidays and most city offices and services will remain closed on those days. Offices will reopen and services will return to normal on Monday, November 30.

To see a list of offices, services and programs that are operating November 25, 26 and 27 visit or call 817-392-CALL (2255).

Happy Thanksgiving!!! And in case you need it, here's a recipe from 1883...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Waxing Nostalgic" in progress!

We're about an hour into today's event, and we're having so much fun! Enjoy the photos...and then come join us! We'll be dipping candles until 4 p.m. today (Saturday, November 21st).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's time to dip candles!

Waxing Nostalgic
Saturday, November 21st
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come join us as we braid some wicks, dip some sticks, and have a great time making candles to last us through the winter! You can even dip your own candle to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 craft fee to dip candles. We hope to see you here!

Monday, November 9, 2009

When too much information is not enough...

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that the study of history can be a sticky wicket because of this nagging little thing called "perspective." This is but one of the many challenges facing historians as they attempt to piece together the past. History would be "easy" if it were one thread woven into one fabric: "everyone" did this and "everyone" had that. But, as in modern times, each historical figure had his/her own tastes, friends, influences, and income. Therefore one household might consider one object of utmost importance, while another household could not spare the eggs to barter for it.

And as a 19th century living history museum, which household should we represent?

People tend to place "the past" into a monolithic homogeneous category. For current adults, "the past" resides somewhere between the pilgrims and the turn of the 20th century. For kids, "the past" is roughly the 1960s-yesterday. Many adults truly do not see a difference between frontier Texas and colonial America, even though hundreds of miles and more than fifty years separate them. It's all "the past," you see. They don't realize that this is as erroneous a comparison as trying to present 1949 Massachusetts as 2009 Texas. It's an innocent mistake, particularly to those who are not historians. The farther removed we get from history, the more abstract it becomes (I, personally, cannot tell you the differences occurring over 50 years of 13th century British history). (By the way, Pilgrims didn't even build log cabins!)

The "monolith" doesn't necessarily fade once you've honed in on the correct time period, though. The next hurdle is, again, remembering that all families and experiences are different. Telling the story of one family whose history is well-known is difficult enough. Telling the story of "everyman" can be almost impossible given the infinite possibilities and choices available.

For example, we interpret candle-dipping here at the Village. One might assume, by that choice of interpretation, that all households in the 1850s made candles. This assumption ignores a few basic facts: 1) candles could be made by factories at this time, 2) candle molds were often used, and 3) some families might not make their own candles--perhaps they bartered for them instead. So are we incorrect in showing visitors how to dip candles? No...because in frontier Texas, far away from supply lines, many families did indeed dip their own candles. It would be incorrect to assume, however, that ALL families dipped their own candles.

It's a choice that all historians make: which story do you tell? What do you decide to include? What do you leave out?

Here's a modern day example: up until a couple of years ago, our director didn't have a microwave in her home. If, in one hundred years, her home were excavated by archaeologists, would it be correct to assume that 21st century Texans didn't have microwaves? No. It's one family, one snapshot, one story.

Which 21st century household should future historians represent?

Here at the Village, we do our best to provide an accurate picture of 19th century life for the average frontier family. Since we do not have complete records and artifacts for the specific families who owned each of our structures, we can make an educated guess about what frontier Texas families would have had in their cabins. We set up our exhibits accordingly. Does that mean EVERY frontier Texas family had a candlemold on their mantel? No. But it IS a distinct possibility.

We also have artifacts from the 1700s through 1890. Our time period of focus is 1836-1890. Does that mean that our 1700s artifacts are incorrect? No. Families in the 19th century, just like today, would have had heirlooms passed down through generations still proudly displayed in their homes. Log cabins may have been more primitive structures built out of necessity, but they were still--first and foremost--family homes.

It is also a mistake to assume that the presentation of crudely built furniture and candles for light meant that factory-rendered and finely made furniture and alternate sources of light were not available. Gas lights were in use by the mid to late 19th century, but certainly not on the frontier. Skilled craftsmen made beautiful dovetailed furniture, but they may not have been able to take all their tools with them on the wagon trip to Texas and therefore had to produce lesser quality (but utilitarian) items until they could carve and/or smith new tools (or purchase some from supply lines from the gulf coast, Mexico, or east coast). The technology existed; it just may not have been available in this particular region (much the way that 21st century developing nations live much like our 19th century frontier ancestors because of lack of available technology).

It was not unusual for 19th century women to have to learn or "relearn" crafts like spinning and weaving once they arrived in Texas. Before they reached the isolation of the frontier, they might have purchased these factory-made items from a local mercantile or a neighbor. But with stores, factory, and supplies many days journey away, the women learned a new type of self-reliance and a life much different than relatives on the east coast or in Europe at the same time.

So what's the message here? When examining history and museums, remember that a number of factors influence outcomes. One hundred years and hundreds of miles can be the difference between the Pilgrims, American colonists, and the frontier Texas families we actually represent. Just because we show a skill doesn't mean EVERY family completed it the same way. And one should always seek to discover all the facts before making a determination about "the way life was."

Happy history hunting! And Happy Thanksgiving to our 17th century ancestors (from the 19th and 21st century descendants)!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wonderful words from a visitor!

We wanted to share a lovely thank you note we received from recent visitor Inez Ferguson. She also included wonderful photos of her girls with our historical interpreter Marcela. Enjoy!

"Just wanted to let you know what a nice visit we had at Log Cabin Village this past Saturday, 10/24.

The lady in Cabin 3, Seela Cabin, was most gracious. She helped and informed without being pushy, and later when the girls decided to go back to her house, she received and worked with them "like old friends."

Your gift shop attendants were also very friendly, helpful, and not pushy.

Thanks for maintaining Log Cabin Village."

Thank YOU Ms. Ferguson!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The sound of music...

L-R: Larry, Tricia, Cindy, Chuck, and Mike

If you've been out to the Village on certain Sundays, you've no doubt heard the melodious strains of folk music coming from our one-room school house. What you are witnessing is nothing short of a historical/folk music "jam session." Some amazing local musicians, including our own Michael Garrett, are now practicing together here on site. We hope you're able to catch them playing sometime (the sessions are scheduled, but informal)!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pinhole Photography, Part Deux...

Hey! Remember last week when we told you about Donny Cox, the awesome guy with the pinhole camera? Well today he stopped back by with a couple of images from his photo session. Aren't they great? You may recognize Mr. Cox's "model" as none other than our own Michael Garrett.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Membership has its privileges...

As an aside, you'll notice that Jack the Scarecrow is back to work after taking the summer off. We offered him a meal in exchange for his service, but he replied, "no thanks...I'm stuffed."

I was speaking with a fantastic adult attending one of our programs this morning, when she mentioned that she and her children visit Log Cabin Village many times a year. She jokingly said, "y'all need a season pass!" She was delighted when I told her that we DID offer a family membership...and that the cost was minimal!

It occurred to me that perhaps even some of our best and most frequent guests don't realize that we do offer incredible opportunities to help support the Village with great rewards in return. And so here I am, highlighting the fabulous membership program offered by our friends' group. We hope that you'll continue to be our friend also!


The Log Cabin Heritage Foundation is a 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to serve as a support group for Log Cabin Village. Their fundraising provides assistance for the Village’s preservation and education programs.

You can help us! By becoming a Friend of the Village, you are not only helping preserve the region’s pioneer history, but you are also receiving the great benefits outlined below. Take time to join now!

All members receive 10% gift shop discount and free admission.

Membership categories:

—Free admission for one person for one year.

—Free admission for two people for one year.

—Free admission for 2 adults & 4 children for one year.

—Previous benefits plus 4 guest passes for one year.

—Previous benefits plus 8 guest passes for one year.

—Previous benefits plus 12 guest passes for one year.

—Previous benefits plus 16 guest passes per year.

You can sign up online here...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lone Star Leather Crafters make Fort Worth proud!

Check out the October edition of the Lone Star Leather Crafters' newsletter to see the amazing accomplishments of our tooling friends! Oh yeah...we're in there too.

Leather Crafters October 2009 Newsletter

Reason #24893 why working in a museum is the best gig ever...

#24893. You unexpectedly get to meet the most amazing and interesting people!

Today we were fortunate enough to have local photographic enthusiast Donny Cox visit us with his pinhole camera. He's outside taking some shots as we speak, and he's even volunteered to share some with us once they're developed!
Hopefully someday we can get a group shot of "the Village People" (our staff) using technology that would have been available during the 19th century. How appropriate!

The photos are of Mr. Cox's camera (and Mr. Cox's hands).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Museums of the Heartland...

Hey! Check out our awesome director, Kelli Pickard, in this series trailer! If the television show is picked up by a network, Log Cabin Village will be featured in one of the episodes. Here is the video and press release from Media 13, the production company responsible for this exciting new series. Stay tuned!

Museums of the Heartland Trailer from logcabinvillage on Vimeo.

Real Museum Stories from America’s Heartland

DALLAS, TX -- In 2010, Media 13 will be celebrating the power of museums as repositories of cultural capital with a major twelve-part documentary series entitled Museums of the Heartland.

Where are the stories? Since we were children, the words “once upon a time” have resonated deeply. Can you envision a world without story? Such is the appeal of Museums of the Heartland. It’s a series about the stories of our lives – and our culture – presented through museums.

Journeying, primarily, around Texas and Oklahoma, with an occasional foray into other heartland states, the half-hour show visits museums with recognizable names like Bob Bullock Texas State Museum in Austin and African American Museum at Fair Park. There are also other names – less recognizable – like the Toy and Action Figure Museum, East Texas Oil Museum, and Medicine Mound with stunning, unforgettable stories.

“Behind every museum is the energy of a passionate founder, a relentless Curator, hard-working docents and a spate of patrons who bring it all together. Museums—both large and small—are powerful protectors of the American experience because they protect and present the story of our Nation,” said Creator and Executive Producer, Lindell Singleton.

The pilot episode features the Texas Heritage Museum of Hillsboro, Texas.
“This museum is remarkable,” said Singleton. “The experience struck me because it is expansive, yet intensely personal. The exhibits capture the stories of our wars, but present them only through the eyes of Texans. This really was the ideal choice for the pilot.”

John Versluis, Executive Director at Texas Heritage Museum offers this: "Museums are more than repositories of information and interesting artifacts, but instead a collective environment where cultures and generations meet on equal footing to share knowledge and new experiences. Museums of the Heartland will encourage visitorship. And, that could be across the city, the neighborhood, or down the Interstate."

About the Production Company

Media 13 is an industry-leading creative firm that leverages its unrivaled reach and access to create and produce compelling content across all its divisions: Narrative Filmmaking, Integrated Long Form Content, Commercials, Music Video and Broadcast Television. Visionary director, King Hollis, formed Media 13 in 2005. Widely acknowledge for establishing the 'next level' in Texas independent film production, Hollis' body of work has redefined excellence across multiple genres.

In launching the firm, Hollis has blended a collaboration of business and creative minds with a view toward developing branded content with a purpose. The core of Media 13 blends unique talents and a distinct, compelling vision for the future of creative content.

The team has established, long-standing partnerships with television and theatrical distributors, advertising agencies and corporate marketing entities. This nexus allows Media 13 to extend its reach across industries to exercise its capacity to find solutions for any project.

Media 13 finds creative production solutions while orchestrating the development, production and distribution of quality programming through existing and emerging channels.

Media 13’s groundbreaking documentary, “History of the Red River Rivalry” debuted in October 2009 on Fox Television. In 2008, the Company produced “The Split" for network television. In early 2010, Media 13 will release the anticipated reality series "Solo: I Dream of flight."

The power of moving images is the lingua franca of visual storytelling. Media 13 harnesses this power to uncover real solutions for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme...

You know, even though our name isn't "Herb Garden Village," there is a special place on our grounds that is pretty important to us. Since 1992, Log Cabin Village has partnered with the Greater Fort Worth Herb Society (GFWHS) to provide an additional place of respite and education here on our beautiful wooded grounds.

The GFWHS has taken their job very seriously. Year after year they donate hundreds of volunteer hours planning, cultivating, harvesting, and maintaining our herb garden. They research to find native and historically accurate species. They design their work with the Village's needs first and foremost in their mind. And they do it all quietly behind the scenes, often arriving before we open to the public, working diligently, then slipping out (let me put to rest right now the notion that we consider them garden elves...or gnomes).

We'd like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank them for all the hard work they do to help keep our garden looking beautiful and peaceful. Once you view the photos, we think you'll agree that they do a wonderful job!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Event reminder!

Just a reminder: we have an event coming up on Saturday from 1-4 p.m.! Winnow wheat, shell and grind corn, make a bean bracelet and more! Cost is regular Village admission plus a $2 craft fee for the bracelet. We hope to see you here!

Check out these photos and video from last year for more information...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Putting the "fort" in Fort Worth!

Log Cabin Village is proud to now have an artifact on loan to the Tarrant County Historical Commission for their 1895 Room Gallery History Museum. Since one of the current exhibits is specifically about the original Fort Worth, founded in 1849, the hardwood timber corner post from the fort is a perfect addition!

Other exciting, new exhibits at the 1895 Room include:
  • The Gebert Collection of Phillipine Insurrection Memorabilia from The Spanish-American War, 1899 (loaned by the Marvin and Betty Wilson family)
  • Founding Fathers--Freemasonry in Tarrant County (loaned by Fort Worth Lodge No. 148, Masonic Library and Museum)
  • The Peak Rocking Chair, 1853 (loaned by The Dallas Historical Society)
  • Restored Spring Palace Painting by Orin McCormick, 1889 (loaned by The University of Texas at Arlington Library, Special Collections; donation for painting restoration provided by the Tarrant County Historical Society).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yay! It's an honor being nominated!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thanks to all of you, we've been nominated for Metroplex Baby's "Best of the Metroplex Family Choice Awards" in the category "Best Historical Attraction."

We still need your help, however. If you are in the Metroplex, could you please go and vote for us? We need your help! Please click the button below to vote. And please share this with your friends!

Say What?????

I subscribe to an interesting e-newsletter called NHEC Enews. It not only offers valuable tidbits about current trends in education, but also offers great primary source material, strategies for teaching history, and highlights recent research in the field of history education.

The most recent issue featured a great article on the grammar of history textbooks. I don't know about you, but I was in college before I truly examined the role that perspective played in history. I always incorrectly assumed that what my textbook said was absolute fact, when the words were actually filtered through the lens of someone's viewpoint. Call it naivety, call it immaturity...but it wasn't until I was about nineteen years old that a lightbulb went off in my head: History books (and textbooks) are written by PEOPLE--people with opinions, people with biases, people with good intentions but occasional misinformation. As historians, our jobs are to process the information we receive, separate fact from opinion, and recognize that no one account will tell the entire truth simply because it is only one person's (or team's) truth.

Here's a fictitious example illustrating the power of perspective and word choice:

1. The Natives rode in on their horses, whooping and hollering with war cries, and attacked the settlers as they slept peacefully.

2. The Native Americans swiftly moved into the settlers' camp at nightfall, hoping to avenge tribal members murdered the night before.

3. The Indians snuck into the settlers' camp late at night. This was the best time to get horses without disturbing the sleeping pioneers and forcing a confrontation.

All three sentences offer different word choices and perspectives about motivation. Words evoke emotion, indicate power, and represent clear decisions made by the author as to how the historical material is related. One can never completely escape bias--every historian has it (even you :) ). The best we can hope to do is keep an open mind, explore a variety of sources, and recognize that all history is written by humans with human fallibility.

With all that in mind, here are a couple of great articles about the use of language analysis to help make meaning out of (often difficult to read) history textbooks:

NHEC The Grammar of History Textbooks Part I: Getting Meaning Through Language Analysis

The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

City of Fort Worth Furlough Days/Log Cabin Village closures...

The FY2010 adopted budget closes a $59 million shortfall by increasing fees and revenues, cutting back on some city services and reducing personnel cost. One of the strategies implemented to reduce personnel costs are furlough days. A furlough day is a day off without pay.

The first furlough day will be Monday, Oct. 12. As a result of the furlough day, some city services and programs will be unavailable. Fort Worth Municipal Building (City Hall), Marshall Public Safety Building (Municipal Courts) and most city buildings will be closed.

Open/Services As Usual
Fire emergency services
Police services
Weekly trash, recycling, yard waste and bulky item pickup
Alliance, Meacham and Spinks airports
Water Call Center: Payments can be made online or by phone.817-FW-24-HRS (392-4477)
Fort Worth Convention Center and Will Rogers Memorial Center
Golf courses, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Herd, McLeland Tennis Center, Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth Water Gardens (water features will not be operating)

City Call Center:
City Switchboard: 817-392-CALL (2255)
Environmental Management: 817-392-EASY (3279)
Code Compliance: 817-392-1234
Animal Care and Control: 817-392-3737
Transportation/Public Works: 817-392-8100

Operating on Alternate Schedule
All libraries will be closed Oct. 12. The three libraries that are normally closed on Mondays — Northside Branch, BOLD (Butler Outreach Library Division) and COOL (Cavile Outreach Opportunity Library) — will be closed for their furlough day on Saturday, Oct. 10.
On furlough days: No library materials will be due.

Please note:

As a City facility, Log Cabin Village will be closed in observance of all furlough days. Upcoming dates include:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, February 15, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monday, September 28, 2009

A true homecoming...

We were very fortunate to have former Village employee Iris Bosley back on site on Saturday for her first stint as a volunteer. You can see her here, posing with the sign that denotes her special, permanent place in Village lore and history.

Iris has truly been the heart and soul of this place, serving the City of Fort Worth/Log Cabin Village in varying capacities for more than 40 years. She spent many years working in the museum store now bearing her name. At almost 90 years old, Iris finally retired last year after an injury slowed her down (but only slightly). Thankfully she is continuing on as a volunteer!

If you were here this past Saturday, you saw Ms. Iris out on the front porch greeting visitors. Her smile and laugh is as infectious as ever (as evidenced by at least one marriage proposal during the event).

Welcome home, Iris!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Game of Life...

Let me pause for a moment and get autobiographical. As a child--born in the 70s and reared in the 80s (1970s and 80s, mind you)--board games played an integral part of keeping my sister and I occupied. We were not particularly athletic, had lost most of Barbie's little teeny tiny high heels, and lived out on a farm where cable television was only a dream. Board games, therefore, presented a great rainy day respite, as well as an excuse to proscrastinate on important chores like cleaning the house or doing the dishes. We played games for hours; classics like Clue and Monopoly, Life and Careers. Sometimes I won, sometimes my sister won. Sometimes we followed "the rules," sometimes we created our own rules. But every time we enjoyed unfolding the game boards and worlds contained within.

Despite the commonly held notion that people, particularly children, had to make do with nothing but twigs and cornhusks in frontier times, toys and games were actually quite sophisticated in the 1800s. Recently, in the course of my work as educator at Log Cabin Village, I came across information relating to a 19th century board game called "The Mansion of Happiness." I was fascinated to learn the motivation and meaning behind this seemingly innocuous children's pastime. The game reflected 19th century values and morality, fed in bite-size doses in an effort to help parents rear upstanding citizens. I was prepared to write this amazing blog post about board games and 19th century values when I discovered the article below, written by Jennifer Jensen. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I decided to just share her article with you. It's lengthy, but well worth the read. Enjoy!

Teaching Success Through Play: American Board and Table Games 1840-1900

by Jennifer Jensen

In 1843 W. and S. B. Ives of Boston introduced Mansion of Happiness (see Pl. IV), one of the first board games published in the United States. The goal of the game was to be the first player to reach the "Mansion of Happiness," or heaven, by passing the virtues and vices of mankind along a sixty-six-space road of life. Fifty-five years later Parker Brothers of Salem, Massachusetts, published The Game of Playing Department Store (Pl. III), in which each player attempted to amass the most material goods during a shopping expedition. At first appearance, these two games have little in common but both taught nineteenth-century American children the value of success as it was interpreted at different times during the century.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, success in the new United States was equated with basic survival and godliness of spirit. Life centered on the home as the heart of economic production and of family community, and from the time they could walk, children were expected to participate in the family's daily work. Strict guidelines were enforced regarding their behavior, and transgressions were swiftly punished, for it was widely believed that children could only develop into productive adults with the firmest guidance. (1) These views left the average American child little time for leisure pursuits and education. Games were played, but not solely by children. The whole family took part in draughts (checkers), backgammon, and cards (which had been produced in Europe from medieval times).

By the 1830s, the hardships of the colonial era and early Republic had given way to increasing prosperity. Urbanization and industrialization transformed the political, economic, and social life of the United States, moving families into cities and changing the roles children played within the home. Moreover, mechanization reduced the hours worked by some laborers, increasing the time available for other pursuits. The home was removed as the center of work and became primarily associated with leisure activities and education. The definition of success shifted from mere survival to social advancement through education and religion.

Attitudes toward children also changed. Adults began to view childhood as an important period of life during which play, disobedience, and comical behavior were seen as natural preparations for future responsibilities. (2) Popular images of children during this period depict innocent creatures born without faults of character, (3) but society also recognized that children could be mischievous, curious, and impulsive. In order to grow into moral and industrious adults, they needed a stimulating environment that was also safe and protective. Parents, particularly mothers, became responsible for providing this environment. Since it was believed that the roots of all future actions were found in childhood, the primary concern of mothers was bringing up children who were literate and moral. Strict regulations regarding children's behavior were relaxed, but diligence was expected in learning, religious piety, and personal appearance. For the first time, most children were also introduced to the entirely new concept of unregimented, unrestrained leisure. After lessons and chores were completed, the remainder of children's time was free for whatever activities they chose to pursue.

The number of goods manufactured solely for the use of children rose dramatically Educators stressed the importance of having children engaged in amusements that were morally uplifting and instructional, so these new games and toys overwhelmingly emphasized spiritual values and literacy. Parents and teachers hoped that they would give children useful skills and shape their future conduct. Victorian nurseries were filled with toys that were supposed to develop the manual skills of boys and the domestic skills of girls and to impart moral lessons to both.
These new attitudes combined with a burgeoning middle class and advances in papermaking, printing technology, and transportation that made printed materials more affordable and assured a lucrative market for board and table games. (4) In these games we can trace Americans' changing attitudes toward the definition of success. Since instruction was foremost in the minds of parents, the earliest games were uniformly didactic, imparting basic knowledge, teaching skills, and moralizing, albeit in a form that was intended to be palatable or even fun for children. Many were based on history and geography while others had biblical connotations that it was hoped would foster Christian goodness.

One of the earliest manufacturers of children's games in the United States was W. and S. B. Ives, the makers of Mansion of Happiness. A typical virtue-versus-vice race game, Mansion of Happiness was based on an earlier English game of the same name produced by Laurie and Whittle of London in 1800. The English game, in turn, was based on The Game of the Goose, which originated in Italy and was registered in Stationer's Hall in London in l597. (5) The goal of the game is to be the first to reach the seat of happiness-heaven--in the center of the board. A player spins the spinner and moves along a path on which more than half the spaces are illustrated with virtues and vices (see P1. IV). A player landing on a virtue moves forward and on a vice, backward, often all the way back to the start, depending on the severity of the infraction. Success, in the case of this game, was attained through virtues such as piety honesty, and charity and the avoidance of idleness, breaking the Sabbath, and other lapses in judgment. This idea was clearly laid out in the directions to the game:

“WHOEVER possesses PIETY, HONESTY, TEMPERANCE, GRATITUDE, PRUDENCE, TRUTH, CHASTITY, SIN entitled to Advance six numbers toward the Mansion of Happiness. WHOEVER gets into a PASSION must be taken to the water and have a ducking to cool him... WHOEVER posses[ses] AUDACITY, CRUELTY, IMMODESTY, or INGRATITUDE, must return to his former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and not even think of HAPPINESS, much less partake of it.”

It was hoped that children would take these principles to heart and connect them to the secular joys of play: competing for positions, projecting themselves into situations of good and evil, and enjoying the company of their playmates and family. (6)

Another game that shared similar values was Pilgrim's Progress (P1. II), published by McLoughlin Brothers of New York City in 1875. Instead of racing to the center of the board to be the first to reach heaven, the players start at the "City of Destruction" and pass biblical sites such as "The Cross," "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," and the "River of Life," on their way to "The Celestial City."

Even the mechanics of games with biblical themes were designed to inspire proper values. The puritanical belief that dice and gambling were tools of the devil persisted well into the nineteenth century, so they were forbidden in most American homes of the time. (7) Instead, a teetotem or a spinner was used to indicate how far a player progressed on a turn. A teetotem was a small top divided into segments that were numbered. It was spun, and the number that came to rest on the table indicated the spaces to be moved.

Biblically inspired games were based on the Protestant world view that success was reached by living a virtuous life. This definition of success began to change during the middle of the century. as Americans began to value capitalism over Protestant ethics. For the first time Christian ideologies were challenged by the emerging desire of Americans to get ahead financially Games that emphasized moral instruction were superseded by ones that centered on subjects such as industry, transportation, and current events. Winners were no longer the most pious players, but those who accumulated the most money or goods. (8) Even the antipathy toward dice gradually disappeared, and by the 1870s brightly colored dice and dice cups appeared in many manufactured games.

Slowly Protestant America began to perceive economic success in regard to accumulating material goods as evidence of God's blessing. In this way success in antebellum America was still seen in religious terms, even as it embodied capitalistic values. An example of this emerging shift in philosophy can be seen in The Checkered Game of Life (PL. I), which Milton Bradley (1836-1911) published at a small lithography firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, in late 1860, and which the Milton Bradley Company then sold door-to-door. Bradley did not copyright the game until 1866. Players travel through life, represented by a checkerboard, in the pursuit of happy old age, accumulating points by going to college and getting married while working hard and getting rich, and by avoiding such stumbling blocks as idleness, intemperance, gambling, poverty, ruin, and suicide. However, religion per se only shows up on the altar that represents marriage. This was the first game in which the ideal American life did not depend on salvation or religious involvement, and many games with similar moral thrusts followed. Instead of piety they emphasized secular virtues such as thrift, neatness, and kindness.

Mary Mapes Dodge (c. 1831-1905), a children's book author, and other reformers began to encourage parents and manufacturers to sermonize less and entertain more. (9) They thought the most effective way to get positive messages across was by stimulating the imagination and encouraging success through storytelling and play Games were expected to simplify the complex relationships between morality and the economic transformation the United States was experiencing. Just as in Mansion of Happiness, it was hoped that children would project themselves into the various situations and learn the implicit lessons of good and evil.

The Checkered Game of Life was the most successful game of its day. However, the economic depression that had begun with the Panic of 1873 and lasted through the end of the decade created an environment in which games about banking and financial success were rare. Financially inspired games did not become commonplace until the 1880s, the decade of financial giants such as John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), and Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). One of the first games that allowed children to emulate the success of these new capitalists was McLoughlin Brothers' Game of the District Messenger Boy or Merit Rewarded (P1. V). published in 1886. Based on the Horatio Alger concept that anyone, even the lowliest messenger boy, could one day hope to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, (10) the game was a race to become president of the telegraph company by moving according to the spin of an arrow around a grid of spaces, where the player advanced his way upward in the telegraph firm. An explosion of similar games followed, including The Errand Boy, Game of the Telegraph Boy, and Cash (PT. VI). All these games reflected the idea that success was equated with increased social status through the accumulation of wealth. They all insinuated that behavior shaped a worker's future, but paradoxically, the players could not control their behavior in the game, for the spinner determined their fates.

Games glorifying economic gain through banking and stock market trades emerged in the 1880s as the United States came out of the debilitating depression of the 1870s. The game Commerce (P1. VII) was produced by the J. Ottmann Lithographic Company around 1890. Its object was to corner the market in a single commodity. The game was played by dealing cards that represented groups of commodities, including butter, coffee, corn, flour, pork, and sugar. Players shouted out trades all at once until a single player had all the cards belonging to a single suit, thereby cornering the market.

Some games expressed cynicism about the country's emerging materialism, such as McLoughlin Brothers' Bulls and Bears: The Great Wall St. Game (Pls. VIII and VIIIa), based on the financial Panic of 1873. The manufacturer's directions have the positive tone of other finance games of the time, promising that players will "feel like speculators, bankers and brokers," but the game board itself offers a less optimistic message. Stylistically similar to the work of the famous cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902), the board depicts fashionably dressed bulls and bears, shearing luckless sheep, representing the public (Pl. VIIIa). Depicted in the corners of the board are the famous financiers of the day, including Jay Gould (1836-1892) and Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843-1899).

Only men are portrayed pursuing careers and seeking economic gain in these games of financial success. Although we can presume girls played the games, it is unlikely that they saw their futures in them. Fear, rather than inspiration, was used to impel girls to their future roles as wives and mothers. The game Old Maid, a version of which was produced by virtually every game manufacturer (see P1, X), was based on the notion that there was no fate worse than life as an unmarried woman. The game--sometimes with a game board, sometimes without--consisted of decks of lithographed cards on which were depicted comical or serious likenesses of women in pairs and a single "Old Maid." The point was not to end up holding, or being, the latter.

There was, however, one game that may have inspired some girls to a fuller life. Round the World with Nellie Bly (Pl. IX), released by both McLoughlin Brothers and J. H. Singer, paid homage to the adventures of the famous journalist Elizabeth Cochrane (later Mrs. Robert L. Seaman; 1864-1922), whose career began when she responded to an article in the Pittsburg[h] Dispatch that denigrated women. The editor was so impressed with her writing that he offered her a job. Cochrane, who used the byline Nellie Bly, went on to work for the New York World and dedicated herself to reporting on the conditions in prisons and asylums, causing numerous institutional reforms. Her most memorable feat, however, was setting the world's record for traveling around the world-accomplishing it in seventy-two days, six hours, and eleven minutes in 1889, beating the fictional hero of Jules Verne's classic Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Based on the popularity of the game (it was printed through the 1920s), Cochrane's achievement commemorated in Nellie Bly was an inspiration to many girls. (11)

The competitive nature of American board games also reflected American opinions regarding competition itself. Americans justified their acceptance of competitive behavior by looking to Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871), which proposed that Americans achieved because of natural selection, since only the fittest immigrated there from Europe. (12) This idea led to a national self-confidence and the belief that competition stimulated achievement. Games created a small environment in which accomplishment and the means to reach it were instantly recognizable. They taught children how to compete and to enjoy it.

By the 1890s the American economy had shifted from one based on a scarcity of goods and their production to one centered on a surplus and its consumption. As families had more money to spend, leisure-related goods became part of America's consumerist culture. The idea of success as manifested in the accumulation of material goods is evident in games such as Game of Store, The Game of What D'ye Buy, The Good Old Game of Corner Grocey (P1. XI), and The Game of Playing Department Store (P1. III). The goal in these games was to accumulate as many goods as possible, coincidentally celebrating Americans' delight in the novelty of shopping for various goods under one roof.

By the end of the century the mass production of toys and games had rendered the arguments of parents and clergy regarding their moral value irrelevant. Progressive social reformers had convinced Americans that play was the antidote to a busy life and that play itself would instill suitable values in children. Games by their very nature would encourage success and the ability to achieve one's goals within the simple framework of their rules.

(1.) Karin Calvert, "Children in the House 1890-1930;" in American flame Life, 1880-1 93 : A Social History of Spaces and Services, ed. Jessica H. Foy and Thomas J. Schlereth (University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1992), p. 75.
(2.) Ibid., p. 85.
(3.) Ibid., p.77.
(4.) Among these advances were the introduction of the rotary steam press' the replacement of rag fibers with vegetable fibers in papermaking, and improvements in chromolithography.
(5.) Play the Game, comp. Brian Love (Reed Books, Los Angeles, 1978), p. 9.
(6.) Mary Lynn Stevens Heininger, et al., A Century of Childhood, 1820-1920 (Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, Rochester, New York, 1984), p. 8.
(7.) James Mackay, Nursery Antiques (Ward Lock, London, 1976), p. 73.
(8.) Donna R. Braden, "The Family That Plays Together stays Together: Family Pastimes and Indoor Amusements, 1890-1930," in American flame Life, 1880-1930, p. 151.
(9.) Mary Mapes Dodge, "Children's Magazines," Scribner's Monthly, vol. 6 (November 1873), p. 353.
(10.) An example of a work by Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-1899) that demonstrates this point is Ragged Dick (Boston, 1868).
(11.) Founders and Firsts (American Cord Company Kalamazoo, Michigan, c. 1975).
(12.) Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and the Selection in Relations to Sex (1871; Modem Library, New York, 1936), p. 508.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Brant Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Full citation: Jennifer Jensen "Teaching Success Through Play: American Board And Table Games, 1840-1900". Magazine Antiques. 23 Sep, 2009.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Day in the District 2009!

September 26, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(Log Cabin Village will be open from noon until 4 p.m.)

The museums and Fort Worth Community Arts Center in the Fort Worth Cultural District are pleased to announce the fourth annual Day in the District, a celebration of the rich and diverse cultural organizations in Fort Worth, with exciting, entertaining, and interactive programming and performances for all ages. The museums will offer free admission, and various performing arts organizations will offer free performances in and around the museums. These exciting outdoor performances and events encourage patrons to walk through the beautiful grounds surrounding the museums. Day in the District is a festival designed to invite local residents to enjoy the world-class cultural experiences offered in Fort Worth. It also provides an opportunity for those who are not aware of the various organizations in our community to discover something wonderful and new. Come spend an enriching and entertaining Day in the District!

Sponsored in part by Museum Place, UNT Health Science Center, and Dannon. Complimentary transportation around the Cultural District provided by The T.

Exhibitions On View:

Amon Carter Museum
Views and Visions: Prints of the American West, 1820-1970

Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Public Art Tour

Fort Worth Community Arts Center
Preservation is the Art of the City; Re-Bounded by Susan Harrington; FW Public Art Showcase: Cool, Clear, Water;Trinity Perspectives: Views of an Urban River; The Loom’sBounty: Celebrating Natural Fibers

Kimbell Art Museum
Michelangelo’s First Painting: The Torment of Saint Anthony (Opens Sept 26)
Butchers, Dragons, Gods, and Skeletons: An Exhibition of Film Installation by Philip Haas Inspired by Works in the Collection

Log Cabin Village
Harvest Homecoming (noon–4 pm)

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
William Kentridge: Five Themes

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Discover the world of the cowgirl through memorabilia, interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations

With Performances and Demonstrations by:
Arts Fifth Avenue
Ballet Foklorico de Fort Worth
Jay Heflin of Celtic Crossroads
Centro Cultural de las Americas
Contemporary Dance / Fort Worth
DVA Productions, Inc.
Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society
Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra
Fort Worth Opera
Fort Worth Swing Dance Syndicate
Fort Worth Theatre
Hip Pocket Theatre
Historic Fort Worth, Inc.
Imagination Celebration
iMedia Network
Kids Who Care
Lone Star Chorus
Lone Star Film Society
MONDO Drummers
Pantagleize Theatre
SiNaCa Glass Studio
Taps ‘n Tunes
Texas Dance Theatre
Texas Boys Choir
Texas Camerata
The Butterfly Connection

Please note: Log Cabin Village will also be featuring demonstrations by members of the Lone Star Leather Crafters and Silversmyth Julie Hiltbrunner.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A tale of two weeks...

It was the best of was the worst of times. It was two weeks of productivity for Log Cabin Village. Some of the time was hot, other days were, well, less hot. But this one truth remains: we look GREAT and ready to greet our visitors when we re-open on Tuesday, September 8th (9:00 a.m. sharp, y'all. 8:59 a.m. if y'all line up at the gate, hint hint).

Here are some "before" and "after" shots of various projects we completed during the closure (with a little help from our friends). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's impressive nevertheless.

The Foster House "lean-to" before being re-sided (with Village Director, Kelli as a bonus)

The lean-to AFTER. New shutters, new lease on life. Those windows are where all the behind-the-scenes magic happens, folks. I'm typing from there as we speak.

The dirt blacksmith shop floor before...

The dirt floor now partially on the OUTSIDE of the structure...

The beauteous brick floor AFTER! Note the awesome herringbone pattern...

Our employee break room before being painted...


I don't really have a good AFTER shot here. Just imagine this room much whiter and scuff-free.

Broken pump parts before...can you guess which one is the faulty plunger assembly?

Our glorious pump AFTER! Kelli's there again--she's like the "Where's Waldo?" of Log Cabin Village. :) Please also note the new brick pad under the pump...

And I don't have a before photo of this little gem, simply referred to as "The Cat's House." Imagine a wee little cabin in disrepair with random rotting boards and nails sticking out... It was originally located behind the Foster House, and it has always been a visitor favorite (even though our snooty cats refuse to use it). Now it has a new lease on life and has been relocated behind the Seela hands-on cabin. Fabulous!

We have, of course had various other projects taking place during the closure: new clothes, laundry, organization of craft and education supplies, cleaning of cabins, , signs, trash-cans, and benches, collections inventory and care, tree-trimming, tour prep, mail-outs, supply orders, reservations...the list goes on and on.

And next week, when the gates swing open and once again little (and BIG) footsteps of our delightful visitors anxiously pitter pat past our door to go see the cabins and our historical interpreters, we'll be reminded of why this was all done.

And why it was all worth it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Help vote us one of the "Best of the Metroplex!"

We need your help to receive the Best of the Metroplex Family Choice Award™! Please nominate us for the "Best Historical Attraction" category on before September 30, 2009. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bricks and paint and lumber, oh my!

We are officially in day two of our summer maintenance closure, yet the Village is abuzz with activity! The Foster house lean-to (which houses the staff break room and offices) is being re-sided, the break room is being painted, the blacksmith shop is getting a brick floor (using authentic historic Camp Bowie brick), and brick is being laid under the pump at the Seela hands-on cabin. We are going to look SO GOOD for y'all when we re-open on September 8th!

Check us out so far...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On this day--Peace between the U.S. and Texas!

From our good friends at Texas Day by Day...

On this day in 1866, President Andrew Johnson, declaring that "the insurrection in the State of Texas has been completely and everywhere suppressed and ended," officially ended the Civil War by issuing a proclamation of peace between the United States and Texas. Johnson had declared a state of peace between the U.S. and the other ten Confederate states on April 2, 1866. The last land battle of the Civil War took place at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville on May 13, 1865, more than a month after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Upcoming maintenance reminder...

Hello faithful blog readers!

Just a quick note to remind you that we will be closed August 24th through September 7th for our annual summer maintenance. We have numerous projects in the works (some more exciting than others), but I'll be sure to keep y'all posted as they are completed!

Thank you for your patience with the closure. These times help ensure that we make Log Cabin Village the very best it can be!

We look forward to seeing you the rest of this week and/or in September!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Archives reveal why we don't have goats anymore...

While sifting through our archives of early Log Cabin Village history , I found this very interesting newsletter clipping. While the clipping does not state what newspaper it came from, it is probably from the Fort Worth Star Telegram. The clipping is dated January 21, 1970:

Vandals shoot goat in Log Cabin Village

Gun - toting vandals have spread their misery from Forest Park Zoo to Log Cabin Village in the park.

Village Curator Elizabeth Erie told The Press today that a baby Angora goat was found shot to death when employees reported to work. It's the second such happening in two weeks.

The goats, so gentle they walk in and out of the Village offices, have been hand-raised. "But we can't have this any more," the curator said. She said she will try to find homes for them where they will be safe. Anyone interested in giving homes to one or more of the four mothers and three baby goats may call her at WA 6-5881.

She said large-caliber guns apparently were used both times. The one found today had been shot in the side.

City Council recently approved a 3000-foot fence for the zoo where vandals have killed several expensive animals in recent weeks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Now you can "meet" whichever pioneers you want! Sort of...

August is here already! August, of course, means heat and our impending summer maintenance closure. But August also means that school days (and a busy group tour season) are right around the corner! So while you relish the last few poignant, delicious, splashy, and carefree days of summer, let us fill you in on exciting updates to our most popular tour, "Meet the Pioneers."

Beginning on September 8th, groups booking "Meet the Pioneers" will be able to select from one of two tour options:

Tour 1--Tuesdays and Thursdays

Pickard Cabin

Parker Cabin

Blacksmith Shop

Shaw Cabin

Tompkins Cabin

Tour 2--Wednesdays and Fridays

Parker Cabin

Howard Cabin (NEW!)

Marine School

Shaw Cabin

Tompkins Cabin

We are EXTREMELY excited to be able to offer these specific options for many reasons:

  1. This allows teachers/group leaders the freedom to plan their field trips on the days that their "favorite" structures are available

  2. This scheduling allows us to guarantee certain structures are ALWAYS available during the advertised times

  3. The design helps ensure groups are able to complete the tour within their allotted time frame

  4. The new tour allows us to incorporate the recently restored Howard Cabin--the new woodworker's shop (still being furnished as we speak)

  5. Knowing in advance which structures will be on the tour will help classroom educators/trip organizers plan in-class activities to supplement the museum visit

Our popular "Pioneer School" program will still be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We're already booking groups through December! Call 817-392-5881 to make your group tour reservation today!

We'll keep you posted as the new tour season gets underway!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beautiful image shared by a visitor...

Today we were reminded, once again, of how special Log Cabin Village truly is, and how incredible our visitors are! Sherman, Texas, resident Steve Hagan and his family recently visited us for the second time this year. They were generous enough to share this beautiful photo they took in the herb garden during their visit. They were also gracious enough to allow me to share this image with you.

Thank you very much, Hagan family! We hope to see you again soon...