Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Christmas Tree...


Although Christmas trees are considered an American standard today, most families in the early 1800s thought the German tradition was just plain strange. As late as the early 1840s, the Christmas tree was viewed as a pagan symbol not befitting a Christian holiday. A mid-late 1840s sketch of England's Queen Victoria appearing in The Illustrated London News changed all that, however. Once she and Prince Albert were depicted with the table-top tree now associated with mid-late 19th c. tradition (and the image was reproduced in the wildly popular Godey's Lady's book), it became very fashionable to feature the same. In 1856, United States President Franklin Pierce featured a "German tree" at the White House. By 1860, many American families celebrated the holiday with trees.

Did you know? In 1880, Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments, and they caught on very quickly. Martin Luther, in the 16th century, is credited as being the first person to put candles on a tree, and the first electrically lighted Christmas tree appeared in 1882.

Did you know? In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations—these “bell-ringers” have been with us in American cities ever since.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Servitude...

What did Christmas mean to those whose greatest gift would be freedom? Were slaves even able to enjoy the holiday? Some realized a temporary break from the backbreaking work of everyday life. For others, it was just another day of servitude.

Here are three different accounts of Christmas in the 1800s as seen through the eyes of Texas slaves (as taken from the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-38):

—”Every Christmas ‘fore ole marster die he fix me up a tree out in de woods. Dey put popco’n on it to trim it and dey give me sometime a purty dress or shoes and plenty candy and maybe a big, red apple…” Mandy Hadnot, Cold Springs

—”’Come Christmas,’ Miss Ellen say, ‘Harriet, carry de Christmas tree in and de holly and evergreens.’ Den she puts de candles on de tree and hangs de stockin’s up for de white chillen and de black chillen.” Harriet Jones, Clarksville

—”De only frolics I ’member was candy pullin’s on Christmas. Dat all us...knowed ’bout Christmas.” Emma Watson, Ellis Co.

Did you know? Christmas was recognized as a legal holiday in Texas in 1879.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Prairie Dogs are Coming...the Prairie Dogs are Coming!


Greetings, Village People!

We are sooooooooooo excited to have our friends the Prairie Dogs (from the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society) out here to show us their skills again this January! As a bonus, they are hosting mini-demos throughout their visit to help enhance your dutch oven cooking skills. The demo schedule is below...

Mark your calendar...

January 8, 1-4ish p.m.

Temperature Control and Dutch ovens: 1:30 p.m.
How To Care For Cast Iron - 2 p.m.
Brief History of the Dutch Oven - 2:30 p.m.
Pie Crust Making Class - 3 p.m.
How To Care For Cast Iron - 3:45 p.m.
Temperature Control and Dutch ovens: 4:15 p.m.

Cost is regular Village admission. We hope to see you here!


Please note: we will be closed for winter maintenance December 24-January 7. We will reopen on January 8 at 1 p.m.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The one about the reed organ top going on exhibit...


Hallelujah! The reed organ top is now on exhibit in the Tompkins Cabin!


So how did we get from a piece stored in the owner's shed to an artifact on exhibit at a museum? Come with us on this journey...

In September of 2010, the Village was contacted by Wanda Pyburn via her local property custodian Marlin Rogers. Mr. Rogers told us that Ms. Pyburn, now living in Indiana, was interested in donating a beautiful piece--a top from a 19th c. reed organ. The organ had been separated from the top some years ago, but the top remained in the family. Ms. Pyburn generously wanted to share her family heirloom with visitors to Log Cabin Village rather than continue to have it stored in her garage/shed. We took legal temporary custody of the organ top on September 17. More permanent custody would have to wait until Ms. Pyburn was able to mail her signed Deed of Gift forms from Indiana to the Village. Legal custody was officially transferred when Museum Director Kelli Pickard signed our copy of the Deed of Gift on October 12, 2010.

So now the piece was ours. Since it had been stored in a garage/shed, it needed a little TLC. First, we vacuumed it with a special artifact vacuum designed to have enough suction to be useful, but not so much that it would damage the organ top. Then, 2 TCC volunteers applied 3-4 coats of a special wax designed to clean, protect, and preserve the artifact. We completed the cataloguing process, carefully numbering, photographing, measuring, and noting the general condition of the reed organ top. These photos and notes will be useful in measuring and observing how the artifact ages over time, and whether or not subsequent conservation will need to take place to preserve the organ top.



The piece has a truly fascinating provenance (object location/use history) provided by Ms. Pyburn. The reed organ top was brought to Texas from Bloomington, IN, around the end of the American Civil War (c. mid-1860s) by J.C. (Jim) Blankenship (b. 1849), the donor's great grandfather. He married [Mary Evaline?] Blankenship after her first husband came back from the war and died driving cattle to pasture in New Mexico [?}. They gave birth to Mary Evaline, the donor's grandmother. When Mary Evaline (donor's grandmother) married Tom Carl in 1901, she brought the reed organ top to their home. James Thomas Carl was the second child born to Mary Evaline in 1903, and the donor was born to James Thomas Carl in 1926. Some of donor's (Ms. Pyburn) earliest memories of the reed organ top concern watching Tom "strop" his straight razor on the back porch of their Pettys Chapel (4 miles from Corsicana), TX, house, then shave, looking into the small mirror on the front of the piece. The leather strop he used hung from the shelf and his shaving mug and razor were stored on it.

In addition, while the piece was being catalogued, we made an exciting discovery--a maker's mark stamped on the back of the mirror glass:




J.C. Widman & Co.
Manufacturer of Hall Furniture & Fixtures
{obscured} Cor. 15th St.
{obscured} MICH



Per Coachbuilt.com, we were able to discover the following information from this maker's mark:


Christian Widman, a German cabinetmaker, emigrated to the United States during the mid 1800s and established a small furniture shop in Rochester, New York. Business prospered, and he married Rosalie (Seifried) Widman, producing a son, name John Charles Widman, born in 1848, who learned the craft and took over the business in 1872.

A cousin, C.D. Widman, had established a cabinetmaker’s shop in Detroit, Michigan in 1864 and invited John Charles to join him, which he did. John Charles returned to Rochester after a few short years, and began a new career in the grocery business. However, he returned to Detroit 10 years later to assume the presidency of his cousin’s furniture factory when C.D. became ill. During the ensuing years, C.D. Widman & Co. had grown to become one of Detroit’s largest parlor furniture manufacturers, and their mirrors, hall furniture, china closets, buffets and chevals could be found in the home of Detroit’s finest citizens.

The Widman plant was located at the corner of Trombly and Orleans St., a few blocks away from the Anderson Electric Car Co./Towson Body Co. in the neighborhood that adjoins the present-day Cadillac Hamtramck assembly plant.

Albert U. Widman, the son of C.D. Widman, joined his father’s business about 1890 as a salesman, and within ten years had become it superintendent, and manager. He was assisted by longtime employees Sylvester L. Rich and James W. Ailes.

Sylvester L. Rich joined C.D. Widman in 1870 as an assistant shipping clerk, was advanced successively as molding finisher, foreman, superintendent, general manager, secretary and treasurer, and finally vice president and treasurer. James W. Ailes joined C.D. Widman in 1877 as a salesman, and worked his way up the corporate ladder, and became the firm’s president in 1900 when John Charles Widman, left to form J.C. Widman & Co. after a disagreement with the firm’s board of directors.

The new J.C. Widman & Co was located at the intersection of 15th St., Kirby St. and the Grand Trunk Railroad line in Detroit, Michigan, a few blocks west of the Wayne State University campus. It was incorporated in April of 1905, with John Charles Widman as president – treasurer, and his son, C. David Widman, as secretary. The firm prospered and within a few short years warerooms had been established in New York City and Chicago.


Since the organ top, per the donor's provenance and other artifact clues, is early-mid-19th c., this tells us that the mirror was replaced at a later date (1905 or shortly after). Other mysteries remain (i.e. if the piece was in Texas at the time the mirror was replaced, did they get it on a family visit to Indiana/Michigan and bring it back? Did the piece travel again? Was the mirror mail-ordered or shipped by relatives?). These questions may never be answered, but it's fun to speculate.

We decided to exhibit the organ top in the Tompkins Cabin, and to honor Ms. Pyburn's fantastic memories by interpreting it as a piece used for shaving. In this photo (and when you see it in person), you will see the shaving mug, brush, a leather strop (from our existing collection), and a straight razor (also from our existing collection) just as she described them.



So what do you think?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Changing holiday traditions...


Children 250 years ago were viewed differently than children today. They were expected to work hard, speak little, and perform tasks as if they were miniature adults. However, the family became a little less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas and Chanukah provided families with opportunities to lavish attention—and gifts—on their children without appearing to "spoil" them.

As settlers began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built traditions all their own that included pieces of many other customs. Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented the holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.
http://www.historychannel.com/

Did you know? French settlers started the “romance season” with taffy pulling on November 25. Huge taffy pulls, or bees, allowed young men and women to meet each other before the start of the holiday season. The taffy pull ended with dinner and dancing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November and December events...


We have lots of exciting things planned...we hope to see you here!


November 20 & 21, 2010
CANDLE-DIPPING
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come dip your own candles to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 fee to dip candles.

November 27, 2010
PHOTOS WITH ST. NICHOLAS
1-4 p.m.
Come have your photos taken with our historic St. Nick! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $5 fee for photo and folder.

November 28, 2010
BUTTERMILK JUNCTION OLD TIME STRING BAND
1-4 p.m.
Come enjoy the delightful sounds of Buttermilk Junction , an Old-Time & Anglo-Celtic band, from right here in Fort Worth. They play and sing historical "Roots Music" - tunes and songs from frontier Texas of the mid to late 1800s. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission.

December 3, 2010
PHOTOS WITH ST. NICHOLAS
9 a.m.-noon
Come have your photos taken with our historic St. Nick! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $5 fee for photo and folder.

December 12 & 18, 2010
BUTTERMILK JUNCTION OLD TIME STRING BAND
1-4 p.m.
Come enjoy the delightful sounds of Buttermilk Junction , an Old-Time & Anglo-Celtic band, from right here in Fort Worth. They play and sing historical "Roots Music" - tunes and songs from frontier Texas of the mid to late 1800s. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission.

December 18, 2010
HOLIDAYS AT THE HEARTH
1-4 p.m.
Enjoy holiday music, string popcorn and cranberries, spin the dreidel, help make pomander balls, tamales, paper chains, embossed cards, ornaments, and more! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $2 craft fee to make a punched tin ornament.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The story of Jack...

Photo courtesy soozums on Flickr

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin


The legend of the jack o'lantern originated around a man nicknamed Stingy Jack. According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the devil to have a drink with him. When the time came to pay for the drinks, Stingy Jack decided he didn’t want to, so he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin. The devil obliged, but instead of paying for the drinks Stingy Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a crucifix preventing the devil from returning to his original form. Jack eventually freed the devil under two conditions; he would not bother Jack for one year and that in the event of Jack’s death he would not claim his soul. The next year Jack again tricked the devil into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross on the truck of the tree, trapping the devil until he promised not to bother him for ten years. Soon after, Jack died. God was unwilling to grant such a mischievous character access to Heaven. Keeping to his word the devil refused to claim Jack’s soul. So, the devil sent Jack wandering in the darkness with only a burning coal to light his way, which Jack placed inside a hollowed out turnip. The Irish referred to him as Jack of the lantern, then simply Jack o’lantern.

Sugar, sugar...


Information compiled and written by Miles Martin


An extensive amount of capital was needed to grow and harvest sugarcane. In 1850, the average acreage of the 35 sugar plantations in Texas was 12,198 ac. A plantation owner needed more workers to grow and harvest sugarcane than any other Texas crop. Despite this, low cotton prices and wet weather caused some farmers to turn to sugarcane in 1849. In 1852 Texas produced in largest pre-civil war crop of 11,000 hogsheads (63 gallons of cane juice).

Plantation workers began the harvesting season by cutting down the sugarcane plant with cane knives. They were cut off at the ground because the lower portions of the plant contained the richest sugar. Once the sugarcane was cut, it was sent to a sugar house. The sugar house would press the sugarcane to remove the juice, which can be refined to make sugar or the byproduct molasses.

Did you know? The Imperial Sugar Company is the oldest extant business in Texas. Since 1843 it has continuously operated on the same site and produced the same products, refined sugar and blackstrap molasses.

Separating the wheat from the chaff...


Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

Wheat was introduced in north Texas by settlers in 1833. However, before the 1850s, the remoteness of farmers from large markets limited the wheat produced in Texas. Texas is said to have only produced 42,000 bushels of wheat in 1850. In 1858 Texas produce 2 million bushels of wheat due to a rapid increase of immigrants. Due to the low maintenance of growing, high crop yields, and the ease of cultivation, wheat quickly became a popular crop in north Texas.


The first step in harvest was to reap the wheat using a scythe. After the wheat had been cut, the grain must be removed from the stem of the plant. This was done by beating the grain heads on the ground and or beating them with a flail. This was called threshing. The wheat was then separated from the remaining chaff (straw-like stems and debris) through a process called winnowing. Winnowing entailed tossing the wheat and chaff into the air, and catching the wheat seeds while letting the chaff blow away and drop to the ground.

Did you know? On average, one bushel of wheat contains approximately one million kernels and weighs 60 pounds.

Pumpkins


Information compiled and written by Miles Martin


The pumpkin is a fruit belonging to the gourd and squash family. The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon, meaning large melon. The French adapted the word to pompon, which was then adapted to the English word pumpion. American colonists eventually changed the word to pumpkin. Although the origin of the “pumpkin” is not definitively known, it is believed to have originated in Central America between 7000-5500 BCE and brought to North America by indigenous tribes. Known as isqoutm squash to the Native Americas, strips of pumpkin were dried and used as sleeping mats or a source of food.

Did you know? In the 19th century, pumpkins were thought to cure snake bites, facial wrinkles and freckles.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

When visitors tell me they haven't been to Log Cabin Village in ten or twenty years, my first response typically sounds something like, "well everything's the same but different." Sure, they'll recognize the iconic log structures and perhaps some of the crafts demonstrated, but the Village itself is a living, breathing, dynamic museum.

Exhibits change based on a number of factors. Sometimes we acquire "new" artifacts. Other times we learn new information that can change our interpretation of a structure. Sometimes we just get bored with how the furniture is arranged. We've made changes because of visitor interest (i.e. converting the Seela to a hands-on cabin) and because of massive rehabilitation (i.e. the Howard Cabin). We've also made changes to protect artifacts (i.e. moving the trunk away from a light source in the Parker bedroom).

Recently we changed a couple more areas within the museum.

The first example falls into the "new information" category. The Tompkins Cabin, as you may remember if you've visited, used to have a large ladder leading up to the loft. When we recently uncovered (through new research) that family members actually accessed the loft by jumping up from the foot of the bed to the nightstand and up. This made the loft truly hidden!


Old configuration of the Tompkins Cabin--ladder on left, bed turned

New configuration of Tompkins. Note hole for loft up above...



Farther away...view of full foot of the bed.

Not only does this new configuration conform to the new historical evidence we uncovered, it also, handily, gives our historical interpreters greater freedom of movement and better access to help keep the cabin safe and clean. Win-win! Plus, it helps freshen both the interpretation and the visitor experience.


Our second recent project was borne of necessity. Our hall light over our guest register in the Foster House burnt out for the 102nd time, this time destroying its electrical cord. Amidst discussions about what to do about replacing it, we decided that perhaps it was time to change things up a bit.
We switched the location of the pie safe and the guest register table. Voila! A new configuration that provided great lighting for our guest register and low light (for preservation) for the pie safe emerged. We love it! We even moved the donation box over to the guest area to facilitate free movement through this main hall/Village access point.


Pie safe in new location


New guest register location right outside museum store


Donation box with "visitor information center"


So as you can see, rather than being afraid of change, we openly embrace it. This capacity for change is what will enable us to connect visitors with the past for generations to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Corn is A-Maizing!

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

Corn, sometimes referred to as maize, was second in importance only to cotton in Texas. The ear of corn is the flower or bloom portion of the corn stalk. The process of harvesting corn begins by picking the ears by hand. Once the ears have been removed from the stalk, the outer covering or husk must be removed. After the corn has been shucked, the kernels are removed by a process known as shelling. Unlike cotton, the majority of corn produced in Texas was consumed locally as food and fodder (animal feed). In 1849 Texas produced 5,978,000 bushels of corn, 25 times more than other grain crops; by 1859 the number had risen to 16 million bushels (48 ears per bushel). We’ll let you do the math.

Did you know? 19th century Texans used corn cobs for bottle stoppers, pipes, tool handles, torches, fishing floats, firewood, and meat smoking fuel.


Using a corn sheller at Log Cabin Village--Fort Worth, TX from logcabinvillage on Vimeo.

King Cotton...

Cotton press

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

Anglo-American farmers first began cultivating cotton in the Texas region in 1821. Cotton quickly became the leading crop in Texas farming. From 1849 to 1859 cotton production in Texas rose from 58,073 bales to 431,645 bales. With a long growing season, and the constant need for weeding the crop, maintenance and upkeep of cotton was a year round ordeal, hence the reason many cotton growers resorted to slave labor. Once the cotton was harvested by hand, it was sent to the ginning house to have the lint separated from the seeds. Cotton lint was then pressed into bales weighing 500 lbs. by a screw press. By 1880, Texas became the top cotton producing state in the union. Most cotton produced in Texas was exported to other states like California, where in 1850 Levi Strauss created cotton Levi jeans selling for $13.50 a dozen.
--Handbook of Texas & Texas roots

Did you know? Originally cotton was grown in several different colors, including rust and light purple. Eventually white was adopted as the primary color to streamline the manufacturing process.

Harvest


Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

Harvesting is the gathering of crops, which takes place when crops reach the height of their quality and maturity. In the mid-19th century Texas, this typically occurred in September and October. A successful harvest was essential in ensuring farmers had enough food to last through the winter. Although advancements had been made in farming equipment, rural 19th century Texas farmers were unable to acquire them due to the lack of railroads. Texas farmers had no other choice but to harvest crops by hand, meaning longer hours in the fields.


The completion of a successful harvest often meant an abundance of food and a temporary break from field work. Harvest festivals were celebrated by family, friends, and communities to give thanks for bountiful crops. Harvest festivals are celebrated throughout the world and in the United States. The most famous Harvest festival celebrated in the United States is Thanksgiving.

Did you know? The first official Thanksgiving Day holiday was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863. In 1941, FDR signed a bill which fixed Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday in November.

Jeepers...Early Reapers...

Early clay sickle from Mesopotamia

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

After establishing permanent year round settlements, early Homo Sapiens developed agriculture as a means to sustain their new societies. From the Neolithic time period (8000-2000 BCE) until the present, agriculture has been one of the most important aspects in civilization. Some of the earliest known farming tools, called sickles, have been found in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and date back to 5000 BCE. These rudimentary tools were used through the 19th century, only to be replaced by the scythe and eventually, steam powered farming equipment.

Scythe

Although the form of the sickle has changed throughout time, the function has not. Sickles were hand held farming tools used to cut hay and harvest grains such as wheat. In 19th century Texas, sickles and scythes consisted of a wooden handle connected to a sharpened crescent shaped piece of metal. The farmer would secure a bundle of grain in one hand, while swinging the blade toward the base of the crop with the other.

"Modern" sickle

Did you know? Sickles made from animal horns, shoulder blades, and jaw bones have all been discovered in America...

Flurry of posts...


We would like to apologize in advance for the flurry of blog posts about to take place. Even though we are a historical institution focusing on the past, we still have our eye on the future. As such, we are consistently working to implement new ideas to enhance visitor experience without taking away from our charming 19th c. aesthetic.


Our latest foray into 21st c. technology involves the use of QR codes to disseminate information. By employing the use of these codes, we will be able to provide additional information about various topics to visitors without the use of large, distracting signs on site. Instead, participants will be able to scan the codes with a reader-enabled smartphone or other device and have the information right at his/her fingertips.


So how does this relate to the flurry of blog posts? QR codes need a "place" to be directed to. Each blog post will serve as that "place." When a visitor on-site scans the QR code on our signs, they will be directed to one of these blog posts on their mobile device. As a reader at home, you will receive these via e-mail or RSS feed.


This first series was researched and put together by one of our talented TCC volunteers, Miles Martin. He put this information together to tie in with Saturday's upcoming event, "Jeepers Reapers!" Thanks for your hard work, Miles!


Now that explanations are out of the way...ENJOY!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October and November events...


Mark your calendars!

October 17, 2010
BUTTERMILK JUNCTION OLD TIME STRING BAND
1-4 p.m.
Come enjoy the delightful sounds of Buttermilk Junction , an Old-Time & Anglo-Celtic band, from right here in Fort Worth. They play and sing historical "Roots Music" - tunes and songs from frontier Texas of the mid to late 1800s. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission.

October 22, 2010
TIMBER TALES STORYTIME
10-11 a.m.
Featured story: Anansi Does the Impossible: An Ashanti Tale retold by Verna Aardema. The adventures of Anansi the spider continue with this delightful tale from our West African ancestors about securing folktales for the people. $4 fee includes a story, fun activities, and a craft, all geared towards 3-5 year olds. Please call 817-392-5881 to make your reservation (required).


October 23, 2010
JEEPERS REAPERS!
1-4 p.m.
We just celebrated Harvest Homecoming, but now it’s time to reap what we’ve sown! Experience grinding grain by hand, thresh wheat, mix masa, press tortillas and more. Then we’ll use corn husks to make dolls! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 craft fee to make a corn husk doll.

November 14 & 28, 2010
BUTTERMILK JUNCTION OLD TIME STRING BAND
1-4 p.m.
Come enjoy the delightful sounds of Buttermilk Junction , an Old-Time & Anglo-Celtic band, from right here in Fort Worth. They play and sing historical "Roots Music" - tunes and songs from frontier Texas of the mid to late 1800s. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission.

November 13 & 14, 2010
CANDLE-DIPPING
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come dip your own candles to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 fee to dip candles.


November 19, 2010
TIMBER TALES STORYTIME
10-11 a.m.
Featured story: Kindle Me a Riddle: A Pioneer Story by Roberta Karim. Frontier days are brought to life through a series of riddles in this charming story about a 19th century family. $4 fee includes a story, fun activities, and a craft, all geared towards 3-5 year olds. Please call 817-392-5881 to make your reservation (required).

November 20 & 21, 2010
CANDLE-DIPPING
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come dip your own candles to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 fee to dip candles.


November 27, 2010
PHOTOS WITH ST. NICHOLAS
1-4 p.m.
Come have your photos taken with our historic St. Nick! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $5 fee for photo and folder.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So much to say!

Wow! We truly have a TON of exciting things happening around here! Where to begin...



  • Buttermilk Junction continues to delight visitors with their amazing music. Come check them out!

In addition to all this excitement, we're planning a phenomenal January-June lineup that will include The Lone Star Dutch Oven Society, Woodworking, a Homeschool Day, the Lone Star Leather Crafters, The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society, Boy and Girl Scout activities, summer camps, Cooking, Coopering, Blacksmithing...the list goes on and on!

We're shaking things up around here...so STAY TUNED!

Friday, October 1, 2010

We get by with a little help from our friends...

Do you ever have something really cool going on? Something you keep meaning to tell people about, but then the phone rings, or an e-mail comes in, or you have to take a cat to the vet (not kidding)? Well...I'm finally sitting down to tell you about that cool something we have going on!

Andre applies Renaissance Wax to a pump organ top

Y'all may remember that last spring we started a service-learning partnership with Tarrant County College--Trinity River Campus. We have been fortunate to continue the partnership this semester, and we're enjoying volunteer service from some truly incredible students!


Miles assembles our spinning wheel



Thus far we've had TCCers raking leaves and removing debris from around cabins, greeting visitors at Harvest Homecoming, inventorying and cleaning artifacts, "waxing" one of our new acquisitions (more on that in the future), census research, and even assembling our new traveling spinning wheel (also more on that in the future)! What's even more fun is that we've got a couple students who are considering museum careers. We LOVE spreading the museum geekdom!


We also will be hosting a TCC blog post series. Students are researching various topics and writing blog entries that will be featured here later. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Frog Fridays...

Are you a fan of TCU? We're giving 50% off Village admission on Fridays to anyone wearing purple. Go Frogs!

Spread the word!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Homecoming/Day in the District!


Helloooooooooo blog friends! It's almost here...our BIGGEST event of the YEAR! And it will happen RAIN or SHINE!


When: Saturday, September 25, 2010, noon-4 p.m.

Where: Log Cabin Village (and Fort Worth's Cultural District)


Saturday, September 25, we'll open one hour early so that you have more time for the fun. And it's all FREE! We'll have Buttermilk Junction, the Lone Star Leather Crafters, Silversmyths, woodworkers, the Panther City Regulators, the Greater Fort Worth Herb Society, and our own merry Village People here to educate, celebrate, and have a great time!


Won't you join us?


Be sure to check out other Day in the District venues as well!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We do it for you...


"Interesting!"
"Wow!"
"Cool!"
"Amazing!"
"Wanted my kids to see and learn local history."
"Great info!"
"Very fun...I'd like to stay here!!"
"Awesome!"
"Very authentic. Liked it very much!"
"Very good, thank you. :)"
"Very nice."
"Enjoyed!"
"Just loved it!"
"Wonderful exhibit!"
"A good little adventure!"

--August 10-18, 2010, guest register comments. Visitors hailed from Fort Worth, Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Denton, Frisco, Keller, Plano, Wichita Falls, Friona, Lubbock, Dublin, Haltom City, Colleyville, Weatherford, & Springtown, Texas, and Oklahoma, Florida, Japan, Delaware, Australia, California, Alabama, and Minnesota in this 8 day period


Why do we do it? Why do our historical interpreters get up every morning, dress in 19th century-style clothing, leave their air-conditioned homes with television and cushy recliners and drive to the Village to spend their days in 100+ degree heat? Why do our professional staff members develop programs, preserve artifacts, wrestle with budgets, and manage daily operations?


You. We do it because of you.


We do it for the kid who walks in the front door and gasps, saying, "WOW!" We do it for the mom, who is looking for a place to let her toddlers burn off a little energy while learning about life long ago. We do it for the historian, who has read about cabin-building in books but has never put his/her hand into the broadax marks that scar the cabin walls...until now.



We do it for the souls seeking respite in the shady, wooded, peaceful grounds. We do it for the teachers wanting to make history come alive for their students. We do it for the visitors from Texas, the United States, North America, and the world. We do it for the harried parents who couldn't get into the zoo and stumbled across the street to discover us. We do it for the families who take time out from their busy days to just be with each other, no modern distractions, no cars, no rush. We do it for all these and more.


We do it for you.




We're a little selfish, though. We also do it because we feel a deep connection to history and our own personal stories. We love seeing children's faces light up when they understand a new concept. We enjoy hearing the whoosh of the waterwheel, the flowing of the stream, the ping of the anvil, and the ringing of the school bell. We love helping families reconnect: with nature, with history, with each other.


We draw relaxation from demonstrating lost arts--weaving, woodworking, blacksmithing... We love hearing the laughter of children and adults as they try out a new skill. Shivers run down our backs when we rescue a treasured artifact from decay. We feel duty-bound to keep our ancestors memories alive, lest we forget. We want these structures, these artifacts, these stories, to live forever.

So paying bills, cleaning signs, designing exhibits and programs, putting on the dresses, bonnets, vests, and suspenders isn't an option: it's an obligation.


And we do it for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Upcoming closure...


Just a reminder, we will be closed from August 23-September 6 for annual summer maintenance. We use this time to help keep the site looking great for y'all!


Projects on tap for this closure include: mowing, weedeating, cleaning, laundry, deadlimbing, new post and cable down Log Cabin Village Lane, and MORE!


I, personally, will be using a lot of the time to work on our hands-on cabin. Look for new "food" items, activities, pump gaskets, and more! After three years in operation, the hands-on cabin needs freshening up a bit...


I also plan to finalize some of our fall/winter programming plans. We hope that you'll be excited about the events we plan to offer!


So we may be closed to visitors during this time, but we will certainly be abuzz with activity! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

3 Questions--Steven

This video is the second in a series introducing visitors to our "Village People" here at Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth, TX. This clip features "craftsman extraordinaire" Steven (with a cameo by Taffy the cat). By the way, I apologize for my (the educator's) choppy video editing. I'm learning as I go. :)


Monday, August 2, 2010

3 Questions--Kelli Pickard

You know...we have really cool 19th century buildings, fascinating artifacts, and an amazingly beautiful wooded setting. But you know what we also consider one of our greatest assets? Our PEOPLE! We thought you might enjoy getting to know them better!

This video is the first in a series introducing visitors to our "Village People" here at Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth, TX. This clip features Museum Director Kelli Pickard.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our fall line-up...

Just to keep you in the loop, we have a TON of exciting activities going on around here this fall--including FOUR opportunities to dip candles! We can't wait to see you here!

Looking for daily updates/interaction? Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!


August 23-September 6, 2010
CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE


September 17, 2010
TIMBER TALES STORYTIME
10-11 a.m.
Featured stories: Tortillas and Lullabies by Lynn Reiser and The Copper Tin Cup by Carole Lexa Schaefer. How can the objects we treasure bring back powerful memories? Learn with two wonderful stories about the continuity of family and our heirlooms. $4 fee includes a story, fun activities, and a craft, all geared towards 3-5 year olds. Please call 817-392-5881 to make your reservation (required).

September 25, 2010
HARVEST HOMECOMING
Noon-4 p.m.
No admission charge for this day only!!! Celebrate Fort Worth’s “Day in the District” at the Village! Enjoy a day full of music, crafts, living history and activities for the whole family. This is the Village's biggest event of the year! No reservations required.

October 22, 2010
TIMBER TALES STORYTIME
10-11 a.m.
Featured story: Anansi Does the Impossible: An Ashanti Tale retold by Verna Aardema. The adventures of Anansi the spider continue with this delightful tale from our West African ancestors about securing folktales for the people. $4 fee includes a story, fun activities, and a craft, all geared towards 3-5 year olds. Please call 817-392-5881 to make your reservation (required).

October 23, 2010
JEEPERS REAPERS!
1-4 p.m.
We just celebrated Harvest Homecoming, but now it’s time to reap what we’ve sown! Experience grinding grain by hand, thresh wheat, mix masa, press tortillas and more. Then we’ll use corn husks to make dolls! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 craft fee to make a corn husk doll.

November 13 & 14, 2010
CANDLE-DIPPING
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come dip your own candles to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 fee to dip candles.

November 19. 2010
TIMBER TALES STORYTIME
10-11 a.m.
Featured story: Kindle Me a Riddle: A Pioneer Story by Roberta Karim. Frontier days are brought to life through a series of riddles in this charming story about a 19th century family. $4 fee includes a story, fun activities, and a craft, all geared towards 3-5 year olds. Please call 817-392-5881 to make your reservation (required).

November 20 & 21, 2010
CANDLE-DIPPING
1-4 p.m.
It’s candle-making time! Come dip your own candles to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $3 fee to dip candles.

December 18, 2010
HOLIDAYS AT THE HEARTH
1-4 p.m.
Enjoy holiday music, string popcorn and cranberries, spin the dreidel, help make pomander balls, tamales, paper chains, embossed cards, ornaments, and more! No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $2 craft fee to make a punched tin ornament.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Had it not been for Cotton-Eyed Joe...


You can blame cotton for a lot of things. An all-cotton garment will shrink in hot water. In raw form, cotton bolls can scratch your hands. And cotton provides the perfect nesting ground for a nasty little critter called the boll weevil.

The boll weevil is so despised and feared, that southern states have formed "boll weevil eradication zones." Here's what the Handbook of Texas Online has to say about this snarly little pest:

"The boll weevil is a snout beetle (Anthonomus grandis) first named by Carl H. Boheman, a Swedish systematist. He assumed that the specimens came from Cuba, but modern research indicates that they were collected near Veracruz in 1840. Ancient specimens have been found from the earliest times in the valley of Mexico. The ravages of the insect have been known in Mexico for at least two millenia. American entomologists became aware of the boll weevil as a cotton pest as early as 1880, but its first introduction to Texas seems to have been announced by Charles W. DeRyee, a druggist of Corpus Christi, in a letter dated October 3, 1894. The insect, which proved to be one of the most devastating pests ever introduced to American agriculture, was definitely identified by Dr. Eugene A. Schwarz. The boll weevil is about one-fourth inch in length and changes from white to black as it matures. The beetles are susceptible to winter freezes, and those that survive hibernation emerge in the spring to feed for five or six weeks on the tender growth of young cotton plants. As the season progresses, they eat and lay eggs in the cotton buds and new bolls. Each punctured bud or boll falls to the ground and becomes food for the eggs that hatch in two or three days. The boll weevil migrated across the Rio Grande and had spread from the Valley to the Sabine and Red rivers by the beginning of the twentieth century. By 1903 it covered all of eastern Texas to the Edwards Plateau and by the 1920s had reached north and west to the High Plains, then encompassing all the geographic areas of Texas cotton production. Boll weevil infestation caused a steady drop in cotton yields over a thirty-year period. The greatest destruction was in the South Texas fields. In 1904 an estimated 700,000 bales were lost to the boll weevil, at a cost of $42 million. Damage that resulted in about a 6 percent yield reduction in 1910 leaped to a 34 percent reduction in 1921. Fifty-three years later the per-acre yield reduction due to boll weevils still hovered at 7 percent and cost an estimated $260 million.

Unlike many other insects, the boll weevil was resistant to conventional insecticides, poisons, and then-known antipest practices. Its spread from Mexico depended on a combination of appropriate weather conditions and cultivation practices, coupled with a shortage of cotton gins. Cotton bolls with seed were often transported from the lower Rio Grande valley to gins as far north as Alice, and this practice may have contributed to the spread of the weevil. Basic information on the relationship of the boll weevil to the cotton plant and other cultivated plants was explored by C. H. Tyler Townsend, one of the many colorful personalities involved in the early fight against the boll weevil. Townsend was an official of the United States Department of Agriculture who traveled through southern Texas in 1894 and reported as much as 90 percent crop damage in that area. In 1899 the state appointed Frederick W. Mally, an entomologist, to direct state efforts to combat the insect. Mally launched a cultivation plan intended to produce crops early, before the weevils multiplied. But record freezes that delayed early planting, heavy rainfall, and the great Galveston hurricane of 1900 all combined to help spread the boll weevil in spite of Mally's brilliant but seriously underfunded labors.

In 1901 E. Dwight Sanderson succeeded Mally as state entomologist. He continued many of Mally's programs, but in addition the Texas legislature chose to offer a $50,000 prize for discovery of a way to rid Texas of the boll weevil."


Why my sudden interest in boll weevils, you ask?

Because, after posting our growing crops the other day, I received this e-mail from a colleague at Dallas Heritage Village:

"So I was catching up on my RSS feeds and noticed that you guys are growing cotton. Yeah cotton!

Question: did you have to do anything special to get permission to grow cotton? I know there are rules with the whole boll weevil eradication stuff..."

My reply? OOPS!


So it turns out that Tarrant County actually IS in a boll weevil eradication zone...which means, among other things, that we cannot grow cotton on site without a permit. This is yet another example of how complicated it can be presenting "the past" within modern constraints.


Don't you hate it when that happens?


Fortunately our cotton has not produced, and more than likely wasn't going to produce, because today our cotton will be liberated (pulled) so that we are in compliance.


But we had a good run! And I learned a LOT about cotton-growing in Texas.


And we're not ashamed to admit when we're wrong...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summertime...

Cotton is risin'...

Cucumber's are bloomin'...
Squash is blossomin'


The corn's all ears...


It's summertime...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cooking Camp on Community Cable

Interested in seeing footage from our recent cooking camp? Fort Worth's Community Cable Channel 31 will be featuring a dedicated show! Show times can be found here... (expand date selection and search for "cooking.")

Some sample dishes and delicacies of Spanish Colonial Texas


Article 3 in a series about historic foodways of the Camino Real de Los Tejas by Richard G. Santos, an international research historian, linguist and educator based in San Antonio, Texas. If you have family recipes to share, please send these recipes and memories of home cooked meals to richardgsantos@yahoo.com.

The other two articles can be found here...

Enjoy!


3 Some Sample Dishes and Delicacies of Spanish Colonial Texas

Thursday, June 24, 2010

4th of July weekend schedule...

Greetings, Village People!

Just wanted to let you know that we'll be closed for furlough on Friday, July 2nd, due to City of Fort Worth budget cuts. We will, however, be open on Saturday, July 3rd, from 1-5 p.m., and Sunday, July 4th, from 1-5 p.m. As always, we are closed on Mondays.

Have a safe and happy 4th!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reminder...event this Saturday!


Just a reminder...we have our historic Toys and Games event on Saturday! Here are more details:

June 19, 2010

IT’S ALL FUN AND GAMES

1-4 p.m.

Come and play games the way Texans did in the 1800s. We'll have rolling hoops, Jacob’s Ladders, buzz saws, graces, mancala, jacks, and more! You can even make your own toy to take home. No reservations required. Cost is regular Village admission plus a $2 craft fee.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cooking Camp 2010!

Last week we enjoyed the company of seven lovely young ladies as we hosted our annual "Whatcha Got Cooking?" summer camp? In three hours time, these ladies prepared a full meal of roast chicken with herbs, pinto beans, fried potatoes, cornbread, and apple crisp from scratch over a fire pit. They, of course, had a "little" help from our head fire pit chef Fred and historical interpreters Linda and Marcela.

Enjoy these photos!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Uncovering the Past...

One of the greatest benefits of social media is the ability to truly reach out and connect with individuals you might not otherwise have had meaningful contact with. We've enjoyed making "friends" with people from Indiana to Ireland. We've gained new museum colleagues, exchanged ideas with artists and artisans, given and gotten advice, and shared exciting victories and deep sorrows.

Sometimes you encounter a story that really touches you because you've touched someone else. The other day, when we posted a link to a story about the discovery of a rare photograph of slave children on Facebook, Kelly Hunt reached out sharing compelling stories of her own ancestors--a past concealed in prior generations because of prejudice, hatred, lack of opportunity, and fear. Kelly, by all indications a white woman, is partially descended from black slaves.

And so, in her own words, here's Kelly's story about discovering her roots:


I also have a disk with pictures of my Slave Families graves in West Virginia, and some homes they lived in...the land they were deeded.

How this came about- I'll try to be brief and direct and you may quote me or paraphrase; I had my geneology done about 15 years ago by a friend. She mailed me her work, and put a message to call her before I reviewed it. You see, I grew up thinking my family was Caucasian. I made the call and she asked; "Are you sitting down?"... As we reviewed Death Certificates and Census records, she asked me to tell her what I was seeing. The answer was; "Negro, Black, Slaves... over and over". It was a big surprise! To be honest, I was elated- I KNEW deep down that my dark hair, eyes and olive skin had to be from something other than the English/Irish ancestory that I had been told about by my parents and grandparents.

What I didn't realize was- My Maternal Grandfather- Vernon Mayfield, was half black. In the 1920s that was still considered BLACK, as it is today. The *one drop rule* was still in effect, and even though I only carry remnants of my African heritage, I would not have been accepted in White society then, if anyone knew of my family. My Grandfather had VERY dark skin. I often used to ask him about it and he would make jokes. But despite his dark skin, he had very Caucasian features that allowed him to pass himself off as white. He married my White Grandmother, (not legal at that time), and because he taught himself to fly Bi-Planes in the late 20s and early 30s, he landed a job at American Airlines as a pilot. Again, they thought he was white. He would have not been considered for employment by American or any other Airlines as a Pilot had they known. He retired after 35 years from American as a Captain.

I was rather enthusiastic about this discovery and quickly began calling all my Oliver-Mayfield family to tell them about it. We had a holiday gathering shortly thereafter, and I found some of my family as excited about this as I was, and wanted to know all the details. Others...not so much. They really couldn't believe I was talking about this out loud, and a few were in complete denial. Over time I have learned more about racism and its ugly grip on humanity than I ever wanted to know. Until then- racism was something I had vowed as a young girl to never participate in. I grew up in the 60s and 70s when racial tension was again at a peak. I had friends of every color! But to imagine that one day I would be standing in a group of Caucasian peers, only to hear a racist comment or joke was unthinkable, but it happens all the time. They have no idea who they are insulting. Not just me, but generations of my family who had to endure being someone else's property, had no rights, were thought of as second class, and couldn't even vote. They insult my Grandparents who had a tough decision to make- Stay *Black* and endure, or *Pass* and give your children opportunities because society will see them as second-class? The fear they must have faced worrying about someone finding out their secret must have been a constant burden.

But by finding out about Sarah & Bartimus Oliver, and all the details of how and where they lived- I feel like I've liberated them, and all the needless shame that has followed their legacy. I feel like I know them personally.

I'll include pictures and details on finding slave ancestory in an e-mail later this evening.
I've included a picture of my Mother as a girl. (She's with her pet crow) If you look at her arms, you will see the vitiligo that she and I both had as young girls. It is common in people of mixed heritage.


Here is one of the Census Records. I hope it comes through clear enough. It's from 1900 Wetzel County West Virginia. It shows hand written names of my family members. These are Sarah Oliver's son and his family. This is the actual copy of the hand written Census. If you look in the 3rd column, you will see a *B* beside everyones name. This stands for Black.


Census records were often recorded incorrectly. Some people easily passed as white, while others who were perhaps Native American or Jew were put down as Black simply because they didn't have enough catagories. That is why the Emancipation Document was so important. It clarified our history.

I apologize that it's not any better detailed, my scanner is small and won't take a document that large. I took these pics with my camera.

Thank you SO much for your interest!

Here is a great picture of my Grandfather: Vernon H. Mayfield. It was for 25 years of service with American Airlines. You can clearly see his coloring, and that is not a tan:-)



My Grandfather (whom I called affectionatley; "Daddy Slim") was also known as "Slim Mayfield", as he was rather tall, at about 6'2".

Daddy Slim was buried in his American Airlines Captain's uniform. It only seemed fitting.

Noone knew (including his children) of his heritage. He took it to the grave. It was only through rigorous digging into the past, that this was discovered. We had always speculated on his heritage, and he often made jokes that he was perhaps *Mexican* (his own words), or he'd say "I'm just an old Cajun", suggesting some mixed, or french ancestory?

My father (his son-in-law) told me that he once told him a story of seeing an Uncle *Lynched* (again, his wording) as a child and what a horrible thing that was for a child to witness. Now, with all our modern technology, we can piece together the patches of our past like a quilt that tells a story of who our family was, and how we came to be.

I want to encourage people to dig into their own treasure trove of personal history... I want those who are descendants of slaves to live in such a way that validates their families sacrifices, and I also want to do my part to stamp out racism.
I have to say that knowing my history has helped me help others view *color* as something that just makes us unique, not separate. We are all equal.

Like I said- You may condense this as you see fit. I thank you for indulging my story.

You have my permission to use my documents, name and story. I want to help others find their own heritage.

--Kelly Hunt


Thanks to Kelly for sharing her riveting story! In light of Juneteenth this coming weekend, it is especially timely!

If you have a story you'd like to share, let us know!