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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going Back to 19th Century Wisconsin Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of my visit (in May) to Old World Wisconsin.

If you missed the first post, which also explains just exactly what Old World Wisconsin is, I suggest you click HERE.



Sorry for the looooong delay in posting the second half.....I have been incredibly busy!

I had left off showing some pictures from Sanford House and Loomer Barn. Here is a picture of some of the fences that abound in the "village", with a picture of the boarding house/inn, Four Mile Inn, in the background.

Here is the family sitting room in Sanford House. This farmhouse was built in the 1860s and though the Sanfords were farmers, they were actually quite well-to-do. Attractive furnishings and  lovely patterned carpeting are shown here.

Sanford House has quite a large " butler's pantry", with plenty of shelves for the family's dishes, glassware, serveware, prep bowls and crocks, as well as silver pieces, and enough room for storing plenty of dry goods and even a bath tub for bathing!


A pantry could be large or small, elegant or utilitarian. Some wealthy homes would have a locked silver safe in the butler's pantry to keep the good silver in. Those types of homes probably had an actual butler that oversaw the pantry and it's contents. Some pantries just had open shelving, like this, or they might have glass doors. Some would have a dry sink, or perhaps counter space and a pass-through to a dining room, for food to be served from. People who were not wealthy often did not have a butler or stewards, but many 19th century homes, even middle class homes, had one or two domestic servants, often employed as kitchen help. Perhaps a cook and a scullery maid would make up the kitchen staff in an average home.


After we left the Crossroads Village, we arrived in the "German Area". Here we visited the Koepsell Farm, c.1880. Just outside the farmhouse, we could view their vegetable garden (and outhouse!). Typical of most 19th century farms, they also had an herb garden. A kitchen garden or herb garden was popular even for urban homes in the 19th century.


Surrounding the Koepsell farmhouse were some apple orchards, enclosed in these curious fences.


Inside the Koepsell farmhouse we viewed the family sitting room. Note the patterned portieres over the doorway at the right-hand wall, next to the desk. Portieres were commonly used in the 19th century over a doorless entry to a room, but were also sometimes placed in front of actual doors. They were often used merely as decoration, but sometimes they were used as a way to mitigate drafts as well. They also were a useful and attractive way to screen private rooms (such as bedrooms or family sitting rooms) from the view of public rooms ( rooms that were used for entertaining guests).


This bedroom demonstrates some of the typical furnishings that might be found in a 19th century bedroom. A bed with a feather mattress and small table with a chamber pot. A wardrobe, or clothes-press, for storing clothing. In the foreground you can see a basin and pitcher on a washstand.

The Koepsells had a number of boys and this was the bedrooms that the boys slept in. It also appears that laundry was done in this room, as evidenced by the drying rack and washboard in the foreground. Most people, when viewing 19th century beds, note that the beds appear to be very short and often wonder if people were shorter back then. This is not actually the case; beds were shorter because for most of the 19th century, people believed that it was healthier to sleep  in an almost upright position. It was thought this was better for breathing and for the lungs.

Stepping into the kitchen of the farmhouse, once again I am struck by how different kitchens were then, as compared to how they look now.  Most kitchens had no built-in cabinetry or long gleaming countertops like today. Free-standing tables and cabinets and shelves were used to store bowls and utensils used for prepping and cooking food. Clean towels were laid over prepared food or bread dough set out to rise to protect from flies and dirt, and cheesecloth, secured with twine or string, was tied snugly over the tops of large stoneware crocks that contained butter or lard.


Just opposite the big stove is a work table for preparing food. On the day we were visiting, the rhubarb in all the gardens was ready and in all the homes where 19th-century-costumed volunteers were working, they were all preparing rhubarb pie.  Note the bucket underneath the work table with kindling sticks for the stove, and also a large enamelware coffee pot. Even though this is a farmhouse and is probably a little more rustic and plain, even in regular urban homes kitchens weren't much different than this. This farmhouse was built in 1880, only a few years before our house was built. I imagine that our kitchen might have looked similar to these here in Old World Wisconsin.


Just behind the farmhouse were a number of barns and buildings and sheds. Here we found two of the number of draft horses that live and work at Old World Wisconsin. These are Percherons; they are a very large, well-muscled French breed of draft horse, and are known for their intelligence and willingness to work. They are the most populous of draft breeds and were used extensively throughout the 19th century in both America and Europe. Popular with farmers, they were also extensively used in large cities to pull carriages, buses, stagecoaches, used in forestry, in circuses and railways. Originally bred to be war horses, they eventually began to be used in agriculture and hauling heavy loads and began to be imported to the U.S. in the 1850s, with the largest number imported in the 1870s and 1880s. My mother's father, who had a farm for many years, used Percherons on his farm as well, even into the 1960s.




Just down the road from the Koepsell farm, is the Schulz Farm. This farmhouse had a very lovely front garden (literally, a garden) with this fanciful fence made of branches.

The garden was laid out in this grid-like pattern, with square beds, which seems sort of like "square-foot gardening". It was a very warm, dry day, so one of the ladies of the Schulz house was out watering.

Adjacent to the Schulz farmhouse, a pair of oxen came over to the fence to take a look at us.

One of the oxen says hello to Erik. Like all the other farm animals at Old World Wisconsin, these oxen are a working team and are used for farming here.


Today they had a day off, as there was no plowing to do, I guess. It was a nice Sunday in the pasture, grazing on the new grass.


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my little jaunt into Wisconsin in the 19th Century!!!
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1 comment:

GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Katie! Oh how I love seeing the interiors of old houses. I like to get decorating ideas from them for my house. Thanks for showing us more. Have a great week!