Artifact of the Week — March 21, 2024

Pea Huller

Many old stories begin on front porches with Grandma shelling peas. While many people find a tranquil peace as they remove fresh peas from their hulls, acres of pea plants meant hours and hours of labor removing the peas from their cozy pods. To remedy that situation, companies such as Gardner invented clever devices to greatly decrease the time and energy spent shelling.

This Gardner Pea Huller was patented in 1899 and manufactured in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Claud Waller of Velvet Ridge, AR, used this specific pea huller and it was donated to OIRM by Evalene Williams.

Gardner Pea Huller
Gardner Pea Huller

To use the pea huller, whole pods were dumped into the large hopper atop the huller. As the peas passed over a spinning barrel directly beneath, little wooden dowels protruding from the barrel would keep the hulled peas from bunching together. Once separated, the peas would pass through two parallel rollers that would squeeze the hull just enough to force the peas to shoot out into the basket below the rollers, but not enough to injure the peas. Hulls exited on one side of the hopper and the shallow basket of peas slid to the opposite side to be dumped before re-inserting the empty basket.

Gardner Pea Huller
Gardner Pea Huller

OIRM is showcasing this beautiful example of ingenuity in its exhibit in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution called “A Taste of Community”. We thank the Waller and Williams families for donating this outstanding artifact for our exhibit. Come by any time between 9:00 and 5:00 Tuesday through Saturday to gaze admiringly at the Gardner Pea Huller and the remainder of our exhibit. We look forward to seeing you.

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Artifact of the Week — February 29, 2024

Boy Scout troop in the 1963 White River Festival parade

This innocuous picture of a Boy Scout troop marching in the White River Festival parade has a darker context. These young men were segregated from the other Independence County Boy Scout troops.

Boy Scout troop in the 1963 White River Festival parade
Boy Scout troop in the 1963 White River Festival parade

Boy Scouts of America was founded by W. D. Boyce in 1910. When he left the organization, he urged the executive board not to discriminate on the basis of race or creed. The board disagreed, establishing the position that the inclusion of African American youths could be permitted following the same policies of local schools. With Jim Crow, this called for “separate but equal” troops.

Most of the southern states contained “colored troops” for Boy Scouts until almost 1950. Even this was met with disdain, with many southern scout troops promising to leave BSA and burn their uniforms if African American boys were permitted to join. The revolt was quelled by James E. West and the “separate but equal” troops were allowed to wear the Boy Scout uniforms.

This picture was one of many on display for Old Independence Regional Museum’s Black Heritage celebration last Thursday, February 22, 2024. We would like to thank our patrons for supporting this event; our speaker, Dr. Jennifer Wallach, was thrilled with the turnout and the comments she received. We are grateful for Citizens Bank for sponsoring this event.

Dr. Wallach wrote the commentary for a portion of our Smithsonian Institution/Old Independence Regional Museum exhibit, “A Taste of Community”. Come by and see the exhibit; it is here for a limited time and contains hundreds of local artifacts and stories for your enjoyment. We will see you at the museum!

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Artifact of the Week — February 22, 2024

Milk Trough

Modern refrigeration has only been readily available since the 1930s. Before that, milk had a short shelf life unless it was somehow preserved.

The methods used for storing milk vary across the world. In some indigenous tribes, milk was stored in the animal. In other words, the cows were close enough at hand that when milk was needed, the owner would simply milk the amount necessary into a container for immediate use.

Not everyone was within arm’s reach of their milk producing animal, though, and storing milk for later use was essential.

A spring house was a simple wooden (usually) structure built atop a spring. Milk and other items stored in jars would be placed in the cold spring water beneath the structure to keep it temperate throughout the hot summer months.

Many methods utilize porous terra cotta pots. In one, the pot is first submerged in cold water to infuse the porous surface. When the milk, which arrived fresh from the cow at a piping 110°, entered the terra cotta pot, the milk’s temperature decreased rapidly. A cloth rinsed in cold water acted as a top to the pot.

Pot-in-a-pot refrigeration, or zeer, proves helpful in arid regions where humidity levels remain low.  A terra-cotta pot is lined on the inside with wet sand, then a second terra-cotta pot is placed inside it and a wet cloth covers the opening. The inner pot can have a glazed interior to keep anything from penetrating the milk within it.

Old Milk Trough
Old Milk Trough

This milk trough is yet another example of ingenuity if a creek is a distance from the settlement and a spring house is not practical. This stone milk trough has a sizeable hole perfect for inserting a corncob plug. Once it was filled with cool creek water, the milk was placed in terra-cotta pots and covered with wet cloths. Any time the water’s temperature rose, the corncob stopper was removed to drain the water and cooler water was added.

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Artifact of the Week — February 15, 2024

Josephine Raye Rogers

By Twyla Wright

Raye Rogers lived beautifully and graciously for over 101 years. She was a stunning and amazing woman in multiple ways. I first met her when her husband Doyle introduced her to me back in 1995. I was the chairperson of Batesville’s museum planning committee then. That day a news conference had been called. Doyle and Raye, plus the Preston Grace, Sr., family, officially donated their large stone building and its 2 lots to become Batesville’s Old Independence Regional Museum.

Raye Rogers
David Hidy, Hope Spragins, Raye Rogers & Twyla Wright –1999

  Raye was beautifully dressed and coiffed, and she looked directly at me with an amazing kindness. She was sophisticated with a twinkle in her eyes. From that day until just last year when she and I sat together again in the museum, she was committed and proud of this museum.

Back in 1997 she eagerly volunteered to serve on the museum’s “Furnishings Committee.” For months she enthusiastically contributed her ideas, getting ready for the museum opening in 1998. She and Kate Cooke would put their heads together, even traveling out of town to purchase chairs for the program room. They invited me time and again to have lunch with them and we laughed together. I was amazed at how kind she always was to those who served us.

Doyle and Preston contributed a huge amount of money to pay for the museum’s Archival Wing in honor of their wives. Raye would make visits during its construction, and after the room was painted a dark apricot color she said to me, “Oh Twyla, I don’t think this is going to work!” But when I encouraged her to wait and see, she agreed and later hugged me and said “I love this color!” Her magnificent photograph was mounted in the room and continues to be displayed there.

            Raye stayed involved, attending special events held in the museum over the years. She helped cut the ribbon when a large exhibit was opened, and even helped serve our anniversary cake after the museum had been open for a couple of years.

When we wanted to celebrate the museum’s 10th anniversary in a big way, she said, “Let me talk to Governor Mike Beebe and get him to be the speaker.” And she did, and he came! Due to her statewide connections, she made things happen for the museum. She and Doyle contributed hundreds of dollars annually for several years, too.

Her memory, especially of names and events, was phenomenal! And she always made sure to say “I love you” to people who were special to her. An oral history of her life is archived in the museum for anyone to listen to how very special her life was as she ministered to others.

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Artifact of the Week — February 8, 2024

Black Heritage Celebration, February 22

In celebration of Black Heritage Month, Old Independence Regional Museum is hosting a dinner along with an intriguing presentation.

Dinner at the Museum
Dinner at the Museum

The dinner will be specialty meals in the spirit of Rosetta Petty. We cannot truly call them Rosetta’s chicken spaghetti and cinnamon rolls because, as everyone in Batesville of a certain age remembers, nobody cooked like Rosetta.

Our speaker will be Dr. Jennifer Wallach. Dr. Wallach came to our attention as we were diving deep into our “A Taste of Community” exhibit when an article was stumbled upon that captivated us. The writing was magnificent and the story was perfect for the Smithsonian heading: “Slavery in American Agriculture”. Cathy Shonk reached out to Dr. Wallach, and, to our amazement, she responded shortly thereafter not only agreeing to write the paragraph for the Smithsonian/Old Independence Regional Museum exhibit, but also to speak at our Black Heritage Month dinner!

Home Cooking
Home Cooking

Join us in welcoming Dr. Wallach on February 22, 2024. She will speak at 6:30 on the African American influence on cuisine in the United States.

Beforehand, join us at 5:30 for a fine meal of chicken spaghetti with a side salad, cinnamon rolls, and iced tea for the fantastic price of $20.00 apiece. Please call 793-2121 to reserve your seat. We want to fill the museum with folks who fondly remember Rosetta Petty as well as those who enjoy a great southern specialty meal.

Rosetta's Recipe Book
Rosetta’s Recipe Book

Nelson Barnett donated this cookbook compiled by Rosetta’s niece, who admits that while we have the recipes, they just won’t taste the same. Thank you, Nelson! We appreciate this taste of Batesville’s history!

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