Artifact of the Week — September 28, 2023

Kitchen Stove

Old Independence Regional Museum recently hosted the Daughters of the American Revolution at the museum in honor of Constitution Day on September 17. One of the DAR members, Ms. Deanna Brown, was reminiscing about her family home and mentioned a stove. Because we are looking for kitchen appliances from the 1940s or before, I inquired further. Ms. Brown said she would be happy to loan us her mother’s old stove, and gave the following history of the appliance. We plan on featuring a 1940s kitchen in the shared exhibit between the Smithsonian Institution and OIRM entitled “A Taste of Community”. Below is her mother’s history.

 [S]he lived in Fourche Valley (Yell County, AR)…growing up. I expect many families in this area that didn’t live “in town” used similar stoves, and most likely had similar stories.  Living away from the city, they didn’t have many of the modern conveniences that those in town had… but they didn’t know any different as no one in “the valley” had them.  Russellville, AR, was their “big city”.  Below are some of her memories of the stove and life growing up during that timeframe in the rural hills of Arkansas.

Old Kitchen Stove
Old Kitchen Stove

She thinks they got the stove sometime in the mid-40s.  She was born in 1939 (number five of six kids) and was in first or second grade when they got it. 

She’s pretty sure they bought it through the Sears and Roebuck catalog… That’s where almost everything they had that wasn’t grown or made in “the valley” came from.  She remembered how excited the family was when they got it.  Their previous stove was a cast iron pot belly.  This one, although still wood burning, was “fancy” because it had a reservoir to heat water that they used for many purposes and had multiple places on the cook top for pots.  Mom and her sisters helped their mother cook.  Most everything they made was home grown.  They ground their own corn to make cornmeal for cornbread.  Soup beans and cornbread with salt pork was a staple they ate quite frequently.  Almost every morning, my grandmother would make homemade biscuits / rolls and they would have eggs from their hens.  They thought it was a great treat when they were able to buy “store bought bread”… I can remember the smell of my grandmother’s homemade bread as she continued her tradition until she died.   How could they think store bought bread was better?  They canned and preserved vegetables grown in the garden, had a root cellar to store potatoes and other root stock.  They had a smokehouse to preserve meat that my uncles or grandfather killed or when they killed hogs in the winter.  Pork was preserved by salting and smoking.  They almost never ate beef as the cows that they raised were their primary source of income- sold to go to people who lived in the cities. 

The stove was one of the primary methods of heating the house as well as cooking.  They had a fireplace in the living room, but the stove put out much more heat.  Mom remembers spending lots of time in the kitchen trying to get warm in the winter as they didn’t have insulation. 

The stove was also used to heat up water for their bath water.  They drew their water from a well.  In the winter, they would fill up a wash tub in the kitchen and heat the water on the stove to get it warm.  My grandfather and the boys would go out on the porch (or somewhere) while my Mom, her sisters and mother bathed then the girls would leave for the guys to bathe.  There were 3 boys, 3 girls and my grandparents.  They didn’t get running water until Mom was a junior or senior in high school. 

Thank you, Deanna, for sharing your family’s story with us! We look forward to displaying your stove in our upcoming exhibit. If you have a 1940s refrigerator or icebox, please contact OIRM at 793-2121. We would love to borrow them for two years while we are showcasing this exhibit. Also, if you have any items pertaining to restaurants – menus, pictures, tables, chairs, signs, et cetera, please let us know. The goal of this exhibit is to incorporate as much material from our area as possible; this is YOUR exhibit.

Categories: Activities at OIRM, Artifact of the Week, Museum Information | Leave a comment

Artifact of the Week — September 21, 2023

White House Cook Book

Want to cook like a renowned chef? This tome is loaded with more than recipes; in fact, the inside cover page lists its subheading as “cooking, toilet and household recipes, menus, dinner-giving, table etiquette, care of the sick, health suggestions, facts worth knowing, etc., etc., the whole comprising A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home”. If that title doesn’t reach out and grab you, you are probably lost in the kitchen.

The authors are not your typical food critics. Hugo Ziemann cut his teeth as the caterer for Prince Napoleon, steward of Hotel Splendide in Paris, the Brunswick Café in New York, and the Hotel Richelieu in Chicago. The latter is where he feted the Republican Convention in June 1888.

Mrs. F. L. Gillette is co-author and lays claim to physically trying the recipes within the book, bringing the far-reaching talents of Mr. Ziemann down to the level of the American dinner table.

Along with cooking and serving techniques specific to a traditional home, the White House Cook Book peeks behind the façade to portray hospitality at the dinner table, menus from special occasions, and portraits of the First Ladies, to whom the book is dedicated. One of the first full-page picture is of Frances Folsum Cleveland, President Cleveland’s wife. Below her picture is printed “The Bride of the White House”.

White House Cookbook
White House Cookbook

This 1887 edition is specifically designed for kitchen use, with an enameled cloth cover to repel spills, a flexible spine to keep the pages open when it is opened on a countertop, and large print to easily read. Many pages contain pictures or illustrations to heighten understanding.

We are highlighting this artifact in conjunction with our upcoming shared Smithsonian Institution exhibit entitled “A Taste of Community”. We are planning on showcasing this book along with many other examples of food- and cuisine-related items from our local area. This artifact was donated by Lorene Lunsford, whom we thank for her conscientious saving of such a treasured book. If you would like to participate by donating or lending any items, please contact Old Independence Regional Museum at 793-2121.

Categories: Artifact of the Week, items in our collections | Leave a comment

Artifact of the Week — September 14, 2023

Poor Farm Cemetery

In 1851, an Arkansas law for “indoor relief” for the poor was enacted. This was the basis for the Poor Farm in Independence County. With access to 120 acres of land purchased by Independence County along with an 18’ x 20’ log cabin constructed for $143.75, the idea became a reality and many of society’s “castaways” – the poor, orphaned, sickly, or otherwise incapacitated individuals living in Independence County moved mostly from the streets into a solid structure they could call home.

Occasionally one of these residents would pass due to poor health, and they were subsequently buried on the grounds. This is where Linda Hidy enters the picture.

Linda and her mother frequently drove along the Moorefield Cutoff, and Linda’s mother would vaguely point to an area and remark how her mother and brother were buried there. Thus began a lengthy journey when Linda and her daughter researched any available information to pinpoint the geographical area of the Poor Farm Cemetery. Records from 1855 indicate “…part of the Southwest Quarter and part of the Southeast Quarter, Section Seven, Township Thirteen North, Range Five West, lying south of Crooked Creek…” as the location of the poor farm and cemetery.

Dr. Julie Morrow, Station Director for the Arkansas Archeological Survey, obtained a record of the Poor Farm cemetery with information on three graves and their inhabitants. It was noted that several additional graves might also be present as evidenced by areas of ground indentation. Using ground penetrating radar (GPR), Dr. Morrow and her team located a total of five graves.

Independence County Chronicle with GPR article Poor Farm Cemetery
Independence County Chronicle with GPR article Poor Farm Cemetery

Although archeologists are notorious for digging, this method is not always necessary to find the truth about a site. In this instance and many others, GPR locates areas deep within the earth without disturbing sites that need not be dug.

Because of Linda’s dogged research, we are five souls richer. It took five years for Linda and her daughter the ability to physically map the location of the cemetery’s grounds, and we are the richer for it.

Read this exciting story and more in the January 2023 edition of The Independence County Chronicle, for sale at the museum’s gift shop.

Categories: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Artifact of the Week — September 14, 2023

Artifact of the Week — September 7, 2023

Louis “Moondog” Hardin, Jr.

Sometimes these articles write themselves.

Our curator, Alan Bufford, was researching last week when he stumbled upon an odd article about a local man who was renowned as a street musician in New York nearly 50 years ago. How did Alan inadvertently discover Moondog? He was researching Moondog’s father, Louis Hardin, Sr., who was a Presbyterian Reverend at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Batesville.

Information on Louis Hardin, "MoonDog's" fathe
Information on Louis Hardin, “MoonDog’s” fathe

Alan photocopied the article and gave it to Laura Reed, the pulse of OIRM. Steve Massey, our IT guru, noticed the article on Laura’s desk and exclaimed, “I have information on Moondog!” He brought back two articles pertaining to this minor celebrity, one replete with his uncle’s handwriting. Apparently Steve’s Uncle Conway attended Arkansas College with Moondog, and when Conway was vacationing in New York, he met with Moondog on the corner of 54th and Avenue of the Americas performing original (quite original, according to many sources) music on his hand-crafted instruments.

Moondog was born Louis Hardin, Jr., in 1917. At the age of 16 he was blinded in an accident and attended school for the visually impaired, where he first encountered the joys of music. After several years of school studying music and learning Braille, he packed his bags and headed for New York to make his fortune. His goal: live in a castle. In castle-free New York City, this amounted to sleeping on rooftops where it might have been cold – especially in the chilling New York wintertime – but the price was right.

Much like his change of name, Moondog was original. He wore a cap of chainmail and animal horns resembling Viking headgear, clothes made of squares of multicolored material, and shoes of folded newspapers twined across the top.

Street Musician "Moon Dog"
Street Musician “Moon Dog

For the most part, the crowds of New York either appreciated him or ridiculed him. Moondog had a thick skin, but he finally left New York for West Germany in 1974 to perform in a radio concert in Frankfurt. In West Germany he met Ilona Goebel, who became his muse and life assistant. In 1990 Moondog was hunted down to perform at the New Music America Festival in New York. This brought acclaim to his thousands of works, and he had admirers such as Charlie Parker, Leonard Bernstein, Toscanini, and Allen Ginsberg. Janis Joplin recorded one of his songs, and Columbia released two of his jazz albums in 1969 and 1971. He truly enjoyed the acclaim, stating, “I have love, people who appreciate me and I don’t have to live on rooftops anymore. As far as I am concerned, I have arrived.”

If we had as many rabbits as rabbit holes at Old Independence Regional Museum, we would surely open a pet shop. Thank you to Alan, Laura, and Steve for making this week’s researching so enticing!

Categories: Artifact of the Week, items in our collections | Comments Off on Artifact of the Week — September 7, 2023

Artifact of the Week — August 31, 2023

Bowling for Food

Gay King arrived last week with several mementos from her father’s, Mr. C. T. Bennet’s, collection. From his earliest childhood christening gown to his foot locker filled with dress uniforms, Mr. Bennet’s life is spelled out in his clothing.

This particular artifact is a bowling shirt made of fine Egyptian cotton. The black collar and piping on the sleeves and breast pocket accent the striking white shirt. Embroidered over the breast pocket is “Bennet” in cursive.

Front side of bowling shirt
Front side of bowling shirt

The reverse of the bowling shirt is spectacular. Bold black stripes peek out beneath stitching on either side, and the bowling team sponsor’s name is emblazoned across the back:

Serving You Good Foods

Our Specialty

Lesters Café

153 Broad St.

Back side of bowling shirt
Back side of bowling shirt

While Lesters Café proved to be a short-lived enterprise, the button-down bowling shirt is in impeccable shape and is destined to appear in the exhibit OIRM and the Smithsonian Institution are presenting called “A Taste of Community”. This exhibit will begin January 2024 and concludes 18 months later in July 2025. Come visit the exhibit and see how your community relates to food!

We are looking for great artifacts such as this shirt to display during the exhibit. If you have anything from the size of a matchbook to a 1940s stove, we would love to borrow it for a few years. We are accepting pictures and stories as well, and we can scan the pictures while you wait so you can take them back home. Our goal is to have as many voices as possible present in this exhibit – it truly is YOUR exhibit!

Categories: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Artifact of the Week — August 31, 2023