Before the Shakers invented the clothes-peg in the 18th Century, freshly washed laundry was draped on bushes or tree limbs to dry. In 1853 the spring clothespin was invented by David M. Smith of Vermont and it revolutionized wash day. The advantage of Smith’s spring clamp was that it could not “be detached from the clothes by the wind as is the case with the common pin and which is a serious evil to washerwomen.”
The Work of Grief
Martha Carter was born in Warren at the turn of the 19th Century. When she was 23 she married Gustavus Rouse and they had 6 children. From the time she was 32 until her death in 1886 she bore the grief of burying her husband and all of her children save one.
While war always bring great technological change, one innovation of the Civil War affected Martha Rouse directly. When her youngest son, Lucien, succumbed to diphtheria while serving the 19th CT Volunteers in Alexandria, VA his body was embalmed so that he could be returned to his family rather than on the battlefield. Lucien’s gravestone in the Old Warren Cemetery really does mark his final resting place.
The inscription on Martha’s only monument reads: “She hath done what she could.”
The theme for the Warren Historical Society for 2019 is Made by Hand. We’re exploring skills which every 18th and 19th Century resident of Warren would have had at their command.
Thanks to our generous donors, especially at our most recent GiveLocal campaign, we were able to bring Joe Brien from Lost Art Workshops in West Cornwall to the Warren School to practice some woodworking skills.
The Warren Historical Society is eagerly seeking issues of The Warren Observer. At present we have but 2 copies in our collection. These were an eagerly anticipated weekly publication and contain many items of local historical interest. If you have some but don’t want to donate them, no problem. We’d be thrilled if you would allow us to scan them.
Mary Wadsworth Carter 1815 – 1893
By mid-century, Mary Wadsworth Carter had been married to Edmund Swift for nine years and they had two daughters. Although being a Carter and married to a Swift, Mary would have enjoyed a higher standard of living that most of her contemporaries, these pair of shoes which she wore at her wedding show that they had not been worn for just one occasion.
Made of fine tan kid leather with a square toe which became fashionable in the late 1820’s, the shoes were made with a straight last without right or left definition and no heel. Heels had fallen from use after the French Revolution. Heelless-ness obviously made the political statement that all people were created equal.
Clarissa Bassett was born in Litchfield in 1801, the daughter of Nathan Bassett and Mehitibel Buel. When she was 28 she married George Pomeroy Tallmadge, the son of John Tallmadge who owned the Warren General Store.
As the wife of a prominent Warren businessman, farmer, postmaster and even legislator, Clarissa had a young woman in service to the household. Nancy Cable was a free person of color who lived with and worked for the Tallmadges. It would have been Nancy who would have churned the butter and used a wooden butter mold such as this.
The theme for the Warren Historical Society for 2019 is Made by Hand in homage to the skills mastered by early Warren residents. Over the next few weeks, and maybe even months, our blog posts will be devoted to the work of women. Each week the life’s work of one woman from Warren will be highlighted.
Rhoda Payne Strong, the first child of European ancestry to be born in Warren, will be introduced first.
Rhoda was born in September of 1739 to Stephen Payne and Sarah Leach. She married Philip Strong at the age of 20 and together they produced a family of 15 children. To say her days were full is an understatement.
Aside from caring for her 15 children, tending the kitchen garden, making and repairing clothes for the household including spinning, weaving, knitting and dyeing, laundering which included fetching water, making soap, boiling the wash and then drying it, cooking, baking, preserving, tending the ill including preparing medications, Rhoda Payne, as a Puritan woman, would have been expected to devote herself to spiritual concerns. She learned to read as a girl so that she could read the Bible. This is a book of sermons which she purchased in November 1796.
The deadline for applying for the 2019 Warren Historical Society Scholarship is May 1. Information and scholarship forms can be found on the WHS websitehttp://warrencthistoricalsociety.org/our-events/scholarship-information/
Barbara Ann and David Cook graciously donated a set of sled runners and an antique timber saw to the Warren Historical Society. You might remember them as our “What’s It?” at the Fall Festival.
We were and are delighted to have them but were somewhat perplexed as to how to store them.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the creativity of Mark Peterson, they now have a secure home in our vault
The Warren Historical Society’s theme for 2019 is Made by Hand. Yesterday Joseph Jude Brien led a hands-on-demonstration of fire making, wood working and other daily skills employed by early Warren residents.
All of the letters which were featured in these postings can be found in our collection along with others.
We are particularly grateful to the Gunn Historical Museum who kindly lent us the beautiful 19th Century portable writing desk and a glass inkwell with quill. Please stop by our display in the Town Hall lobby to see examples of these implements used by 19th Century letter writers as well as facsimiles of our featured letters.
Do you have a letter or series of letters which highlights a period of Warren’s history? We would love to see them. With our new oversized flatbed scanner we can capture images of the originals without endangering them.
Edward Brownson Hawley, carpenter for the railroad, later a minister and also somewhat of a bounty hunter
4 Jul 1833 – 1903
Sometimes letters were just news.Edward Hawley did not live in Warren, but evidently visited the General Store often enough to have developed a friendship with Talmadge Swift, the proprietor
Civil War Veteran, Lucien Rouse
Sometimes a much-anticipated letter brought very sad news.
Nineteen year old Lucien Rouse had enlisted in the 19th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers on August 4, 1862 and had been sent to Virginia to safeguard Washington, DC. In early December he had written to thank his parents for a “care” package they had sent with goodies, but by early the next month they had been advised that he was gravely ill and not expected to recover. This letter written by the sergeant in his regiment informs his family of his death on January 8, 1863 in the Regimental Hospital, Alexandria, VA due to diphtheria.
The Lucien Rouse letters are a new addition to the Warren Historical Society’s collection and are a poignant glimpse into the effects of the Civil War on the homefront.
Dilly Curtiss’ letter from 1814 was found among papers collected by the first Warren Historical Society from the Warren Congregational Church. It would have arrived during the pastorate of Peter Starr. We have only the one letter but Mrs. Curtiss appears to have been excommunicated, a state to which she is objecting to in the strongest possible terms and which may have been in effect for five years.
Dilly or Della was born December 27th, 1770, in Warren, the daughter of Joseph and Dolly [Owens] Peters who had a lease in the College Farms. On November 24th, 1788, she married Milton Curtiss. She and her husband are buried in the Old Warren Cemetery although their monuments do not remain.
Flora Skiff Sackett
Flora Skiff was born 23 Apr 1808 in Sharon. She married Homer Sackett on December 1, 1827. Before marrying, Flora Skiff lived in the Ellsworth section of Sharon with her parents, Asa and Susanna Skiff.
After their marriage, the couple lived on Sackett Hill Rd. in Warren.
Polly Woodward, a teacher, was Flora’s cousin.
The collection of her incoming and outgoing correspondence was acquired by the Warren Historical Society in 2010 as part of the Augustine Sackett Family Papers.
The Lost Art of Letter Writing
Before email, messaging and posting to social media there were letters. At one time, a letter was the only way to bridge the gap between individuals, forge bonds, and express thoughts. Their history goes back thousands of years and letters are considered a primary source when looking at a particular period in history.
In the next few weeks we will feature letters found in our archival collection and provide glimpses into the lives and times of the letter writers.
Can’t wait? Visit our display case in the lobby of Town Hall for our exhibit on letters and those who wrote them.
Author and historian Marty Podskoch visited Warren yesterday afternoon to invite audience members to join the Connecticut 169 Club and visit points and people of interest all through the Nutmeg State. Audience members enhanced the conversation by sharing their own favorite places in Warren.