Our Homestead History {Part 1}

Michael

We love history, really! Samaree and I both love reading about it, I’m particular to the pioneer times but we both love learning about our past in general. I’ve always been fascinated with how agriculture worked in the past, how food was prepared, the recipes involved, the animals everyone owned and just the day to day work. Today we really take for granted how easy we have everything compared to our ancestors. In fact, when we moved into our first house (rented) I bought a reel push mower, I used it for a year before I bought an electric one. Before I’ve gone out and bought the tool to make things easier, I’ve often done it the old fashioned way first, to really appreciate the past and the present. I guess it’s just my way of trying to pay respects to the old ways, I guess I’m just crazy like that. :)

When we set out to buy our first home, we wanted something with age, with character, something that had a history. And so here we are, going into our fourth year living in a home built in 1890. If you walked inside you’d never know it, unless you really took some time to get to know the house, inside and outside. And in this first part, I’m going to share with you just a few of the items I’ve found in both.

One of the first items I found was a half of this cast iron donkey when I first started tilling up the backyard. I got really excited because it reminded me of the cast iron banks that I used to find metal detecting. Shortly after finding the first half I found the other not too far away and had the first piece of a puzzle that is the history of our home. From what I’ve gathered this donkey was a common toy that would lead a wagon of some sort. It’s pretty rusted out and I’ve cleaned it to the best of my ability, so now it resides inside with my ever growing collection that I’ll one day put on display, appropriately.

I currently have around 3 large buckets full of broken glass I’ve found outside, ranging from milk glass, old pop bottles, ball jars, you name it I have it. I’ve sat down a few times and put some things together but I still need more to make anything of significance. I have only found four glass items that were not broken, a small medicine bottle, two perfume toppers and what looks like a drawer handle. The craftsmanship of these few items is quite remarkable, we don’t make anything like this nowadays unless you’re willing to pay a premium. These were just common items back then, it’s a strange juxtaposition.

Last year I found a 1930’s Princess Pat Cosmetic Makeup Early Art Deco Moderne Design Compact, I really couldn’t make sense of this item when I dug it up. It took a lot of cleaning to just read Princess Pat on the front, afterward I sent a picture to Samaree which she shared with a co-worker. And after some digging, her co-worker found out what it was! I really enjoyed reading the history of Princess Pat, which I’ve linked if you’d like to read about it too.

In the crawlspace under our laundry room, I found what I can only describe as a cigarette case, or perhaps a makeup case. I’m really unsure, to be honest. It’s the only thing I’ve found under there, so far. It’s a weird space, where there’s a giant hole that goes down farther than I can see that’s covered with a stone slab. I’ve assumed it’s the original well of the house? Was that commonplace to be very close to the home? Or even inside the home? It’s something I still need to research about the era as I’m unfamiliar with the wells of that time period.

When we built our big greenhouse I hadn’t dug up the grass yet, we just set it up where I wanted it to permanently be. Afterward, I slowly began removing the sod and repositioning the greenhouse so I could put the 2ft anchors in. While doing so I found this 1929 Chauffeur License, which it turns out is the first year Indiana had a State Drivers License Law and Driving Examination! Chauffeur licenses went all the way back to 1913 in Indiana, and although they’re not worth too much, I find it a pretty unique piece of history.

And last, but certainly not least is this bread token I found just this winter out by the chicken coop. It reads Heinzmann & Teuscher Good For 5¢ Loaf Bread, you can get a really good look at one here. And again, I’m having a hard time finding a concrete answer to what this is specifically. But from my own reading and knowledge of history, I believe it’s a ration token. This is actually very fitting as our neighbor’s house was the very first grocery store in our little community.

So there is just a small sampling of the rich history that has gone on throughout the years on our homestead. I have a lot more to share as we continually do research through our local library, our neighbor’s and what we actually dig up! If you any more information on the items I’ve pictured we’d love to hear from you, so please leave comments, and stay tuned for more homestead history!

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