Primary Sources Database
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Village Post Office
The general store not only sold food and household goods, but also acted as a post office, a source of news, and a meeting place. Men would play checkers and discuss the news, while other customers purchased what they needed. This painting shows the variety of things available and the variety of people that frequented … Continue reading Village Post Office
Balance Scale
A trip to the general store was not an everyday event and because of this, goods were sold in bulk by weight. A farmer might purchase a few months worth of a particular item. Products at the general store were not individually packaged like they are today. The storekeeper would use scales to weigh out … Continue reading Balance Scale
Politicians in a Country Bar
Taverns were meeting places for the men of the village. They would discuss local politics, as well as find out about news from afar through travelers and the newspaper. The tavern was often filled with conversation and sometimes, heated arguments.
Plate
Plates were regularly used in all households in the nineteenth century for serving food. This particular plate is made of porcelain from China and was a popular style during Jonas More’s lifetime. It would have been available to middle-class and wealthy people.
Letter from Hinds & Allen, Hops Dealers
During the mid to late nineteenth century, hops were a major cash crop for New York State, especially central New York. Often farmers who sold hops sold them to hops dealers, who then sold them to brewing companies for beer or other customers. Hinds & Allen were hops dealers from Cooperstown, New York, who sold … Continue reading Letter from Hinds & Allen, Hops Dealers
Down Spout
Down spouts are used for collecting water from the roof and draining it down and away from the house. The average farm family’s house would not have had well decorated down spouts such as this one, if it had them at all.
Door and Fanlight Decoration
Unlike the doors on the Lippitt Farmhouse that are plainly painted, the door on the More House is brightly painted. The half circle painted above the door, meant to look like a fancy fanlight window, would have been a very expensive addition to a home in the early nineteenth century.
Daboll’s Schoolmaster’s Assistant
Families expected their children to receive a practical education in school during the mid-nineteenth century. School lessons focused on what students would need to know to successfully practice a trade or run a farm. This arithmetic book teaches students basic math, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It also includes lessons on how to count money, … Continue reading Daboll’s Schoolmaster’s Assistant
Cobb’s New Juvenile Reader
During school, pupils practiced reading from books called readers. Readers often contained short stories to read and recite. Spelling and vocabulary words, as well as questions to answer about the story, often followed a reading. Many of the stories in readers reflected the lives that students led. One of the lessons in Cobb’s New Juvenile Reader … Continue reading Cobb’s New Juvenile Reader
Advertisement for Deck Boat Service
Farmers could learn about transportation services, including boat transportation on canals and rivers, from advertisements placed in magazines, journals, or in this case, the city directory.
1875 Census — Wedderspoon Family
James Wedderspoon was an influential farmer in Otsego County, New York, in the late nineteenth century. His family farm was located near Cooperstown. The Wedderspoon farm grew hops, which was a major cash crop for New York State at that time. The 1875 New York State census shows what the Wedderspoon farm was worth and what … Continue reading 1875 Census — Wedderspoon Family
Advertisement for Dr. Thrall’s Pharmacy
Pharmacists often advertised their services in local newspapers. Freeborn G. Thrall advertised his shop in the Freeman’s Journal in Cooperstown, New York. Like many other pharmacists at the time, and like today, Thrall carried a variety of goods in addition to prescription medications.
Methodist Harmonist
The Methodist Harmonist contained the music for many of the hymns of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Harmonist shows how important music was within the church. The book not only includes the melody for each hymn, but provides harmony parts for every song. Hymnals, although important to the worship service, did not provide musical notation.
Hymnal
Music has always been an important part of the Methodist church service. During the mid-nineteenth century, people brought their own hymnals to church with them. Hymnals were often small enough to fit inside a pocket but were very expensive books. Because of their expense and important place in the church service, people often gave and … Continue reading Hymnal
Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America
The Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America, was first published in 1820, in both Latin and English. The Pharmacopoeia listed chemicals, metals, plants, and other ingredients for medicinal use. It provided recipes for mixing medicines and became the national standard in pharmaceuticals. The Pharmacopoeia underwent many revisions throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary contain standards … Continue reading Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America
Gathering Basket
Baskets like this one were often used to gather and transport small items like eggs, peas, and beans. Children were often give the chores of collecting eggs and picking vegetables in the garden. This basket is made of thin pieces of wood, called splints, which have been woven together.
Poultry Book
A Practical Treatise on Breeding, Rearing, and Fattening All Kinds of Domestic Poultry, by Bonington Moubray, esq. (John Lawrence). 8th Edition. London: Printed for Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1842. Throughout the nineteenth century, many different guides were published for farmers about new methods of raising animals and crops. This one, printed in 1842, focuses on … Continue reading Poultry Book
Rates of Toll Broadside
In the early nineteenth century, turnpikes, also known as toll roads, crossed New York State. These roads were much different than modern paved highways. They were little more than dirt roads. These roads gave farmers a route to bring their goods to market. Farmers, and other travelers, had to pay a toll to travel on the … Continue reading Rates of Toll Broadside
Sheep Shears
Sheep were often raised for their wool. In order to get the wool from the sheep, the farmer uses shears like these to carefully cut the wool fleece away from the sheep’s skin. The wool can then be washed, carded, and spun into yarn.
Sunbonnet
In the nineteenth century, farm families spent much of their time outdoors taking care of their animals and crops. To prevent sunburn, many women wore sunbonnets, like this one, to protect their skin. It is made of cotton and is entirely hand stitched.
Western View of Poughkeepsie, New York
The taverns that were visited most frequently were those that were near a major intersection on land or on water. Steamboat travel up and down the rivers, including the Hudson River, was important to the waterfront businesses. Barge transportation brought many people through central New York during the mid-nineteenth century.
Sleigh
Winter allowed farmers time to travel and socialize. The first stop of many village sleigh rides was often the tavern. People would fill themselves with mulled cider for warmth and eat a deliciously tasty meal.
Hops Picker Tickets
After the hops pickers harvested the hops into hop boxes, the farmer paid them with tickets. Each ticket represented the number of boxes the worker picked. These tickets are from the Wedderspoon farm near Cooperstown, NY.
Threshing Grain
Threshing is the process used to separate the chaff, the protective covering around the grain, and the kernel of grain used for food, from a plant’s stalk. Farmers used flails to remove the chaff and grain from the stalk and to crack open the chaff. 
Reaping – Eighteenth Century
This image from Benjamin Butterworth’s The Growth of Industrial Art, depicts reaping grain during the colonial period. Reaping had to be done by hand, using a scythe or hay knife to cut the grain. Notice that the whole family helps with the field work.
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