In 1862, Lucy Medora Walker, a woman from Springfield (Otsego County), New York, kept a diary. In addition to recording her daily events, “Dora” kept a memorandum in the back of her diary that tracked how much of her money she spent. She earned her money by picking hops.
This photograph shows a group of hops pickers in the nineteenth century. They are sitting on a box that holds the hops they picked. Men usually took down the poles on which the hops grew, and women usually picked the flowers from the vine.
Made by Iroquois women, beaded bags were created from scraps of cloth, silk ribbon, thread, and glass beads. Traditional Iroquois patterns were replaced by European designs, such as flowers, in the 1840’s to appeal to customers.
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.
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 was growing on the farm in 1874 and 1875.
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.
Companies that made agricultural equipment often stressed how efficient their machines were. This photograph from a trade catalog demonstrates that by using the company’s milking machine, one woman can do the work of three milkers.
During the nineteenth century, the woman of the household was usually responsible for making cheese and butter. She would set milk out in pans to separate the cream from the milk. The thick cream would rise to the top of the pan, and she would skim it off. The cream was used to make butter.
Milk was a very important resource for a farmer in the nineteenth century. With little meat available, dairy products such as butter and cheese were the best way for people to get protein in their diets. Cows had to be milked twice a day. During the mid-nineteenth century, milking was done entirely by hand. Farmers sat on a stool and milked into a bucket.
From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers that came to the farm to work for a few months at a time. According to the census in 1875, Marshall’s farm had expanded to 126 acres.
Cool and clowdy snowed and rained some with a west wind Webster and Frank husked corn I helped Jennie in the house
Frank finished working for me by the month