Like today, people who had injured their legs or feet used crutches in order to move around. Crutches of the nineteenth century were not as comfortable as today’s and could not be easily adjusted to fit the height of the user. Rags would sometimes be wrapped around the top to try and make it less painful to use.
On October 26th, 1825, the Erie Canal was officially completed. With much pomp and fanfare, Governor Dewitt Clinton made the 10 day journey down the canal, from Buffalo to New York Harbor. At the harbor, Clinton ceremoniously poured Lake Erie water into New York Harbor, officially “Wedding the Waters.”
Some fancy weavers also advanced to the use of Jacquard Looms which became available after 1825, producing the more graphic designs of floral bouquets, birds, animals and text that became very popular in the coverlets they were weaving and personalizing by adding the name of their clients and the year woven in the border corners.
Coverlet, ca. 1844, Wool, Cotton, L: 95.25in x W: 76.5. The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Margaret Carey, N0047.1996.
During the mid-nineteenth century, farmers spent almost every Sunday in church. Many farmers recorded attending church on a weekly basis in their diaries. In 1855, John B. Weeks frequently attended church with family and friends. His diary reveals that the pastor’s sermons were an important part of the service.
Sun 21st Went to Jones Ville Church, Rev Benedict preached from Numbers 32 Chap 6 Verse. We had a verry good discourse the Funeral of Peter H Banta was given out to day 2 o clock at the church. Came home & took a lunch and went back to the Ville to the Funeral Rev Sanford preached from Thes 4 Chap 14th Verse, there were a great many people at the Funeral; Banta left a wife & some young children
Physicians often made house calls to care for their patients. Since many physicians traveled by horseback, these saddlebags allowed doctors to transport their medicines and equipment safely. The saddlebags are made of leather and could be put over the back of a horse or over the doctor’s shoulder.
Most schools in central New York did not issue report cards to students in the mid-nineteenth century. If students performed well in school, learned and recited their lessons properly, and exhibited good behavior, they received merit slips, or Rewards of Merit. The teacher wrote the student’s name on the pre-printed slip and signed it as the student’s reward.
Bandboxes were made from an early form of cardboard. The pieces were sewn together, and the box was covered with wallpaper. Used to hold hats, caps, gloves, scarves and other accessories, as well as small pieces of clothing, they were often used when traveling.
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.
Basket making is a craft that is still practiced today. Baskets are both pretty and useful. These baskets were probably used in daily life for holding food and other goods. They have been decorated with multiple potato-stamped images.