It was field trip day at the virtual school! We actually get out of our cubicles, go someplace fun, and meet some of our students and families. This was a field trip to an old homestead in Plymouth, Wisconsin, called the Wade House.
We climbed many stairs to the third floor, a large common room surrounded by small bedrooms containing only the basics: bed, chair, dresser, and a few necessaries. Necessaries? Pitcher, bowl, and chamber pot, of course. The common room sported two small stoves for heating, one on each end, and a piano for entertainment and enjoyment.
We came down one flight of stairs and once again I noticed stoves installed in several rooms, including one set up like a nursery. I thought this was a sign of wealth. After all, these stoves had to be shipped to the small town, carried up stairs, connected to a chimney, and then fueled by coal or wood. The tour guide said no, the stoves were actually quite typical of the time. The Wade family was middle class, maybe upper middle class.
I’m still skeptical. This requires more research.
I came in armed with information from my family tree. A Hattie Wade, born in Kansas City in 1844, married into my family. Her husband was my mother’s great grandfather. Got it? Good. Tour guides, again, did not know of any Hattie, and assured me that in while the family of 10 children had arrived in this part of Wisconsin in 1850, most of their relatives were still out East in Pennsylvania.
I took their information at face value, but didn’t take it as fact. At least one of the Wade daughters was Ellen, a name that turns up in several generations of my line. This piece also needs more research.
As we left the kitchen, with its indoor well and large cast iron stove, I spotted herbs drying. At that moment, I felt right at home.