Harvesting Wheat at Henry Ford

During the 19th century in the Midwest being a successful farmer meant that you had a successful wheat farm. Every place Charles Ingalls established a farm he was growing wheat.

Wheat
Wheat

In Little House in the Big Woods they describe harvesting wheat with a cradle (a scythe with wooden spokes to catch the wheat as it was cut), but both Pa and Father Wilder were interested in new technology so they go the new equipment as they could afford as it came out. This is harvesting with a reaper.

Man Reaping with a Cradle
Cyrus Hall McCormick: Reaper Man Illinois Periodicals Online – Northern Illinois University448 × 324Search by image This farmer is using a cradle to cut wheat. Until the advent of the reaper, harvesting wheat was done by hand with implements like the one shown here. Linked

Wheat Today and Yesterday

In old photos you often see wheat in shocks. In order to build a good shock you need taller wheat than is commonly grown today. As there is less need for straw the stem is waste and takes extra nutrients and water to grow so wheat has been bred to be shorter.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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October 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

October is a slower month, but there is still events going on.

Sarah on Ingalls Homestead
Sarah on Ingalls Homestead

Burr Oak IA

Find out more about their events.

Fall Fest and Used Book Sale October 10, 2016 – 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Vinton IA

Dedication of Cemetery Marker for Blind School Students – Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at Evergreen Cemetery, 1002 E 10th Street, Lot 31, Vinton, Iowa.

Malone/Burke NY

Columbus Day weekend, October 8-10. Regular admissions for tours will be in effect. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Monday, and 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Last tour begins promptly at 3 p.m. all days.
http://www.mymalonetelegram.com/mtg05/almanzo-wilder-homestead-extends-tour-season-20161001

The Henry Ford – Dearborn, Michigan

Just copying in because kind of complicated. Find the details at:
https://www.thehenryford.org/current-events/calendar/lauras-little-town-spring

  • October 1 – October 30, 2016 (Friday – Sunday)
  • Time: 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:455pm, & 2:45pm
  • Length: 15 minutes
  • Location: Near Scotch Settlement School, Main Street Historic District

Meet young Laura Ingalls before she became a teacher in this engaging 15-minute show celebrating Little Town on the Prairie, which has its 75th anniversary this year. Hear some of Laura’s favorite stories about her family’s time in DeSmet, South Dakota including the return of Nellie Oleson and the first time she met Almanzo Wilder.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Historic Cookbooks at the Henry Ford

As I’ve recently mentioned the Henry Ford is a pretty wonderful place. They have a terrific research collection and sadly while I have not gotten to go digging around it in myself, they have answered several questions for me which I greatly appreciate. Their archivist recently do a blog post giving a  general description of cookbooks in their collection. While probably not the most impressive cookbook collection (I can think of two others just off the bat), it’s a collection with both breadth and depth and well worth the time and interest of an historic foodways researcher. Read the description below:

http://blog.thehenryford.org/2012/11/food-in-the-library-cookbooks-in-the-benson-ford-research-center/

If you are just interested in the recipes themselves or can’t get to Michigan, don’t despair! They have created an online database of historic recipes they call their Recipe Bank, dip in and find recipes from the 1700s to the 2000s. I wish it was a bit more searchable, but there is plenty here to interest any history minded cook.

http://www.thehenryford.org/food/recipebank.aspx

The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village

Colonial Williamsburg – The Henry Ford of the East Coast

All the while I was growing up I heard about Colonial Williamsburg. I saw it on morning news shows, children’s shows would have special episodes set there, and the Bobbsey Twins even set a mystery there (The Red, White, and Blue Mystery – seriously read it before you go. I read about everything I could get my hands on before I finally got to visit Colonial Williamsburg and this did a better job of preparing me for my visit then any of the handbooks and travel guides I read.)[NOTE: Last time I said so, I was encouraged to read the newest one for children and the newest one for adults. I’ve bought them, but haven’t read them yet.-  2016]

Shhhhh! You Never Hear About The Henry Ford

On the other hand, I don’t think I had more than a vague idea that Greenfield Village existed. I remember checking out a 15 minute video from the Iowa City Public Library years ago and that was my first real hint of the richness that makes up The Henry Ford. Henry Ford had the wonderful idea, really well before his time, to collect as complete as possible full sets of everyday items, sleighbells, sad irons, lightbulbs, etc. And added things of cultural importance (The On the Road With Charles Kuralt Bus, the Weinermobile) and things related to great people (the chair Lincoln sat in at Ford’s Theater, Rosa’s Park’s bus, Edison’s last breath, Luther Burbank’s shovel – Yes, you should know that name, look him up).

ALHFAM

What really hooked me was when I visited during the Association of Living History Farms and Museum conference one year.  I was overawed by what a great collection and a great experience it was and have since been collecting articles and books on The Henry Ford ever since. It’s been a fascinating pursuit. This video is just a small tease at what they have to offer.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Connections

Laura fans should be interested for two main reasons. First, this is where Almanzo spent his time while Laura was giving her Book Week Speech. You can still see some of the same things Almanzo did and while he doesn’t seem to have left a record of his passing, he did tell people that the lunch wagon, where you can still get a meal, provided a better meal at a better price than he could get in Mansfield.

Second, Laura fans will also want to take note that Bill Kurtis, journalist and co-owner of the Little House on the Prairie Museum site in Independence, narrates this 12 minute film.

A smaller bonus reason is that Rose Wilder wrote a biography on Henry Ford Rose Wilder wrote a biography on Henry Ford, I own a copy, do you?

UPDATED October 9 2016: I added the headings and a few links when I reblogged.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Why is the Civil War Important Today

The Henry Ford Museum recently hosted a speaker on why the Civil War is important today. Many thoughts have turned to the Civil War as the 150th anniversary dates are rolling around, 1862-2012. That was no doubt why they chose this subject now. However, as the program itself shows we’re still impacted by the Civil War and its surrounding events today. I think you could actually add to the list, but I felt it was interesting on it’s own. Filmed in The Henry Ford auditorium (it’s a very beautiful room), unfortunately there were clearly issues with the filming. But they’ve shared the entire speech broken up into parts on YouTube. Here they are in order with my notes for important points you might be looking for. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too. The notes are above the link they describe.

Joshua Chamberlain, Famous Words, Famous Faces Famous Women

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ybMYxb9ttk [Part 2]

Famous Women, A Southern Lady’s Story, War Politicians,Government Influence,Technology

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIHYjHlO1Zk [Part 3]

Photography, 1:30 Train, 3:00 Medicine, 7:50 Holidays

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7GMcrJxOsk [Part 4]

0:00 Longfellow – I Heard the Bells 1:46 ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Thomas Nast Santa Claus 4:10 Art in Civil War 5:35 Civil War Music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzyRC6OQo5Q [Part 5]

50th Anniversary of Light

The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village count their official opening from the celebration of Light’s Golden Anniversary 1879 to 1929. The celebration was held on October 21, 1929. There is far too much to tell about that in a single post, but some of what I think is most interesting is below.

Henry Ford Re-Invents the Edison Lightbulb

LightHenry Ford was obsessed with a man he saw as a true genius and indirectly one of his first employers, Thomas Edison. Obsessed to the point that when he relocated the buildings from Menlo Park, New Jersey and recreated Edison’s laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan, he actually had literal acres of dirt hauled to Michigan from New Jersey so it would be right. Obsessed to the point that he asked Edison’s son to catch Edison’s last breath in a test tube which you can still see on display at the museum today. So when Edison felt that he was being ignored and his accomplishments minimized by General Electric’s celebration of the anniversary of his invention of the working, practical light bulb (Edison had long ago sold out control of the company), Ford jumped at the chance to out do GE and out do them he did.

Ford’s celebration would include both Edison and the President of the United States at the time, Herbert Hoover. It included a literal ticker tape parade, a national radio broadcast and a dinner attended by dignitaries supposed to be lit only by candles until the magic time the bulb lit when the lights would come on at the very time Edison originally got the first light bulb to light. (This actually ended up having to be a bit sooner than planned because not being used to having candles for light and their dimmer light the people in charge of it totally misjudged the candles which all burned out too early and they had to bring the electric lights on early or sit in the dark.)

Henry Ford had a very particular vision for his museum, now named the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village, but really at this point Ford was mostly setting the museum up for his own amusement. It’s primary exposure to the public so far had been not as a museum, but as the site of Henry Ford’s version of the ideal school. So there were all the problems that normally go with a somewhat rushed grand opening. Ford showed Edison his recreated lab and when Edison asked for a chair, after he stood up the chair was nailed to the floor in the exact spot Edison sat. It’s still there in place today.

I’d long known about the Henry Ford-Greenfield connection with Edison, but I was surprised when I actually got their for the first time and their map/information packet had a photo of Herbert Hoover on the front. Hoover was born in the next county over to me and I’ve had a long association with the three Hoover groups (the national park, the Presidential Library, and the association) there. When I got home I immediately began reading all I could find on the Henry Ford Museum and buying copies of old guidebooks etc. According to the old guide books I read Herbert Hoover even started the fire in the Lincoln Courthouse (one Lincoln practiced law in on the circuit) and they kept it burning for years so it was the same one Hoover lit. Sadly that’s gone out years ago (but still fared better than poor author Luther Burbank whose birthplace has been turned into a giftshop).

The Benson Research Room which I have always found wonderful to work with uploaded a 3 part video of this celebration I share it below. I’m not sure what the tracking numbers are all about or what else was on the reel to get it that high.

Part 1 -Thomas Edison, Herbert Hoover, and Tintypes

Ford had many interests besides Edison, for example he reprinted McGuffey Readers after they had gone out of print because he thought them superior to the textbooks of the time. He also loved trains and railroads as I think you will see.

The Hoovers appear very early on in the clip. That ’60s reference in the title card in between refers to the 1860s, note the shape of the smoke stack on the train. That’s a clue to its age and the fuel used.  It goes past another strange looking engine which is running. That’s one of Ford’s pet projects, a replica of one of the first trains. As a boy young Edison was fired off a train he was working on for not attending to his duties and because one of his experiments blew up (rather messily I gather) in the baggage car. He ended up kicked off the train at Smith’s Creek Depot which Ford moved to the village. You can still see it there today. Sadly most of Ford’s toys aren’t run anymore as they were back in his day of active management. Nice clear shots of Edison and Hoover around 2:25, followed by one of Ford himself. A clearer shot of the early Stephenson engine replica, now on display and immobile in the museum proper at 3:20. Also note the big wheel bicycles now on display on the museum are in use. The mud was unplanned as it was rainy and things weren’t paved. It caused some plans to have to be changed in a hurry, but most people seemed game. That’s Smith’s Creek Depot behind the people walking in the mud. Some of parade had nice Hoover close-ups, otherwise back to the village at 6:50.  The Toll House and Cobbler’s Shop mentioned by poet Whittier. Also still there today.

7:20 Tintypes sadly the photographer was out when I was there or I’d be the proud owner of a tintype of me right now. I could and will have to do an entire post on Tintypes sometime.  7:40 Post Office just recently restored if you mail your postcards here they will be hand stamped with a special cancellation.  I think the log cabin might be one used with McGuffey school today, but not sure. 8:20 The general store I take a special interest in because of my brother who worked the general store when we both worked at a local historic village. 8:35 Clinton Inn which is their historic restaurant today. Well worth the experience I ate there twice on my trip.

Part 2 – The Village Green and Menlo Park

The Town Hall still faces the Green. 0:30 the chapel was one of building built new on the grounds. It’s named to honor Henry’s mother and mother-in-law. Martha-Mary Chapel 0:41 Menlo Park Where originally situated Mrs. Jordan’s boarding house was right by the lab. Many of the Edison workers lived there and when they were first getting started with using light they wired her home first as an experiment.

Part 3 – Thomas Edison Lab and Independence Hall

The lab building is the one with the nailed down chair on the second floor. 0:48 Edison sitting in chair 2:50 The replica of Independence Hall (at least in front) is today The Henry Ford Museum.

This is a great opportunity to see behind the scenes. Thanks for watching with me.

LAST UPDATED Aug 19, 2016: I added my current signature block, section headings, and fixed a typo. I added a couple of clarifying edits, changed the bottom links to full embodied, and added an image.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.