INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - February 19, 2004
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Things
are moving along at a fast pace around here! In fact, I just moved to
the smokehouse so I can stay out of the way of E. J. and his crew. They
are putting up ceilings and metal mesh on the walls as they get ready
to plaster. Can you believe that? The day to cover
the brick walls with plaster has finally arrived!
Just think, soon the rooms will be like when Col. Ben and
his family lived here. The Friends have come a long, long way thanks to
their hard work and the generous contributions and continued support of
the restoration project. Henry here is right proud of all of you!!!
Hey, lets talk some more about the privy and the dump. It sure 'twas a
surprise to Henry when I learned how much a privy and dump can reveal!
You learn about the construction, choice of site and how the people lived-all
kinds of things. Gee, it gets to be a lot of information. The Stephenson
family owned the house and used the privy from 1820 until 1837, and then
from 1839 to 1902, the Wolf family owned the house and used the privy.
The last time we talked, Henry here told you about what was found in the
privy from the Stephenson reign. Now, lets talk about the artifacts found
in the privy from the Wolf family.
There were lots of dinnerware fragments in the privy and
bottles in the Wolf dump. By the 1840's, Staffordshire pottery began to
change in appearance because of improved inks. Red, green, black, brown
and other colors were used in the patterns on the pottery. And, the traditional
blue used on the pottery was softened to more of a "powder blue".
Well, when Sid found dinnerware fragments with colors other than blue,
he knew it was from after 1840 and had belonged to the Wolf family.
I overheard Sid and Jim talking about Bennington and I
thought they were talking about a friend. No! They were talking about
pottery fragments with a brown glaze and splattering of yellow that was
found in the privy. This pottery was called Bennington - not the name
of a friend! Sid thinks these fragments may be the real Bennington pottery
produced between 1845 and 1858 in Bennington, Vermont. We sure would be
doggone lucky if we found real Bennington dinnerware fragments that belonged
to the Wolf family! Bennington pottery was made for only 10 to 12 years
so there can't be a lot of it! Hey, it just could be that Frederick and
Caroline Fix Wolf bought that pottery when they lived in Philadelphia
in early 1840's. Yeah, Ol' Henry sure does dream about the old days.
The legs of a Frozen Charlotte, a doll that was manufactured
in Germany and England from the 1840's to the 1870's, were found in the
privy. The legs are white porcelain and just straight and stiff or "Frozen".
An 1873 Indian Head Penny was also found. The date of the penny and the
time period the doll was popular indicate their origin was during the
time the Wolf family owned "my" house.
Henry here took a little stroll around the privy when
Sid was excavating and I then realized how shallow that privy is. I bet
it isn't much more than four feet deep! I heard Sid say that the early
privies all tended to be shallow. Col. Ben built a very well constructed,
shallow privy that he intended to last a long time, and it did! The privy
was periodically cleaned by "honey dippers" until around the
1900's. The periodic cleanings did not allow for long accumulations of
artifacts and therefore few objects were found.
Another real nice find on the Stephenson property was
the remains of a dump area. The dump was found next to the backporch of
"my" house. Ol' Henry watched when Sid and the guys were going
through the remains in the dump and I saw a lot of pieces of colored glass
picked up. I heard them say it was mostly black and some amber colored
glass from wine bottles. There was also a lot of clear glass that Sid
said was remains of wine goblets and a large glass or glass bowl. Ol'
Henry saw Sid picking up lots of white pieces of something. Later I heard
him say these pieces were from white ironstone plates and platters. An
1863 silver three cent piece and a ceramic inkwell also turned up. Boy,
that dump sure had a lot more stuff than the privy!!
The 1863 silver three cent piece had to be from a later
period than when the Stephenson's lived there. It probably came from the
Wolf family. The inkwell was probably from the Wolf family because Carter's
Ink started making glass bottles around 1860. It could possibly have been
from the Stephenson family but the contents of the dump indicate it was
the Wolf family who used the dump. The white pieces found in the dump
were ironstone. One of the pieces is marked "Ironstone China, James
Edwards". Sid checked and James Edwards was producing ironstone with
this mark in the 1870's.
The wine bottles were clearly made in a factory and some
are stamped "Weeks Glass Works". Weeks Glass Works was up and
running in Stoddard, New Hampshire from about 1860 to 1873. So, the wine
bottles and ironstone in the dump were from the same time period and probably
belonged to the Wolf family.
Now, what about all those wine bottles? Sid said there must have been
glass from 30 wine bottles and also pieces of wine goblets. Did you folks
figure out why there were so many wine bottles? Henry here told you long
ago that Philip Fix was a vintner. A vintner raises grapes and makes wine.
Fix bought the Stephenson property in 1839 and also bought a lot of land
adjoining his land on the west. In 1845, Frederick A. Wolf and his wife,
Caroline Fix, were gifted the house and property from her father, Philip
Fix. It looks to Ol' Henry that Frederick soon learned to be a vintner
under the direction of his father-in-law Fix. Eventually Frederick A.
Wolf was known to have the best grapes in the area. When you have grapes
and wine, you also have wine bottles and wine goblets and your occupation
is a vintner. Now you understand why there were wine bottles in the dump!
Sid spent a lot of time excavating the privy and dump
and Ol' Henry guesses everybody wishes more had been found. However, already
more is known than before. For one thing, Sid and the researchers are
confident that the Stephenson family set their dining room table with
dinnerware with a blue feather pattern of shell edge pearlware. We would
never have known had the privy not been located! As has been said - "It
was meant to be!!!"
The sun is shining and I am going out to get catch some
rays. ( I heard the kids call them "rays" the other day!) You
all be good and keep your ears open for any new information on "my"
Stephenson family and house.
See ya later,