Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and experience life in a typical Brethren farming community? When life was at a much slower pace, without the vibration of noisy over crowded highways, and the word filth referred to something in a barnyard. Here is at least one opportunity to discover what simple family life was like during the 1840-1850's, in and around the small farming community of Boston, Indiana. For some this will be a chance to discover former ways of more simple living and for others it will be a refreshing trip down memory lane, because of stories that grandparents used to tell. Brethren church historian Merle C. Rummel has graciously permitted several chapters of his book, "Four Mile Community" to be place online, so that people in the modern world may discover what life was like in a more simple time, when people knew almost everyone in town. It was truly a time of sheltered existence for many, a time for cultivating a rich heritage of family experiences when the outside world - was still the outside world.
Four Mile Church: BRETHREN WIFE
Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, November, 2009 ©
This document may be reproduced, only if remaining intact, with full acknowledgement to the author.
ouses of the mid 1800's were considerably improved over those of their parents. They were larger, made more comfortable and tighter. Log houses still were caulked, but some of them were sawmill sided, which tightened up the outside so wind cracks were nearly eliminated. Potter John Miller and Baltzer Lybrook were not the only ones with brick houses. A brick house was nearly wind proof, if cracks around doors and windows were sealed correctly, and they were. They were lighter inside with more windows and good glass in the windows. The doors were hung with metal hinges and in door frames. They closed easily and tightly. They had metal latches frequently with door knobs and key locks. The floors were finished oak or poplar, and could be polished to a shine. There were inside staircases, with banisters in finished walnut. Much inside finished lumber was walnut, including built-in cabinets. The furniture was much improved. Nice furniture had been brought out from the east by some of the families, but local cabinetmakers made good furniture, and even better could be obtained at Cincinnati. There were cherry, oak and walnut beds, clothes closets and chests of drawers, kitchen cabinets, pie safes, tables, chairs and benches. It was finished work, varnished or at least hand waxed. There were other improvements, as noted in Elizabeth Miller's letter to Mary Miller on September 15, 1846, that they had gotten a cooking stove, since the new fireplace smoked too badly. Commonly all cooking was done in the kitchen fireplace with its heat from the open fire and the inconvenience of cranes and pot hangers. The cook stove had a flat cooking surface at a normal standing level. The heat could be adjusted by placing pots farther across the stove from the firebox or adjusting the damper to reduce the flame. It had a built in oven with the flame going around the outside for more even heat and cooking. If a pot needed to be set directly on the flame, a lid could be removed and its opening would fit the rounded bottom of Dutch oven or the old kettles. Cast iron skillets could sit directly on top of the cook stove. Most homes had fired china to eat from, with the same or "company" china for guests. Potter John had only been the first, now good chinaware could be obtained from Cincinnati at a reasonable cost. There were tableware, metal knives, forks and spoons, often a matched pattern with a black wooden handle.
Despite the improvements, women's work had not changed much. Women were responsible for preparing the food for the family and providing them with their clothing, tending the house. If "man worked from sun to sun, women's work was never done"! It was a never ending process, even if one discounted the regularly arriving baby in the family, and sickness and injury, and young children that took regular tending.
Monday was wash day. Kettles of water were heated, outdoors, or maybe in a back room in the house. They might hang on a crane in the fireplace, or stand over the open outdoor fire, or there might be a modern stove in that back room just for wash water. One kettle received shavings of soap (lye soap) which were stirred into the water for washing. There might only be a stone or tree trunk for scrubbing the wash against to try to get rid of the dirt. But some had a new-fangled washboard that husband had made for them that could be used inside the house and not make much mess. (The "antique washboard" of today was far in the future for these women. Although it was a manufactured version of what was already in use in their home.) It took a lot of pounding and rubbing to get the dirt out, then rinsing and washing and pounding and rubbing some more. There were many loads of wash with the many members of the family, and the men's clothing was normally filthy with dirt and sweat. Also, lye water did not help keep ones hands soft and pretty. Evening of wash day, the hands of the women were nearly as red as their tempers. A load was washed clean and rinsed clean of the lye soap, it was hung up to dry. Pray that wash day was sunny out, so clothes could be hung outdoors to dry, even if it was freezing out there. When storm clouds rolled, wash was hung on ropes strung all over the kitchen, and back room, and upstairs, and on the banisters, and even on the edge of the table. That made a hot mess, because the fires had to be heated up so that the clothes could all dry before the men came in from their work, or there would be no place for them. After they were dry, the clothes were folded up for ironing the next day.
Tuesday was ironing day. There was no such thing as "drip-dry", these were lindsey-woolsey, and they had to be ironed, even the towels and washrags. It was another hot day, since the flat irons were heated in the fireplace, or on the stove. The handles were nearly as hot as the irons, and even through hot pads they burnt your hands. You couldn't just stop when it hurt, because a hot iron would scorch a shirt or even burn a hole in it. A scorched spot would wear through fast. The iron had to be hot, or it didn't iron the clothe, so when it cooled down some, it had to be put back in the fire to reheat, and to keep busy, there was another flat iron already hot and waiting. There were short-legged ironing boards which sat on top of the kitchen table. Some had to lay clothes down on the kitchen table and iron directly on it, but the shaped ironing board was readily available, even if homemade. Once the clothes were ironed, they could be folded and put away.
Wednesday was mending day. The biggest constant job was keeping the family in clothes. An immediate part was repairing the holes in useable clothes. That could be sewing patches over holes in the knees of pants or elbows of shirts. Patching cloth came from older discarded clothes, (nothing was thrown away until there was no use left in it), or it could come from small remnants of new material, pieces small enough that nothing whole could be made out of it. These same pieces were saved to be cut up for quilts and comforters. Holes in socks were darned over a darning last, since it was usually the heels or toes that went out. The major job in clothing was making new clothes. This started with the raw hemp for the linen and shearing the sheep for the wool.
Flax or hemp was broken between rollers at the first business where College Corner eventually was built. A horse pulled a pole around a circle, which tuned a log roller, another pair of rollers pressed against it and were turned by it. They were both on the same side of the driven roller so any rigid reeds put into it were broken passing around the driven roller. (This same method pressed the molasses out of sorghum plants.) The broken flax was then soaked in water until it rotted. The thin fibre that did not rot were removed (called scrutching), cleaned (hackling) and spun into flax and linen thread. The small spinning wheel was for flax and linen. Coarse fibre were the flax and made tow, fine fibers made a thin white thread and were linen. The thread was wound up on bobbins. It was quite a skill to spin the thread to a constant size, but for weaving cloth, it was a basic requirement.
The sheep were sheared in the spring, to get their heavy coat off them for the summer, it would fall out anyway, and to get wool for cloth. Shearing was done with a heavy hand cutter, a type of scissors (not everyone owned wool shears). A good shearer could cut the whole wool coat off in one piece, and shear as many as 20 or even 30 a day. The sheep seemed very happy to be free of their heavy winter coat, even the old ewes frisked around like little lambs. It was funny to watch a big old ram, with his long horns, gamboling over the barnyard pasture. Then really started the work. The oil in the wool was washed out down by the creek bank. Then all the trash had to be hand picked out of it, the burrs and twigs. Then it was carded. Two hand paddles, with many small nails in each, were pulled against each other, with snatches of wool in between, forcing all the hairs to line up together, it would end up as long fluffy rolls, all nearly even in size. This was an endless task. The big spinning wheel was used to make wool yarn or finer wool thread, and this seemed endless, also. A spinning wheel consisted of a large (or smaller) wheel that was kept running by pumping a treadle below. A cord or belt from it drove a small spinneret wheel, the axle of which came to a point. It was this point that caught the wool and twisted it into thread. When one length of thread was spun, it was wound on the spinnerett bobbin and brought back to the point to twist the next length of thread. The spinnerett spun very fast, being so much smaller than the driving wheel, so it was an exacting art to make the even thread that most matrons produced. The yarn was dyed and wound off the reel into skeins or hanks or balls. It was used for knitting and weaving.
Every house had its spinning wheels, and its loom. A loom is a frame, on which the bobbins are threaded to form a parallel warp. Two (or more) frames of eyelets are mounted so that each even thread goes through the eyelets of one frame, the odd threads go between the eyelets of the first frame, and through the eyelets of the second (the even similarly go between the eyelets of the second). These frames are mounted so that one will raise while the other lowers, controlled by foot treads. Thus alternate threads are raised, forming a space between them, through which a bobbin of thread or yarn is passed leaving a thread at right angles to the warp (called the woof). A heavy bar with a grill mounted on it so each thread goes through its own slot in the grill, then is swung so that it pounds this new thread against those previously woven into the new cloth. The frames are switched so the opposite threads are raised and lowered, the bobbin is pushed through in the reverse direction, and another thread is laid, pounded against the cloth, and repeated again for each thread in the cloth, for every garment made in the house. The new cloth is wound around a roller as more is made, until the desired amount is woven. Then the individual threads of the warp are tied off and cut loose from their bobbins. Care must be taken to keep the edges of the new cloth tight, but not so tight that it pulls the edge out of line. Care must also be taken to keep the threads pounded to about the same tightness, not looser once and tighter again another.
Several types of cloth were woven according to the need. Men's work clothes, pants and shirts, were woven of coarse flax tow. They were tougher against wear in the hard outdoor work. A combination of linen and wool, linsey-woolsey, made a warm durable everyday fabric for the family. The warp threads were linen and the woof was wool. The heavy coats and good clothes were made entirely of wool, wool flannel. A dye pot, with a heavy lid, made a stool for the children. A family might only dye their cloth one or two main colors. Whole cloth was dyed a solid color, there was no reasonable way to make patterns. Common colors were a medium or dark blue, a gray, a chestnut or dark brown. Bright colors took extra time and special dyeing. The family didn't have the time. The woven cloth was good, fairly heavy and lasted well, it had too, because the chores of the home were heavy on the women, so what they did, they did good enough it did not have to be repeated soon. It was common sense, but it later was called the Christian Work Ethic. It was because of the work of cloth weaving that rugs and curtains were considered to take excess labor and thus were frivolous, and in later years were forbidden by the church as worldly. The same held true for men's neckties, collars on shirts and blouses, any extra fringes and lace, and bright colors or patterns in cloth.
The men normally made the shoes, around the fire on winter evenings. They were made of cowhide, with cut soles and shaping the uppers on a wooden last. The uppers were sewn together, then sewn to the soles. Moccasins were made of tanned hides, cut and sewn together. When the weather was reasonable the children, and frequently adults, went barefoot. When the cows had been out in the pasture overnight, and frost was on the ground, it was then that a barefoot boy would stand in the warm spots where the cows had lain, to watch the cows head barnward, before he would chase after them again.
The rural church Thursday Ladies Aid with its quilting, came directly from the custom of setting some Thursdays aside, especially in the winter, for a group of the women and older girls, neighbors, kin, church friends, to work on the quilting frames. A quilting frame is a pair of rounded pieces of wood, some 6 ft. long, mounted on a cross frame so they could be adjusted tight, and held up by saw horses or special supports on each corner. The women sat around it, each working on that section nearby. The scraps of cloth were cut into a pattern shape and sewn together in a color pattern into blocks about a foot to a side. These blocks were sewn together, again in a color pattern, into a quilt or comforter top, the size needed for a bed. Several to many layers of cloth were placed below the top, to give it the desired thickness for warmth, wrapped around one quilting roller and fastened to the other. These then stretched the bedding across the frame. The backing might be knotted onto the top to hold the layers together. The knots were fitted into the block pattern. Colored yarn was used for the knotting. This was normal on a comforter, which was very thick and kept the sleeper warm even when snow drifted onto the bed. Other times, especially for quilts, the layers were sewn together with fancy patterns of fine sewing. As one section of the bedding was quilted, the frame would scroll that section on one roller and expose a new section to do from the other roller. A section for quilting might be 24 to 30 inches wide for one or a couple ladies, up to 4 - 5 feet for many. When the quilting was done, the edges would be finished off and another started, maybe at someone else's house.
Friday was cleaning day. It was easier to clean the house now that floors and furniture were waxed and polished. Dirt still was hauled in from outdoors on peoples' shoes or bare feet. The ashes had to be hauled out of the fireplaces, which were in each room of the house. The floors were mopped and as necessary rewaxed. Dusting was done all over the house. The children were responsible to clean up their own rooms. (Usually there was a boy's room and a girl's room, upstairs.) The stove had to have cooking spills cleaned off it and be blacked and polished on occasion and the oven cleaned, to keep rust off. (Once a year the chimneys all had to be cleaned, the creosote built up and could make a pyranic chimney fire, which burnt some houses down. The suet dust would billow out into each room and entail a massive cleaning. This was normally done in the early fall.) Once a year there was a total house, Spring Cleaning. It could take several days.
Saturday was baking day. Yeast grew in a small crock of flour, in later days, out west, it was called "sour-dough". Maybe it wasn't quite the same thing, but it was the same approach. On Friday evening, yeast was removed from the crock, leaving only enough to be a starter for the fresh flour that was added to replace it. The yeast was mixed thoroughly with a freshly mixed batch of bread dough, or maybe also potato donut dough, or cookie dough, but especially bread dough. It was placed into loaf sized pans to rise overnight, covered by a dampened cloth. On Saturday the oven was heated hot. Some ovens were built into the wall of the fireplace. Some were Dutch ovens, iron kettles with lids, some were in the new stoves. Batches of loaves were baked a golden crusty brown. Baking day made enough bread for the whole week. Freshly baked bread, just out of the oven was a treat in itself, the children had to be watched so they didn't stuff themselves sick. Since the stoves were hot already, and since the next day was Sunday, the Holy Day, enough food was cooked on Saturday to feed the whole family all day Sunday, whether they went to church and ate pot luck, or didn't go that Sunday.
"Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh is the Lord's Day." Even the Lord knew that the cattle needed milked on Sunday, and horses and cattle fed or let out to pasture, and the chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese fed and the eggs gathered. The milk needed to be set away in the spring house, so it wouldn't sour. Children needed to be gotten ready for church. The horses needed to be harnessed and hitched to the spring wagon, or the surrey. Dinner needed to be packed in the hamper or basket to take with you to church. There were chores that needed done, even on the Sabbath, but that wasn't work. It might be one hour or even two hours drive to church - horses only traveled at a good walking speed, and church started about 10 o'clock in the morning. A family didn't want to be late, you had to walk in right past the preachers up front to get to the pews. So you started in plenty of time, and all these other chores had to be done before you could get ready to go. After services were over, and dinner at church or with family or friends, there was still the trip home, sleepy children to be gotten to bed, and horses tended and cattle milked again, and the milk set away, the chickens chased into the hen house and shut away from skunks, possums, coons and weasels. Then you could sit down and reflect if there was any time left. Sunday was a day of rest, - well, at least it was a day that you only had to do the regular chores and didn't have to work.
Food preservation was primarily in the domain of the housewife. A butchering was a shared responsibility, with the whole family involved, and frequently several families, kin, butchering together. The men were primarily doing the killing and cutting up of the meat and rendered the lard, the women made the headmeat, souse and bloodworst, stuffed the sausage, and cooked out the bone jelly.
Cans of food on the grocery shelves were not even dreamed of in that day. The remembered childhood canning of quart and pint jars and the pressure cooker were still far in the future. The primary storage container was the crock, sealed by a covering of lard, another was a tightly covered basket or dried gourds. The several types of beans: soup beans, lima beans, kidney beans, could be picked when dry and stored in baskets. Potatoes wanted to stay cool so they were stored underground in storm cellars or fruit cellars, in flat bins. Apples wanted a cool place, but not in the same room with potatoes. Carrots were stored in barrels, in sand. Onions and beets were hung in bunches, their tops tied together. Bins, frequently lined, or at least bottomed by lead sheets, held corn and wheat in the grain. These were ground into meal and flour at the nearby mill, in smaller quantities, since once they were ground, weavels got into them if stored too long. Apples stored far into the winter, and dried apples (sliced) were available till next summer. (There was a lot of apple pie.) Dried Apricot slices were stored all winter.
Making sauerkraut was a whole day job for the whole family. The cabbages were left in the field until before frost. They were pulled up and loaded into a wagon and hauled to the house. The roots were cut off (headed) and the loose leaves were removed from the bottom, all worms were knocked out. Then they were cut into slaw with a kraut knife and packed into crocks and covered with a cloth to keep the flies out. They were let sit until they fermented, for kraut is fermented cabbage. (It stinks!) Then they were stored in crocks or barrels and sealed. A Dutch family might use 4 to 8 barrels of kraut a winter, and most of the Four Mile people were Pennsylvania Dutch, even if they did come by way of Virginia.
Pickles or Cucumbers made a major seasoning food on the table. It was harvested small as pickles and large as cucumbers, which were then sliced. Several different types of pickle and relish recipes were common, each having its own flavor and tartness. All were based on apple cider vinegar. Several other vegetables were also pickled, including red beets, and accordingly, hard boiled eggs in red beet juice. Mixtures of pickled vegetables could form relishes which were served as their own dish on the table, or as a garnish to meats. Tomatoes were originally considered to be only a colorful plant, and any eating of it was quite askance, "it was a poison". Late during this time some usages of it are found, not so much as a raw vegetable, but in cooking it down into juice and tomato sauce.
Apple butter was made by cooking the apples down in a big kettle. The apples had to be peeled and cored, and usually sliced. As they cooked down they were constantly stirred with large wooden spatulas, any special seasonings were added during the cooking. The apple butter was cooked to a much thicker consistency than today, more resembling butter than today's sauce. As such, it was poured into heated crocks where it formed a skim surface while hot that protected it from spoilage. A square wooden lid was made to cover the crocks, to help prevent foreign materials from falling down into them. This permitted crocks to be stacked on top of each other.
Jams were made of the different fruits, in season. A natural pectin came from either apple or grape skins, which was necessary to form jam. As with apples, the hot jam formed a surface that helped preserve it over winter. Jam was stored in smaller crocks. When mold did form on the surface of the jam, the lady of the house would simply dip underneath it. The orchard, grape arbor, strawberry patch and wild fruits from the fence row and forest were the source of jams and jellies. Jelly's were strained forms of the fruit juice. They were similarly stored in smaller crocks.
The cows were milked every morning and every night. The milk was strained and set in crocks in the spring house where it cooled. As it cooled the cream rose, and was skimmed off to the cream crock. When enough cream was collected, usually about once a week, it was churned into butter. Churning in those days was done with a special type of keg, that had a plunger through a hole in the lid. It was the work of a younger child to run the plunger, and keep it running steadily, until eventually the butter would begin to form. When it became stiff enough, the buttermilk was poured off (back into a crock in the spring house, for later drinking when it got cold) and the butter was pressed and patted until it became solid. Sometimes it was pressed into a butter mold (made of wood with a carving that would impress on the butter). It was then stored in the spring house to keep it as long as possible before it got rancid. The skimmed milk was used for cooking, drinking and breakfast cereal with much of what was left made into cheese.
Remember the correlating nursery rhyme: Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey.
Cheese is made by heating the milk to a warm temperature. It was then poured into a kettle or wooden tank, where special bacteria were stirred into the milk to make it curd. Different bacteria are used for different types of cheese (also depending on the amount of cream allowed to remain in the milk). The milk and curd was stirred until it became fairly stiff and it was allowed to set. The combined curds and whey were dipped into a stiff cloth (usually linen), the ends of the cloth were gathered together and tied to force the curds into the center. The tied ends were then hung up to some study beam since there was considerable weight in the cloth sack so formed. The weight of the cheese curds helped to press out more of the whey, which was drained into a container. The remaining whey was given to the family to drink (it is fairly sweet). What was left over was given to the chickens, and as slop to the hogs. The cheese curds were then placed in a wooden box which had holes in it to allow further draining as a press was fitted in the box, stones were used to give the press weight. It would take ten gallons of milk to make one gallon of cheese. The resulting cheese was softer than our current cheese, but could be removed from the cheese box, wrapped in a light cloth and stored until use. The use of vinegar soaked cloths kept molds off the cheese. A hard surface would form on the surface of the cheese and would retard spoilage. Some cheeses could be stored for considerable periods of time. It is very probable that there was a dish of curds and whey given to the children as a delicacy at that stage of the preparation.
The meals in the home were prepared for working men. Breakfast was normally about sunup. If the weather was nice for outside work, the morning chores would already be done by lantern, feeding the horses and cows and milking. It was a full meal, and might consist of ham and eggs, or bacon and eggs with toast, and pancakes or fried mush with molasses or maple syrup, and some people even had fried potatoes. There was a common homemade cereal of a variety of grains made into a cake, dried till nearly hard and ground, soaked in milk, with honey. (Grape Nuts is the modern commercial form of this home cereal.) There would be fruit in season. Breakfast had to last at least til the middle of the day. The men might come in for dinner, which meant cooking a full meal for them, or they might take a lunch box out with them. The family at home, women and children, required feeding in any case. An exception to this came during special days when the families gathered to work or worship and shared their meal, then the noon meal was a fabulous feast. The evening meal, supper, was the big meal in most farm families. It was served when the men came in from the field, normally about dusk. It consisted of a meat, pork or chicken or maybe wild game, with potatoes, and vegetables. A fruit pie was common for desert, according to what fruit was in season. Evening chores were finished by lantern, or a son or daughter might be sent to milk the cows earlier, while it was still light.
The garden was the women's province. The men would manure it over winter and plow it in early spring, with a harrowing. Then it became the responsibility of the women. (Mom might draft some occasional help for hard labor.) The women planted the garden, weeded it and harvested it. Most of the common vegetables were grown in the garden, including such spices and seasonings that the family might use. There might be another larger plot for bulk food growing, like potatoes and cabbages, bush and soup beans, and green beans or snap beans, sometimes called a "truck patch". This was a joint responsibility, with the men doing most of the work, except possibly for hoeing the weeds, and the women the preservation. By desire and preference the women beautified their home and yard with flower beds and borders.
The women (girls) tended the chickens and gathered the eggs. This included watching the setting hens and young chicks when they hatched. The same with ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl. When a chicken house with yard were built, the fowls' wings had to be clipped so they could not "fly the coop". The large wing feathers on one wing would be cut back some, this made any attempt to fly futile, as one wing had no lift and made them out of balance. Then they had to be shut away at night to keep out predators. If the men were especially busy, or there were too few brothers, milking of the cows might be tended out to the girls. It was not an unlady-like duty, and the act of milking the cow usually ended up with a cheek or forehead resting against her flank, the skin oil of the cow tended to make for fairer skin of the girl.
Lye soap was made in the home, it was the only type of soap known. The action of water running through wood ashes was a source of lye. Hog lard or beef tallow was cooked in a kettle over an outdoor fire until it was hot, then a small amount of lye was mixed with the hot lard. When it had cooled, a layer of soap was floating on the top of liquid underneath. This soap was cut into bars and stored for use. An old kettle was used, because the action of lye would tend to pit the metal. Some people did add tansy or mint, to give the soap a pleasant odor. Mixing a cup of lye to several gallons of milk gave a milk soap, but the author is unfamiliar of its use.
Natural remedies were used for treatment of sickness and disease. Some of them were effective, some weren't. There were many deaths that we now would know how to treat. Many children died, especially before they were five years old. Medicinal plant lore was passed down from mother to daughter. Some took naturally to it and were called by their neighbors regularly. The gathering of these wild plants took place from spring to late fall. Many were hung in bunches in the attic where they dried. Leaves or flowers were plucked and dried and stored in closed containers. Roots were dried and closed away. These were the same plants used by their grandmothers on the frontier, only now some of them were transplanted and growing in the herb garden. There were almost no trained doctors, and most of the ones around were viewed with great skepticism. The wife and mother had most of the answers in her attic, and if she didn't, and the wise neighbor lady didn't, a child died, or husband. Many wives died, many from problems in childbirth. Experienced neighbors who knew what to do in childbirth, were called as "midwives". But there were times that there was no answer to a problem they faced, not in their day.
Women's work seemed to be never done. There was always plenty waiting to be done and not enough time to do it. When all other choirs were completed, there was still spinning and weaving. Then also, while the men could come in at dark knowing they could do no more, the women were working by the fireplace which still gave out light to work by, so they couldn't just stop but had to finish the current task. As noted earlier, a baby doesn't just go to sleep, but demands momma during the night too. Daytime tending of the children devolved on the younger girls, but only momma sufficed at night. And when a baby was sick, even an exhausted momma wanted to be with the little one.
The author has long had an interest in medicinal plants and survival foods. A childhood in the late years of the Depression and during World War II, on a farm, included many of these farm and household duties and food preparations. Life had not yet changed from the older ways of home responsibility for food preparation and storage. Some of the methods were more modern, but the foods were still the same. The author has cranked a butter churn, chopped the head off a chicken, ground the home-made grape-nuts in a sausage grinder, stirred the cooking mush, run wheat through a mill to get flour (actually, run it through a couple times to get it finer), milked the cow, frozen my fingers and toes getting firewood cut in the winter. My mother made my shirts from flour sacks and darned my socks. I remember the old black iron kitchen range and the summer kitchen where we had a kerosene stove.
The early methods for storage of their foods became an interesting challenge. A special trip was made to Bern IN (which included a meal at an Amish restaurant). The question was asked "How did they used to make and store jams and jellies, in the early days?" The waitress referred me to her grandmother, who was in the kitchen. This little tiny Amish lady finally came up to the restaurant -"Why they had glass jars!" "No, before there were glass jars." -"I wasn't alive then!" "I wasn't either!" She was paid to work, so she couldn't stand around talking, she went over to the salad bar and arranged some of the food stuffs, finally she came back: "Grandma said -that they used to use crocks." And she told how the hot jam or jelly could be poured into a Hot Crock, and when they both cooled, there was the scum surface on the fruit, which protected it from spoilage. "But you had to have a wood cover for the crock, so nothing would fall down inside it!" Following that came the trip over to the cheese factory in Bern. One of the elderly men took me on a tour of the factory, explaining how cheese was made now, then he explained the older home method of making the various cheeses. That was much like my mother made Cottage Cheese at home when I was little. I had a wonderful day!