Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jobs from the Past

I haven’t posted in a while. The local homeschool group asked me to help with their co-op this fall. I found that preparing took all my extra time, and my writing took a back seat for a while. We had about 70 people attend from babies through to the oldest, me! What fun I had reconnecting to the homeschool world! I already knew some of the mothers and a few of the children. One mother had been homeschooled the same time as my children.

Our co-op topic was “Jobs from the Past.” The first week I spoke about jobs that depended on the power of a water wheel: miller, sawyer, and paper maker. After my talk, the younger children, aged five to seven, colored pictures of the workings of a grist mill, played a memory game with two sets of pictures of the parts of a grist mill, and looked at different types of grain and flour. The middle group, aged eight to ten, read about paper making, made a timeline, and examined a grist mill diagram. The oldest students, aged eleven to fourteen, did some of the same activities but also watched a slide show about grist mills and placed the steps for making paper in the right order.

The second week was declared a favorite when Mr. Jim Page visited dressed in his colonial time attire. He explained the blacksmithing process to the group and showed many items he had made. An eleven-year-old attender of the co-op told how he tans hides. He brought a deer, mink, and muskrat, and hide as well as a corn snake skin. For this day, I dressed in my mother’s 1976 bicentennial dress and brought lots of hats to speak about colonial hat making.

The third week, we devoted to the factory stage of industry. They seemed to like hearing about all the people who used to make automobiles in Pennsylvania. I related how a dress would be made in a factory. Explaining ship building and talking about Mr. Hershey’s candy making rounded out the opening talk. During the individual classes we gave them the opportunity to make a craft using an assembly line.

The last week, each family traveled to Greenwood Furnace State Park where we watched a video about iron making and toured the grounds. During my part of the presentation, I gave each child a job in the iron furnace company and explained what comprised his or her job as an iron furnace worker.

Overall, I think the children acquired some knowledge about jobs from the past, and I gained some experience in public speaking. A big thanks to Judy Mummau for the pictures!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

York Agricultural & Industrial Museum

           Years ago I wrote about my favorite museum, the Jimmy Stewart Museum. I just found my second favorite, the York Agricultural and Industrial Museum. Read More

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017


"Young Man with a Flute" by George Romney
shows a garment that would have been made
at a tailor's shop
Until the mid-1800s, American people didn’t have factories that made cloth or sewing machines to sew that cloth. The process of spinning thread, weaving cloth, and sewing proved to be too much for most folks. More men, women, and children, rich or poor, needed Read More

Saturday, August 5, 2017


          When one of our children was teething, my mother-in-law gave me three silver spoons which had been in her family. She told me that her mother had given them to her to teethe on when she was a baby since they were softer than the silver-plated silverware her family owned. 
        I looked up the silversmith marks on the backs of the spoons. Read More

Friday, July 28, 2017


Shoe Last

            A colonial shoemaker made shoes from leather that he bought from a tanner. The early shoemaker sold his shoes to the middle and lower income people since wealthy people ordered their shoes from England and later from the Dutch and French after America declared its freedom from England.
The shoemaker began by Read More

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Early Clocks
The first clock in Pennsylvania might have been a lantern clock made to sit on a shelf. The lantern clock had a brass box and a bell on top for striking the hours. The clock had the height of about fifteen inches and a spring-driven single hand. The face had only hours and half-hour marks.
The next kind of clock Read More

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Kentucky Rifle

     In colonial times, gunsmiths worked as repairmen and as makers of new guns. A gunsmith might make a gun from used parts, new parts, or a combination of used and new. The kind of guns made in the early years of America were Read More

Thursday, July 6, 2017


A Glassmaker at 2010 Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair

Have you ever heard the expression, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” This is referring to someone whose house is made of glass. Today, I'm describing someone who worked Read More

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cabinet Maker

In the early days of America, the essentials of life kept a person busy. The homeowner or a neighborhood carpenter built simple rough furniture quickly and simply. The country carpenter also made Read More

Friday, June 23, 2017


A necessary part of frontier life involved the care of horses. For the horse’s protection, metal horseshoes are nailed to horses’ hooves. In colonial times, a blacksmith would have made the horseshoes, and either he or a farrier would have “set” them. A farrier then as well as now traveled from farm to farm to shoe horses. 

Records show that in 1637, Read More

Saturday, June 17, 2017


In colonial days, people sought help for their illnesses from a man called an apothecary who did some of the same things as the colonial doctor did. Just as people of today respect and listen to a doctor’s advice, colonial people thought highly of apothecaries.

To decide what to do, an apothecary Read More 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Early Craftsmen and Craftswomen

Furniture Makers*

As towns grew, hardworking people continued to seize opportunities to start their own businesses. Although still dependent on England for some supplies, these townspeople made things like guns, shoes, clocks, clothing, furniture, silverware, and horseshoes from beginning to end right in their own shops. Specialized businesses produced all the wares during the 1700s.

In the small towns, people often worked several jobs. For example, a clock maker Read More

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lumber, Grist, and Paper Mills

In the preceding blog the first definition of industry given in Merriam-Webster had been “the habit of working hard and steadily.” The second definition of industry in the same resource is “a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service.” The early industries in Pennsylvania fit this category. As towns sprang up, Read More

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Early Agriculture

The early Pennsylvania colonist farmed. After he arrived in this country, he chose his land, built a rough shelter, cleared land by chopping down trees, and planted his crops so he would have food for winter. The settler deposed of the fallen trees by burning them and then sold the ashes or used them to make soap. Neighbors helped chop up or pull out tree stumps using sturdy horses, mules, or oxen.
Only after preparing his field, did the settler Read More

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hunters, Trappers, and Traders

Pennsylvania had many kinds of industries over the years. The simplest definition of industry is “the habit of working hard and steadily.”[1]  From beginning times, Pennsylvania people labored to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.
Woods covered most of Pennsylvania before explorers came to the New World. Native Americans Read More