Save America’s Treasures Spotlight: Care to have lunch in a porringer?

As we work on our Save America’s Treasures Project, we’ll showcase items we’ve scanned, carefully repackaged with archival products, or discovered within the collection here.

January 2024:  Care to have lunch in a porringer?

If you lived in Colonial New England, your main meal may be served in a porringer, a round bowl made of pewter or silver, with a handle on one side.

Learn more about the history of this unique item here, and view the entry from our collection here

 

December 2023:  Ice skating, anyone?

It’s winter, it’s cold, and the local ponds have frozen over. If it’s the 1800’s, the options for ice skates include styles like these:

In the late Victorian Era,  “people were advised to “not carry a stick, a muff, or anything that will impede the use of your arms while skating [and to] never throw stones onto the surface of a sheet of ice on which you are anyone else can possibly wish to skate.” Read more about the rules of skating, including the use of skating sleds by new skaters, click here.  This is just one of the many items in the Avon Historical Society’s collection. 

 

November 2023:  Coffee Grinder

It’s an everyday activity that crosses time: preparing a cup of coffee.  This everyday object was donated by Miss Susie Wilcox, and was presumably owned by the Wilcox Family.  It’s painted white (not original), and says “Golden Rule Blend Coffee, the Finest Blend in the World” Citizen’s Whole. Co., Columbus, Ohio, on the front.  One can smell the beans and hear the crunch of the grinder, and imagine what the family is discussing as they enjoy their first cup of the day. View the listing here.

 

July 2023: 1901 Signature Pillow

1901 Signature Pillow

We’ve been busy entering items from the Avon Historical Society’s collection into CT Collections, the new online catalog system that they’ve joined.  ConnecticutCollections (CTCo) is a project of the Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO). A customization of CollectiveAccess software, CTCo provides heritage and arts organizations of any size with a tool to help them to both privately manage and publicly share their museum and archival collections. Learn more here

One of the treasures in the Avon Historical Society’s collection is this pillow dated March 4, 1901.

This pillow contains over 50 signatures, from names we all recognize: Bishop, Case, Chidsey, Ellsworth, Miller, North, and Woodford.  Over a dozen of the names are male; the rest are female.  Each person signed their name; then it was embroidered. Bits of personality show through: bold loops, dramatic capital letters, and clusters of family members who autographed together.

What was the event? Was it a wedding, a birth, or an anniversary? Was someone moving, and this was a keepsake to remember Avon? We’re curious about the stories this pillow has to tell.

Multiple pictures are of the pillow are available here.

 

April, 2023: Guy Thomson’s (1791-1845) Recipe Book

Hand written, with few measurements and no baking times (or temperatures), this collection of recipes also includes home remedies, making it snapshot of home economics in the 1800s.  The recipe for “Measles, to draw out” says to scrape the husk from the peach tree. Simmer it in cider. To be given hot or can be taken… and then the entry just ends.

The remedy for asthma is to “put salt into a bottle of brandy as much as can be dissolved. Use from the bottle for an adult; one tablespoonful with two spoonfuls of boiling water three times a day.” There are no instructions for children!

There’s a recipe for rusk, which none of us had ever heard of.  Rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or twice-baked bread (think of biscotti, croutons, or melba toast).

There are at least eight entries involving lemon or citron. Citron is a large fragrant citrus fruit that resembles a “huge, rough lemon”. There are a dozen or so entries for cake, including an eggless one, which sounds appealing given our 2023 egg prices…

If anyone wants to attempt these recipes, the reference librarians will be happy to taste test them! View the entire recipe book here.

Let us know if you decide to knit the cape, as well….

The Avon Library has scans of this item; the original is retained by the donor. Ephemera found in the recipe book was also scanned, and appears after the actual notebook pages. (#2022-016)

The table to contents/headings of Guy Thomson’s recipes and entries:

Loaf cake, Lady cake, Sponge cake, Coffee cake, Rusk, Poor man’s cake, Orange cake, Family [?] cake, Silver cake, Lemon Tart, Cream Pie, Cream Lemon Pie, Orange Pie, Cream Cake, Mrs. Stove’s Layer Cake, Sweet pickles, Lemon tarts, Eggless cake, Taffy, Butter Scotch [sic], Plain rice pudding, Graham Bread, Pop Corn Balls [sic], Remedy for Asthma, White mixture, Measles—to bring them out, Washing fluid, Liquid ammonia, H [?] soup, Dyes: yellow, Watermelon pickle, Citron, Insect pickle, Scalloped oysters, Citron preserves, Frosting for cake, Salad dressing, Corn patties, Biscuits, Sweet apple pickle, Crab apple pickle, Citron preserves, Citron sweet pickles, Grape [?], Polished furniture, Blue on cotton, Green on cotton, Red on cotton, [to color] crimson, Sore throat, Cramp in legs, Feet-ache, Delicate cake, Royal Baking Powder insert, Recipes from Egg-o-Gene, Duryeas’ improved corn starch recipes, Cape (yarn), Tapioca, [?] dumplings, Lemon Custard Pie, Fleishman’s selected recipes brochure

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February, 2023:  On Saturday, February 18, 2023, the Avon Historical Society and Avon Congregation Church showcased the recent donation of a quilt from the Woodford family. What started as a showcase for one textile became a “Quilt Reunion”, as shown in the pictures below.  We’re excited to showcase the textile work of women in Avon during the mid 1800’s. Full details/history on the quilt from Sophia, including all of the names of the women who worked on it, are available here. 

This quilt was a gift to Sophia Woodford, and has been donated to the Avon Historical Society by descendants of the Woodford family.

Pictured left to right: Peter Morgan, Eleanor Morgan, Chris Kraus, Mary Ann Antoniazzi, Martha Petrovick, Dave Petrovick, during the “Quilt Reunion”.

This quilt was a gift to Adaline Woodford; notice the star in the center:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaline also quilted this pink and orange quilt:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophia created this quilt out of dress fabrics; the back says, “To Ellen Bill from Aunt Sophia 1897”

Visitors used magnifying glasses to view the signatures within each quilt block:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an audience of 85 had viewed the quilts, they were carefully repackaged by Terri Wilson, Avon Historical Society President, for storage:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January, 2023: Using our new overhead scanner, we scanned a delicate sketchbook from the 1800’s that belonged to Carrie Woodford.  Her name appears inside the front cover, C.A. Woodford.  She is the daughter of CR and Harriet Woodford, and lived from 1857-1921. Carrie is the youngest of six children, and according to Janet Carville, one of our favorite Avon residents, she “was the “housekeeper”, as the others had either died or gone on with their professions. She was a brilliant artist, but never sold her paintings as far as Janet knows. 

Peruse Carrie Woodford’s sketchbook by clicking here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Avon Library receives a Save America’s Treasures Grant, in the amount of $50,016

Left to right: Michael Howser and Greg Colatti, CT Digital Archive; Rob Berman, Avon Library Board member; Lisa Berman, Friends of the Avon Library President; Donna Gianini, Avon Library Board member; Joan Resikin, Vice President, Friends of the Avon Library; Tina Panik, Reference & Adult Services Manager, Avon Library; Heddy Panik, Avon Historical Society Board member and history room volunteer; CT U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal; Glenn Grube, Avon Library Director; State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw; Terri Wilson, Avon Historical Society President; Nora Howard, Town Historian; Brandon Robertson, Avon Town Manager; Barbara Ausiello, Avon Town Council.

Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw visited the Avon Free Public Library today (10/17/22) to congratulate them for their 2022 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Save America’s Treasures Grant. This grant, in the amount of $50,016, will cover a two year project, beginning in November 2022.  This award is part of $24.25 million in Save America’s Treasures grants to fund 80 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia.  Save America’s Treasures, funded through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), provided $356 million to more than 1,326 projects between 1999 and 2020. Requiring a dollar-for-dollar private match, these grants have leveraged more than $500 million in private investment and contributed more than 16,000 jobs to local and state economies. 

The Avon Free Public Library will use this federal grant to preserve and digitize objects relevant to the agrarian history of Avon. Their existing collection consists of 298 linear feet of historical material and includes cataloged books, as well a map cabinet with over 276 geographic maps. Nearly 20,000 items have been digitized for the CT Digital Archive .  This two year project will focus on digitizing collections of the Avon HIstorical Society from the National Register’s  Pine Grove Historic District consisting of four 19th-century farmsteads, a late 18th century house, and a restored Gothic Revival schoolhouse, and the separate National Register’s Avon Congregational Church, designed by local architect David Hoadley. 

This agrarian grouping is representative of Avon, Connecticut’s history, as reflected in the artifacts held within the archives, which contain ledgers, tools, clothing, household items, and photos from the Thompson and Woodford families who settled this area. The Woodford farm was established in 1666 and is one of the oldest farms still operating in Connecticut. Other names associated with Avon’s dairy, poultry, and tobacco farms were Alsop, Buckland, Colton, Delbon, Distin, Gold, Silver, Stone, Strong, Thompson, Watson, Westerman, and Viti.  

Farms, mills, blacksmith shops, taverns and dry goods stores began to punctuate Avon’s landscape during the mid 19th century. In the heart of this historic district is the Pine Grove Schoolhouse, built in 1865, which remained in use until 1949. The students and families from West Avon’s Pine Grove area comprise the majority of this project. Their photos, ledgers, journals, land deeds, books, household items, tools, and ephemera showcase the connections between residents and detail daily life during this era. 

 “The goal of this project is to connect all of the artifacts within our collection digitally, so that patrons and researchers can experience 24/7 access to Avon’s complete story as they explore life in the 19th century,” said Tina Panik, Project Director. 

The federal grant will expand the organization’s capacity by hiring an archivist to help assess, organize, store and digitize approximately 1,000 items from the Avon Historical Society’s collection, integrating access to materials within both the library and historical society’s collections.  

“These 1,000 items need professional archival assessment, storage, conservation, and digitization. These artifacts are temporarily housed in a climate controlled storage facility, as their home location, Schoolhouse #3, is in the process of a renovation, making this the perfect time to complete the work,” said Terri Wilson, Avon Historical Society President. 

Glenn Grube, Avon Library Director and Grant Administrator added, “The same dozen or so names populate our archives throughout the 1800-1900s, framing Avon as a New England town with a deeply interconnected social history.  Previously neglected from our archive projects, this segment of Avon’s history that incorporates the Pine Grove Historical District and Avon Congregational Church deserves our attention, preservation, and digitization focus.” 

Those interested in loaning items for scanning or donating items from the agrarian history of Avon to enhance the collections of the Avon Free Public Library or the Avon Historical Society can email historyroom@avonctlibrary.info for further instruction. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)  is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov 

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