Archive for May, 2015

Eric Sloane and the Noah Blake Cabin

May 22, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Eric Sloane’s vision of how Noah Blake and his family lived.  Diary of An Early American Boy:  Noah Blake 1805 introduced many to Eric’s writing and illustrations.

blake cabin 2 blake outhouse

Build Day 1 A Success at the Eric Sloane Museum

May 11, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

The stone wall being created on the grounds of the Eric Sloane Museum is amazing.  Check out the video shot by board member Jeff Bischoff, who spearheaded the project.  Everyone did an amazing job on Saturday, left with new skills and abilities, as well as some new friends and admirers.  Now their work is a permanent installation at the Eric Sloane Museum.  VID952015050995153748

May 9, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Board member Jeff Bischoff just sent this photo of today’s stone wall building seminar with local mason Carl Dill on the grounds of the Eric Sloane Museum. There are still some openings for the stone wall building seminar on 5/16 and 7/25!  Join us at the Eric Sloane Museum to learn traditional New England dry laid stone wall building!IMG_20150509_090430-3

A Musing on Bells, thanks to Eric Sloane

May 5, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

I recall reading one of Eric Sloane’s books on early American life a passage concerning bells that were placed on harnesses, especially in winter time.  The bells were used as a signal to let others know that a horse drawn vehicle was approaching.  Presumably, this was done to avoid accidents.  Early American lore also posits that one of the roots of the adage “I’ll be there with bells on” grew from the idea that if a driver had difficulty on a journey and required help from a fellow traveler, that driver was expected to present his harness bell strap as a “thank you” to the one who offered assistance.  If, then, someone declares “I’ll be there with bells on”, he or she means to suggest that they will reach their destination quickly because the journey will be without incident.

Eric Sloane tells of sleigh bells placed on sleighs for the purpose of signaling the approach of winter travelers.  I can speak from experience that driving a sleigh without bells is dangerous.  Sloane (as well as my experiences) tells me that sleighs traveling across snow make little noise – noise that is further suppressed by the winer landscape, not to mention the hats and scarves worn by others out in the winter weather.  Winter nights could be an especially dangerous time.

Eric Sloane also wrote the neighbors could tell one another from the sound of their sleigh bells.  Bells could be purchased by the piece and in various quantities and sizes.  Farmers could piece together a custom array of bells that would make a distinctive sound – a personalized horn, if you will.  It is wonderful to think of an early American family, gathered around the hearth on a winter’s night, listening to the sound of “Farmer Jones” – or is that Brother Abraham? – gliding by on the family cutter.

I have been reading a fascinating book entitled The Yankee Peddlers of Early America, by J.R. Dolan (1964, Bramhall House, New York).  A contemporary of Eric Sloane, Dolan must have shared very similar interests.  A passage concerning the peddling of brass bells (page 151), caught my attention and reminded me of Eric Sloane’s writings on the subject of sleigh bells:

“Another item of brass that was sold almost exclusively by the peddler of the nineteenth century was the cowbell.  In these days, when a farmer’s pasture is always securely enclosed with wire fencing, a bell attached to the cow is not usually necessary.  But in the nineteenth century nearly every cow had to have a bell if she was to be located readily and driven in from the pasture.  However the making of cowbells here never reached the point it did in Switzerland, where in certain dairy districts each family developed a cowbell with a distinctive sound that enabled the owner to distinguish his cows from those of his neighbors by the sound of the bell.  The bells themselves were sometimes engraved or embossed with a distinguishing mark and since they are virtually indestructible they have become treasured family heirlooms.”

A connection, perhaps, between the early American custom of building custom sleigh bells for a distinctive sound and a similar Swiss practice of locating cows?

Members help the Eric Sloane Museum

May 5, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Our thanks to our renewing members Scott Sheldon, Alice Mandel, and Mr. and Mrs. William Bacharach. Your generosity ensures that Eric Sloane’s legacy will be introduced to a new generation of admirers. Thank you!

Eric Sloane, Stone Walls, and Robert Thorson

May 5, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Our May 9th stone wall building seminar is nearly full – we have 1 0r 2 more openings left. Our May 16th and July 25th seminars still have openings, but may fill quickly in the next couple of weeks. Don’t forget the Robert Thorson event on May 17th:

Special Event: 5/17 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Book signing, lecture, and stone wall tour by Robert Thorson, author of Stone by Stone and Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls. This event is free, sponsored by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum. Robert will be signing books. Bring yours or purchase one new at the event (proceeds to benefit the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum).
More Information: Barb Russ, the Eric Sloane Museum 860-927-3849 or Jeff Bischoff, Friends board member 203-252-1321