Category Folk Culture History
In my previous post, I presented a selection of a text from Ray Nies, writing in about 1939 or 1940, recalling one of Holland, Michigan’s storied characters, a perpetually drunk but kind-hearted horse doctor named Piet Ver Liere. I discovered in a newspaper search that his actual name was Peter Van Liere, and that the […]
The following was written in 1939/1940 by Holland, Michigan’s Ray Nies. I have a lot more to say about Nies, but I will save that til later. The text below demonstrates Nies’ skill as a writer. In fact, if the Dutch of West Michigan ever had a Mark Twain, Nies was it. Although Nies was […]
Book Review: Sean Patrick Adams, How Americans Kept Warm in the 19th Century (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
In the 18th century, Americans burned a lot of wood to keep their homes warm. But everything from a log cabin to a brick house had an open fire place with a chimney made of brick or stone. These open fires were quite inefficient. As Adams notes, houses in the Northern states would burn ten […]
In the thousands of names and dates inscribed on the walls of Virginia’s Grand Caverns I see a giant puzzle, a sort of tapestry of American culture, two hundred years in the making. Some names, dating as early as 1808, were engraved in the form of type-set letters, the red walls carefully scarred to reveal […]
When I bought my house a year ago, I inherited a barn full of old materials. Some of these I suspect came from a house that stood on the neighboring property from between circa 1840 and 1920. The house is a bit of a mystery because there is almost no sign of its existence. The […]
Why do family photographs end up discarded? Why do we find them for sale at antique stores? In many cases, antique store photographs come from the shoebox files of distant relatives or long-ago friends of the photographed. When the owner of the photographs passes away, and a son or daughter rifles through the shoebox, they […]