Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life in a 1905 farmhouse

I bought this house-on-the-hill in Marlborough. It was a tiny farmhouse with some interesting and pristine features - carved mantle, plaster moldings surrounding the living room and dining room, pocket doors, hardwood floors. I was the third owner (so I was told): the first owner's family lived here as dairy farmers until the mid-1980's when the last immediate member of the family, Lillian, passed on.

The farmhouse was held in estate for 5 years until the next owners purchased and renovated the place in the mid-1990's. I came into it's history in 2005. Although my husband and I expanded this tiny house to accommodate a larger family, the mystery of the original farmhouse's unique touches of wealth continued to intrigue me.

This mystery pulled me to Marlborough city hall where I made some fascinating discoveries:
  • The house and property (house and acreage) was originally owned by a Boston couple as a country home in the early 1900's (touches of wealth). The property extended down one side of the long street we live on. 
  • They decided to sell the country home, and sold all of the property to a French-Canadian family in 1905, who used the property as a dairy farm, and feeding grounds for their dairy cattle. 
  • When the parents passed on, the daughter, Lillian, continued to live on in the house. In order for her to do this, she was forced to sell land parcels over time to make money and continue to live in the house.
  • When Lillian passed on, the estate went to her nephew who held it for 5 years, but did not live there.
I also found out that a fire at City Hall destroyed many of the records prior to 1905, so discovering details about the Boston couple was not possible. 

When we expanded the home, the contractor uncovered the old 'dumping pit' where the household used to discard their glass bottles. Since many of the old heavy glass bottles were still intact, we discovered that someone living there had stomach problems, since many of the bottles were early versions of PeptoBismal and older homeopathic bottles of Atwood's Jaundice Bitters, which were based on an old American Indian medicine, "Recommended for jaundice, headache, dyspepsia, worms, dizziness, loss of appetite, darting pains, colds and fevers. For cleansing the blood of humors and moistening the skin. Also for liver complaints, strangury, dropsy, croup and phthisis."

It was surprising to me how the influence of the medicinal cures found with the American Indian tribes in this area continued to play a role in commerce into the 1900's. What ever happened to that knowledge, and could it (is it?) still be used today?

The past holds knowledge we can use today!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Testing, testing...

Time is in the fast-forward state, and we're along for the ride. So how do we capture the characteristics of the neighborhoods that many of us experienced in our youths without a neighborhood town green to provide the stage for discussion and play? I was thinking about this today, and decided to create my own 'virtual' town green with this blog. It will be a little bit home town, a little bit your town, a little history, a little gossip, and yes, sometimes even my rumblings;-) I invite you to join me on this 'town Common', or street corner, or neighborhood park, and join in the discussions. you never know what can happen in this virtual downtown... Take a load off your feet and stay for a spell. Catch you later this week!