Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Chapter 7: A quiet day...

The Dustin House
Haverhill, Massachusetts


It's raining and thundering here, and my darlin' husband had a bumpy flight home this afternoon.

We're keeping one eye on the Weather Channel, mindful of weather alerts.
As long as I was checking the weather map, I took a look at the weather today in Haverhill Massachusetts. It is 70 degrees, which seems unseasonably warm to me, and showers are expected later.

Now back to our story:

March 14th, 1697 fell on a Thursday according to the Gregorian calendar.

Thomas Dustin, farmer, brick maker, past constable for his end of town, husband and father of eight undoubtedly had enough to keep him busy from sun up to sun down.

He had volunteered for one additional task within the community; bringing firewood for the new minister.

The first house that Thomas and Hannah lived in was built of bricks imported from Europe. Upon discovering a clay pit on his property, Thomas experimented with making bricks himself, apparently with great success. There was later comment in New England noting the quality of bricks from Haverhill.

As to the house which Thomas was nearly finished constructing, modern examination reports the following:

"As it (the house) is still standing, it is possible to tell of its construction. A Haverhill writer says that " white oak, which is today well preserved, was used in its massive framework, and the floor and roof timbers are put together with great wooden pins. In early days the windows swung outward, and the glass was very thick, and set into the frames with lead."

Beyond that, what other activities were undertaken by the family on this day can only be imagined. A historian commenting on the times had this to say about the typical day of the times:

"Their every-day dress was plain, strong, and comfortable, and was the product of their own looms and knitting-needles. A cocked-up hat, a short frock of strongest warp, a pair of old leather breeches, and leggings confined above the knee and tied over the shoe with a string round the middle of the foot, was the costume of the man.

The farm work obliged them to be up before daylight. The early breakfast consisted of pea or bean porridge, boiled with salted beef or pork, served in wooden bowls, together with bread and beer. The bread was generally some preparation of Indian-corn mixed with rye. Dinner at noon began with Indian pudding and ended with boiled salt pork, fried eggs, brown bread, cabbage, and cider. Sometimes they had succotash, a native dish of corn and beans boiled together in the milk. Hasty pudding, consisting of the boiled meal of maize or rye, and eaten with molasses or milk, was a common dish.

The spoons were pewter, the plates "wooden trenchers." Their sofa was the settle, their carpets clean white sand, their ceilings rough boards and rafters, and their parlor was at once kitchen, bedroom, and hall. Besides other household labor, the women did all the sewing, knitting, mending, spinning, cooking, and washing. Their toil was unremitting. Religious exercises, morning and evening, were never omitted. By eight o'clock the entire family were in bed."

And with that, I will leave the family to their chores and domestic pursuits, at peace, for the moment.

Stay tuned for tomorrow episode: "Chapter 8...and then all hell broke loose."





2 comments:

Lovella said...

Can you hear the audible sigh from Canada? I made lunch for my kids who stopped in on their way to work and we enjoyed some fajitas together and after they left, I cleaned up lunch and came in for a long treat of Jill's continuing story. I'm sorry but it's not long enough. I feel like a little kid being put to bed begging for more. Tomorrow's title has me very curious.

Julie said...

Jill, I HATE the power you have in leaving me hanging like that !! It is positively cruel!!
I was sooo engrossed in your story with bated breath... and then... "come back tomorrow!"
I WILL be back tomorrow !! Early!!

(hmmmm.. on second thought..it may be a artist's ploy to guarentee tomorrow's audience!!! clever!smile)