Bed and Chicken Dinners

Brochure (4)During the early 20th century Fort Pelham Farm was a bed and breakfast of sorts as well as serving home cooked meals.  This is a brochure that Olive had in her scrapbook and I thought I’d share it.

Brochure (3)The brochure itself is small, maybe 3″ x 5″ on a textured yellow stock and gives quite a bit of information on a small space.

Brochure (1)As I was reading it this morning I was thinking how nice it would be to have a view of the hopper from the house.  It is completely grown in now so the only view we now have is trees.  Although I have noticed that part of the view just down the road (when the leaves are off of the trees) includes the windmills in Savoy which I can’t say that I’m a fan of.  So maybe it’s better that we have the trees that way I’m not angry that someone has invaded my space albeit from afar.

Brochure (2)The back of the brochure probably fascinates me the most.  “Modern electric power plant”?  Need a little more research into that.  Running water, modern bathroom?  Hmmmm . . .  Then there is the way the entire upstairs is set up.  You have to be pretty comfortable with strangers to all be staying in the rooms upstairs.  There is no hallway between any rooms so you need to walk through other peoples bedrooms to get anywhere near the stairways.  I’m making an assumption that what is now the upstairs bathroom was once a bedroom.  I do remember my father talking about a water holding tank in the attic over the ell which they used for water pressure.  Their water was spring fed and there was a huge cistern in the cellar as well.

Then there are those dinners.  We donated a sign for chicken dinners to the Rowe Historical Society a number of years back.  I have photographs of what is now the living room set up for dining.  It’s difficult for me to imagine cooking for a crowd in the kind of kitchen they were using at the time.  And what kind of flock of chickens did they have?  Must have been substantial unless they bought dressed hens somewhere else which I’m kind of doubting.  I also looked up the value of $3.00 in 1900 just to get a little perspective.  It amounted to $79.10.  They were making fairly good money with their little endeavor – almost $400 per person per week.  You just have to consider that it was a seasonal retreat for people.

Dining Room at Fort Pelham Farm 1930's (7)The photo above is of the dining room.  The floors and layout are still the same and I have to tell you that I wouldn’t mind having the rocking chair in the foreground.

Dining Room at Fort Pelham Farm 1930's (2)I look at these photographs and am amazed at how little the house has changed.  When we do something to it we try to keep within the character of the house.  It’s really too beautifully built to mess with.  We have returned to eating in that room, dividing it into different living spaces.  It’s a wonderful place to entertain friends and family.  Now I just need to figure out how to charge $26.27 for a creamed chicken dinner.



Genealogy Rabbit Hole

I’ve just spent the better part of this morning down a rabbit hole of genealogy which I have to admit happens quite often.  It all started out with a thought about sugaring.  I figured I’d do a little research on what sugaring was like on Fort Pelham Farm in the mid to late 1800’s.  I will still do that but that thought led me on a little adventure.

Sugar House on Fort Pelham Farm


This photograph was taken in the late 1890’s to early 1900’s.  I decided to try and figure out who the people in the photo were as best I could.  I have a number of other photographs with the names of people on them so I figured I’d just have to do some comparisons and maybe I could have an idea of who each person was.

The man farthest to the left is most likely Henry Wright, the next older gentlemen is Edward Wright.  The woman next holding the bucket is Charlotte Mills.  I think the man kneeling down is Lucius Wright but I could be wrong on that one.  The last one I know is Daisy who is second from the right.

In dating old photographs one of the clues is in the clothing they were wearing.  Daisy’s jacket is really of early 1890’s vintage.  The rest of their clothes could be anywhere from 1890 to 1910 so we can probably assume that residents of Rowe were not on the cutting edge of fashion. I figured I’d look at the marriage date for Henry and Daisy Wright since they are together on the farm during sugar season.  January 1, 1903 they were married.  Then it happened.  I opened the 1900 census for Daisy Negus and find her living with her aunt and uncle as a servant.  Hmmm, now how are J. Frank and Mary E. Brown related to her.  I search their family trees to find that they lived in the house next door to Fort Pelham Farm and Mary was Daisy’s mother’s sister.  In addition to finding out they were neighbors I read on to find out that J. Frank and Mary were killed in a railroad accident in Zoar on December 21, 1903. Wow.

None of this really had anything to do with my quest to identify people in the photograph but these little searches sometimes do enlighten you about circumstances that you may never have known about.  Daisy was Wright’s neighbor for a number of years as she was listed as a servant for her aunt and uncle who rented out rooms next door in the census.  She was born in Readsboro, VT so I often wondered how they came to know one another.  Mystery solved.  That left a lingering question for me – how did they all feel on that tragic day in December 1903?  It’s something I can only imagine.