generally available in East Central Illinois in the 1850s. They had
been around since the 18th century, but the limiting factor in their
widespread commercial availability was the difficulty and cost of
transporting them. That changed in the 1850s when the railroads came
to Illinois. Ads for stoves begin appearing in Charleston newspapers
in 1851. The railroads also brought many other manufactured goods and
the age of hand crafted gave way to the age of factory made.
The Five Mile House
provides a perfect setting for exploring the changes that took place between
the 1840s and the 1860s. The front two rooms of the house were built
in the 1840s and featured fireplaces on both the east and west ends.
Cooking was done over the open hearth, probably in the east room. In
the 1850s or 60s,
the house underwent a remodeling that added a rear kitchen room or "ell".
Although fireplaces generally continued to be built and used in the 1850s
and 60s, archaeology done at the site uncovered no evidence of a fireplace
in the ell, so it is assumed that a stove was used.
The fireplace in the
west room was removed during the remodeling and was replaced by an 1850s-60s
four over four window. The original fireplace, however, is still found
in the east room and has been restored to its original appearance and
function. It has been outfitted with a mantel, crane, the original andirons
and other open hearth cooking implements. It has already been used for
demonstrating open hearth cooking for school children and during open
houses in the summer months.
The 1850s-60s kitchen
ell has been reconstructed including a chimney and we needed a period cook
stove. So, we began the search for an appropriate stove. First
we had to determine the type of stove that would be appropriate for the Five
Mile House 1860s kitchen. Advertisements from 1850s Charleston newspapers
gave us the answer.
We found an
appropriate stove at Bryant Stove Company in Thorndyke, Maine and added it
to the 1860s Five Mile House kitchen in June of 2010. The stove was hooked
up by May of 2011 and used for the first time at the May 29th open house.
The new stove is shown in the picture to the right.
The Five Mile House
affords the rare opportunity to demonstrate 1840s open hearth cooking and
1860s stove cooking in adjacent rooms. This can provide a tremendous
educational opportunity for our visiting school children and visitors who
come during our living history open houses.
WHAT DOES AN 1850s-60s COOK STOVE LOOK LIKE?
The best source of
information on local cook stoves comes from the Charleston Courier
newspaper. Stove ads first appear in 1851. The papers were searched
through 1872. The style of stove seen in all the ads is a four-burner
stove with the oven located underneath.
Ads from the Charleston Courier
August 2, 1851
The stove above is located at Mahaffie Stage
Coach Stop and Farm in Olathe, KS and has a patent date of 1866. It is
very similar to the ones pictured in the ads. It is used at Mahaffie in
their living history program.
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