Most country homes in the 1830s were log cabins covered with clapboards. The cabins contained two rooms, a garret (loft) used as a sleeping area, and a wide fireplace at one end. Mud and sticks formed the outside chimney.
Families spent most of their time around the family hearth in front of a blazing fire that warmed the cabin. Families read books, drank cider, talked, and told stories around the comforting warmth of this fire. They also entertained company there in the light of a lard lamp.
Log barns and stables were not large. Owners marked the ears of their livestock that ran outdoors year-round. Cows and hogs roamed the woods in the summer. Cows wore bells to help find them easily at milking time.
Women baked and cooked at the fireplace. There were no cooking stoves. An iron pot hung on a crane over the fire to boil dinners. Mush, a thick porridge, was a common meal cooked this way. Children often filled tin cups with mush for an evening meal.
Fire was very important in these homes. They didn’t use coal for heating in those days nor did they use lucifer matches for lighting. When the fire died out, someone walked to the nearest neighbor to “borrow fire” or used steel and flint to start a new one.
-Sandra Merville Hart
“The History of Matches,” About.com Inventors 2015/06/10 http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blmatch.htm.
“Clapboard,” Dictionary.com 2015/06/10 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/clapboard.
“Lard Lamps,” Old Time Lamp Shop, 2015/06/10 http://collectlamps.com/lard%20lamps.html.
Welker, Martin. 1830’s Farm Life in Central Ohio, Clapper’s Print, 2005.