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Old things...like, REALLY OLD — The Grow Network Community
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Old things...like, REALLY OLD

LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning ModeratorManitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,415 admin

I love history. Not just dates, but REAL history...hands on, names, stories, not just school grade stuff...empty dates of wars & battles. I want connection; I want meat! 😉

I was privileged yesterday to view (and very accidentally barely touch) a 400 year old document that someone I know found. It was said that it was a lawyer written contract for servitude. It is said that is an agreement of someone coming from Scotland (or thereabouts) to the New World to work in exchange for transit (voyage) debt.

It is in old English (and so perfectly wtitten), on vellum (which is thin cow hide). This document had many wax seals. It was found in a special sealed box in an old shed that was quickly succumbing to the elements. The document was super musty. The box was crow-barred to open it. It could have just as easily gotten thrown away.

It was the COOLEST (oldest) old thing that I have ever seen in person. More specific research is about to start on it. I am excited to hear what comes of it. It might not be worth anything, and that isn't the point. It is its story that is sought.

Moral of the story...leave nothing unturned, unexplored, or unopened. This was in a junky old shed. You never know what could be hiding.

I also recently read about an old barn in Russia that held secrets of a sordid & violent past. Some of these people listed could easily be some of my ancestors as they came from this town & some if the last names are in my history. I know some of the stories, but am so fascinated with new information. I followed many of the links. It is a very interesting read. Oh, to go help in the puzzle work of discovery!



  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    My story isn't anywhere near as old as yours but it's just a reflection on older age.

    There is so many times now in my life I run across scenarios where people say What? What's that?

    It happens an awfully lot of times concerning kitchen gadgets, toys or cleaning supplies or just anything which was common in the early to middle 1900's. And when I try to explain the item many times they've never heard of it.

    But to me, well I prefer it over many of the new inventions of today. Usually the old thing just works better, faster, easier or I don't have to spend hours reading all the directions on the new gadget just to get it to operate.

    So yes, my preferred gadget is history. But to me it's just plain old common stuff that I don't understand why people would prefer the new gadget over the old.

    So yes I guess this is a sign I'm reaching that point in life where myself and my gadgets are history. But since I don't feel old I'm just going to continue spending my life hoping I accidentally run into some of my preferred gadgets and everyone else can go on enjoying their newfangled machines which seem like a whole lot of trouble just to accomplish a simple little job to me.

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭

    Speaking of old things, has anyone else noticed how antique furniture is being devalued by being painted over?

    Antiques are valued by being closest to original condition. These silly people have made the furniture virtually worthless now that it is painted white, black, blue, green....

    Sorry, I just had to vent about all the lost furniture that was beautiful just the way it was.

    @Laurie @greyfurball I can so relate. I am hanging on to odd gadgets and old things until I can find a museum that will take them; I find myself unable to just toss them into the thrift store abyss.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @shllnzl it's sorry to say but society today is a "throwaway society". Most of the time many of them could care less if it's a parent's, grandparents treasured item. They look at it as old and scratched so just slap on a coat of paint and all is well again.

    So yes, you are correct. Old things in many cases are no longer wished for things. It's either dress it up or throw it out.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,415 admin
    edited November 2019

    @greyfurball @shllnzl I agree, but I do like some of the newfangled things...

    I asked this same lady, who has lived in Churchill (now famous for its 2000+ polar bears) for years, if she might be able to bring back an ulu knife for me (cost may prevent me from owning one, however 😕). She said, decorative/useful? Well, I said useful of course! I will use it until I no longer can, and only then will it become decorative. I like keeping old things that have a story in use & look.

    Such character some things have! Why hide it or throw it away? When they can no longer be used, they fall into the "loved & display" category here. I have 2 butter churns (one still quite useful), 3 cream separators (one tabletop early 1900s), my grandpa's grain wagon and quite a few other cool historic farm related items. I don't appreciate "reproduction" products. They aren't real, just cheaper imitations, most times.

    My husband likes the farm "junk piles" and mourns the loss of so much still useable good stuff (fixable implements) to the scrap yard.

    I think when you have need, are poor or other hardship, it makes these things worth more. You see their true value...and most things were built to last. When you have money, you tend to throw things away, since you can replace it anyway. That, to me, is very frustrating.

    Our kids know we are poor. We value well made & old items (not true junk...). We use & reuse things until they can give no more...and we value history. I think that they see the value as well. We teach them as we find things. Our youngest boy is wanting vintage/antique equipment if he ever gets to farm one day. He loves driving the old Allis & admires the old implements his Dad has. 👏💪👨‍🌾💓🚜 (It is nothing like this "new" JD emoji...haha)

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie you can tell your parents/grandparents taught you the value and desirability of using and owning OLD things. Thankfully you are also teaching this trait to your children.

    Yes there is some people everywhere which understands this premise and as long as they are teaching their children the value, it will never die out. It's just becoming a little more obsolete as the years go by though.

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 639 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie Thanks for sharing. I'd have been squealing.

  • I love history, too. What a find! Please do update when more is known about it!

    A few years ago, I was helping sort donated books for the Friends of the Library sale. There were lots of volunteers there that day, and a pair of high school girls found some old 45 records in a box of books. My over-55 friend and I watched as they tried to figure out what they were. After a few minutes of giggling, they came to us - the 2 oldest women in the room - to ask about them. They were polite, and interested in learning, but it sure made me feel old.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,415 admin

    @blevinandwomba You bet I was very intrigued! I wished that I had found an item so cool as what she had...but so happy for her!

    I told my kids that were present to come (but don't touch) and look at what made this document to special. Look at this & that detail...this is a once in a lifetime thing that you may never witness again.

    It was wonderful!

    As far as the finding of old tombstones potentially displaying historic relatives' names. They heard all about it too, along with some of the stories that I was aware of and new information. I emailed all who might be interested. Why keep exciting news like that to yourself? Those things don't happen every day either!

    @Mary Linda Bittle I will update if I get more information.

  • wbt.affiliateswbt.affiliates Posts: 100 ✭✭✭


    Loved what you wrote. Recently someone invited some teenagers to use a rotary phone. None knew how to use one or to complete a call. I never thought I was old until I read that.

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 307 ✭✭✭

    @Laurie that is so very cool. I’ve not been fortunate enough to make any cool discoveries like that. I do however see all of the “things” that either my parents had, or I had myself growing up; that I want back now; lol. I don’t know what I was thinking getting rid of all those “quality” items and replacing them with new improved plastic junk!

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭

    @maimover Take consolation in this: If you had kept everything that was unique or had value from your entire life, you wouldn't be able to buy a house big enough to store it.

    Nostalgia is what compels we older folks into buying the vintage car we couldn't afford in our youth and other vintage items we buy on impulse.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you for sharing. Please keep us updated on what you find out about the document.

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    What and awesome find! :) My husband and I both love some history in the items we have. When we bought our first house (they one we still live in), we chose an 1840 colonial - one of the original homes in our area. It had been on the market for two years and needed some help, so we got it for a great deal and have been spending much of our free time restoring it back to its original beauty and look - definitely a labor of love since most of the woodwork had been painted peacock blue at some point, amongst other things....! It was built by one of the first families to settle the area - and a carpenter at that. The whole house is post and beam when you look up from the attic and barely creaks in the biggest of windstorms here - a true attest to his abilities! It has been so much fun research him, his family, and those who have owned the house since. We also love antiques - my husbands side of the family have always been the type to pass down furniture pieces, so we have several items from past relatives throughout our home. His great-great grandmother took the time to write a note card taped to the backs of some of the pieces, telling who she inherited them from and a bit about their history, if they were a gift, etc... I love having things with so many personal family memories and history attached to them :) We have left some of the spaces in our home bare because we know that his parents plan to give us other pieces as they downsize in their older age to keep them in the family. Our home has also been awesome to explore as we take it back to a more original state - we have found old coins, broken pottery pieces, and ammunition from the civil war stashed in the walls. This summer, we found another forged piece of ironwork from one of our door latches buried where we are digging a pathway. After we cleaned the rust and residue away, we found that it was still perfectly usable - we plan to oil it up and put it back in the house where it belongs :)

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 639 ✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 I would love to see some pictures from your house! Something about really old woodwork...

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba here are some pics that I happened to have - unfortunately, we did have to leave the woodwork painted - after multiple rounds of paint strip testing, we could never get it down to clean wood and believe that it may have been painted originally - so many layers too!!! We also have two young kids and pets, so trying to chip away at all that old paint was a problem... We did however uncover layers of beading detail that had been filled in and painted over at some point in time to make things look more modern (?!), so we did go throughout the house and remove all of that and make any repairs before giving everything a fresh coat. The floors in the dining room and pantry are original, but the hall and living room had been redone sometime later - eventually we would like to take that up and replace it with antique flooring to help match the rest of the house - you can still see a bit of the blue color EVERYTHING was painted on our front door surround at the end of the hall - its a lot brighter in person though! This is our seventh year at this house, and it is still a work in progress :) Don't mind the mess covering our piano! :)

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,415 admin

    @chimboodle04 Historic houses are so wonderful!

    Are there any other special features that are unique to the house? One old house built long ago in my parents area had extra small stairway steps to accomodate the very tiny lady who lived there. Some have hidden spaces or unique rooms or features.

    Did its builder include anything "ahead of its time"?

    What is the most interesting story that you have learned connected to the house?

    It is intriguing to find the items that you found. I was always told that walls and hidden places can hold secrets/treasures. I especially like that you found something while digging. I wonder why it was there if it still worked and if you might find any other things if you kept digging or searched otherwise somehow.

    This is so very interesting!

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    @Laurie I agree! To us, it has such a special feel to it :) One of the features in the house that has us puzzled is the angled corners - you can actually see them both - one behind the Christmas tree, and the other is in the hallway to the right of the front door - Not sure why these would be here - they do not hide anything (as far as we can tell) and they seem to be in such odd places - especially the one by the front door! Our house is also built in the Georgian style (from what we can tell) - but the front rooms are not exactly symmetrical - the dining room windows are spaced closer together than the living room by almost a foot, but you cannot tell from the front of the house looking at it... We have three fireplaces (including one in the kitchen!), but the one in the dining room is by far the oldest, so the others were added later maybe? It is also possible that they just had to be redone, and they just never did the one in the dining room (this one has an interior chimney that actually runs up the inside of the house, enclosed, where the others have exterior chimneys) - much harder to get to and replace :) We also have three separate staircases leading into the basement (of all places!) - the basement is divided into two connected sections - part stone rubble and part ratblock - it is hard to know which is actually the older section though since the ratblock section is really only 6 foot high and is more uneven, while the stone rubble section is over 7 foot and is even throughout - the basement also does not cover the entire footprint of the house - there is a three foot section across the entire front that does not have a full basement under it, just a crawl space (and really impossible to even get into as the opening for it is only about 2x2 foot!)... Other changes we discovered include the fact that there used to be a back porch, but this had been converted into a downstairs bathroom and laundry room at some point. We also found where an exterior coal shoot used to go into the basement and something similar down through the floor of the kitchen(???). As we have continued to renovate, bits of the houses history keep coming up - changes made here and there, etc. Some to accommodate more advanced systems and technology and some just for the aesthetic preference - but everything was well cared for and maintained for the most part...

    Two of my uncles are interested in old bottles and have identified and dug many old privies in the area to form their collection - they think they have identified where the privy used to be located on our property and are planning a bit or excavating at some point, so it will be interesting to see what they find :)

    As for the man who built it, unfortunately we have not been able to find a whole lot - this is partially due to the fact that our area's claim to fame is that it also has the location of President Mckinley's boyhood home - this and other more influential people have pushed our poor carpenter out of the local history :) We do know that he had a brother and fought in the war (and survived) and also worked on many other homes and businesses in the area, but that is about it - we keep looking though!

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 639 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks @chimboodle04 , your house is lovely- and the trim is downright yummy. I actually like the blue door, but I could see not wanting that color all over the house.

    Those corners certainly are interesting- could make some fun stories trying to speculate the purpose for building them.

  • nksunshine27nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 320 ✭✭✭

    @Laurie i had lost all my grandmothers family history when my dad had it in a storage container and never had a chance to go get it his father was from Russia and every time i try to find out any info i hit a brick wall. I love history and "collecting " useful things like enamel ware which i still use i have several old blue jars i have one piece of paper that was photocopied that says a relative in Ireland tried to take pop shots at the red coats. its a treasure you found and really cool.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,415 admin

    @nksunshine27 Oh! I am so sad for you. 🙁 Maintaining a personal history is so important.

  • gennywugennywu Posts: 96 ✭✭✭

    I grew up surrounded by history - we lived in a house in Austria that was about 400 years old. It had an old well, an outhouse, a small barn and hayloft attached to the house, and ceilings so low that you had to bend down to enter the doorways. When my father renovated parts of the house, he found that the main section was built with wooden nails. Everything about the house had a story. I miss being surrounded by history now that I live in the U.S. It makes me feel a little like a plant that has had its roots trimmed.

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