May 26, 2012

Predicting the Weather 18th Century Style

In the 18th century, families relied on almanacs to help them make many weather and seasonal decisions, such as when they should plant their crops or travel. However, almanacs only gave a long-term idea of what the weather might be based on weather in the past. If someone wanted an immediate weather forecast, weather accounts and “indicator 
journals,” which used observations of nature, were prolific.   

Are these weather indicators old wives tales or were 18th century weather enthusiasts on to something?

Some 18th century weather predictors:


-"You May expect some Rain, or Snow, according to Season of the Year, either on the third or fourth Day before, or on the third or fourth Day after every Change or Full of the Moon, in the whole Year; as also, at or near the Time when the Moon enters every first or last Quarter."

-"If there appear a Circle about the Moon, you may expect stormy Weather to follow shortly after."

-"If the Moon change on a Sunday, it is almost a certain Sign of a Flood before the next new Moon."

-"If the Sun set under a thick black Cloud, it is almost a sure Sign of some Rain the next Day."

-"If a Rainbow appear in the Morning, it is a Sign, for the most Part, of several Showers of Rain before Night."

-"When the Wind keeps varying much, from one Quarter to another, you may expect Rain in twenty-four Hours."

-"If there be no Dew in a still Summer's Morning you may expect Rain before Night, sometimes before Noon."

-"If the Smoke from the Chimnies, instead of ascending, fall to the Ground; you may expect Rain within twenty-four Hours, frequently sooner. [1]

-"The Crows flocking together in large Flights, holding their Heads upward as they fly, and crying louder than usual, is a Sign of Rain, as is also their stalking by Rivers and Ponds, and sprinkling themselves."

-"When Sheep leap mightily, and push at one another with their heads [it indicates rain.]"

-"When Cats rub their Heads with their Forepaws (especially that Part of their Heads above their Ears) and lick their Bodies with their Tongues[it indicates rain.]"[2]

-"It has been the Observation of those that have had many Years Experience of the Weather, That when the Wind in the Summer Time has been South 2 or 3 Days, and it grows very Hot, and when you see Clouds arise with great white Tops like Towers, as if one cloud were on the Top of another, and join'd together with Black on the nether Side, that then it is like to be Thunder and Rain suddenly in many Places." [3]

Sunny or Hot Weather

-"If the Clouds appear of a scarlet Red at or near the Setting of the Sun, it is a sure Sign of fair Weather..."

-"In a hazy Summer's Morning, when you see many Spider-webs upon the Grass, Trees, &c. you may expect it will clear up, and be hot, in general, before twelve o'Clock."

-"I have observ'd that many, if not most of 'em do expand their Flowers and Down in Warm Sun-shiny Weather, and again close them towards Evening, or in Rain, especially at the Beginning of Flowering, when the Seed is young and tender, It is manifest in the Down of the Dandelion..." [4]

-"If the Mist [in the mornings] continues many Days, as it frequently does in November and December, I think it is a sure Sign of much Rain or Snow falling in the Winter." 

-"Clouds like Woolly Fleeces appearing high and moving heavily; the Middle a Darkish Pale, and the Edges White, carry Snow in them..." [5]

I think I'll go outside and check the "down" of my dandelions. I knew I was growing them for some reason. :) 

[1] Allen Hall, Observations on the Weather (Lincoln: Drury's Office, 1788), 10-21.
[2] John Pointer, A Rational Account of the Weather: Shewing the Signs of its several Changes and Alterations, together with the Philosophical Reasons of them (Oxford:S. Wilmot, 1723), 3-5.
[3] Pointer, A Rational Account, 35.
[4]  Hall, Observations on the Weather, 13-21.
[5] Pointer, A Rational Account, 37.

May 23, 2012

Pocketbook Pattern from Godey's Lady's Book, 1862

Uh oh! I have seen to have hit my image max on my blogger account and I can't add anymore photos until I upgrade to a paid account which would cost $30 per year. I love blogging, but it is just a hobby for me. I am certainly not willing to pay money for a blog that makes me $0.00 in profit. I won't be going anywhere, but I'm experimenting with different, free ways to get my photos up here.

In the meantime, please take a look at this tiny pocketbook from Godey's Lady's Book. A the image suggests, it is to be made in velvet or leather and includes two small pockets and a change pouch. The total pocketbook only measures 5 x 8cm when it is completed.

I can't for the life of me figure out what the middle "holder" and "strap is for. My best guess is a skeleton key possibly. Maybe one of my readers knows or has a different guess. If I made this, I would probably put a few pencil ends in there, so I have them when I need them.

This could easily be enlarged or adapted to make a "housewife," or sewing kit for soldiers. I diagrammed the pocketbook out below. It's a pretty straightforward pattern. I recommend using some thick fabric and stiffener under the "fashion fabric" to give it a sturdy shape and a good base for embroidery or beading.

The pieces are cut out and the raw edges are bound with tape. These were popular embroidery items due to their small size. A great collection of purses for inspiration can be found at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Most of these purses are from the 1700s but they are so gorgeous!

May 16, 2012

Greenbank Mill Civil War Day (Photo Heavy)

Last weekend I attended Greenbank Mill’s Civil War Day. 

This was a living history at Greenbank Mill located in Wilmington, Delaware . The weather was fantastic; it was warm but not hot and had a nice breeze. Dating back to the late 1600s, the land around the mill went through a variety of transformations from milling foodstuffs to wool processing to milling animal feed. This site, similar to the mill I visited a few weeks ago, used the Oliver Evans milling system, which used cups and chutes to make the milling process automatic. 

This event was equally enjoyable for reenactors and visitors. Reenactors were not told to simply “walk about and be Civil War people,” but given jobs that used their personal skills to an advantage. This arrangement was beneficial as reenactors spent the day doing something fun and visitors had many things to do.
The house contained an interesting and well-placed exhibit entitled “Household Heroes,” which demonstrated the home front aspect of the war.

  The millhouse had a variety of activities and mini-exhibits that pertained to the Sanitary Commission, an organization that aimed to help better the lives of the troops. These activities included, medicine, refreshments for soldiers, the making of medical supplies, embroidery, making poke sacks and knitting.  In camp, visitors could drill with the soldiers.

Visitors and reenactors alike took part in dancing period dances at a country-style dance and played baseball with period ball and rules. There was a lot for everyone to do but the day was relaxed and fun. 

The canopy above our camp.

I forgot to mention that we attended this event as (*gasp*): Yankees! :D

May 10, 2012

The Mill at Anselma: A fully functioning Colonial Mill

This post is a little late but I’ve been meaning to write something up about my visit to the Mill at Anselma a few weeks ago. This was actually the first that I had heard of this site and now that I have been there, I am really surprised. 

It is located in a beautiful part of Chester County, dotted with Amish farms and little shops. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a nice breeze.

The site was bustling with excited visitors but the site was serene with field stone buildings by the water, dating back to the 1700s. I typically don't take day trips alone, but this was a school function and was still fun.

Built in 1747, the mill was the area’s center of grain processing until the early 1900s. The millstones powered by a huge waterwheel and 18th century technology. According to their website, "The Mill stands as the most intact, authentic example of a custom water-powered grain mill in the United States and has been so honored by the U.S. Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark."

It’s incredible to see something like this in action. You would not believe how neat it is to see the wooden parts, and gears moving stones weighing thousands of pounds and grinding corn kernels into meal. This is one of those technologies that you know the theory of, but the real thing is just astounding. 
The Waterwheel

 In addition to the mill, you can see a spring house, houses and a barn as well as the mill run. It's really a very unique place to visit, especially if you like old tools and machinery. The mill also functioned as a saw mill, cider press and workshop.
The Millhouse
Milling was such a common thing in Colonial times. It really is special to get to see the inter-workings of a mill just as they would have been hundreds of years ago.Click here to read more about Colonial mills in Pennsylvania and to see a map of the over 200 mills in Colonial Chester County.
The Finished Product
Overall, the day was fantastic and the site was lovely. There was a lot there that you just can't see at any other historical sites.
 I was excited to learn that you can buy different kinds of flour, milled at the site, in their gift shop. They also had these really cute, baked good mixes sold in mason jars tied up with ribbons. I never would have thought of that, but what a cute gift idea!  

It really was a fun trip, and well worth it. If you go, make sure you go on a warm weekend when you can stop at Milky Way Farm and get an ice cream cone made from fresh milk from the farm’s dairy cows.

May 4, 2012

New Findings about the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

It's the week of finals and unfortunately, I haven't been doing much posting! I have a bunch of posts lined up some of them are half written, but my brain is being consumed by my finals and won't be available for my own use until next week. :D

But I did find this really cool article about the lost colony of Roanoke that I think merits sharing:

Drawn in invisible ink, is this the site of Walter Raleigh's lost colony?

Roanoke Colony was late 16th century attempt to establish a colony in the New World. The fort and colony are surrounded in mystery as it disappeared with few indications of what happened to the population. John White, an artist and later governor of the colony painted many detailed maps of the area but never indicated exactly where the fort was. Now it's been discovered that a flap on one of his maps covers a drawn fort.

Was this lozenge (the cartographer term for a fort on a map) a mistake? The real location of the fort? :D I can't wait to find out. People have been searching for it since its disappearance. Union soldiers even dug around the area during the Civil War. You can read about some of the location attempts here: America's Lost Colony.

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