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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shopping in Colonial Times by Cynthia Howerter

Tarpley Thompson Store in Colonial Williamsburg
In the colonial historical fiction novel that I’m currently writing, there is only one store near the Wallace family who lives on a farm in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1777. Maclay’s Trading Post, owned by Scottish immigrant Robert Maclay, carries a large assortment of goods that settlers in a rural area need but cannot provide for themselves.

Because it’s helpful for me to visualize scenes as I write them, I visited the  Tarpley Shop in Colonial Williamsburg and took photos of the interior. Let’s take a stroll inside and see what items the Wallace women might need to purchase for their colonial kitchen.

During the colonial era, cooking was done in a large fireplace. The Wallace women would have set pans and tea kettles on iron trivets over the burning coals to cook their food. These would have been made by a blacksmith. The triangular trivet contains short legs and would have been used for pans that required direct heat from coals while the round trivet with its longer legs allowed a pan to sit farther away from direct heat.

Triangular trivet with short legs

Round trivet with longer legs

Both wood and iron cooking utensils were used by the Wallace women. Surely Mr. Maclay sold these items in his trading post.

Iron cooking ladles and forks










Assortment of wood cooking utensils










The Wallace family had an abundance of fresh eggs because they raised chickens.And what goes better with eggs than toast? Yes, colonial women were able to take slices of bread and toast them in their cooking fireplaces. But I'm certain the Wallace women had to keep a close eye on their food! Below is a two-slice toaster. Ahem.
 
A colonial "toaster"

The Wallace Farm had an apple orchard that produced an abundance of apples. Each fall, apples were processed into cider, a favorite drink of the family. The mugs below would have been made by a potter. 

Mugs or tankards

 Robert Maclay's Trading Post catered to the needs of his customers. Those who could afford dishes made from pottery would have been able to purchase them from Maclay's store.

Kitchen dishes made from red clay pottery

Before the Wallace women leave Maclay's Trading Post, they surely would have taken one last look to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything. The photos below give a broader view of the inside of the Tarpley store in Colonial Williamsburg. 

Tarpley's store in Colonial Williamsburg


Interior of the Tarpley store in Colonial Williamsburg


I hope you've enjoyed shopping with the Wallace women today. Because they walked several miles from their home to the store and had to also walk back home, they only purchased what they could carry. And that simply means they will have to go shopping again soon.


All Photographs © 2014 Cynthia Howerter 

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.

    


18 comments:

  1. So much fun with you yesterday, Cynthia! Great post! Hugs!

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  2. We always have a wonderful time together in Colonial Williamsburg, Carrie! And we always learn so much about the colonial era. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post.

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  3. I really enjoyed our "shopping" trip Cynthia. I like stepping back in time & visit the way things were so many years ago.
    We have an apple butter kettle & the large stirring paddle that has been in my husband's family for years. We have made apple butter in it, a 2-3 days process with many helpers. Making Apple butter that way gives me a feel of how our ancestors cooked & lived.
    Blessings, Tina

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    1. Oh, Mrs. Tina, I wish I could have been one of your apple butterin' helpers! With so many modern conveniences today, we forget what our ancestors had to do to provide food for their families. I'm so glad you enjoyed today's article - thank you for letting me know! Blessings back to you, sweet friend.

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  4. Wonderful photos. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Thank you, Susanne! I'm so glad you enjoyed the article and photos. Thanks so much for letting me know.

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  5. Love the post and photos, Cynthia! I wish we had such a store nearby where I could shop for treasures!

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    1. Thank you, Joan! Well, until you get a colonial shop near you, you'll just have to travel to Colonial Williamsburg and go shopping with Carrie Fancett Pagels and me. We'd love to have you come visit.

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  6. Great post, Cynthia. Colonial Williamsburg is such fun.

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    1. Thank you, Janet. There's always something new to see and learn about our country's history in Colonial Williamsburg.

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  7. I can't imagine living like that, Cynthia. Country stores and a hard but simple life. Now we have mega-stores and fancy houses. Yet, somehow we're missing the contentment they had. More isn't always better.

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    1. I understand, Sherry! I had a taste of living the harder but more simpler life each time I stayed at my aunt and uncle's 1779 farmhouse. Even though colonists lacked modern conveniences, there was a great reliance on God and family which produced a wonderful sense of contentment and achievement.

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  8. Love this, Cynthia! I can't wait to meet the Wallace sisters. :) Thanks for sharing this tidbit of research with us.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy Baker! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

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  9. I loved visiting the store with you, Cynthia! It made we want to return to Colonial Williamsburg! Alas—another day. Maybe next year. :) Thank you for the fun and informative post.

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    1. Thank you, Elaine Cooper! I'm so glad you enjoyed the article, and hope you get to return to Colonial Williamsburg - it's such a wonderful place.

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  10. Thank you for this post, Cynthia! It was very helpful today with my own WIP. :-D

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  11. Oh, Shannon! I'm so glad I was able to help you. :) Thank you for letting me know.

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