Sunday, October 29, 2017

Conner Prairie - A Glimpse Into Life in Indiana in 1836

In keeping with our interest in living history, we decided to make a visit to Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana, as part of a recent vacation.  I didn't really know what to expect, but I can only say it was so much more than I thought it would be.  There were areas meant for young children that we skipped, but what we saw we enjoyed immensely.

Conner Prairie got its name from William Conner, whose home is still in its original location.  Other buildings in the park are authentic buildings, but mostly brought from other areas of the state. A quilted wall hanging in the home represented a map of the area.

  We concentrated on two portions of the park although we did also visit the area representing the Lenape (Delaware) tribe which lived in Indiana in 1836 which is the year the park represents.

After leaving the Conner home, we made a quick visit to the loom house which was an exhibit of weaving, spinning, dyeing and various fiber arts.  Outside the house was a simple display where guests could give weaving a try.

We made our way to an area called Prairietown which is a small sort of town with one main road.  The walkway was bounded by rustic fences.  On days when the weather permits, there is also a balloon experience.

Our first visit was to the blacksmith shop where the smith was busy making flint strikers.  It appeared to me that the strikers and other items made in the little town were available for purchase in the gift shop in the main building.  All the workers in Prairietown were dressed in period costumes and worked in 'first person', thus knowing nothing about modern times.

Nearby was a bake shop where pies and other baked goods were being produced.  While not actively cooking, the proprietress was getting her ironing done.

The shopkeeper across the street had all sorts of trade goods and other items desirable  to folks in a small prairie town.  In addition to his goods he had an amazing little hand truck made entirely of wood! The store was also the site of notices of interest to the townsfolk.

Not far from the store was the village school. School was in session when we arrived.  The school master was very strict.  Parents had to pay a few cents a day for each student for the school term of three months from December to February, including Christmas day!  Can you solve the riddle in the center of the chalk board?  He showed us an interesting way to use the number pyramid to learn addition and multiplication facts.

The nicest house in town was the residence and office of Dr. Campbell.  It appeared he made his own remedies.  Dr. Cambell had an interesting stethoscope which was basically a wooden tube turned on a lathe.  I'm pretty sure I know someone who could make one of those!

The herb house was just across from the doctor's place.  Drying herbs hung from the ceiling, ready to be used to cure local residents.

The village pottery was nearby. The potter was busy turning out mugs, inkwells and other useful items for the town.  The kiln was outside the shop.  His wheel looked really heavy, but turned amazingly easily when he moved it with his feet....and just kept turning.

The last shop we visited was the carpenter shop, which of course of great interest to my woodworker.  We went there last because I knew once we were  there, we'd never get any further before closing time. Mr. McClure, the carpenter was busy turning a rolling pin on his treadle lathe.  He also had a fine collection of molding planes.

Once we left Prairietown, we headed to the Civil War section of the park.  Apparently there was only one battle in Indiana during the Civil War.  This exhibit was about that raid.  It was also done in first person.   The exhibits in the store and the home were well done with video portrayals visible from the windows of the buildings to tell the story.

We loved the museum enough to go there two days in a row so we could see everything.

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