While we were staying in Stroudsburg, PA I looked
around for places to visit. One of the things that came up was the Quiet Valley
Living Historical Farm. One of our favorite places to visit are what we call
Living History Museums. (Museums that have costumed docents or presenters.)
Oftentimes the docents are only available on the weekends, as many of these
folks are volunteers. Keeping this in mind we decided to pay a visit to Quiet
Valley on a Friday. We checked the weather and it was "supposed" to be
sunny all day. Oh well, you know what they say about the weather. It did hold
off raining until we had seen most of the farm. A very interesting point is that
instead of having historic buildings that had been moved into the area for
preservation these buildings were the original buildings that were there in the
1700's when the family settled there. As we first entered the property we
encountered a gate that had a counter-balance box-of-rocks to help you open the
As we bought our tickets they explained to us that the docents would speak to us in the "1st person", that is they would be talking as though they were actually in that time period. They would certainly answer our questions but not if it included something about modern things.
Our first docent explained the history of Quiet Valley to us. It seems that the history of Quiet Village Living Historical Farm begins early 1760's when the Depper family left their home in the Palatinate region of Germany to start a new life in America. They sailed from Rotterdam to Philadelphia, arriving in 1765, and eventually made their way north looking for land that they could farm. They settled in Quiet Valley near modern Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1780 their daughter Katherine married Johann Ludwig Meyer who had originally come to America as a Hessian soldier during the Revolutionary War. Jolxann and Katherine passed the farm on to their son, a carpenter/farmer named John Simon Meyer. John Simon Meyer's daughter and son-in-law, Hannnh and Peter Marsh received the farm next. They sold the farm to their son Horace who lived on the farm until 1913 when the farm was sold outside the family. After several years it passed to the non-profit organization that runs it today. One of the interesting parts of the story was about one of the sons who went to "the big city" to find himself a bride. Well, in the city she had the luxury of having a cast-iron stove to cook on. When she arrived at the farm and found a kitchen with an open fire for cooking she was less than happy about the arrangement. She put up with this situation through two children and finally told her husband she had had it and was going back to the "big city" to live with her Ma. Fortunately her Ma was a very wise woman and instead of letting her daughter move back in with her, with two children, she listened to her complaints and sent her a new stove instead. This seemed to satisfy the daughter, but then she set about modernizing a number of things around the farm, which included fixing up the outside of the house and getting a pump organ in the parlor to entertain family and friends.
After our orientation we next went to the Farm House. We were able to go around the back and into the "original" 1820 kitchen where Sarah Maude was cooking Blueberry buckle in a Dutch Oven. The Dutch Oven was an interesting design that allowed you to cook cakes or baked goods over an open fire, but there was a concave lid that went on top that you could put hot coals in to cook both the bottom and top at the same time. This was necessary since they didn't have any kind of oven in the fireplace. She showed us an interesting plate made out of wood. It was hollowed out on the top, with a smaller area where you could put salt or other seasonings. She explained that in order to get the children to eat the food on their plates, they were told that in order to have dessert they had to eat everything. Then the plate was turned over and the dessert was served on the bottom of the plate.
From the kitchen we went upstairs to the bedroom where Elizabeth showed us the area where she, her parents, and her siblings slept. It was interesting hearing how her Pa her Ma and the 1 year old brother would all sleep in the large bed. The youngest baby would sleep in the cradle right next to the bed so Ma could just reach out and rock the baby if he got restless during the night. As long as the children were short enough they would sleep in the trundle bed that was pulled out from under the parents' large bed. However, in the winter Pa would wait until the "young'uns" got into the trundle bed and then push them underneath the bed. After that he would close the curtains around the bed to keep everyone snug and warm. Of course, having young children I can imagine when someone had to go to the potty at night, Pa had to get up out of his warm bed and pull the trundle out. At first, they had to trudge out to the out house. However, they finally got a Potty Chair that they could use inside the house at night. Elizabeth explained that whichever of the children was bad during the day had to empty the slop bucket in the morning. She then proceeded to explain how each girl would start her dowry at the tender age of 5 or 6. She would put things in it, like quilts, cherry pit bags (used to heat the beds at night), etc. The Pa would have to make a dower chest to store all these things in. When the young lady was old enough to be courted the young man would come to the house and look in her dower chest. If it was full he knew that she was a hard worker and would offer to marry her. If it was only half-full he might take one look and walk right out the door. Maybe we need to restart that tradition?
After we left the bedroom we went into the parlor (which moved us up to 1892). One of the men in our group forgot that someone had told us what the year was and asked one of the young ladies what year it was. Miss Smith looked at him and said "Sir, I believe you might want to get yourself a calendar so you can remember what year you are in." It was said with such a gleam in her eye that the man just chuckled. Anna, one of the other young ladies in the parlor explained how her cousin, Miss Smith, was just visiting. Miss Smith then proceeded to demonstrate how to play the pump organ. She entertained us with a version of Amazing Grace and had everyone in the group singing along.
We then moved to the "new" kitchen. The main point of interest was, of course, the beautiful cast iron stove. She asked everyone how much they thought the lady of the house paid for the stove. Well, guesses ranged from $500 down. It turned out that the lady paid $25 for the stove in 1892. (Wow, what a bargain). She then showed us a "mini-stove" sitting on the top of the large stove. She explained that this was used in the summer when cooking indoors would be too hot.
We then proceeded outdoors where they had all of the livestock running around that they would have had on any working farm. I thought the turkeys were interesting. They started calling them to feed them and I got caught in a turkey stampede. Sheesh! did you ever get run over by a stampeding turkey herd? Not a pleasant experience. I kept telling myself that Thanksgiving was coming.
When we went over to the one barn area we saw one of the young men rolling tobacco leaves for cigars. He explained that he had just come to the farm and this was his first attempt.
In other barns they had various machines that were used for chores needed around the farm.
There are other buildings around the property, but unfortunately it started to rain and we decided to head for the car.
We enjoyed seeing the old buildings and property, but it was the lively docents that really made our day. I would certainly recommend a tour of Quiet Valley if you are in the area.