July 2011 Newsletter  

Monday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.

STURGEON BAY YACHT CLUB

DINNER:  Baked chicken, beef tips, cookies and bars served family style. $18.50

PROGRAM:  Fading Farms/Cheese Factories presented by Patty Williamson

Dear Friends:

Someone said, “History is just one darn thing after another.”  If you should happen to live in one spot your whole life and if you are aware of your surroundings, you witnessed great changes.  Yes, unbelievable change.  The countryside has been a part of my life, and believe me, things change.  I often drive old familiar roads.  It’s like driving back in history.  Families are gone, buildings are gone.  All that remains – old silos, stone foundations and an occasional lilac bush, brought by the Yankees that came here in the mid-1800s.  Silent markers — monuments, perhaps, they all tell me a story — the story of good people, of hard work, little money, epidemics, hope and disappointment.  But it was a community, a neighborhood where people needed each other and readily offered a helping hand.  There were the harvesting bees with great meals, help with fixing a pump and sawing wood.  You could always depend on your neighbor and he could depend on you.

Is it better now?  Sure, we have comforts to allow us to be independent.  So what if we don’t know the guy next door — besides, his darn dog barks all night!  So when you see the old silo and barns and stone foundations, remember the real story these monuments represent and give a thought to those who came before — the forgotten ones who really built our communities.

George Evenson, President, Door County Historical Society

——————————————————

Dear Friends,

We all know it takes a community to create the Historical Village at the Crossroads.  Because of the village, we are now helping the general public to understand our farming ancestors of 120 years ago.  They needed other people.  They found friends, co-workers, spouses, and fellow citizens when they came a few miles to a crossroads village.

Our Door County Historical Society is that community who can make a difference now, with gifts to finish the Schopf House (illustrating an immigrant farm family), or gifts for maintenance of the village. 

The village is open daily with costumed guides giving tours, 1:30-3:30.  Over 100 were gathered for a recent Sunday Special Event.  Bring your relatives and friends!

Coming Sunday include:

July 17     Cherry Ice Cream Social, Quilt Show and Blacksmith at work.

July 24     Carl Scholz on The Importance of Walking and Walking Sticks, and

                            Father Tony and his Chickens

July 31       Nan and Jerry Krause portray the Warrens who build the Warren

                            House

Aug 7         Old Time Gospel Hymns, an acoustic guitar and voice

Aug. 14      Belgian Heritage Day

Jerry Krause and Dan Olson

——————————————————————————–

Notes from the Curator:

Every day the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum staff is challenged with an out-of-the-ballpark question.  From how big is 5th Order Fresnel Lens to what company made the teeny, sewing machine.  Questions left and right send me on a nightly search.  My main information source for all things lighthouse is Scott T. Price, Deputy Historian, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.  (We’re on a first name basis).  My second source of information is Google, where I can find answers for almost everything else!

So, let me throw some of the recent queries your way . . . .

My question to the USGC was “did the keeper and his family bring their own furnishings to the lighthouse or did the service provide for the furnishings?”

     “Your question really caught me off guard!  That’s a good question and I’m surprised that no one ever asked me before — I’m not sure but my best guess was that you had to supply your own furniture (the Treasury Department was too parsimonious to buy what it would have considered to be “luxuries” — heck they got to live in a nice house free of charge) but again that’s just a guess.  If any furniture was supplied it would have just been the basics, particularly for the really isolated stations such as those in Alaska.”

One of the arifacts that is of particular interest to our visitors is the sewing machine in the guest bedroom.  Using a flashlight I was able to identify the machine as a Willcox & Gibbs.  According to Alex Askaroff, considered an expert of pioneering machines and their inventors, the Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch machines are known for their “precision engineering, beautiful lines and superb stitching.”

The first sewing machine was patented in 1791 by British inventor Thomas Saint.  In the ensuring years, sewing machines appeared in homes and factories across America.  Isaac Merritt Singer used a flying shuttle in his machine; Walter Hunt developed a locksmith sewing machine; and James Gibbs, a farmer from Virginia, patented the first chain-stitch-single-thread machine.  The year was 1857. Today, the Gibbs & Willcox is still used commercially.

I found an amazing website resource that will assist me in determining the precise model we have in the lighthouse.  Reportedly, Julie Duclon sewed her sons’ suits on the machine in our house.  It may be impossible to authenticate that information.

Oh, about the Fresnel Lens…the 5th Order Lens is 1’8″ high and the inside diameter is 1’3″.  The largest lenses could reach heights of 12″.  Invented by Frenchman Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the lens is actually a gian magnifying glass that concentrates light to a very small point.  Truly amazing!

Stay tuned, more interesting lighthouse facts will follow next month!

Patti Podgers, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum Curator/Manger

Leave a comment

Comments are closed.