Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
Today I have another interesting photo from our collection for you all! Look at the picture that accompanies this post. What do you think it is? The picture itself is from 1885, and as you can see, it depicts a man on a cart drawn by a horse. The cart itself is rather fancy; it has what looks like curtains on the inside. Why does a cart need curtains? This, readers, is part of the answer! Curtains are usually meant to keep people on the outside from seeing the inside of a building or in this case, cart. Perhaps you are thinking that his wagon was used to transport money to and from banks? Unfortunately, if you are you will have to guess again! I imagine that someone transferring money would have a guard or two with him, and this man is clearly alone, so I doubt that he would be moving money. If you need another hint, I can tell you that the purpose of this cart was rather morbid. Let us put these two clues together: the cart wants to stop people from seeing inside it, and its purpose is rather morbid. Do you have another guess?
If you guessed that this cart was a hearse, then you would be correct! This picture is of the first hearse in Perry in 1885, driven by Dave Willis. The hearse itself was by Carpenter and Son. The curtains on the inside are clearly used to hide the coffin from citizens the hearse might pass on the way to the cemetery. It makes me wonder if Dave Willis was also the undertaker or if he was simply the driver of the hearse. Unfortunately, our collection does not have any more information about this hearse or about how long it was in use. It is interesting, however, to see one of Perry’s firsts! Are you interested in seeing more of Perry’s firsts? Then swing by the Carnegie Library, the first library in Perry, and come back next week for another blog post!
Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
The holiday season has official started, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Many people will be gathering with their families to eat copious amounts of food and take a much-deserved break. The staple of numerous feasts tomorrow will be a home cooked (and hopefully not burnt) turkey. Most people will buy their turkeys at the store, already cleaned, plucked, and frozen. However, can you imagine what it would be like to have to raise your own turkey just for the Thanksgiving feast?
Back in the early 1900s, many families had to raise and then slaughter their own turkey if they wanted to have one for a Thanksgiving celebration. Imagine you woke up Thanksgiving morning, bright and early, to start preparing for the day. You head outside to your farm, and similar to Donald Johnson in the picture below, you find yourself surrounded by turkeys. It is probably very loud with all of the gobbling going on, making it hard to hear anything else. Alternatively, maybe you saw some just outside by your car, similar to the turkeys seen in the picture of Stroudtman Farm. Which turkey do you pick? After spending so many months raising them, you must know all about them, possible even named some. The choice would be quite difficult; do you pick the one with the most meat on it, or the one that you can catch the easiest? I imagine the turkeys would not be very happy about the idea of being cooked up and eaten, similar to those of the chickens in the movie Chicken Run (perhaps they have plans to escape!). After catching the right turkey, you then have to slaughter it, pluck out all the feathers, remove parts like the feet, and determine the best way to cook it. From the sounds of it, getting a turkey for Thanksgiving used to be an all day ordeal! Personally, I think I will stick to hunting down my turkey in the grocery aisle.
As we cook our turkey this Thanksgiving, I am going to be thankful that I did not have to go out and hunt it down myself. Readers, what are you going to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Leave a comment and let us know, and I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!
Good Afternoon readers!
Perhaps some of you remember that a while ago I did a blog post about a chicken perched on the shoulder of D. R. Jones. Well, I am happy to bring you an update on that story!
Recently, I was looking through our Oral History Collection when I stumbled upon an interview with Dick Shoesmith. There were many interesting stories in his interview, especially about the Korean War. As I looked through, I found a story that wasn’t about the war, but was equally as interesting. That’s right readers, it was a story about the shoulder chicken. Dick was asked about his family and their arrival in Guthrie County, and the following story ensued:
Well my mother…she was…my other great grandfather came from Wales and she…her name was Jones, which is Welch and we still have people in Wales yet and also in England yet that we correspond with. In fact there in England there’s a homestead of the Shoesmiths’ that’s over four hundred years old and there’s still a clan of Shoesmiths live there. And I don’t know too much about my grandfather came from Wales but I know my great grandfather, he was an auctioneer and he lived down around Fontanelle and Orient down in there and he’s the one responsible for the Red Cross rooster, General Pershing. It was a black rooster that somebody bid on and they says oh just resell it again and it was for the war effort and every time he went to an auction you always had this black rooster that was perched on his shoulder and he always sold that…just kept sellin’ it you know and then raise money and his name was D.R. Jones. And he was a…with the DOT back when the white pole road started down around…went through Casey…which would be Highway 6 now or the Interstate 80 and he was the one responsible for getting the highway to run through the little town of Casey instead of bypassing Casey there. And his…well this rooster is on display down at the historical building yet. In fact they had it in…out at Guthrie County conservation on display. You can ask for it to…to go on loan there and we took some family over to Panora one year to see this. They’d never seen it before.
As you can see, the shoulder chicken was a Red Cross rooster and was apparently named General Pershing. It seems that he was to be sold at auction to raise money for the war, most likely World War I. However, from the sounds of it, the chicken was always given back to him so he could repeat the process! There is no indication of how much money was raised, but it feels great to finally know why this rooster was on D. R. Jones shoulder in the picture. In fact, it appears that the rooster was on display at the historical building in Casey. I cannot confirm this myself, but it is possible it is still there. Perhaps a trip down to Casey and Guthrie County is in order!
Maybe some of you thought this day would never come, but here it is: The Return of the Chicken! (Dramatic music plays in the background) Do you all remember when we discussed the Shoulder Chicken? Well, it seems that taking pictures with a chicken was more than just a fluke; it may be a trend. To illustrate, I have found two more pictures from around the time of the Shoulder Chicken, which is about 1918.
First is a picture of George Dickey (Brickey), taken in 1908, with what is technically a rooster, but a rooster still counts as a chicken. As you can see, somehow they have gotten not only George, a young child, to stand still for the camera, but also the rooster! In addition, George is either a small boy or that is a big rooster, since the rooster comes up almost to his chin. Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not think that rooster and chickens could get that big. Either way, the real question of this photo is why they are putting a rooster in it in the first place. Is it a prize-winning rooster? Does George just really like this rooster? We may never know, since system has no description of the picture aside from the title.
The next picture is a picture of a Knee Chicken, or at least, that is what I’m calling it. The title of the photo, which dates to around 1915, is “E. L. Towne with Rooster”, but again a rooster counts as a chicken, and Knee Chicken sounds much more interesting. As you can see, this photo is highly similar to the Shoulder Chicken, except the rooster is obviously on his knee. However, we know a little bit more about this rooster than about the others. There are a few words on the back of the picture: “Tru Type S.C. Red Ck'l Bred and Owned by E.L. Towne Jamaica, IA”. From what I can understand, this means that E. L. Towne was from Jamaica, and his rooster is a true type red cockle bred, but I have no idea what that means. Perhaps one of you readers could enlighten me?
Still, as you can see there is more than just one picture of someone posing with his or her rooster/chicken. It seems more and more likely that this was some kind of trend. Perhaps we should all start taking pictures with our chickens!
Welcome back readers!
Now, we have talked about animals on this blog once before, and that was a very interesting day. I thought that nothing out here could ever beat the wonder and curiosity that the shoulder chicken inspired in me. However, I was wrong. There is something more wonderful and curious than the shoulder chicken, and that animal is the wagon ostrich.
The wagon ostrich is exactly what it sounds like. It is an ostrich, hitched to a wagon, as if that was completely normal. There is even a woman sitting on the wagon, holding the reins in her hands. That is completely amazing. I can only imagine how hard it would be to hitch an ostrich to a wagon. It seems highly unlikely to me that an ostrich would cooperate with anyone trying to do that to it. In addition, there is a fenced off area behind the wagon with a whole group of ostriches in it. Are they all wagon ostriches? Is this a family business for those ostriches? This, along with the fact that the side of the wagon reads “Los Angeles Ostrich Farm”, leads one to believe that this is some kind of tourist attraction. However, what is also of interest is why this photo is in our system.
Now the details of this photo are not very plentiful. Really, all that I know comes from the title: “Kate Friedrichsen in a Wagon Pulled by an Ostrich”. What exactly does this mean? Is Kate Friedrichsen the owner of the ostrich farm? Maybe she is a tourist who stopped by and got a ride. Neither of these answers really explain why we have this photo. This question is even more curious because based on the photo. From what we can see, this wagon is in Los Angeles, or at least comes from Los Angeles. Now correct me if I am wrong, but Los Angeles does not have very much to do with little old Perry, Iowa. They are half a continent away from each other after all. The only connection that I can think of is that, perhaps, this is how Kate Friedrichsen got from Los Angeles to Perry. Perhaps she rode the entire way on a wagon drawn by an ostrich. That would be a completely new level of dedication. I doubt that I could ride in a wagon that far, let alone in a wagon drawn by an ostrich. Of course, it would also require a team of ostriches, since one is probably not strong enough to pull a wagon full of stuff. Overall, even if the reason that it is in our collection is unknown, it is still an amazing photo. If you have any amazing photos in your photo collections, please feel free to share!