Grinders and shredders would have been a staple kitchen tool in many American households prior to the widespread use of electricity. These tools were used to make a variety of food products, and were key to making everything from sausage to coffee. This particular grinder was reportedly used to make sauerkraut, meaning “sour cabbage” in German. Sauerkraut has been a staple food in the German diet since it was brought over from China in the 16th century. The Chinese started eating sauerkraut 2,000 years before the Germans. The Chinese made it by shredding the cabbage and fermenting it in rice wine. When the dish made it to Germany the Germans would shred the cabbage, then sprinkle salt over it and let it ferment in its own juices. It became very popular with Dutch sailors because sauerkraut does not need to be refrigerated to stay fresh and it helped prevent scurvy. Sauerkraut was then brought over to the United States, and Texas, with the German immigrants.
Sauerkraut is usually a finely sliced white cabbage that salt is added to help it ferment. The sugars in the cabbage are converted into lactic acid when it is fermenting, and it is commonly served on Reuben sandwiches or with sausage, or bratwurst. A variety of spices and additional vegetables can be added to create specialty krauts, or even Korean style kimchi.
Before the hand-cranked style grinder, people had to cut the cabbage by hand with knives. This process took a long time; so many tools were invented to make it easier to cut cabbage. One of these tools was a cabbage cutter, which was made of a blade and a wooden box. It was arranged so that the blade would be slightly higher than the bottom of the box. Over time the design of the cabbage cutter was improved upon. It would soon have more than one blade, as many as three, and instead of being inside of a box it would be on a slider with something to catch the cabbage under it. After the cabbage cutter the grinder was invented. The grinder is able to attach to a table and all one would have to do is push the cabbage through with one hand while the other turned the crank and the cabbage again would fall into a container.
You can still find cabbage cutters and hand-cranked grinders today. The designs are basically the same as when they were first created, but they have an updated look. Cutters are now usually made with plastic or metal instead of wood, but one can still find some made of wood. Grinders today are usually powered by electricity. A food processor can be used to shred cabbage, but if you do not want to go through the hassle of shredding cabbage and then fermenting it for 4 to 6 weeks you can easily go to the store and buy some instead. [Illa Bennett edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Metal, Glass, Wood
This object is a Seneca Competitor View Camera made by the Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company. The Competitor View was a part of the view camera series that the company created. View cameras are bigger and more complex to use than the roll-film cameras that were commonly used prior to digital cameras. The view camera was typically used for landscapes, architecture, and portraits. This type of camera captures the image on either an emulsion coated glass plate or sheet film. The Competitor View came in three different sizes 5 x 7, 6 ½ x 8 ½, and 8 x 10 inches.
The Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company started in 1895 and was based in Rochester, New York. The founders named the company after the Seneca-Iroquois tribe that was indigenous to the New York area. They often showed a Native American holding one of their cameras in their ads and brochures.Seneca mainly made simple cameras for the everyday person, including box cameras and folders, a folding camera.
The company did well until 1924 when it was sold to Conley Camera Company who was a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck & Company. Both the Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company and Conley Camera Company’s biggest competitor was the Kodak Company. The Kodak Company started off as the Eastman Kodak Company and founded by George Eastman who had the idea for a camera that was easier to handle when on trips when he was just 24 years old. Eastman was traveling to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and a coworker suggested that he take pictures on his trip. At the time the only camera that he could take with him was a large view camera, while looking for a camera for his trip he became fascinated with photography and wanted to make the process easier.
Prior to the late 1800s, photographs were taken using a “wet plate” system that used panes of glass coated in a special liquid to make a negative. This negative had to be “developed” into a photograph within 15 minutes or the image would be lost. The invention of a “dry plate” system for cameras meant that images could be stored for extended periods before being developed, making it easier to take photos on the go. Eastman developed a way to mass produce large quantities of “dry plates” for his cameras. The company continued to gradually advance its technology and started using film rolls in 1883 instead of glass plates. The film rolls were first used in view cameras, but the camera’s themselves started to become smaller and lighter. The first small Kodak camera was a box camera and from there it continued to get smaller and cheaper until it turned into the disposable camera of the twentieth century. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Wood, Metal
This object is a Singer Sewing Machine, it was made by the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer is an American company, founded by Isaac Merritt Singer and Edward Cabot Clark, that has been making sewing machines since 1851. The Singer sewing machine was the first sewing machine that was designed for home use, rather than factory production. The first machine had the basic eye-needle and lockstitch that was patented by Elias Howe. The basic eye-needle, also known as the universal needle it has a rounded point and is used to sew on woven or knitted fabrics. The lockstitch is the most basic stitch that creates a straight line by interlocking two threads together one from the top and the other from the bottom.
Isaac Singer was born October 27, 1811 the eighth son of poor German immigrants in Pittstown, New York. Isaac went to work as a mechanic and cabinetmaker when he was a young man. He designed his first invention when he was working for a manufacturing plant that made wooden type for printers. He created a machine that was better at carving the wooden type. It was in 1850 that Isaac saw a sewing machine being made and decided that he could make a better version of the machine.
The first sewing machine that Isaac made was too bulky and expensive to be attractive to housewives, which were his target customers. But after awhile Isaac was able to come up with a mass production version, which had interchangeable parts and brought the price down to $10. In the 1850s that was equivalent to around $295 today. Isaac continued to upgrade the design and his company began offering the assistance of repair mechanics and sewing instructors. The company and the machine became a household name by 1863 when Ebenezer Butterick, a tailor, started selling the first graded dress patterns. Singer still makes sewing machines today, the only times that the company stopped manufacturing them was during World War I and II, when the factory was tasked with making weapons to support the war effort. Once the wars were over the company went back to making sewing machines and other accessories for them. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Metal, Wood
This object is a charcoal iron from Hungary. A charcoal iron is an early version of a modern clothes iron that we use today. The reason it is called a charcoal iron is, because it has a container inside its base where burning charcoal is placed to heat it up. The holes that line the base allow air to circulate and keep the charcoal embers burning. Sometimes there is a funnel or a chimney that directs the smoke through the top of the iron keeping the it away from the clothes.
The charcoal iron is a step up from the stones, glass, and presses that were used in Europe when people first started ironing clothes. But there was a similar contraption used in Asia as early as the 1st century B.C. Women would iron clothes with a pot heated with coals, while stretching clothes taut. In the Middle Ages sad irons, also called flat irons, were being made out of stones and metals that are able to hold heat for a long period of time. Some of these materials were cast iron and soapstone. The way that these irons are used is by heating them up in a fire or on a stove top. The reason that this iron is called a sad iron is because; sald is an old English word for “solid.” In modern English the sad iron would be solid iron. Sad irons were still used even after the invention of the charcoal iron, up until the 1880s when the first electric iron was invented.
Between the charcoal iron and the sad iron, the sad iron was preferred, because although the charcoal iron was easier to use, it produced a lot of smoke from the coals. The sad iron had its faults too. For one it was not easy to use. It was solid piece of metal with an attached metal handle, meaning that the handle would also heat up. To keep from burning your hands a cloth pad, like a pot holder, had to be wrapped around the handle. The iron would also cool down fast, which meant that you would have to wait for it to reheat, or you would need to have two for continuous ironing; one heating up while you ironed with the other. But around 1870 Mary Florence Potts of Ottumwa, Iowa made an iron with a detachable handle and a base with two points. This made it easier to handle without burning your hands and made it possible to move the iron back and forth without having to pick it up. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
1911 – 1928
Materials: Wood, Paint, Cloth, Thread, & Metal
This object is Schoenhut Wood doll made by German immigrant Albert Frederick Schoenhut sometime between 1911 and 1928. Albert Schoenhut started making toys with his father and grandfather in Göppingen, Württemberg, Germany. In 1866 Schoenhut immigrated to the U.S. to work for John Wanamaker’s Philadelphia department store. While at the department store Schoenhut repaired the glass sounding bars in the toy pianos that were imported from Germany. Schoenhut left the department store in 1872 to build his own company, The Schoenhut Piano Company, which is still making toy pianos today. Schoenhut made the sounding bars in his toy pianos out of metal to make the pianos more durable, instead of the usual fragile glass sounding bars that the toys have been made of previously. This sparked Schoenhut’s idea to make other popular toys out of more durable materials. One of these toys was the doll.
The Schoenhut Wood Doll was a different type of doll than was being made in the early 1900s. Dolls made of wood and springs were durable and able to be put into different positions due to the springs in the joints. This was unheard of at the time, because most dolls were made from bisque porcelain, also known as china dolls. The Schoenhut Doll was made of wood with either carved hair or a wig, with two holes in soles of the doll’s feet to help it stand, clothes, and a paper label on its back marking that it was a Schoenhut Doll. The first set of dolls to be made was the Humpty Dumpty Circus in 1903. The set first consisted of a clown and some accessories. Later acrobats, a ringmaster, and a lion tamer were added. The set also included a variety of animals including an alligator, bears, a buffalo, an elephant, giraffe, horses, a lion, a monkey, and many other animals both exotic and domestic.
Schoenhut and his company became popular and his toys were in demand all over the United States. The company did so well with the Humpty Dumpty Circus doll set from 1903 to 1907 that in 1911 Schoenhut got a patent for jointed wooden dolls, the “All Wood Perfection Art Doll.” These dolls were so life-like at the time that they became even more popular than the Humpty Dumpty Circus set and other toy companies from the U.S. and Europe bought them to sell, even in Schoenhut’s home country Germany. The dolls outfits followed the fashion trends of the day and eventually had their own designer. The Schoenhut dolls were the Barbie dolls of the early 20th century.
Albert Schoenhut died the year after he got the patent for the “All Wood Perfection Art Doll.” His six sons (Albert, Gustav, Theodore, William, Harry, and Otto Schoenhut) took over the company after his death and the company did well for a number of years. However, like many other companies, it was hard for the company to flourish during the Great Depression. After the Depression, Albert Schoenhut’s youngest son Otto and grandson George tried to rebuild the company to its glory days by opening the O. Schoenhut Company and manufacturing the Pinn Family Dolls. But this did not last long and the company eventually was sold to Frank Trinca. The company was kept in the Trinca family with Len and Renee Trinca and the company name was changed back to Schoenhut Piano Company and returned to selling just toy pianos and other instruments. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Guest Post – Archeologists Find Early Budweiser Bottle and Learn More about The German roots of Houston’s First Neighborhood
This week’s blog details a 19th century glass artifact – an early incarnation of a Budweiser beer bottle – discovered by archeologists in what is known as one of downtown Houston’s first neighborhoods, Frost Town. The details presented here by TxDOT provide additional insight into Frost Town and the early days of Budweiser’s original brew master. The institute’s upcoming “Brewing Up Texas” exhibit includes the Frost Town bottle and offers interactive content highlighting the state’s earliest breweries, the impact of prohibition, Texas beer memorabilia, home brewing, and today’s rich tapestry of modern craft breweries.
The modern landscape of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is one of constant change. During the replacement of a bridge in downtown, archeologists from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) realized they were working on top of one of Houston’s original neighborhoods, Frost Town. It began as a community of predominantly German immigrants in the 1830s, and it later became home to many African American families following emancipation, then a vibrant Hispanic neighborhood during the early decades of the 20th century. While much is known about Houston’s founders and wealthy class, the archeologists were hoping to tell a new story of how Houston’s working class lived and worked.
During excavations they came upon an interesting feature: rows of upturned glass bottles buried in the ground outside of house foundations. Before (and even after) recycling programs existed, Germans would often use glass bottles as ornamental features in their yards. Archeologists date the style of one particular bottle to at least 1878-1882, giving an approximate date to when the bottle was placed in the ground. Given that both Frost Town was predominately German and Budweiser was brewed and named to appeal to German immigrants, it is no surprise that TxDOT recovered this artifact from the Frost Town site. It featured two logos; one reads “Original Budweiser” on one side and “CCC” on the base. It seemed the bottle had a deeper story to tell.
Message in a Bottle: Early Days of Anheuser-Busch
Budweiser’s early days started with a young German immigrant named Carl Conrad. He travelled to Belgium to become a brew master before bringing back a recipe to St. Louis, declaring that it was “the best he ever tasted.”
He built his company, Carl Conrad & Co., importing wine and liquor. Conrad marketed Budweiser beer, named after the Bavarian town Budweis, where he found the inspiration for his recipe. He contracted with several companies for bottles and his friend, Adolphus Busch brewed Conrad’s recipe through his company; the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. Despite Conrad’s swift national success, he declared bankruptcy on January 15th, 1883 and Anheuser-Busch assumed the rights to brew, bottle, and sell Budweiser. Conrad then worked for the company for many years.
More about Frost Town
In 19th century Houston, the Buffalo Bayou river was an important transportation route. Along a horseshoe bend of the Bayou sat Frost Town. Instead of large farms that defined the time and location, Frost Town had houses and plots like the neighborhoods we see today. Years of development, first by railroad and then by roads, covered this historic site, which is just minutes from Minute Maid Park under the Elysian Street Bridge.
German laborers were among the earliest residents of the Frost Town community, and they would continue to dominate demographic of the neighborhood for many decades. Germans immigrants settled in virtually every area of Houston, but the Second Ward became an unofficial hub of German-American culture and social life during the 1800s.
Archeologists at TxDOT are building oral histories and interpretations of the archeology in order to share this unique story: Frost town’s rich ethnic diversity embodies the City of Houston today is revealed as not new, but a fundamental part of the city’s heritage. [Lee F. Reissig, TxDOT Environmental Affairs Division]
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This object is an ox yoke made out of wood. A yoke is a wooden beam used to help carry or pull heavy objects by distributing the weight evenly on both shoulders and can be used by humans and animals a like. There are three main types of yokes and it depends on what it is being used by. The first type of yoke is used by humans. A yoke used by humans would be a single beam of wood that sits on their shoulders where the back meets with the neck. The other two are for animals, one for a single animal and the other for two. If a single animal were to use a yoke then it would be made similar to that of the ones used by humans, but a with loop hold it in place around their neck. The two animal yoke, which is referred to as a team yoke, would be a longer beam of wood and have two loops, one for each animal.
Animal yokes allow animals to pull farming equipment, like a plow, along with wagons and carriages. The animals most commonly used to pull farm equipment, wagons, and carriages are horses, donkeys, mules, and oxen. The reasons these types of animals are used are due to their strength. Each of these types of animals all has their own merits and faults. Some of the benefits of theses animals are that they can help with a variety of crops, by lowering costs on gas and repairs for tractors, and by creating manure that works as fertilizer.
Historically, by growing the grains and oats that each animal ate decreased the amount of money spent on buying food and increased the the potential profitability of farming. Additionally, with the animals came a natural source of manure that can be used as fertilizer. With these things in mind a farmer had almost everything needed to run a successful farm with healthy soil, a way to plow and plant, and a way to fertilize the soil in a single purchase of a horse, donkey, mule or oxen. However, as farm tractors and machinery developed the number of farms decreased while the size of the average field grew. It wasn’t long before animal based farming became too slow and time consuming to keep up with the increasing production needs of a modern farm.
Horses that are used in farm work are called draft horses, which are bred to do work like plowing and other farm work. Draft horses are large breeds of horses like the Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians, Shires. Draft horse breeds were developed all over the world, but the ones mentioned above come from Western Europe, Clydesdales originate in Scotland, Percherons from France, Belgians from Belgium, and Shires from England.
Donkeys are members of the horse family that have adapted to desert areas. The donkey’s ancestors are from Africa and the first domestic donkeys can be traced back to around 4000 B.C. and 3000 B.C. in Lower Egypt. Donkeys are considered by many to be a stubborn animal due to their stronger sense of self-preservation. Donkeys unlike the horse, who would be willing to work itself to death, will stop when it feels that it is in danger. Also, unlike the horse and the ox, donkeys tend to be used only for pulling carts, or to carry things on their backs and are prized for their ability to handle steep and rocky terrain. Mules are a produced from the breeding of male donkeys and female horses, but the breeding of a female donkey with a male horse produces a hinny. Mules tend to be larger than donkeys are are better able to pull heavy loads.
Oxen are bulls that have been castrated and are usually easier to handle than intact bulls. Oxen are used in pairs to pull carts and farm equipment. When using animals to pull farm equipment Oxen tend to be the better of the choices. This is due to their ability to pull heavier things and to work longer than the horse or the donkey, but it will take longer for them to work, because they are slower. Oxen can also help with more than just pulling equipment they can also help with threshing by walking over the grain and they can help power machines for grinding grain. However, they don’t make good choices for riding, areas where the horse, mule and donkey excel. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn McCloud]
This week’s blog is provided by the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Archeology Section, which discovers archeological evidence of human culture throughout the state when building roads. The blog details new and exciting Caddo findings in northeast Texas where TxDOT excavated portions of a Caddo village. The institute’s Native American exhibits and collections include a selection of Caddo artifacts and the details presented here by TXDOT provide additional insight on the Caddo tribe’s history in Texas.
Caddo Nation’s ancestral homeland encompasses northeast Texas, northwest Louisiana, southwest Arkansas, and southeast Oklahoma. Archaeologically, we begin to recognize their culture in the area c. AD 900. They lived in spread out, unfortified, agriculture-based communities; however they were a highly organized and strictly governed tribe. While the Caddo were known as a friendly—their word “tejas” means “friend” and is, of course, where the word Texas originated from—they retained a fierce warrior class for when diplomatic channels failed them.
A curious artifact was discovered among thousands of others at an archaeological site in East Texas. The historic artifact was found buried in a manner that suggests it held high value. It appears to be a metal box fragment consisting of two pieces from two different sides of a Spanish jewelry box. The metal is relatively heavy, made from either silver or pewter. The fragment features a mythological beast; either a griffin (front-half eagle, and back-half lion) or a wyvern (front-half dragon, and the back-half featuring a coiled tail like a seahorse). A coat of arms also appears on the artifact and is divided into four sections. Two adjacent sections feature a field of stars, and the other two depict a double headed eagle – a common symbol used in Western Europe by the Holy Roman Empire.
Spain was part of the Holy Roman Empire during AD 1519 to 1556. These years overlap with the Desoto expedition from 1539 to 1543. After Desoto’s death in 1542, his men abandoned the expedition and tried to get back to Mexico. Expedition member Moscoso led the men through Texas (1542-1543), and when he reached the Neches River they followed it south. They would have at least passed very close to the East Texas Caddo site. Moscoso and his men were unable to feed themselves so they began to raid Texas Indian farming settlements. So, it is thought that the artifact may be evidence of Caddo interaction with Moscoso and his men. Due to the artifact’s intentional damage and being of high enough value to be purposely buried, the fragment may be a war trophy. Further, this unique find potentially precedes the date of direct contact between Native Americans and Europeans in the area – that led to established trade starting in 1686.
Moscoso and his men eventually abandoned the attempt to pass through Texas and turned around and went back towards the Mississippi River. Following the admission of Texas as a state in 1845 the Caddo were relocated to Indian Territory north of their ancestral homeland. Today Caddo Nation capital sits in Binger, Oklahoma with approximately 6,000 enrolled members. This Caddo site was originally recorded in the 1930s but was forgotten until recently. The site’s rediscovery by TxDOT means they can move forward with preserving the location and artifacts recovered, which include engraved ceramics, rare obsidian artifacts, and other stone tools in addition to the fascinating metal fragment. [Lee F. Reissig, TxDOT Environmental Affairs Division]
Materials: Wood, Glass
This object is a washboard, which was used to wash clothes. Before there were a washing machines and dryers to clean and dry our clothes a washboard and a clothesline were everyday household items. But this was a step up from how clothes were washed before the washboard was introduced into Western Europe. They would have to soak and beat clothes with washing bats to clean them. Some Eastern European countries like Norway and Finland have had washboards made from wood with notches carved into them for centuries but it was not officially patented until 1797. The first washboards were made entirely of wood, but in the 19th Century steel and zinc ridges replaced the wooden ones, but they still had a wooden frame. Later into the 19th century and early 20th century glass washboards, like the one pictured above, were introduced but were not as commonly used as the ones made from metal.
The way to wash clothes with a washboard would be by setting up two tubs one with hot water and another with warm or room temperature water. Once the water is in the tubs you then add the dirty clothes to the tub with hot water in it. It is suggested that the clothes are allowed to sit in the water to loosen up any dirt or stains, but it is not a necessary step to the process. After putting the clothes in the water you will then set the washboard in the tub with the clothes. The soap is then applied; it can be applied in one of three ways. 1) By shaving some off of a bar of soap and adding it into the water. 2) By scrubbing a bar of soap against the washboard. 3) By scrubbing a bar of soap against the clothes themselves. Any way you want to do it you will be adding soap to the clothes and the water. After the soap is applied, the clothes are then be scrubbed one-by-one against the washboard until they are clean. After a piece of clothing has been scrubbed it is then wrung out of any excess water and soap, then rinsed and repeated until the all of the soap is rinsed away. Some people had a machine that would wring the clothes out for them instead of having to do it by hand. After the clothes have been washed they are hung up on a wash line, which consists of a wire or a piece of twine tied between two objects, usually two posts are used, but in cities the line is more often strung between buildings. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Leather, Metal, Wire
This object is a US Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber. This model of saber was used during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars by dragoons, mounted riflemen, and cavalry regiments in the Army. Dragoons and cavalry are both soldiers who fight from atop a horse, dragoons are a lighter form of cavalry. The mounted riflemen are soldiers who have been trained to shoot guns from atop of a horse, like the Texas Rangers, and once they are in the midst of a battle they dismount from their horses.
The M1860 Light Cavalry Saber was created to replace the M1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber, which was heavier and longer, but looked exactly the same as its successor. Cavalry from both sides during the Civil War preferred the M1860 Cavalry Saber for use in battle. George Armstrong Custer used the M1860 Saber throughout his military service. Custer started his military career by graduating from West Point and joining the cavalry two months after the Civil War began. Custer was promoted several times during the war, eventually rising to the rank of Major General by the end of the war in 1865. In 1866 he was promoted again to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in command of the newly formed 7th Cavalry Regiment. The 7th Cavalry was charged with protecting settlers from the Platte River in Nebraska to the Staked Plains in Texas, and from the Missouri River to the Rockies and the railroad that crossed the area from attacks from attacks by Native American tribes living on the plains.
The last U.S. saber was issued in 1913. Today officers only carry sabers as a part of their dress uniform. During the 1920s the M1860 saber could be purchased cheaply in bulk. This has made them one of the most commonly seen types of military sabers today. They are commonly seen in Hollywood western movies, Civil War recreation battles, and given as military retirement gifts.
Saber teams also use the M1860 Cavalry Saber when they perform the Saber Arch at weddings and other ceremonies. This tradition started with the United Kingdoms Royal Navy and has carried over to multiple countries, including the United States. The saber arch is a tradition for military weddings and usually takes six people to perform but, can be done with as few as four people. The six line up into two rows with three on each side. The commander then orders them to present the sabers, in which they are to bring their sabers to their chins. After presenting the sabers the commander tells them to arch the sabers, thus creating an arch for people to walk under. [Illa Bennett, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]