Friday, November 4, 2016
BitterSweet Cabin Village
BitterSweet Cabin Village
BitterSweet Cabin Village in Renfro Valley, Kentucky, is a small venue, consisting of nine original log cabins brought in from around the area and organized as a village. We started with a short movie that talked about what life on the frontier was like living in a cabin. The background music set the mood for the tour with some excellent country songs of the period. Many of the settlers were Scotch, but the music sounded Irish to us. It made us eager to visit the nearby Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, but alas it was only open on Thursday through Saturday. So sad.
Cabins were originally built in the east by Swedes and Finns around 1650s, but were so much more adaptable to what was available for buildings in this country that the Scotch and Irish who settled in Kentucky took cabins as their own. The log cabin became the symbol of self-reliance, strength and integrity.
On some dates some of the shops are staffed with re-enactors, but not the day we were there. We started at the blacksmith shop a cabin that was shared with a tinsmith who made pans, cups, pails and other necessary household items. The lady in charge said that a large number of schools now use the facility as an educational experience for fifth graders. The next item on the tour is one they get a tremendous kick out of: a two hole outhouse. The kids have never seen one before and think it is hilarious.
Each cabin has printed information about what its purpose was and details about how the owner went about doing what he did. At the furrier's shop we learned about the problems of shoeing horses and mules and what the horse shoe could do to correct certain problems.
The barn-tool shed had tools that would have been unknown to most modern people, especially fifth graders: corn shellers, hand operated grist mill, meat salting box, and wagon jacks. The one room cabin with a sleeping loft was one of the finest we’ve seen. It was more like a modern small house in its arrangement of furniture and equipment. It had an iron bed that cost $2.95 from Sears and Roebuck, but most of the furniture was home made as were the homespun wool blankets. It originally housed, Mom, Dad and six children.
The wood wrights' shop had a collection of tools from the early 1800’s. A strange one to us was the spring-pole lathe that had a tree branch as the handle the worker pumped on to make the lathe turn. It seemed awfully primative. Other shops included a general store, an early post office, a broom factory, and loom house with different looms of the period.
Some detail is given about the kind of wood used in the cabins and the different styles cabins came in. A small period garden and a wishing well complete the set-up.
In one of the shops we got a recipe for Sausage from 1800 starting with nine pounds of ground pork which should be 25% fat and appropriate seasoning. It all sounded quite simple and probably less dangerous to one's health than modern sausage. A ballot box of the period had three keys, one for the democrat, one for the republican and one for sheriff. It could only be opened if all three were present. The largest display was of hundreds of hammers, covering the floor, and walls of one of the cabins.
The one room cabin with a sleeping loft was one of the finest we’ve seen
The largest display was of hundreds of hammers