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Links to relevant posts appear after each entry below.
I turned around and saw him sweep his wide-brimmed straw hat off his dark hair and give me a mock bow from atop the wagon seat. He jumped down from the wagon and walked over to me. I looked up at him. Way, way up. Dickon Weeks, although only a couple of years older than me, was so tall that it hurt my neck to look so far up. Had he grown even taller since I saw him last? Under his well-patched smock, his cotton trousers barely reached his ankles, which certainly hinted that he had.
© Jensen, Dorothea. A Buss from Lafayette (p. 52). Boutique of Quality Book Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
In England, 19th century workmen (drovers, drivers, farmers etc.) protected clothing by wearing smocks. In one of the Old Sturbridge publications, I found a smock pictured, so apparently these protective “smock-frocks” were also used in New England at that time. (OSV is a living history museum in Massachusetts set in the 1830s.) Since many people had only one “everyday” outfit to work in and a Sunday outfit for going to church, it made sense to wear smocks to keep the workday clothes as clean as possible.
My kids remember wearing old shirts of their father backwards to protect their clothes in nursery school and/or Kindergarten when painting pictures. (One of my sons even named his film production company Smock Media, observing that “Smock Protects the Artist.”
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1854
Here is a link to some interesting videos from Mount Vernon/History Channel:
Here I am reading an excerpt of A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE in front of a re-constructed hut at Valley Forge.
I found some interesting short animated videos on George Washington on the mountvernon.org website and the History Channel. Here are the links:
There really was a Towne’s store in Hopkinton Village, NH in 1825. In fact, there has been a store there since the late 1700s! Today, there is STILL a store in the same spot: the Cracker Barrel.
In the first picture below shows the store that was there in the late nineteenth or early 20th century, called Kimball & Co Dry Goods and Groceries. (Note the ox-drawn cart parked outside.) The building next door was another tavern, and has been recently restored.
The picture below is the store there today, the Cracker Barrel. (Note my version of an oxcart parked outside.)
On Labor Day Weekend, I spoke at a commemoration of Lafayette’s stop in Charlton, MA, in September, 2024, where I was lucky enough to get a buss from Lafayette (Ben Goldman)!
The Perkins Tavern, where Clara danced with Dickon Weeks, was a real place. It went through several iterations as the Perkins Inn/Tavern over the years. In 1825, it was called the Perkins Tavern, and was run by the colorful character, Captain Brinsley Perkins. He appears in the story, and I made him as colorful as I could in a paragraph or two! Here is what the sign board looked like. (Note the date at the top: 1796.) I doubt that the equestrienne is going to make it over that fence!)
Proclamation of Lafayette Day in Massachusetts
I was recently privileged to read this proclamation by Governor Baker of Massachusetts at the Massachusetts Lafayette Society’s celebration in Boston on May 18, 2018.
This proclamation summarizes very well what General Lafayette did for our country.
Watch me read the beginning of A Buss from Lafayette. . .
An exciting bit from Chapter 17. . .
Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia
This new museum has wonderful exhibits, although sadly very little is there about Lafayette. One display that is there, however, contains a sword and a belt plate that Lafayette presented to his officers when he was given the command of a light infantry battalion. The label says that both of these items are engraved with USA, but I had a hard time spotting this.
Recently I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and happened across this painting of General Lafayette hanging in “Visible Storage”. It was like meeting an old friend unexpectedly! (As I have been reading and writing about Lafayette for over 20 years, I certainly do consider him an old friend.)
This portrait was done by Rembrandt Peale (son of Charles Willson Peale) in 1825 during Lafayette’s Farewell Tour.
Those of you who have read A Buss from Lafayette already know the secret of his abundant brown locks!
This is a closeup I took at the museum. It felt as if Lafayette was looking right at me! Woo hoo!
Here is another item I came across at the Met last weekend. This plate, attributed to Smith Pottery in Norwalk CT, was made circa 1825, one of the many souvenir items produced to sell when Lafayette was in the U.S. on his Farewell Tour.
It appears as if the design is loosely modeled on Lafayette’s signature.
Here is one example of Lafayette’s signature.
My final find at the Met was this period room. It was moved here from Alexandria, VA, from a building formerly called the the City Hotel. A reception (maybe a dance) was held in this room for Lafayette in 1824. My musician sister (in the red sweater) immediately pointed out the balcony on the wall (where she is looking) which was likely where the musicians played for dances. (Today, the original building in Alexandria is known as Gadsby’s Tavern.) George Washington also celebrate his last birthday in this room in 1799, just before he died.
When I got to the barn, I greeted Humpty and Dumpty, the two oxen who pulled the plow in the springtime, the wagon at harvest time, and the sledge in the winter. Too bad I cannot ride an ox, I thought. I doubt anyone could put a sidesaddle on Humpty or Dumpty. I patted the noses of the large, gentle, brown beasts and fed each of them a handful of fresh hay before moving on to Feather’s stall.
– A Buss From Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen
Below is a picture of a 19th Century farm wagon at Old Sturbridge Village.
Below is a picture of a 19th century tavern room at Old Sturbridge Village (Bullard Tavern) which would have been similar to the room in Perkins Tavern where Clara attends a dance. (There was also a “ballroom” upstairs at the Bullard, but it was closed the day I was there.)
First, here is a description in the story:
“You have been a witcracker, Miss Clara Hargraves, ever since you were a little bit of a thing. I can still see you now, giggling away at some foolishness or other with your red locks peeking out from under your little pudding cap. You know, I have always thought your hair absolutely glows with good humor.” I curtsied at this pleasing compliment. We then moved past the captain into what was being called “the ballroom” that evening— although it was really just the large dining room at the back of the tavern. It did look particularly grand that evening. Many candles lit up the walls, covered with elegant gold-striped paper, and the tall windows, framed by ivory damask draperies, reflected their glow. Nearly all of the dining tables had been removed to make space for dancing, and the chairs moved to line the walls. I expected I would soon be one of the “wallflowers” sitting by those very walls, despite Dickon’s stammered request for a dance. He had been teasing me for years, and doubtless his invitation was another of his jests. If I acted as if I thought he had meant his request to dance with me, would he laugh?
– A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen
Here are a couple of photos of a 19th century store like the one Clara visits in the story. Here’s the description:
I spied Mr. Towne, his gray hair combed forward in the fashionable “Brutus” style, although his receding hairline made this look a bit odd. He leaned over his counter, which was laden as always with large glass jars of pickles, candy, and other delicacies. Behind him, shelves reached to the ceiling, stuffed with items fascinating to the eye. On one wall, the lower spaces held large wooden barrels of brandy, rum, gin, wine, and molasses, with boxes of oranges, lemons, figs, spices, and sugar loaves on the shelves above. My eye was drawn to the other wall, however, where a rainbow of lace, silk, cotton, wool, linen, gingham, and calico occupied most of the shelves. On the very top level were more personal items: hairbrushes, mirrors, pomatums, patent medicines, and combs. My miracle-working lead comb was up there waiting for me. – A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen
Clara’s house in Hopkinton N.H. in 1825, has all the “modern conveniences”, including a granite slab sink and and pump for water. This, of course, saved her stepmother the trouble of lugging in buckets of water from the well and carrying waste water outside again. Assuming that many young people have never seen or worked a water pump, I asked my grandson, Alex, to show us how it’s done. (This was at the new Moxi Museum in Santa Barbara, CA.) As you can see, operating a pump required much more effort than turning on a spigot!
Here is a big pantry in an 1830 house in Peterborough, NH, at the Peterborough Center for History and Culture. Take out the shelves and you can envision Priscilla’s temporary bedroom!
A portrait of General Lafayette’s son, Georges Washington Lafayette, aged 11, done in 1790. Georges was sent to Mount Vernon to live with the Washingtons to keep him out of harm’s way during the French Revolution.
My dad’s medical bag, probably not much different from Dr. Flagg’s in the story. It had compartments for storing medicines, bandages, etc. Just like Clara, for many years of my childhood I believed that when he went to deliver a baby, it was inside this bag. I wonder if doctors still carry these.
Marker in Hopkinton Village showing where the crowd gathered to welcome Lafayette when he passed through Hopkinton. The date is incorrect, however. He came through on June 27, 1825.
Granite hitching post in Dr. Lerned’s front yard, where Clara hitches up Flame.
Side view of Dr. Lerned’s house in Hopkinton Village as it looks today.
Front view of Dr. Lerned’s house in Hopkinton Village as it looks today.
Here is a artist’s depiction of the crowd greeting Lafayette when he visited Philadelphia in 1824. This was a true “rock star” reception!
Here is an 1800 painting of Jacob Weeks, by portrait artists Samuel & Ruth Shute (Courtesy of the Hopkinton Historical Society). Please note that Jacob has blue eyes and dark hair, just like his fictional (much) younger brother, Dickon. He even combs it forward in the “Brutus” style, as Dickon does for the dance at Perkins Tavern. (Of course, I did not see this picture until long after I wrote A Buss from Lafayette.)
I suddenly remembered this picture, taken in 1997 on the Jane Austen tour on which I met Rita Paine Nash, who passed along to me the actual “buss” from Lafayette. This was in Lyme Regis, the setting Jane Austen used in her novel, Persuasion. I am holding a mob cap that was made by and worn by Jane Austen! (Remember that early in A Buss from Lafayette I have Priscilla wearing a mob cap.)
Below are pictures of the actual Putney Tavern: two old signs, the front as it appears today, the sign posted now, and an old picture of the Tavern with a horse and carriage parked in front of it.
Here is a picture of the so-called “Indian Shutters” in the house formerly known as the Putney Tavern. These could be closed from inside the house, presumably adding a level of protection for the occupants of the house against flying arrows, etc. One shutter is pulled out from the frame in this shot. The other shutter is inside the frame on the other side of the window.
Here is a built-in corner cupboard from Putney’s Tavern. I don’t know if it was there in during Clara’s time, but it certainly might have been! (Clara’s dining room has a cupboard similar to this one, if you remember.)
We recently went to Lexington, Massachusetts with the American Friends of Lafayette, and visited the Buckman Tavern there. According to the Lexington Historical Society, this tavern was built in 1710, and was a gathering place for both locals and travelers and the site of many important town meetings. Captain Parker and his militia gathered in this tavern in the early morning hours of April 19, 1775, to await the oncoming British troops. Upstairs is an exhibit relating to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as to the visit of Lafayette on his Farewell Tour. Above is a small version of a banner created to welcome Lafayette at that time. Ironically, Lafayette’s visit touched off an enduring feud between the two towns as to which had a legitimate claim to actually beginning the Revolution.
Above is a small part of the actual banner. Because it is so long and so fragile, only a bit of it is on display. (I tried to do a panorama shot of it and apparently didn’t hold it quite steady enough for a smooth picture. That’s why there is a break in the middle.)
Here is a old sugar cone I spotted in the kitchen at Buckman Tavern. Next to it are tongs used to nip off bits of sugar. (Hammers could also be used to do this, as discussed in A Buss from Lafayette.) When my husband and I lived in Brazil in the late 1960s, brown sugar could only be obtained in hard chunks like this, so I knew how hard it was to use sugar that came in such a form.
In addition to fans, plates, and other souvenirs sold during Lafayette’s Farewell Tour of 1824-5, it was possible to buy fabric stamped with Lafayette’s image. This is a baby’s dress made of such fabric I saw in a friend’s collection.
A portrait of Captain Nicholas Gilman, Jr., who was in charge of tallying the thousands of British troops that surrendered at Yorktown. He later signed the Constitution and served as a U.S. Senator. Trueworthy Gilman, a young storekeeper in Hopkinton who appears in A Buss from Lafayette, might actually have been related to him. (In Buss, he says they are distant cousins and tells about Captain Gilman’s role in the Revolution etc.) Captain Gilman’s home in Exeter, NH, now houses the American Independence Museum.
Here are two fans that were souvenirs of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour in 1824-5.
Here is a link to a Welsh folk group dancing “Sweet Richard”, which Dickon and Clara dance together in A Buss from Lafayette. (This tune is also called “Again, Sweet Richard.”)
Here are some sleeve puffs worn underneath, well, puffy sleeves. These are from the 1830s, when puffy sleeves got even bigger than in 1825!
A corset, or “stays” from Colonial Williamsburg. The style was probably a little different in Clara’s time, but not by much. Ouch!
Here’s a glove from the time of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour of the U.S. in 1824-5. (It is in the collection of the Smithsonian.) Clara’s cousin, Hetty, had a longer pair of gloves with Lafayette’s picture on them. (Apparently, Lafayette often balked at kissing his own portrait when meeting ladies wearing gloves like these!)
Here I am in my Buss from Lafayette dress, built by costumer Gay Bean in the style of 1825. Note the exaggerated puffed sleeves,the almost natural waistline, and the adornment around the skirt that is stiff enough to make it stand out a bit. Luckily, I don’t need to wear any stays with this dress, so it is really fairly comfortable
This is a shay. A whisky, so light and maneuverable it could “whisk” around traffic, was a smaller, lighter version of this.
Here I am welcoming the re-built L’Hermione as it was about to dock at Yorktown. We were able to go on board for a tour! For more pictures and information, go to my blog.
A paper-covered glass jar in the apothecary shop in Colonial Williamsburg. This is the same method of closure used by Priscilla when making strawberry jam in Buss, only the paper she used was soaked in brandy to keep the contents from spoiling.
Here is the kind of “old-fashioned” egg-shaped stagecoach that I described arriving in Hopkinton Village in June, 1825
This is the Concord Coach-type of stagecoach first made in 1828 so I couldn’t use it in my 1825 story! These Concord Coaches were manufactured in Concord, NH, and used all over the American West, as well as overseas. Whenever you see a stagecoach in a movie set out west, you can bet it came from New Hampshire!
Here is an illustration of the nursery rhyme, Lucy Locket, from Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose (1881)
Ever wonder how Lucy Locket could possibly have LOST her pocket? Hers probably wasn’t as fancy as this one, but it was just as separate from her skirt. Blo
I decided to dress “Prissy” Priscilla in a “betsy” to give Clara a chance to talk about their relationship.
A ferule, used for two things in 19th century classrooms: pointing out items to be learned, and whipping the hands of children who failed to learn them or otherwise misbehaved! (Pinned from owpeducation.)
Because the fields had so many rocks that they couldn’t be plowed! They all had to be hauled out so the fields could be cultivated, and farmers built walls out of these to mark boundaries etc.
I removed my pinafore and hung it on the peg near the door. There was certainly no need to wear an extra layer on what promised to be another scorchingly hot day. If only I could take off my ankle-length pantalettes as well! – A Buss from Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen
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