PINNACLE — Thomas and Charlotte Hauser and their 12 children lived a very different life on their farm in Pinnacle in 1900 than farmers live today, and a program at their former home highlighted those differences.
On a recent Saturday, Horne Creek Living Historical Farm played host to a program dubbed “Then and Now.”
Lisa Turney, the site coordinator for the farm, which is operated by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said it was discussions with youngsters which prompted her to build Saturday’s itinerary.
“When I’m in the parlor of the house, I ask them what they do for fun in the evenings,” explained Turney. “I always get answers like video games, cell phones or the computer. Every once in a while one tells me they play outside.”
Obviously, the Hauser family had different ways of enjoying the evening, such as reading by candlelight. The conversations with the children got Turney thinking about how different life was then when compared to now.
She said she, her staff of three and volunteers put together a program which highlighted 25 to 30 things which have changed on a family farm since the late-19th and early-20th centuries. A volunteer typed up explanations for each, which were displayed throughout the grounds of the farm and home site.
The differences highlighted included obvious improvements such as running water and electricity, but many things have changed, said Turney. Even the improvements to women’s underwear were discussed.
On a tour Turney gave to visitors, she talked about one change which captivates primarily children — toilet paper.
“What do you think they used as toilet paper,” Turney asked a 4-year-old child.
Though the child didn’t have an answer, Turney handed her a corn cob as the group took a look at the outhouse. Eventually, the Sears catalog or a Farmer’s Almanac sat next to the hole in the shack the Hausers would have used as a bathroom.
Turney said modern toilet paper didn’t hit the market until the 1920s.
After a short ride on a golf cart, folks arrived at a pump in the back yard at the house. Turney said if the Hausers’ house had caught fire it likely would have burned to the ground. In 1900, the source of water for the household would have been buckets of water drawn from a hand pump at the well or from the creek.
Eventually, an electric pump was placed at the home, and now homes have running water.
Inside the house, much has changed in the past 12 decades or so. The Hausers didn’t turn a knob on their stove. Instead, they burned wood. They didn’t plug the iron into the electrical outlet. Instead, they heated the iron made of solid cast iron on the wood-burning stove.
Turney drew visitors’ attention to one particularly interesting change which also provided some insight into how the Hausers put food on the table and made ends meet.
She said staff found the original foundation for the dryhouse at the residence and rebuilt the structure based on others from the time period.
The Hausers would have used the dryhouse, which is about 8 feet by 10 feet and about 5 feet tall to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, said Turney. A fire, though not too hot, would be maintained in the house, and fruits and vegetables were placed on wooden trays in the dryhouse.
After a day or so in the dryhouse, the fruits and vegetables would be dehydrated and preserved. Though Turney noted the food would have certainly been consumed by the Hausers, it also may have been a source of income for the family.
Turney said in the early years of the 20th century, the Northwest Piedmont region of North Carolina was shipping more than $1 million worth of dried blackberries to northern states annually.
That is the equivalent of about $27.5 million today.
“It gave them something to barter with,” explained Turney, before pointing at the dryhouse’s modern-day equivalent. “There’s a small, portable dehydrator.”
Though the posters may not appear at the 25 to 30 different locations on the farm, Turney said visitors to Horne Creek can view the “then” at anytime. The farm is open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The farm includes the home site, a barn, pasture and a garden which appear just as they would have in 1900. Turney said the fence posts which surround the garden are even in their original locations. The farm’s four employees also tend to about 900 fruit trees on the property, and products from those trees are sold in the farm’s gift shop.
Turney said admission to the site is free, but donations are encouraged.
Horne Creek is located at 308 Horne Creek Farm Road in Pinnacle.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.