J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 4

[In which he describes the process of preparing the apple harvest for use]

In the evening after the regular work of the day was finished, paring and coring apples preparatory for drying was a part of the duty of the whole family. Several bushes of drop apples were brought from the orchard to the house during the day. This labor was generally performed by the women and children, the men being too busy at field work to stop to pick up a few bushels of apples.

After the supper dishes were cleared away the kitchen table was surrounded by all hands able to aid in the important work of saving the fallen apples and adding to the winter supply of edibles.

Family preparing apples – photo taken from J. Peery Miller’s daughter Della’s memoirs

The paring was usually done by a paring machine – a home made affair – consisting of a wooden frame containing a band-wheel six of eight inches in diameter, turned by a crank. By means of a leather belt the power was conveyed to a spool wheel of inch and a half diameter immediately above the crank wheel. The axis of the spool-wheel was an iron spindle the left end of which had two prongs like a fork. On this fork an apple was stuck and a modest turn of the crank gave a rapid revolution to the apple. As the apple spun around a short knife blade fitted into a wooden base with a short handle, was held against it, paring the skin thick or thin according to the setting of the knife in its wooden frame. Any good carpenter could make this machine. The spindle on which the apple revolved was shaped by a blacksmith. I think ours was made by brother Milton, who was skillful in the use of carpenter tools. An expert hand with this machine could keep four or five persons slicing and coring to keep up with him.

[Note: examples of such early apple paring machines can be seen in the Virtual Apple Parer Museum’s Gallery.]

The modern metal parers are fastened firmly to the edge or table by means of a set screw, but the one above described was framed to the end of a board about two feet long, which, when in use, was placed on a bench or kitchen chair and held firmly by the operator’s own weight as he sat astride it.

Personally, I must confess that I did not always take kindly to these family apple-cutting bees. They came at the time when the average farmer boy would rather sleep than work, and frequently I tried to persuade the managers that, in my particular case, the former was more necessary than the latter. Looking at it from the standpoint of youth doubtless my parents sympathized with me, but thee was a question of duty to be considered. Children should help in providing for the needs of the family and dried apples were certainly a necessity. So with visions of dried applesauce and dried apple pies in the future, I applied my knife in quartering and coring the luscious fruit as vigorously as conditions would permit until the end of the session, which was announced by the machine man when he reached for the last unpared apple.

Machine paring was not very satisfactory with bruised or imperfect fruit as the knife would fail to catch all the rind, leaving much for the hand knife to finish. However, much labor was saved by its use.

After the fruit was prepared for drying it was spread out in thin layers on hurdles (commonly called hartels) and these were placed on a scaffold built for this purpose, located in a convenient, sun-shiny spot. The dryhouse with stove heat could be used in all kinds of weather.

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Not Just a Local Big Deal

One of the ways in which Mary E. Morgan shared her love of Yellow Springs history was to create bulletin-board style presentations. An envelope found among the her papers received by the Historical Society containe some of the items used for her presentation on the subject of the notable theatrical Shakespeare presentations at Antioch College in the 1950s with newspaper excerpts indicating the wide interest in the Shakespeare plays across the nation.

To find out more about the history of all theater in Yellow Springs don’t forget to attend the exhibit opening event at the John Bryan Center for “The Timeline Show – YS Theater Past to Present”

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1870s Sketchbook — Part 1

The Yellow Springs Historical Society is the fortunate recipient of a donation by noted local sculptor Jon Hudson of a sketchbook (which he thinks he acquired at an auction) with at least one sketch dated 1870.

Some of the sketches are definitely not of local subjects, but many are, and it should be no surprise that nature is a favorite subject.

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Learn about YS Theater History

There has always been great theater in Yellow Springs, whether amazing Community Theater, “Shakespeare Under the Stars” at Antioch, the YS Kids Playhouse, a Ten Minute Play Festival or High School Musicals and Dramas. The Yellow Springs Arts Council, YS Arts & Culture Commission and the Yellow Springs Historical Society are the joint sponsors of a special exhibit at the John Bryan Community Center between January 18 and June 30: “The Timeline Show — YS Theater Past to Present.”

There will be an opening reception with refreshments 6:30 until 8:00 pm on January 18 in the John Bryan Gallery on the second floor of the Community Center featuring:

  • – Center Stage Head Shots by Ron Siemer
  • – Theater Timeline by Dave Neuhardt
  • – 6-7 Live Music by Barbara Leeds
  • – 7 pm. Early Years of Antioch Theater – talk and slide show by Tony Dallas
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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1990s part 4

A wide variety of illustrators featuring a variety of themes (although another cat illustration makes an appearance) with a few science fiction designs.

B-314 by Jan Brett, suitable for institutional use

B-315 by Sara Eyestone

B-316 by Doyle Gray

B-317 by Helen Lea

B-318 by Pieter Folkens

B-319  the Enterprise from original Star Trek

B-320 Victoriana by Thomas L. Cathey

B-321 Boris Vallejo’s “Golden Wings” (previously introduced on gumned paper as B-141 in 1980)

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A Clean Sweep of Luck for a New Year

The Yellow Springs Historical Society wishes you all the best in 2019

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Pioneering Days at Antioch — Part 8 (final)

ONE OF MY PLEASANTEST ASSOCIATIONS with Antioch is to see Rockford so much used. In 1929 I received a bequest from my aunt, Emma C. Bancroft. She and Uncle William had great and lasting influence on me and on innumerable other young people. In the over-crowded busy life at Antioch there seemed a need for some quiet place where one could meditate in peace. The bequest was used to build it in their memory. Since Uncle William and Aunt Emma Bancroft were Friends, the architecture of a Friends’ meeting-house seemed the only suitable style. William Shilling, a Springfield architect, entered completely into the plan and made no charge for all the work of designing the building. He himself carved the inscription on the mantle. The words are from Uncle William’s bookplate. Bishop Jones was coming that autumn to the college, and the office at the rear was ready just in time for him. So far as I know, a wedding with him officiating was the very first use to which Rockford was put. The name “Rockford” is that of the home of my uncle and aunt at Wilmington, Delaware.

Our house at 120 West Limestone was my dream house. I had planned the inside and Louis Grandgent skillfully put a colonial exterior on it. We had many happy times there. We took folks in to live with us after both the early college fikres, and for all sorts of other emergencies. It was a fine place for parties, but it seemed it must have been fore-ordained as a co-op house, for the dumb-waiter, which was a very casual result of a visitor’s suggestion just at a time in construction when it could be easily added, proved to be the indispensible item for the use to which I put it in 1931 and ‘32. It was sad for me to leave the house, but now it a joy to see the students using it.

To all Antiochians and friends of Antioch who read this, Arthur and I send our greetings.

[Signatures of Lucy G. Morgan and Arthur E. Morgan]

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

From the Howard Kahoe glass negative collection

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J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 3

Although the images are missing from the document, one can get a glimpse of a typical log cabin in this post, and Della Miller provided the photo of the house which replaced the log cabin below.


It is stated that when my grandfather, Frederick Miller, purchased the quarter section of land (1817 or 1818) which after his death in 1822, soon became the property of my father, John Miller, there was a log cabin on the land which served as the family abode until the more commodious house, built in the year 1822, was ready for occupancy. Not a vestige of this primitive structure remained in my time. It is hardly probable that it occupied the space needed for the new building, making its removal necessary. There were plenty of building spots, and, besides, the cabin was needed as a residence while the new house was in process of erection. What does it matter now, nearly one-hundred years after its destruction, where it stood, how it looked or what became of it? However, to my mind a picture of that primitive cabin, real or imaginative, is needed as a starting point in the associated interests of my ancestors during that period. No one is now living that can give me a rough memory sketch of it sufficiently accurate to enable an artist to reproduce its size, shape and general appearance. I am left to imagine that it looked like hundreds of other back-woods log cabins still standing in Clark and adjoining counties of Ohio during my boyhood days.

On page 18 of the Miller genealogy brief mention is made of the new log house built in 1822. I attach to this writing (page ) a print of same reproduced by Herbert B. Judy from a description given by brother Samuel, who well remembered the building as it appeared before the pride of the family demanded weather-boarding to conceal the logs and mortar. This improvement with a one-story addition to the rear, and later a porch in front, marks the appearance of our homestead as it was added to the house and its surroundings which the accompanying kodak snap-shots will show, but the same old log structure built by grandfather Frederick Miller in 1822 still supports these modern features with its enduring strength.

The barn seen in these late photographs was built by my father in the year 1848. It took the place of an old log barn of primitive type. Here again imagination must be drawn upon to restore to mind the old building. Much of the timber of the old barn was utilized in building the new frame, but many of the old logs lay heaped up in one corner of the barn yard there to rot if not used to meet special needs on the place. These logs would serve a good purpose as bridge material across ditches in marshy localities; or if cut in short lengths (two or three feet) they made lasty ground-chunks under the corners of rail fences. The purpose of the ground-chunk was to prevent the lower rail of the fence from settling in the ground too far, thereby absorbing moisture which would soon cause the bottom rail to rot. It was a part of the farmer’s work, as soon as the spring weather would permit to repair the fences, pry up the corners and replace the rotten ground-chunks with new ones. Here was work for a ten or twelve year old boy to assist, and I had plenty of it to do.

One of these log heaps (relics of the old barn) lay under a walnut tree which stood in the barnyard not far from the water-trough which was supplied with spring water after it had passed through the milk-house trough, depository for milk and butter. Here was a delightful shady place to play, much enjoyed in my youth. In the fall of the year when the walnuts were dropping, one-half of the labor of hulling was saved by their striking these logs as they came rattling down from the top of this tall tree. My recollection of the happy hours spent in hulling and drying for winter use these delicious nuts is quite vivid. I say delicious advisedly, for I feel and speak as a boy of nine or ten years.

The new barn was a frame and stood on a hill but a short distance southwest of the dwelling (see photographs). It stands today (1917) as built in 1848 with no change except a small shed addition at the northeast corner to give more stable room. Being a bank-barn the lower story was devoted entirely to stabling stock. The upper story contained room for a threshing floor in the center and a large mow on each side for hay or grain. A loft space over the threshing floor was also used for mowing purposes. A granary occupied a part of the space of the westside mow. It was a tight room entered by a special door off the threshing floor and contained bins to receive the different grains when threshed and cleaned. From the northeast corner of the threshing floor a narrow stairway led to the basement story. Down this stairway-opening hay and other feed was pitched to the hall-way below to be parcelled out to the horses in their separate feed troughs and hay-racks (mangers). Sometimes a boy would pitch himself down this gang-way along with the feed. We always had to guard against a misstep or a slip.
All the necessary out-buildings found on farms of an early date were located on spots convenient to the central home, – viz., bake-oven, built of stone or brick under a shed roof; wood-house, smoke-house, carriage-house, spring-house, hog-pen, sheep-pen, wagon-house with corn-crib on one side, a dry-house, heated by means of a wood stove, for drying fruit – the only means of preserving the surplus stock of fruit then known.

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1990s Part 3

One should not be surprised to see old favorite themes continue:

Cats – B-305 by Lesley Anne Ivory

Unicorns – B-313 by Michael Hague

Teddy Bears – B-309 by Michael Hague again for Alphabears

Well-known children’s illustrators – B-304 from Graeme Base’s Animalia, B-310 from the Checkerboard Press edition of The Real Mother Goose

In addition, B-312 was a new design by artist Mary Engelbreit, B-307 was taken from a vintage print by W. Hullidge for the Thomas L. Cathey Collection, and B-311 was another design suitable for institutions and memorial uses.

Antioch bookplate B-304


Antioch bookplate B-305


Antioch bookplate B-307


Antioch bookplate B-309


Antioch bookplate B-310


Antioch bookplate B-311


Antioch bookplate B-31`2


Antioch bookiplate B-313






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