Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Historic Village in Cooperstown

Thursday August 11, 2016                                                             Most Recent Posts:
Glimmerglass State Park                                                               More Than a Farmer’s Museum

Cooperstown, New York                                                               On the Water at Glimmerglass



My last post was about the other parts of the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown.  If you didn’t read my previous post, you missed the Cardiff Giant, the fantastic Carousel, the Tippitt Farm and the draft horses. Not too late, use the link in blue above.  

After riding the carousel TWICE, I had lunch in front of the Bump Tavern and walked down the lane stopping in the houses of the town. The 19th-century Historic Village is comprised of buildings gathered from rural communities around New York state, relocated and restored, piece by piece. There is quite a variety of architecture here.




The Otsego Herald Printing Office is right across from my picnic table so it is my first stop.




They are still doing letter press printing of handbills and newspapers.  It’s amazing that they were able to gather all of these authenic supplies and the press.



The printer has to be able to read and set up type backwards.  I have to spell each word out for myself to make sure I see good instead of boog.



The printer is happy to give me a demonstration of his press. He sets the paper on the press top on the right and inks the letters before setting the paper down.


Clearly it’s called a press becasue as he pushes the arm down the paper is pressed onto the type face.




It comes out clear as a bell.  His wares are on display here and for sale in the store which I visit later.



This one makes me laugh out loud.
It’s perfect!!


Next to the printer is the Doctor Jackson’s Office. Dr. Jackson practiced here from 1820-1830 and his brother from 1830 to 1856 when another doctor took it over.  Having an office was pretty unusual place in the early 1800’s.  Most physicians were farmers who moonlighted and at best had an “office” in their homes. Usually they came to the patient’s home with their medicine cases like the one on display which belonged to Dr. Mary I Bassett in 1900. She was graduated from The Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia in 1887 which has an interesting history of its own if you care to check.  She was the first female doctor and namesake of Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. Dr. Bassett’s parents were also both physicians who practiced together in Cooperstown in the 1870’s.








It was very intersting reading about the beliefs of medical science at the time.  According to the information Doctors and patients believed that all illness was a result of an imbalance of the four humours.



Dr. Jackson’s Daybook is a great insight into the life of the doctor at this time.  It talks both of the patients who came to him and of the other occupations he engaged in to make a living.  It doesn’t take long to read all the information here as it is very well presented but it is quite eye opening.  It is possible you might be able to read either of these if you click the photograph to make it larger.



Next to Dr. Jackson’s is Thrall’s Pharmacy originally built in 1832 in Hartwick, NY.  Doctors primarily mixed their own medicines but if you wanted anything in addition as well lots of other chemicals for your work or animals you would go to the Pharmacy.   Love the pharmacy sign.  These were quite common in the early 1800’s when not everyone could read.  Often there was no name on the business, just its symbol.




When I step inside I am amazed at the completeness of the pharmacy.  They must have bought the building and its entire contents.  The old medicine chest of drawers, the shelves with the vintage bottles.





I wish I’d thought to ask the “pharmacist” why this wasn’t known as an Apothocary.



Not everything mixed up here is from a chemical.



Having had a very large herb garden and dried many herbs at the farm, I am quite surprised to see them hanging in the light of these windows.  Not authentic.  Seems like the idea of a decorator.





And sure enough, the herbs are hanging in the attic where it is very hot and dry, a perfect place except for the windows.  Dryng herbs in the sun causes them to lose color, potency and flavor





The Wescott Shop was built between 1815 and 1845 in Schuyler Lake New York 8 miles from here. Today the Wescott Shop is home to broom making and fancy weaving. As with doctors, typically craftsmen producing these goods were also farmers.  Sounds like today, to be a farmer you have to sell out to corporate agriculture or have a 2nd or 3rd job.   The back section of the house with the weaving is the oldest section constructed around 1815.  The front was added in 1845.



I’m lucky that the broom maker is at his task when I come in.





He tells me the brooms are made from a variety of sorgum which is carded and then left to dry before being wired to its handle.  He makes a variety of brooms including whisk brooms, long and short handled brooms.  They are all for sale in the store in the village.




The weaver who is warping his loom has gone for the day but the broom maker shows me into the back where there are two looms and several spinning wheels.


These are the fancy weavings done on the looms.  They are also for sale in the store.




Behind the Wescott Shop is the school house.  Apparently school is out for the day.



But the lessons are on the board.



Pretty severe looking school marm.





Very studious young student.







Back on the main street I stop in at the blacksmith who has just shut down his forge for the day.



Like the printer’s, this blacksmith shop is absolutely complete. 



The blacksmith has finished his days work and I am amazed that his clothes are not wringing wet from the heat that must have been created by the giant bellows near the ceiling.






My final business stop is in the store where I could buy any of the wares I have seen being created.  I step inside and take a look around but I’m not in the market for anything today. Actually I’m just not much of a shopper.  I can appreciate the craftsmanship without having to own it.








As you can see most of the buildings in the village are businesses as well as the school and church.  There are only two homes in addition to the farm house just outside of town.

This was the home of Sophia and Hosea Dimmick who were farmers until 1853 when Hosea became Chenango Lock Tender and purchased this home in the village of Norwich, NY




The house then and now below it.


The house is not furnished as it might have been when the Dimmicks lived here but rather has an exhibit on the changes in technology over the lifetimes of the Dimmicks who were both born around 1810.  As children they ate food cooked over an open hearth as in the Timmill Farmhouse, wore clothes scrubbed on a washboard and lit candles in the evening.  As adults in this house Sophia and her daughter Frances prepared dinner on a cast iron cook stove, used a hand crank washing machine and kerosene lamps.




The James More House 1818 presents the life of a prosperous family in upstate New York.




The fancy exterior painting around the entry way is continued on the inside of the house.


The house is wall papered, has decorative window treatments and period furniture.







The doors are what really caught my attention.



I’m not sure whether this was a class, I didn’t want to disturb them by asking but as I wandered around looking at the house I overheard the docent discussing terms I recognize from quilting.
Even the mantel is decorated.




I’ve reached the end of the town as I stop in at the church.  The Cornwallville Church was built in 1795.  It is at the far end of the community green and continues to host community events such as weddings and concerts.  Judge Nelson’s office is there on the right, also on the edge of town.  That’s my next stop.




Definitely a sweet place to get married.



The church with its many windows is airy and bright with a full balcony around the top.



The organ in the balcony was originally in the Grace Valley Episcopal church in Cherry Valley New York.  It is described as an excellent example of a rural pipe organ and was built in approximately 1848.   The organ continues to be played with manual pumping.



As I leave the church and walk around by the cemetery I am just across from Judge Nelson’s office.




For another view, this is the picture with which I concluded my last post as I walked back into town from the farm.  Nelson’s office is on the left and the church on the right.



Justice Samuel Nelson maintained this office during his career. He was a member of the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled against an enslaved man, Dred Scott, and denied citizenship to all African Americans. When I step inside I read that these are “the rooms where one man contemplated a decision that still resonates in American society today”.





The entry room is very interesting, it has no furniture, only life size human cut outs with information about the case, the decision and the people involved on each one. Although it is easy reading, the details are too many for this already too long post.  You can find the story of Dred Scott and his case here.

I really like the way they chose to present the information in such a stark and serious way emphasizing the people involved. It seems clear to me that this case was among several flames igniting the fire of the Civil War four years after the decision.




Each figure has a part of the story to tell.








The last building I see just before the museum closes for the day is the first one I saw when I came in to the village although I didn’t go up to see it, I had lunch under the tree in its yard.



Bump Tavern was built in 1795 in the little settlement of Batavia New York.  It served drovers and travelers along the Schoharie Kill Bridge Turnpike. During the mid-1800s the tavern served as a single family home. Later it became a boarding house for summer visitors to the Catskills.

It’s being shown today as it would have looked originally as a tavern.



Again, I am amazed, if this was a hotel in its last incarnation and a private residence before that, where did they get all these “tavern” furnishings?  Particularly those in the picture above.




I didn’t see a carpenter’s shop in town so I assume they either were able to find so many matching vintage chairs or they had them made off site.




Although I didn’t actually lift up the spread to see, this sure looks like a rope bed with a straw tick.  Seems like a direct link to a permanent back ache.  So even though I’m about ready for a nap, I think I’ll pass on this bed.  Does look like the coverlet was made at the weavers and is two long pieces sewn together in the middle.




It’s been a long day with an early morning paddle and the afternoon at the museum.  As is often the case, I’m closing the place down and feel like I was rushing especially at the end.  I highly recommend the Farmer’s Museum and suggest you come early.  Wish they’d make it a two day ticket.  But I have plans for tomorrow anyway so I couldn’t make it even if they did.  Ansel Adams anyone?


  1. Looking back at the way things used to be is enlightening. Loved the printer's equipment and the broom maker's as well. Reminds me that I need a new broom - I've only ever used the straw brooms.

  2. I have not been to Cooperstown, and the only reason I wanted to was the Baseball Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field. Wow you have certainly broadened my desire to make the trip, THANKS!

  3. Great tour, we really enjoy those historic villages. We have been to the ones in Mumford NY several times.

  4. Okay...So now I have to take another trip to Cooperstown. I've been three times and never went to the Farmers Museum. Day trip in my future. I love the village too. Great fun, thanks for sharing.

  5. A marvelous place to explore, and you've photographed it all wonderfully. I got a kick out of that serenity prayer.

  6. When we visited there in the 70's, my son acquired a case of what could be called "the runs" - probably from drinking out of a stream there. We took him to Bassett Hospital, where the declined to give him any treatment, saying they do not believe in giving antibiotics for anything! I don't know if this is still the case or not.

    We were concerned to get it cleared up because we were leaving by car to drive to Syracuse to catch a plane back to Miami - it was going to be a long day. We packed a smallish towel and a big plastic bag into his jeans, and all was well, but I'm sure he was majorly uncomfortable the whole time. Very embarrassing for a not-quite teenager!

    Virtual hugs,


  7. I can vouch for both the severity of the school marm as well as the studious character of the student! What a hoot! Those were huge technological advances the Dimmick family experienced in their lifetimes, yet today their lives in the most advanced days still seem so primitive. I too wondered at the painted doors and woodwork which seemed so odd given that the natural wood grain underneath the paint was so much more beautiful. The docent explained that it was a matter of showing your wealth. Anyone could have unpainted or natural wood, but it took money to paint them and it showed.

  8. What an amazing living history museum! Definitely a place we would enjoy visiting. I always find it fascinating to "step back in time" in such an authentic way. As an herbalist, I'm always especially interested in the apothecaries (of course!). You're right, though, about the herbs—they would not have been drying them in full sunlight. "Be not anxious" is a worthy reminder. :-)

  9. Wow, what a wonderful walk back in time. Really enjoyed it, nice to see some almost lost arts, weaving, blacksmithing and broom making preserved. BTW, any of the brooms fit for a Harry Potter riding model? ;c)

  10. Getting to see all these skilled craftsmen in the act is very cool.

  11. I love Living History Museums and this one is a wonderful! Glad you got a chance to visit:)

  12. That was a great museum. I like the senility prayer!

  13. Love working museums such as this one. So glad people take the time to learn about our past and keep it alive!

  14. Be not anxious...I guess some of us need those reminders.
    And the Senility Prayer is really great.
    Thanks for the tour, I enjoyed living museum especially when they show us how pathetic the new civilization is now with technologies. This too reminded me of the Henry Fords Museum in MI.
    And yes there was a time when Doctors do house calls.

  15. Just catching up on blogs and really enjoy this wonderful tour. So much to remember and learn from the past. Senility Prayer...spot on!! Be not anxious...we need to listen;o))

  16. Oh this place is just fantastic!! Much of it is similar to the Shelburne Museum which I so enjoyed yesterday in Vermont. I love that you got demonstrations and that they are actually making real items at most shops! Nothing more wonderful than a handmade broom :-) I think the school marm is adorable, and possibly related to her young student. Interesting to tell the story of the Scott trial with shadows. This place is high up my list!

  17. Neat day! Love the living history...! I could see that taking a day. Interesting about the doctor and the judge. Looks like it was all well done except for the herbs in the windows which wouldn't have been there ;)


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