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170 Year Old Cabin Cellar Discovered & Featured at Harvest Days XXV

     After a 25 year search and 170 years after it was first dug, the cellar of the original log house at Garfield Farm Museum has been discovered by archaeologists and will be revealed at the 25th annual Harvest Days on Sunday October 1 from 11:30 am - 4:00 pm.
     After 8 archaeological investigations, this presumed cellar feature of the log house that Sam Culverson first built in 1836 and sold in 1841 to Timothy Garfield, helps determine the 1840s arrangement of buildings at this 1840s working farm museum. During Harvest Days, which includes Friday September 29 for school classes, Fever River Research archaeologists will be digging and uncovering the full outline of the cellar as students and visitors watch. At this point only the top most layer is being examined and it is producing small pieces of 1830s era Staffordshire dishes, porcelain tea cup handles, pottery shards, cut nails, metal buttons, clay tobacco pipe stems, and plaster chinking from the logs.
     Cellars were important for the storage of food, beverages and supplies. In an era without refrigeration or canning, cellars were necessary to store food over the winter. As a tavern, a larger cellar would be needed to contain food and drink for as many as 50 customers in an evening. Dug into the ground under a house, the cellar might have wood flooring and even wood planks to hold back the earthen sides. They could be relatively shallow to 3-5 feet deep. As time and resources allow, the museum will conduct an in depth exploration of the cellar feature. For now simply determining its size and dimensions are important as this will suggest the proximity of the hand dug stone lined well that was in front of the log house. In turn, this will suggest where the road forked in front of the house heading west to Sycamore and the other fork to Oregon, IL.
     This is a very important discovery for the museum. It is a key part of the total evidence the museum has from original buildings, diaries, photographs, maps, furnishings, native prairie, to the 370 acres of land. These resources make Garfield Farm a singularly intact historic site. Ultimately, a reconstruction of the log tavern will be built to offer in depth experiences of life on these first prairie farms. The tavern was over 50 feet long and consisted of Culverson?s house and the Garfield's addition connected by an enclosed hallway.
     Visitors to Harvest Days will be able to tour the 1846 brick tavern as inns were known that replaced the log tavern the Garfields established in 1841. Outside, demonstrations of various historic farm and household skills will be ongoing. Harvesting and processing corn, wheat, and apples will be interpreted along with outdoor household chores like laundry and soap making. Volunteers will also offer tours of the prairie. The museum's rare breeds of farm animals including the milking Devon oxen will be displayed in the farmyard.
     The talented Reid Miller will return to tell his tall tales of life long ago. His skill on banjo and guitar accompanies his songs of life once lived on the farms of the Midwest. Keith Ryder will be portraying a ‘49er’ representing the thousands that were lured west to the California gold strikes as the 1840s decade came to an end.
      A bake sale will be held and refreshments will be offered in the museum’s visitor?s center, the Atwell Burr House. The event benefits the museum's ongoing efforts to restore the historic buildings and to provide educational programming. Schools are invited to reserve space for their classes on Friday September 29. The public is invited to attend on October 1 when the adult donation is $6 and children under 12 with their families are $3 each. Organized youth groups are $4. The 370 acre Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 2800 households in 37 states as an 1840s working farm museum. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt.38 on Garfield Road. For information call (630) 584-8485 or email 

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