Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo Friday ~ Ordinary objects with Famous Names

This photo was taken at the Concord Museum....

Here are two fire buckets I saw, and Vincent photographed them because of the name "William Munroe", my distant cousin in Concord, Massachusetts.  In the old days, before organized fire fighting departments, each family had a fire bucket by the front door.  It was full of sand or water, depending on the season, and would be borrowed or brought to a fire in the neighborhood for a "bucket brigade".  The names painted on the buckets insured that each family would receive his proper bucket again after the fire incident.

It wasn't until after Vincent took the photo that we noticed the other bucket was labeled "J. Thoreau".  This was John Thoreau, father to the famous writer, Henry David Thoreau, and neighbor to William Munroe.

Small world!

There is a research strategy in genealogy called "FANs" where one studies the friends, acquaintances, and neighbors in order to understand the family history of an ancestor, or to perhaps break down a brick wall in your research.  Finding the names of these FANs in censuses, city directories, tax lists, manuscripts and maps is the usual route.  Finding their fire buckets in a museum is unique!  In the old days we used to call FANs "cluster research".

For more photographs of scenes around Concord concerning Thoreau, please see Barbara Poole's blog post "Some of Henry David Thoreau's Houses" at this link:

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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post Heather.

    Like many old objects, the craftsmanship of the fire buckets makes them almost objects of art. Also, the striking similarity of the design and manufacture -- with the same year on them -- means to me that they were not individually made by the owners, but rather look like they are the product of the same manufacturer. The size, design, materials are all too similar. I wonder if there was a known craftsman in the area who made these items for households.