Conrad Brumbaugh Homestead

Post date: Apr 24, 2010 2:43:43 PM

The Homestead

The first home that Conrad Brumbaugh built on the land at Quail Hollow, was made of hand hewn logs deeply notched at the ends to hold them firmly in place. The house was 24 feet by 24 feet, two stories high with a basement constructed of stone. The east side of this was made of soft brick and covered with a plaster. The log house was completed about 1820 and located near the present Brumbaugh Cemetery. The log cabin was converted into a utility building after a much larger home was completed in 1842.

The new house was built on the ridge of the hill with a walk-in cellar which was really a ground floor room. This cellar had an earthen floor, heavy stone walls, and large hand hewn timbers overhead. it provided the only cool storage space in the house.

There were bins for vegetables, shelves for canned fruit, a rack for vinegar and cider barrels, crocks for sauerkraut, lard and puddidng and containers for milk, cream and butter. Over the entrance was a covered proch running the full length of the house. A grape vine grew on wires attached to the porch posts, In the fall the bunches of large purple drapes were especially attractive to both boys and bees.

The house itself was large and rectangular with a main floor, upstairs and attic. The first floor contained a combination living-sining room. In the dining end of the room was a big wood buring stove with a reservor on the back. The dining table and chairs were located near the stove. In one corner of the dining area was a pantry with a sink. All the water had to be brought in from and outside well.

From one corner of the living room area a narrow winding stairway led to several upstairs bedrooms. Beyond the living room area were two first floor bedrooms.

The attic not only provided a place for storage, but also a room for cured ham and sausage and the drying of vegetables. The attic was also a place for curious youngsters to play and investigate.

The Brumbaugh homestead continued to expand. Additions to the original house were made in the same manner as the same manner as the original. The exterior of the addition had walls of soft yellow brick covered with wood siding to produce a uniform appearance. A wide porch extended along the front of both the old and new structures.

A large summer house was built adjacent to the main house. It served as the center for cooking and serving meals and washing dishes as well as for canning vegetables and making preserves and jellies. The summer house consisted of one large room with a big stove, a pantry, a long table and nnumerous chairs. There was a second floor attic used to store boxes, trunks and old clothes. The summer house had a cupola that housed a large dinner bell, which was rung to call the workers from the fields at meal time.

At one corner of the summer hoiuse was a rectangular wooden building that had exterior siding to correspond to that of the main house. There was a large brick baking oven with an iron door about two feet square. The procedure for its use was to build a quick hot fire in the oven, usually of old dry fence rails, then rake the coals down into an ash pit underneath. Bread, pies, cakes, and beans were put into the oven with the use of a long handled paddle. It wasn't uncommon to nake a dozen loaves of bread two or three times a week.

A rectangular space between the main house and the summer house was paved with flat hollow tile. This gave the effect of a courtyard and tied the buildings into a sort of quadrangle.

The Barn

Several hundred feet from the house was a large barn about 125 feet long. The barn frame was made of hand-hewn timbers put together with wooden pegs. It was of the Pennsylvania Dutch type with an upper level where hay and grain were stored. The stables were on the ground level. In addition to all of these buildings, other structures on the homestead consisted of a wood house, a buggy shed, a hog house, a chicken house, a windmill and a water tank.

Life on the Farm

Specific responsibilities were assigned to or assumed by each member of the family. One of theses was carrying a five gallon water jug on a littlw wagon over a rough country road to a remote field about a mile away where the farm hands were working. Another was bringing the cows in from the pasture at milding time and tying each one to a proper stanchion before feeding them.

There were also the horses to be bedded. This involved carrying straw from the straw stack in the barnyard adn making a clean bed in the stall for each horse. The horses were curried and brushed each day. The most uppleasant task was cleaning the cow barn and the horse stables.

Each spring when new lambs were born, some ewes refused to care for their offspring, particularly if there were twins or triplets. In such an instance, raising a lamb consisted primarliy of providing a shelter to protext it from bad weather, dogs or other predators, and feeding it warm milk from a nursing bottle three or four times a day.

Other jobs on the farm included shocking grain, cutting and shocking corn, mosing hay with a horse-drawn mower, spreadiang manure by hand using a long handled fork, and drying hay with a horse-drawn tedder. This had forks attached to levers that moved up and down stirring the hay it would dry more quickly.

A large open pit fireplace was used for manyu of the household chores. Kettles provided hot water used to boil clothes. these clothes were hand rubbed on washboards that stood in tubs. In those days all soaps were handmade. The two most essential ingredients of this soap were grease and lye. Lye was derived from wood ashes. To make it a large wooden hopper shaped like an inverted funnel rested on a round flat iron base that drained into a pot of several gallons capacity. The hopper was filled with wood ashes, and every day or two, a bucket of water was poured over the ashes. As the water soaked through the ashes it produced the lye, and amberr liquid so strong that it would blister one's skin.

As for the grease, it was used from a supply of fat that was stored after butchering or from fat drippings collected from cooking meats. To make hard soap a specified amount of lye was put into one kettle over a fire. When it reached boiling point a measured amount of grease was added. After the grease was dissolved in the lye the kettle was removed ffrom the fire, the mixture was poured into a mold until the soap had solidified. It was then cut into squares for use as needed. Soft soap was made by the same process except that the amount of grease was reduced so that the final product was a thick brown liquid soap.

Recreation and Other Activities

There were some dreal sports activities. These included included skating and bobsledding. there were numerous ponds on the homestead farm where the Brumbaughs skated, sometimes joined by neighbors. Nearby Congress lake offered unlimited skating.

Another winter sport was trapping rabbits. For this purpose people used a boxtrap. Both ends of the trap were raised by cords attached to a trigger on which an apple was placed as bait, the ends of the trap would fall, securely enclosing the rabbit. The traps had to be checked regularly to bring home any catches.

One "sport" that was fun was robbing bumble bee nests. These nests were usually made in holes in the ground, often in a hayfield or pasture. The bunble bees were a nuisance because when they were disturbed by men working in the fields they stung both men and livestock. once a nest was located, people would make the attack armed with paddles and a partially filled black water jug. The paddles were used in self defense, while the water jug was a trap. Seeing it, the bumble bees would attack it and generally would fly into the neck of the jug to a fatal watery reception. When the colony of bees was finally subdued, the reward could be a delicious comb of honey eaten on the spot.

A related activity was the hiving of bees. In the spring or summer when the bee hives bacame overcrowded, a new queen and her followers would leave the parent hive and go searching for a new location. To avoid the loss of valuable bees, efforts were made to induce them to enter an empty hive. The trick was to lure the queen to enter the new hive,

The Family Church

For many years Conrad was a member of the German Baptist Brethren Church. Lewis Brumbaugh, as the chief contributor, donated land (about two or three acres) and materials to construct the Lake German Baptist Brethren Church built across thge road from the homestead.

The church as a large rectangular wooden structure with a main audience room and two small rooms at the back used to store wood, kerosene, and other supplies. T

wo doors near the front led into the sudience room, the one on the right was used by the men and the one on the left by the women. At the front of the audience room was a pulpit with a bench behind it for the preachers. The main room had long benches parallel to the pulpit. Benches on either side along the wall stood at right angles to those int he center.Heat was provided by two wood-burning box stoves, one on either side of the room near the center. Kerosene lights were suspended from the ceiling with chains which could be which could be lowered for lighting, filling, trimming wicks and washing the glass chimneys.

Usually four ministers occupied the long bench behind the pulpit. They went through a ceremony at the beginning of each service extending the invitation to the one next to him to speak first. Two of the ministers preached in German, the third preached in English. The fourth one was limited in that he seldom did more than announce a hymn or lead in the Lord's Prayer. Preaching usually lasted more than one hour. Once or twice a year an old fashioned communion service was held combining the Lord's Supper and foot washing.

A revival meeting was held in late fall or winter when the farmers' responsibilities were lighter, and they would be more apt to attend this special evening service. This church stressed "believers baptism" based upon the scripture: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," so small children were not accepted into the membership of the church, The church also emphasized and required immersion as the form of baptism to be administered to those wishing to join the church. Converts were baptized in the outlet of Congress Lake.

Homestead in Decline