Name of Structure: The Old Kitchen

Original Location: Big Isaac Road – Doddridge County

Donated By: Fred Zinn, Chester Zinn, Howard Powell and Furman O. Jarrett

Original Sponsor: The Secret Family of Clarksburg

Additional Sponsor: Dominion Foundation

The Old Kitchen was a home in its natural setting and the logs were not only used for the Old Kitchen, but also for the construction of the Blacksmith Shop. The title search indicates the property was owned by Truman A. Mason in 1925 who bought it from Martin and Ellen Meek, but no date was available as to when the Meeks purchased the property. The Old Kitchen was the first structure placed on our campus. In 2006, the building was rehabilitated.

Near the Old Kitchen is the Smoke House. The Smoke House was created to demonstrate the smoking and preservation of meats. Its location next to the Old Kitchen makes it a natural combination for cooking demonstrations and tours.

The Old Kitchen is used to interpret a typical family home. It probably would have housed 10 to 15 family members. The loom would not have been in the home, but is in this building for demonstration purposes. A bed would have been in that area of the cabin for the parents and if you look above, the ceiling has a ladder that drops down to give access to the loft. The loft would have been the sleeping quarters for the children. Their beds would have been ticks, which would have been filled with straw, corn shucks, or if they were very lucky, feathers. More than one child slept on a tick, and during the colder weather would have had a tick to cover them as well.

As you can see, there are many dried foods hanging around the fireplace. Fresh vegetable and fruits had to be dried to be used during the months when they were not available. Corn was the main staple of their diet and was used in many ways.

The fireplace was in the center of the home, providing heat, light and of course the only way to cook. There was a pot of soup or stew simmering continuously. This particular fireplace has a crane and a trammel, which allowed the women to adjust the degree of heat to whatever they were cooking. Once of the skill of cooking in the fireplace and on the hearth is mastered, it is no different from cooking on a modern stove.

Women aged in their appearance very rapidly. One factor was due to their hard way of living, and another was working near the fire continuously. It sapped the moisture from their skin, and they became wrinkled at an early age. Due to the strenuous lifestyle and the many children they bore, women did not have a long lifespan. It was common for men to marry several times during their lifetime, and they generally married a younger woman.

We take clothing for granted. It is very easy to go to the store and get a new outfit and we have many sets of clothes. The settlers were lucky to have two sets of clothes, as they were hand sewn from the yarn spun at home and then then woven into cloth. Their clothes were used until they were very worn and then used for other purposes, such as quills or remade into smaller items of clothing. Nothing was wasted.

The content of this page was developed by information provided to and written by David Huffman, 2023 Intern Fairmont State University.