Around the 1800s House: The Coffee Mill

May 16, 2012

Around the House Post: The Coffee Mill

I don’t drink coffee, but recently I got to roast some coffee beans in an old-fashioned coffee roaster and then grind them in a coffee mill. The roasting took quite a bit of time. I had to constantly spin the handle over some ashes pulled out from the fire. The ashes slowly toasted the beans.

Once the beans were ready they were transferred into a coffee mill where they were ground and then finally coffee could be made. This coffee mill is approximately six inches by six inches. On top is the grinder mechanism. The beans were placed in the top. The grinder hand cranked and the grounds would fall down into the little drawer at the bottom of the box.


Historic Brattonsville

July 6, 2011

Located in South Carolina, Brattonsville is a historic park much like Old Sturbridge Village, just on a much smaller scale. It encompasses 775 acres of over 30 colonial and antebellum structures, two house museums, a Revolutionary War battlefield site and walking trails. In April, when I was visiting my friend in North Carolina, we took a trip out there and spent the day walking around admiring the buildings and enjoying part of the South’s history, something I’ve experienced very little of!

I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but definitely not the many similarities I saw. They called lunch dinner and dinner supper, just like in the northeast. The pottery, dishes and house hold items were similar…so similar in fact that if I’d seen them out of context I’d have said they belonged in 1830s New England not 1840s South Carolina. Even the house designs showed similarities—though I have to say the South’s foundation systems greatly amused me. With no need for root cellars in every house, warm weather, and clay-like soil the houses were built on top of (typically) brick or stone piers.

The Scotch-Irish brothers William, Robert and Huge first settled in the area in the 1760s. William Bratton married Martha Robinson and they had eight children. Over their life they managed to make their plantation grow and thrive. [choppy] After their deaths, their son John S. Bratton inherited the plantation, which continued to expand and prosper. John and his wife had fourteen kids and in 1823, construction began on a larger house that would become known as The Homestead. Through the years additions were added to the house as the family’s wealth grew.

The biggest difference (aside from the weather :)) was the fact that this was a plantation, not a farm, and like most plantations in the south, it had slaves. Unlike farms in New England, which were typically large enough to feed the farmer’s family and maybe make a small profit on some excess harvest, the plantation was large (over 225 acres) and was meant to produce enough harvest to sell and make a profit. One family (husband and what sons he might have) couldn’t work a plantation on their own like most farms in the North. I never really thought about that difference and how it really did shape the South and its need for “workers” as opposed to the North. Or as my friend pointed out maybe the slaves were the reason for the plantation economy in the South. Either way they probably fed off each other.

I found the visit extremely interesting. Especially for this Northern girl who always thought the South was so different from the North.

Bratton House

William Bratton's house. The original house had one room downstairs and one upstairs. Over the years the house was added on to and converted into a Tavern. In 1839, John Bratton remodeled the house and added the side wing to serve as a school for his children.

The Homestead

John and Harriet Bartton built the Homestead between 1823 and 1826. The house reflected their wealth and high social class standing. The side wings and porch were later additions. The bricks used on this house were made by the Bratton's slaves.


This is the foundation of the Bratton House. Notice how the house is raised and stones have been used to support the house.

Slave House

This is an example of a slave's house. In 1843 the Brattons owned 139 slaves.

A Soldier Returns Home

September 1, 2010

Today’s piece is going to be a little different from our typically historical pieces. Just like World War II, the Korean War, and Desert Storm, one day Operation Enduring Freedom (the war in Afghanistan), will become a part of the history books. Right now though, it’s living history. When the history books are written about this war much is going to be left out. Tactics, strategies, statistics will make the cut. The heartaches, the worry, the sorrows, and the joy though, won’t show up in those pages. This past week, my brother returned from a thirteen month deployment in southern Afghanistan. I was there to welcome him home along with other members of my family. It’s an event wrought with emotion, which probably ninety-five percent of the public has never experienced and never will. While my story had its moments of worry and sorrow it does end on a happy note. I’d like to share my experience of a soldier’s homecoming with you.


As the days draw closer to my brother’s return home, my anxiety grows. All anyone can think is, “Please let him remain safe.” Prayers are said overtime. Those last few weeks are the worst. He’s so close, yet so far from returning home. His return date is iffy at best. It changes, due to the nature of war, transportation and weather. Yes, bad weather has delayed many a soldier’s return home. My brother is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is where he’ll return home to. This means my family must fly down there to welcome him.

With just days remaining until his return, we finally purchase tickets. The latest news has him scheduled to arrive at 2:15 AM on Thursday. Unlike commercial flights, time means nothing. A soldier’s plane can land at 3 AM just as easily as it can at 3 PM.

After a flight down to Raleigh-Durham on Wednesday morning, we rent a car and drive the hour and a half to Fayetteville. It’s 3 PM by the time we arrive. We check into the hotel and then head over to my brother’s apartment, where his wife has decorated the place with streamers of red, white, and blue. Every thirty minutes or so, we are calling the “hotline number” to check on the status of his arrival time. By six that evening, it’s already been changed from 2:15 AM to 3:35 AM. After a late dinner out, we all decide to head back to the hotel for a couple hours of sleep. We check the hotline one more time and learn that his flight is now scheduled to arrive at 5:25 AM. We all plan to meet at 3:30 AM at my brother’s apartment and head over to Pope Air force base from there.

I can’t stop the tears. They come and go. I am happy, but the emotion of it all still makes me cry. I can’t help but think of the soldiers that aren’t on that plane—the ones that sacrificed it all for us. They make me cry too as I think about their widows and the children who will grow up without a father. My brother is a part of 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment in E Company. There are three from my brother’s company that didn’t make it home. There are many more from other units. All in all, the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment has suffered too many casualties this deployment.

We arrive at the hanger at 4 AM. Welcome home banners in hand, we traipse across a field from the parking area and enter the hanger to find about fifty or so people already there and more arriving every minute. Kids, still in their pajamas, run around or sleep in strollers. School has already started, and you can bet there are going to be a lot of absent students tomorrow. It seems like almost everyone has dressed up for this welcome. Even at 4 AM, hair and makeup have been done, sundresses donned, and fancy flip-flops complete the ensemble.

Excitement hums through the air. We claim a spot on the benches, spread out our banners and wait. Too excited to read the book I have brought with me, I scan the vast array of homemade banners. More tears come to my eyes as I see a three or four month old baby who has yet to meet his father. More and more people enter the hanger. Country music plays over speakers, and the Army band is getting ready to start playing some music. Toby Keith’s American Soldier comes on and the waterworks starts again. It’s a good thing I’ve brought a whole pack of tissues, because my brother hasn’t even arrived yet and I’ve already gone through four.

Around 4:30 AM a soldier announces over the loud speaker that the plane is now schedule to arrive at 5 AM—thirty minutes early! A cheer erupts throughout the hanger, and excitement grows. There is an area roped off outside where we can go to watch the plane touch down and the soldiers disembark. I head out there to wait, glad it’s August and warm out. The minutes tick by. I look at my watch every sixty seconds, swearing at least ten minutes should have gone by. Eventually, the plane comes into sight. As its lights grow nearer and nearer I become a fountain again. Others around me cry too. As the plane lands, an older lady thanks the Lord for her son’s safe return home and I can’t help but mimic the thought. I know God’s been working overtime for my brother—for all the soldiers.

After another twenty-five minutes of waiting for the soldiers to debark and get into formation, they finally start their march in from the airfield strip to the hanger. We rush back to our spots and cheer with everyone else as the soldiers enter. Speeches are given. The Chaplain says a quick prayer. The national anthem is played, then the Army theme song. Then, finally, the soldiers are released for a scant fifteen minutes to greet their families before they must return to formation.

Hugs and tears and smiles are shared as we welcome my brother home. He’s safe. He’s finally safe. Pictures are taken, questions asked, and more hugs go around. Then, all too soon, our fifteen minutes are up. My brother leaves. He must turn in weapons and be debriefed. By this time it is 6 AM and the sun is starting to come up. We head toward the barracks to wait for my brother. We have at least two to three hours ahead of us. All I want to do is go in and grab him and tell everyone he’s going home now and he’ll see you on Monday. Eventually, around 11 AM, he’s finally free to go. Finally, he’s ours until Monday morning. He’s finally home, safe and sound.

“It isn’t everyday we are blessed to witness the homecoming of Heroes. Thank you.”
~ Wives of the FRG for E Company

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