In the dining room, there were displays of handmade doilies. Their crocheting craftsmanship was so well done that they earned the praise of a fabric and fashion historian, Kencik stated.
Above the doilies, dozens of empty glass bottles lined up across the banister of a large oak dresser. They advertised a wide array of early skincare products, animal remedies, and spirits; an 1894 vintage of Guckenheimer whiskey was represented by one of the larger corked bottles, for example. There were also antique liniment bottles, which farmers would apply to aching muscles. Kencik even suggested that a snake oil salesman had been responsible for one of the bottles, likely trying to sell some miracle elixir. The validity of the bottle’s contents was dubious, but the fancy glass bottle was at least mingling among the appropriate company. But there’s more; there were containers for restoring hair, hair coloring, getting rid of grey hair, mange treatment for animals — and even one for humans, too.
As the tour continued through the dining room, Kencik added that the family adored Franklin Delano Roosevelt — a notion confirmed with a framed picture of the former president on display. It made sense, too, since a member of the family (Loretta Law Duswald) had worked on Roosevelt’s presidential campaign. And during the Depression, family members would sit in the dining room and listen to the 32nd president’s fireside chats.
Attached to the den was the kitchen, and it was a treasure trove of antique kitchenware. But first things first, in the very center of the kitchen was a five-legged table with an open ledger-like book revealing a survey map of Monroe Township. The map, dated to 1875, would’ve been created long enough ago that Bowerston was still known as Bowersville. And on a related note, Bowersville had become established enough at the map’s creation that it would’ve evolved from Bower’s Mills earlier in the 1800s.
But 150 years ago, Bowersville was a central hub for the railroad and would’ve been Monroe Township’s largest depot. There was a secondary depot, too, closer to the western fringes of Harrison County, a stone’s throw away from the farm’s location on Plum Run Road. Station 15, as it was called, was not only a depot for train passengers, but it also held a U.S. Post Office that served the local farming communities. Kencik revealed that the secondary depot was now a parking lot at the intersection of State Route 151 and U.S. 250.
Throughout the rest of the kitchen, there were dozens of different types of glassware and utensils. Sets of translucent pink Depression glass dominated the left side of a large buffet near the dining room passage. The buffet’s right side was loaded with eagle-adorned, gold-trimmed Federal glass and opaque green uranium glass. Kencik even demonstrated the uranium glass’s authenticity with a black light. While the uranium wasn’t harmful to humans, it would react to UV rays with a bright blue fluorescence within the glassware.
Beside the glass sets, there were prototype toasters, aluminum spoons and ladles, lard and fruit presses, small hand-crank butter churns, pressure cookers, and lemon juicers, to name a few. One of the lemon juicers, in particular, drew David’s praise for still being operational and being the go-to for contemporary bartenders mixing drinks. Many of the tools, appliances, and utensils were built to last and had no planned obsolescence, according to Kencik.
Another shelf within the kitchen showcased more bottles similar to the dining room, but the contents were more suited for a kitchen setting, like old-school Heinz ketchup bottles. There were also a handful of aluminum coffee percolators on the shelves. “They loved their coffee,” Kencik quipped about the many coffeemakers.
In addition to the bevy of percolators, there were also several flour sifters scattered around. The largest one was inside a Hoosier cabinet that sat between the refrigerator and kitchen sink. And the Hoosier cabinet had everything except a kitchen sink. It had two of its own sifters built right in: one for flour and one for sugar. And plates and glass went on the upper shelves, pots and pans would’ve initially gone in the bottom cabinet, a metal-lined drawer for bread storage could open up, and there was even a cutting board pull-out. The Hoosier cabinet was constructed to be a one-stop shop.
And speaking of having it all, the kitchen pretty much concluded the hours-long tour. After walking through several different decades of history, the kitchen connected back with the living room, out the front screen door, and just like that, the 1800s were gone again — it was back to the viridescence of the Plum Run holler. And as the open house ended and the tour back to 2021, Bill Huss expressed satisfaction with the reception’s turnout. “I thought it went really well. My purpose is to get the word out and get people interested in the local history. And we [the open house] did exactly as we hoped.”