Thursday, March 31, 2011

Colonial Homes

When the colonists first came to America, there were no homes to move into. Some families would build a small hut and live in it until their home could be built.

In colonial times most homes were simply one big room. It was used for sleeping, eating, cooking, and working. The older children would sleep in the attics while the grown-ups and babies slept in the large room. The babies slept in cradles close to the fire. Bags filled with scratchy straw were used for mattresses in the attic. Mothers and fathers slept in a jack-bed. They could not sleep stretched out because the bed was short to save space and it was not long enough to lay straight.

A colonial home was very cold in the wintertime and it was not easy to heat the house. Each home had a giant fireplace and people burned huge logs in them to help keep the room warm. Sometimes the logs were so big that they had to be dragged into the house by horses or mules. They were kept burning all year long, even on the hottest days of summer. Sometimes in the winter, homes would get so cold that the ink used for the quill pens would freeze.

There was not much furniture in a colonial home. Sometimes a table was just a wooden board placed on two sawhorses. If there were chairs, the father was always the one to sit in one. However, most of the time there was only one chair and the family would have to sit on the floor. Some homes had a big bench called a settle. It was not comfortable to sit on, but it was a place to stay warm during the winter because it had a high back and sides.

The colonists had no glass so they would cover the windows with cloth or paper rubbed with fat to let in some light. There were many kinds of houses. One home was called a saltbox house because it had the same shape as the boxes that salt used to come in.

Colonial homes did not have bathrooms. The people would have to go outside to small places called privies or necessaries. The people would also have to get water from a well. They did not use the water for drinking or frequent bathing because they thought it was unsafe. When the colonists did take a bath they would stand in a large tub placed by the fireplace and wash themselves.

There were no closets for hanging clothes in a colonial home. If a home did have a closet it was a small, private room and it was a special honor for people to meet in someone's closet. Clothes were kept in trunks and chests or they were hung on pegs.

As a colonial family grew, the homes got bigger. Extra rooms were attached when time and money would allow. No matter how large the space was, each family thought their house was a "Home Sweet Home."

Tracy - Simple Living
My love of vintage goods, antiques
and handmade primitives!