History as it should be ...
by ROBERT M. RICHMOND
Over the years since the Warwick Historical Society bought The Shingle House in 1915, families with deep roots in the communtiy have generously donated more and more things to the Society - and so many of them were part of the "working" side of the early settlers' lives that a building in which to display them became a real necessity. Accordingly, the Society searched for, and found on the old Sly farm, in 1965, an old red barn (circa 1825) that would make a good campanion for the old house; then through the Lewis family, had it taken completely apart, piece by piece, even including the hand-cut stones of its foundation, and carefully re-assembled it behind the house; and soon it was overflowing with interesting early American tools and agricultural implements you will find here today - most of them from farms in the vicintiy of Warwick.
In the early days, the men of Warwick were definitely "of the land." Most of them had dairy herds; and also raised for their own use, such crops as hay, rye, corn, oats and wheat, along with what we now call "truck" vegetables - peas, beans, carrots, squash, potatoes, and so forth. Many farmers had apple and peach orchards, too. Back then, a man's tools were extremely important to him, since he had to depend on them so completely; and many of them he made entirely, or personalized by making handles for them to fit his own hand.
So here we find his farming tools - such a adzes, sickles, axes, flials (for threshing wheat), hay knives, corn kinves, pitch forks (including a rare 2-pronged one), grain forks, scythes, including a big cradle scythe, rakes (one of them a sheaf-rake), and many others. Then there are larger implements, like wheel-barrows, ploughs, seeders - plus things for making crops usable, like a fanning mill to take the chaff out of the wheat, a grain cradle, a beet press (for sugar beets), a corn-sheller; also a feed carrier for taking feed to the cattle, and an old Amish handdrawn combination cart for corn, hay or grain.
Hand tools are here in profusion; buck saws, hammers, mallets, chisels, pliers, cutters, planes, bits, tool sharpening grinder to keep edges sharp - many of these necessary items in several styles, forms, sizes. Also milk cans, early lanterns (some very primitive), harnesses and bridles.
And there are countless thing that the early settlers needed, to get along; such as a candle-making rack, spinning wheels, yarn carders, butter churns, cider vats, a wine press, maple syrup kettles, old wood stoves, a sausage grinder, cistern pump. And children's thing, like a very old rocking horse, old skates, sleds, school desks with seats attached, small wagons, a baby carriage.
Also, here are household appliances that are of later vintage, but still from seventy to a hundred years old; a vacuum cleaner, an old telephone, Warwick's first bath tub, (zinc, inside a wood frame), old birdcage, a clothes-drying stand, an early wasing machine, a later model butte churn with a side handle, a screened closet for storing food, and old sewing machines.
Two special groups of great interest are found on the ground floor; a collection of ice cutting and storing implements - a big sledge, many huge saws, hooks, tongs, rollers and picks, all of which saw a lot of use back when the cutting and storing of ice was a big industry. And there's an unusual group that includes two carriages - one a phaeton with handsome top and uphoistery, the other a rubber-tired runabout with candle lamps; and six old sleighs - two 2 seaters, a fine single-seater with striking red upholstery, a racy cutter and two workday wooden sleighs.
THE SHINGLE HOUSE
The construction of The Shingle House began in 1764 - 11 years before the Battle of Lexington and Concord; George
Washington, 32 years old, was raising livestock and crops at Mt. Vernon; Thomas Jefferson, 21, was just 2 years out of college. The 13 original colonies, of which New York was the 2nd oldest (1614 - Virginia was 1st in 1607) had to wait a full 23 years more before they formed the beginning of what is now the United States.
Daniel Burt, building this house for his son, Daniel, Jr., chose an excellent location - practically where the Kings Highway from Newburg and the old road from Goshen joined together to make their way to Trenton and beyond. That explains why the 2nd oldest house in the Village, built originally by Francis Baird as a residence, in 1776, became Baird's Tavern a little later with the addion of a story-and-half frame kitchen. Old timers used to speak of these two homes as being opposite each other "across the square." Daniel, Sr., lived in a house on the site of what is now the McFarland house on Galloway Avenue; and in going back and forth between his own house and The Shingle House, he created what was called Burts' Lane, now known as Forester Avenue.
The Shingle House, with its shingled sides and saltbox outline, reveals its New England heritage, as do many of the early Warwick homes. And, accordingly to authentic tradition, the shingle for sides and roof were hewn from a single tree - few of them have had to be replaced in the house's 211 years. A small side porch is the only exterior alteration.
Within, the original stairway, the characteristic paneled wainscoting, the built-in-coner cupboard with its attractive shell top, and the remarkable central chimney, with its 4 fireplaces and its hidey-hole, are still just about as they were when Daniel, Jr., moved in, in January, 1770.
The house has six rooms, four of them on the first floor. The two front rooms were both living rooms. The fireplace in the left hand room was closed up many years ago, and a Franklin, cast-iron stove place in front of it. It is on the paneling behind this stove that one sees the remarkable and rare primitive painting of the Battle of the Hudson River, said to have been done by a Revolutionary soldier in gratitude for having been nursed back to health by the Burts.
The Shingle House became the property of The Warwick Historical Society in 1915, and since that time, considerable restoration has been done. A combination of judicious purchasing and generous giving has resulted in a collection of fine old furnishings that stand as a monument to Warwick's early years. Such unusual pieces as a Chippendale Governor Winthrop drop desk, a Hepplewhite cherry Pembroke table, a Chippendale mahogany bookcase-desk, a Sheraton mahogany chair, are among the many things that make a visit to these rooms most rewarding.
The huge kitchen, with its tremendous open hearth for cooking, its bread oven, its Dutch walnut kaas, old table and bench, and dozens of other home-making necessities of the late 1770's, is most interestng. And the first-floor "borning-room," and the two bedrooms upstairs, are also very appropriately furnished.
Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.