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My Primitive Life in Alabama

Welcome to my Alabama home, built by my ancestors Benjamin and  Hannah Harless Wilson when they came here in 1816.   The house suits me well. The square of marble on the left is an original upping stone,  used to make it easier for riders to get on and off their horses.    

The lard cooker in the side yard holds 80 gallons and was cast in 1878 in Batavia, Illinois, according to the bottom of it. The green duck weed in the cooker has just about disappeared for the winter. It will magically reappear in the spring.  The zinnias came up on their own. The dead branch is poke salad and its purple berries have been picked to use as dye. 

My great grandmother's outside pots.  They escaped the melt down scrap iron drives during World War 2. A friend gave me the old rusted out pedal car. 

This is the spinning and weaving house. My Kentucky loom is just inside.  So is the iron cook stove and three spinning wheels. 

View from the front porch. The grain bin is square-nailed and was sold from an old farm place in Chilton County.  On the left you can see the top of a large pine chest from Elmore County.  It is currently full of dried gourds. 

The chains are hanging from the eaves of the porch.  The place was opened up as a plantation in the 1820's so short links of chain are still found in the fields when plowing sometimes.  The hollow log is cherry.   I still have plans for it. 

View from the porch overlooking the front field. Those white buildings are apartments across the  railroad tracks. Mostly college students live there. The angel trumpet was a gift from friends and blooms a bright yellow every fall. The entire plant dies down for the winter. The boards in the front yard are for porch repair, long overdue. 

Inside is my best summer find, a dry sink.  Each surface is one board and is held together by pegs and square nails.  Both ducks were hand carved. I didn't know the duck in the back had any color until I saw the picture.  Tucked inside the sink is a jacquard coverlet. 

I like the wear marks in the corner. 

I'm glad it has not been painted in 100 years. 

This came from an Alabama auction.  It looks like a normal 1850's chest, but strangely....

....the top lifts up like a mule chest although the drawers are fully functioning. 

I found this drop front desk in Jefferson County at an antique mall.  It had no legs and someone had added plastic rollers.  I had some 1830's  peg feet which restored it to its correct height and look. Behind it is a cherry chest made in Taylor County, Virginia about 1850 and signed by its maker, Zaddock Shields. 

The inside has original dovetailed divisions and drawers. I can't find a wall yet so it's sitting in the middle of the floor. 

Jim bought this Civil War era bench at a sale in Selma, Alabama after I called him on his phone at the auction and asked him to look for it.   He said, "I'm standing by it right now."   I had to beat several people to his antique shop to get it. 

The sides, the seat, and the back are single pine boards. 

Olde Lady Morgan made these wonderful little prim dolls and they seem quite comfortable. 

I found this lift top desk , taken from an old feed store in Birmingham, at a local consignment shop.  No doubt the paint is original as well as the stains that came with it.  The flash brings out the faded red color.   A cotton basket filled with egg gourds sits on the floor.  

I waited patiently for four hours to buy this pegged bench, five feet long, at an auction in Calera, Alabama.   It was from an estate in Chilton County.  It was the very last thing auctioned at the sale that night and worth the wait.  A lady from Tuscaloosa wanted it but she stopped bidding at $50. 

I found the yarn winder and the sewing box this summer. The checker board was my grandfather's. The chair is one of a pair and is English, ca. 1820.  

A real grain scoop found at a consignment shop.  So many on Ebay are repros from Europe. 

My latest weakness is for silhouettes. 

The dough bowls are resting in another square-nailed grain bin from Chilton County, Alabama .

I broke down and bought a Yankee Pennsylvania fractur dated 1851 from an Ebay seller I trust.   Since my ancestor Methusalem Griffith came to Virginia from Pennsylvania before 1760, I decided one little fractur would be OK.  

I learned that folks used to put rugs on tables rather than on the floor, so I had to get in on that, although I don't think I can stand to leave it there for much longer. The dry sink by the window holds waste bowls.  The stepback in the corner displays theorems and art by Susan Daul, Ann Rea, and Linda Brubaker. Two potty boxes slid under the table need to go somewhere else. 

I'm hanging candles on hooks on chains from the ceiling beams now.   

Clothes pins in a wooden cheese box.   

The stepback cupboard holds some local pottery.   Next to the stepback is a school master's desk in tiger maple. Two milking stools hide underneath. 

I open the doors only for pictures. 

Three miniature portraits in oil.  

I promise it doesn't look this cluttered in person, nor did I  intend to have the chair sitting on the table in front of the corner cabinet. Its seat is made of woven corn husks and someone was taking a closer look a few weeks ago.  


  1. Oh! I absolutely LOVED this tour! I can almost imagine myself there!


  2. Love all of the new goodies. It was good to see you blog again. I thought we were going to have to call the blog police and file a missing blogger report. You live is so much history. You certainly are blessed.

  3. Hiya! Glad to see you posting again! I too was worried the blog police would have to be called! Hope you are having a great holiday season.

    Formerly of San Francisco and now of New Jersey

  4. Love your house and all your great finds!
    Happy new year from one 'antiquer' to another!

  5. Hi Marshall I thought about you the other day when I bought a Alabama tapered lag Federal table. Your Collection of Alabama Primitives is growing to be a fine collection!!! Keep up the good work after some time you might have to ad on to your ancestral home just to display your fine collection

  6. I just discovered your blog and I love it! My ancestors came from Henry Co. Alabama. The old house was torn down before I was born and My Aunt built a new house,also before I was born. I do have some of my Mothers things though. I just love reading this,I am going back and read more! It make me feel closer to my ancestors and maybe their way of life!


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