Woodshop: Early American Reproduction Furniture for the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin located at the Wilkes County Heritage Museum
Beginning in 2007, Cody and I started building Early American Furniture in the Woodshop to place in the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin at the Wilkes County Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro, NC.
Robert Cleveland Log Cabin
Captain Robert Cleveland (1743/44 - 1812) was born in Orange County, VA, and died at Lewis Fork (Purlear), Wilkes County, NC. His first wife, Alice Matthis (1750-1791), was born in Fauquier County, VA, and died at Lewis Fork (Purlear), Wilkes County, NC. They were married in 1769 in Virginia and moved to Wilkes County in 1778. They built their two-story log cabin in 1779. Robert was buried beside Alice (Ali), within 150 yards of the homestead. (Jesse Yates owned the property in 1899.)
Purlear, NC, was named for Isaac Parlier, who relocated from Rowan County, NC, to Wilkes County, around 1775. My direct ancestor, Jacob Parlier, who lived in Iredell County, NC, was a brother of Isaac. I was unaware of the close proximity of the Cleveland family and the Parlier family in the 1700's until after I began volunteering at the Wilkes Heritage Museum.
The Robert Cleveland Log Cabin was moved from Purlear to the site it now enjoys at the Wilkes Heritage Museum. It is said to be the oldest structure in Wilkes County, NC, and at least 17 children grew up in it.
Museum Reproduction Furniture Wilkes Heritage Museum
Most of the furniture and other household items pictured below were built from plans and designs in Building Early American Furniture by Joseph W. Daniele. It was copyrighted in 1974 and published by Stackpole Books in Harrisburg, PA. Each reproduction piece is signed and dated by both Cody and myself.
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Walnut Kitchen Work Table
Cody Medlin, woodworking apprentice,
with Jennifer Furr, Director, Wilkes Heritage Museum. 2007
This picture shows the Walnut work table that Cody and I built in the woodshop for Mary Bohlen to use while demonstrating and teaching hearth cooking in the Robert Cleveland Cabin. The walnut was donated by Bill W. Parlier and William B. "Dick" Norris, both of Iredell County, NC. We made the drawer handles in the blacksmith shop.
Wagon Seat Storage Bench
This reproduction Wagon Seat Storage Bench is of Pennsylvania Dutch design. The drawing shows the length to be 48" - Cody and I made it much shorter for our purposes. The original bench is at Landis Valley Farm Museum and could serve as a seat, a storage chest, or even a bed if the need arose. It has many uses in homes today. I have two of them - a larger one we call the "boot box" for storing winter shoes, wet boots, etc. and a smaller one for general storage.
Corner Cupboard (two pictures)
This cupboard is a reproduction based on a piece in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cupboards were very popular in the 1700's, serving the purpose of storage for china and pewter as well as filling a corner space that would otherwise be wasted.
In this picture, Cody and I look to be the same height. I was recovering from major back surgery that restored 1 1/2" to my height. Cody gained his additional height without the help of a surgeon.
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This a picture of Mary Bohlen dressed in period costume at the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin. Mary is a volunteer and teaches hearth cooking. She was very pleased to have the Walnut Table and the Corner Cupboard. I also turned a set of wooden plates on which Mary can serve hearth-baked bread and other foods cooked in the fireplace. If you are anywhere near the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin when Mary is cooking, don't miss out on a sample!
Landis Valley Candle Box (Two Pictures)
I told Cody that when he's in the woodshop that shirt had better not mean what it says!
This is a reproduction of a Pennsylvania Dutch candle box. The early housekeepers made large batches of candles by either dipping wicks over and over in hot tallow or by pouring molten wax into candle molds. Boxes like these were scattered about the house so that each room had its own supply of candles.
Chair/Table - Plimoth Plantation
This furniture design of New England was found in a two-room house in the Plymouth settlement in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is a small chair which converts into a table and when the lid is up, can be placed against the wall. It is assumed that this doubled as a child's chair. It has trestle legs which were the alternative to turned legs when a lathe was unavailable. The trestle legs add grace without requiring a lot of work.
Table at Wilkes Heritage Museum
I repaired this table for the Wilkes Heritage Museum. It is strikingly similar to the Shaker Sewing Table - except that the drawer is not bi-directional. This was the first project that I did at the Museum.
The last few woodshop pictures of are smaller items that Cody and I built for the cabin. With that many children in one house, a few benches and stools would have come in handy.
Other Items Made in the Parlier/Medlin Woodshop
This picture shows the Plimoth Plantation Chair/Table after it was finished as well as two Mayflower Stools and a bench. The original Mayflower Stool is located at Mayflower Berth, Plymouth Historical Park, Plymouth, MA.
This picture shows the master's Pipe Box - his reward at the end of a hard day. He could relax and find peace while enjoying a smoke. A man in Colonial days could find a pipe box, including a clay pipe and tobacco, in any tavern. They would use a communal pipe, so they would just break off a small piece of the end, then light up, and enjoy. When the pipe got too short it would be thrown away and would be replaced by a new one. The original Early American Pipe Box can be seen at the Landis Valley Farm Museum.
Cody and I have done other projects for the Wilkes County Heritage Museum. To see more works from the woodshop, go to Apprentice 2.