Wednesday, February 2, 2011

day 23 ~ (hi)story tree

Visit the Dinsmore Homestead and you’ll step back in time to rural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The house contains the original accumulated belongings of five generations of the Dinsmore family.

In 1872, Julia Dinsmore inherited the farm from her father and successfully ran it for 54 years, until her death at age 93. Julia was a published poet and kept a detailed journal of her life on the farm. The homestead includes a collection of nearly 90,000 pages of family letters, journals and business records.

The stories live on ~

One of my favorites is of the hat tree in the foyer: Because traveling to visit friends and family took so much longer than it does today, visits tended to last longer, as did the trip home and the time in between journeys. When a visitor prepared to leave Dinsmore, the family would ask them to leave either a hat or a walking stick so that someday they would come back again to retrieve their belonging and have another visit.  To see how many are still there where they were left, now over 100 years later, sets my mind off on a journey of its own wondering just what the stories are behind each one of those items…

history ~ The Dinsmore Family
image ~ misha


  1. I was wondering when a hat tree was going to grow over here, and you've chosen a very resonant one. A tree rich with human history. This reminds me of a wonderful mansion in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) that I toured where the collected belongings of the Whitehern family have been preserved, one time capsule room at a time. I'm not a hat wearer, but I'm a tree lover, so perhaps I should get a hat tree, just because.

    *sips coffee with a slightly birch tinge suddenly in its flavor*

    Captcha = nolec "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have nolec at all"

  2. Speaking of luck, I am liking this day. Don't you just love when things all fall into place in one sparkling magi-lanche? I do.

    Your musing over getting a hat tree just because has me imagining creating a large wire version. At first, I was thinking full size, but then I realized that I don't have pliers large enough for the then, I starting thinking about Version II of the Oui Tree. Would be so fun if we could make it together. Maybe we'll do a show one day and create one then?

    Hope your Wednesday is treating you well!

  3. This is magical, I can only imagine all the stories that those hats would tell us if they could only talk.

  4. Misha: I love that tree idea. It would be so cool to create the tree at the show, with participation from others. :)

  5. What a wonderful idea! I have a hat rack hanging by the back door. I think I'll start asking for donations!

  6. Heather, see the hat with the triangular cuts in the top of it, the one nearest the wheelchair? That hat belonged to Julia Dinsmore, the woman who ran the farm for a long 54 years. She cut the holes in the hat herself to help keep her cool while she was out riding / working the farm, and in doing so, she created a bit of a stir within the household. After all, who in their right mind would cut holes in a perfectly good hat, right?! Well, Julia was her own woman and valued a little more comfort for herself than she did over keeping that hat whole.

    I smile over knowing that the "ruined" hat has now lasted over 100 years.

    I'm with you. I'd love to know the other stories. Who left them? Why didn't they ever come back? Or did they come back many times and switch out to leave a different hat or cane?

    The homestead is packed to overflowing with stories, but that hat tree (and the birds' nests in the deer antlers) ran off with my imagination.

  7. Rick ~ it's a plan. Someday. Somewhere.

    A tree is born.


  8. Love it, Leslie.

    Please share the unfolding? You tell such an amazing story, always.