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The Thompson-Ames Historical Society
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3/29/07 Travel in History with the Fourth Grade

Written by Elizabeth A. Mead

Travel in History with the Fourth Grade Take a walk back in time to the Colonial Time Period like the fourth grade students at Gilford Elementary School did during the month of February. Students researched the tradesmen and recreated an authentic village market to present their knowledge. In addition, the students composed a non-fiction book which included a collection of their informational writing and poems about

these trades. As you learn about a few of the colonial trades from excerpts from this book, enjoy the students’ creativity and “way with words”.

Jeffrey Baron showcased his knowledge of colonial apothecaries with this humorous poem on their skills and resources. Have a headache?
Thyme will do the trick.
Warts got you down?
Keep some housele
ek around.
Have skin lice? Some angelica would be nice.
In my shop it may smell good but hopefully not bad.
But when you feel better you’ll be glad.
Grinding and mixing to make medicine.
The mortar and pestle is quite a useful thing.
I’m the apothecary to care for you quite quick.
Just come into my shop when not feeling well or sick!

Kendal Ames researched the colonial trade of the printer and learned about the tedious job of creating a newspaper. “There are many steps to make a newspaper. First the printer must set the type. As strange as it sounds, you set the letters backwards so they won’t come out in reverse. A tool called the composing stick had to hold the type so the words or sentences could be printed. A piece called the stone holds the work that is going to be printed. Next, you start pounding the inking pads on the type to spread the ink over the type. Then you put a piece of blank paper on the type and press down the press. The press adds pressure on the type, so the ink on the letters transfers onto the paper. The coffin is something that held the type. Then you take the paper out, and let it dry on something like a clothesline. Now you have either a newspaper or a book.”

Jake Adams wrote a detailed poem explaining the process a gaffer, or skilled glassblower, would use to create his works of art.
Boom! Crackle, crackle
Like a crinkling piece of paper,
As a light goes on inside the furnace.

As the gaffer prepares the glass,
I will get his tools.
When the rock-hard furnace has melted the glass,
I’ll roll it on a marver,
To cool and smooth it out.

The gaffer gets his blowpipe,
And starts to make the molten glass the right size.

By now, the glass has cooled down,
But still isn’t touchable by hand,
So the gaffer uses his tools.

Now he can squeeze,
And shape the piece!
A long process is now complete,
A glass masterpiece is finished.

The heart of a colonial village would often be the general store, which Cody Yale described in some of his writing. “Tons of people gathered in the store to visit. The general store sold the newspaper too! Sometimes the general store was the only place with a telephone, so you could call your friends and family. A general store sold lots of produce, also known as vegetables and fruit. Some of the fruit would be watermelon, apples and tomatoes. Some of the vegetables would be radishes, eggplants, and cucumbers. The colonists would bring their produce to trade for something they needed more. The general store displayed all sorts of items neatly. Storekeepers used bulk containers like crates, bales, gunnysacks, and bags. They also used casks made out of wooden strips. Some of these casks are barrels, kegs, and drums.”

Some of the best-known tradesmen are the blacksmiths, silversmiths, and tinsmiths for their pivotal role in providing tools to other tradesmen within their community. Michael Madore researched the whitesmith, who is also referred to as the tinsmith. In his poem about the whitesmith, Michael uses his senses to create a picture of this tradesman’s life.
A whitesmith is also called a tinsmith.
He made tin plates, spoons, pots, cups, pails, and lanterns,
By heating and hammering the tin into place.
He also made armor in place of the blacksmiths.
He almost everyday sees raw materials
that he has to shape.
He smells the raw materials,
being burnt in the forge.
He can feel the sticky whale oil
when he rests his hand beside a betty lamp.
He sees one side of the room bright like the sun,
while the other side is as dark as a lantern in a dark forest.
Wicks scatter the bright side,
while lamps and lanterns mask the dark side.
That’s the life of a whitesmith.

Throughout this extensive research project, the fourth grade students were able to experience life in colonial times and gain a good understanding of making a living as a tradesman. Gilford’s Thompson-Ames Historical Society was a valuable resource, providing us with authentic, antique tools used by some of our tradesmen. The fourth grade students were able to observe the pieces in a school display, while learning about them in the classroom. We thank the Thompson-Ames Historical Society for extending this great opportunity to our classes and school.

Gilford’s Thompson Ames Historical Society welcomes comments on or suggestion for articles. You can email us at thomames@worldpath.net and visit our website at gilfordhistoricalsociety.org.