Pg 100


Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, February 6, 2016

     At the turn of the century most of the homes in Wilton were heated with wood. There was a cookstove in the kitchen, a heating stove in the living room and sometimes a furnace in the basement. Many homes had a wood house in the backyard for the storage of dry firewood. Farmers with timberland would cut and haul wood in the winter to add to their income. Favored varieties of firewood were red elm for a quick fire, hickory for the hottest fire, oak to hold fire overnight and ash to burn green. Other good kinds were walnut, white elm, hard maple, mulberry, osage hedge and apple. Soft wood varieties did not make good firewood.

     A cord of firewood, cut in 4 foot lengths, would measure 4 feet high and 8 feet long. When a cord of wood was delivered to a customer it would have to be sawed and split into stovewood size with a bucksaw and axe and then ranked in the woodshed. It was a boy’s job to split the kindling and keep the woodbox full. In the country, corncobs were used for kindling and the cob basket had a place beside the woodbox near the stove.

     Firewood was such a universal commodity that it was often used by farmers in paying their bills in town. This had long been the custom in Wilton as shown by the following want ads in the “Wilton Exponent”.

     Dec. 3, 1875 – “Wood wanted at Wilson’s heap clothing store, Reed’s Block, Wilton.” “Wanted – by J. E. Smith and Bro all the dry wood that can be hauled to them, for which the highest price will be paid.” “Wood will be taken in exchange for goods at Hall and Kizer’s.” (Hall and Kizer had recently bought the implement business of e. e. Bacon, one of the first in Wilton.) In the “Wilton Review” for Nov. 1, 1883 is the following ad – “Wood taken in exchange for furniture at Rowe’s.” During the 1890’s the lot behind the Wacker Bros. Implement Building was filled with ranks of wood that had been accepted in trade. This wood was then sold to town customers. In the Wacker account book for January 11, 1894 an entry shows that John H. – bought a new wagon for $52 and paid for it with $20 cash and 8 cords of wood at $4 per cord. On March 17, 1894 S. and L. bought a seeder and a seven foot disc for $45 and paid $24 plus 6 cords of wood at $3.50 per cord. Perhaps the price of wood was reduced as spring approached. The wood was resold at $4 per cord or $4.50 delivered. An extra fifty cents was charged if the wood was sawed. There was market for firewood all through the summer for most families used a cookstove the year around. The price of stove wood in summer was $3.50 per cod.

     If anyone in Wilton had needed a stove in 1875 they could have been certain of finding just what they wanted at Shaw and Rummer’s store. On January 8 their advertisement listed, Cookstoves, Parlor stove, Heating stoves, Warming stoves for wood or coal. Round stoves, Square stoves, Oval stoves – in fact Stoves of every shape, size and description.” Today, a century later, those stoves would be called “antiques” and could probably be sold for many times their original cost.

     At present there are few homes in this area heated with wood. However, firewood is a renewable resource, and with the dwindling supply of conventional fuels all over the world perhaps we may see a gradual return to the wood burning heating plant in the more rural areas of our country.

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