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The Lazy Homesteader

1925 Root Cellar

DJI am so excited to join the community of bloggers for GRIT, and I decided to do my first article about my new home. It is an older home, built in 1925, and is mine! The structure itself is sound, but — as is to be expected in a house that is almost 100 years old — we are going to need to do some work here and there. It is a simple miner’s house with one bedroom and an added bathroom. We recently pulled up the old, glued-down tiling in the living room and were greeted by the sight of the original wood flooring from 1925! Hooray!

In this installment, however, I am going to talk about my favorite room in the little house. I call it my root cellar!

The first photo shows the main doorway. It is only about 60” tall, 32” wide, and 3-1/2” thick. A hefty little thing that I have to duck to go through! There is a 9” step down going into a small, walk-through area, which is 24” thick. I guess they wanted to make sure this place stayed cold! The photo is this walk-through area. (I call it that for lack of a better way of describing it.)

Root Cellar Door

The next photos show the room itself and some of the shelves. As you can see,I have it quite full with boxes of empty jars and my canned goods. There is a small kitchen or bathroom cabinet in the corner that I do want to remove. That way I can put more shelves on that side. I have included a picture of one of the corners in the root cellar as well. This shows a closer look at the old lumber and the detail they used when building these little rooms. They were an integral part of the house, and as such needed to be as close to constant in temperature as possible. They probably did not have a refrigerator, so this is where they would hang their meat, too. As you can see, there is a metal closet bar on this side.

More Root Cellar Shelves

Interior of root Cellar

Corner Of Root Cellar

These next pictures are of the smaller door, which actually leads into the root cellar. It is only about 3/4” thick, but they have it covered with an old blanket. When the door is pulled shut, this blanket can be pulled over to cover the gap between the door and the frame to the transition, or walk-through. There is not a mechanism for keeping the door shut, just a handle and an old nail in the wall of the walk-through that they would hook a string or rubber band around from the door knob to the nail, thus keeping the door closed.

Interior Door On Root Cellar

Transition door with blanket

I am not sure what the hole in the door was for. There is a similar opening, or pass-through, in the wall about head height on the end wall of the root cellar. You can see it in the photos. I have it filled with jars of jams. There is also a small hole — about four square inches — in the ceiling. I thought this might indicate some sort of meat curing area, but there is absolutely no evidence for that. I plan on continuing to research this by visiting some of the local historical society’s here in the Silver Valley of Idaho.

I believe the root cellar used to be totally outside. The small room it is off from now used to be the back porch. This would explain the step down. In 1925, they probably did not even have a real porch; there would have been a door leading outside from the kitchen onto bare earth. That leads a person to think that the hole in the door and in the end wall may have been for ventilation purposes. The small hole in the ceiling may have had a small section of stove pipe in it, allowing heat to escape. I do not know yet, but I do plan on continuing to check into it.

Nowhere, Washington State

Diana GMy first blog post is going to introduce you to my idea of Small Town, America. These are the towns that didn’t make it very much further than the drawing boards. Towns that us regular farm folk know as the history of our people. Most everybody has these historical places in their lives, but they have not been told, or do not remember being told, about them. All the old stories related to us by our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are what make these so special. I can hear someone talk about a particular place and I say excitedly, “I know where that’s at! My family used to live there!

Cloverland, Washington, was started with the idea that since it was so flat on top of the hills it would be a good place to start orchards. What they did not realize was how the winds would affect the trees on these cold, flat hills. There were plat maps drawn up and parcels sold. My grandfather, Chancy Taylor, bought a parcel in Cloverland and then he moved his family there from the homestead they had on Asotin Creek outside Asotin, Washington. The photograph on the left is the plat map of Cloverland showing the Taylor plot. The photograph on the right is my grandmother, Clara Boyd Clayton Taylor, and my grandfather, Chancy Taylor, on their wedding day in 1899. Can you imagine sewing that dress completely by hand? She did!

Taylor ParcelClara Chancy Taylor

By this time they had a few children, including my mother, Gladys Taylor. While they were living there, there was a huge flu outbreak and it affected almost everyone in the tiny town. From what the few remaining old timers say, the church and any other building available was being used as a makeshift hospital to help care for the sick. My mother was one of them. She was also one of the lucky ones who survived. She was born with a cornea that came to a point so she did not see well to begin with and the high fever she carried while she was sick added to this disability by putting scars on her eyes.

At its heyday, in 1910, Cloverland only boasted 400 residents. Still it had a church, store, hotel and blacksmith shop among other businesses. By 1918 the town was fizzling and the store wasn’t doing well, so the owner went to California and went through training in driving and auto repair. He then converted the General Store to a garage and opened the only gas station and auto dealership in the area. It is shown in the first photo below. The next photo is a peek through one of the windows at the interior of the building. The building is now on the National Registry of Historic Buildings.

Old General Store

Old Store Interior

Below are photographs of other historic buildings still standing, some still being used. I took these in 2011 when my cousin and I took a short trip to Cloverland to check out our families' humble beginnings. The first photo is now a residence, but was the old Barkley Hotel. Next is the old barn, which used to be the blacksmith shop. Of course, they would house horses for travelers, too. The next is of the old church. This church is still being used so there have been some improvements and modifications to the original building, but it still stands in the original location. The fourth photo is one of the few original buildings left from Cloverland. The current residents have left it standing.

Old Barkley Hotel

Old Barn

Church

Part of Old Cloverland

The last two photographs are of the cemeteries in Cloverland. There are two: Cloverland Cemetery and Lake Cemetery.

Cloverland Cemetery

Lake Cemetery