Inside the Maple Syrup Museum
White Barn
Zeno Gum Machine
   The White Barn, built for Eleazer Hickox in 1840, over the years has had a variety of purposes, including hosting an art show, serving as a supper club during the Apple Butter Festival, and as the home of the giftshop Sheauga’s Treasures. Today it serves as a place for artisans to work, and it contains exhibits that include an extensive collection of Native American artifacts and a wagon that carried the Hazen family to Geauga County in 1827. Everything from its wheels to its base is original. The rest, including the sides and canvas top, were added so visitors can see it as it looked during its journey. My guide told me it is a Conestoga wagon, but it isn’t. It is far too small and shaped wrong to be one.
   Conestoga wagons were the late eighteenth and early nineteen centuries equivalent to the modern semitruck and trailer, not the sort of thing a family would use. They originated in Pennsylvania along the Conestoga River near Lancaster. Originally manufactured by German immigrants, they had a flexible undercarriage designed to negotiate America’s rotten roads where they existed, and could carry four to six tons of goods. General Edward Braddock used them during the French and Indian War as did General George Washington during the Revolution. After the latter conflict, the wagons hauled goods over the Appalachians into the Ohio Valley. Their curved shape made it less likely that goods could fall out on steep inclines.
   It took about two months to make one of these behemoths, which were around sixteen feet long and four feet wide. Selling for about $200, they were pulled by a team of four horses harnessed with bells that served as a status symbol for the drivers, who usually walked alongside the wagons and controlled their horses with a rein on wagon’s left side. By the outbreak of the Civil War, Conestoga wagons were no longer made. They certainly weren’t the wagons that took pioneers into the West. Those were prairie schooners, a lighter vehicle usually pulled by oxen or mules. Drivers sat atop the wagon with the reins in the center.
   Another building brought to the Century Village campus was the Cottage Grocery Store, which now serves as an apothecary in its front half and a doctor’s office in its back half. The apothecary portion is jampacked with medical instruments, medicine bottles, and information about nineteenth century medicine. In that era some doctors still bled patients, as attested by the bleeding bowl on display. They also used leeches to pull out excess blood after an amputation, which, once they had their fill, would fall off. One of the grossest things I learned here was the existence of the puking pill, which caused that reaction and was then reused by someone else after its return.
   Apothecaries would impress customers with ellipsoids made of colored glass called show globes. These originated in the seventeenth century and were used in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. No one knows their exact origin. Probably they reflected the fact that apothecaries could compound all sorts of vibrant colors by mixing chemicals, a source of pride for its practitioners. Supposedly when an apothecary put out a red globe, this warned potential customers there was a plague or quarantine. Green meant all was well.
   Trying to pin down the difference between an apothecary and pharmacist is not as simple as it might sound. Some sources say they are one in the same. More confusing, the word “apothecary” refers to both the person who created drugs and the business from which they were sold. Best I can tell, one was an apothecary if he or she made the medicine from scratch by mixing, or compounding, the ingredients, then producing the final product in whatever form it was dispensed. A pharmacist, in contrast, dispensed medicine made elsewhere.
Hazen Family Wagon
   Because my tour guide and I had the house to ourselves, she was able to show me the rarely visited upstairs. Probably the reason for this is because reaching it involves climbing one of the narrowest set of stairs I’ve ever tackled. Upstairs are the bedrooms containing nineteenth century furniture. One room was heated with a stove rather than with an inefficient fireplace, indicating the family’s of these workhorses of the Northwest Territory.