Battle of Athens Site Receives Antique Donations
By Kevin Fox
The Athens State Historic Site has become the recipient of a donation of several antique items by Charles Buford of rural Donnnellson. According to Jerry Toops, Site Administrator at Athens, “About a year ago we received a call from Mr. Buford who had stated that he had read in the newspaper about our work on improvements to our period building here at the park and he wished to make a donation. So I sent an employee to Mr. Buford’s home and photographed the items and then returned to the park for us to view the photos. We were interested in the items but did not have a time frame to do so, just because we were very busy here as well as the items requiring some refurbishing as well. In the beginning we wanted the pieces that were still intact, because we often simply do not have the time our finances to restore items. However we ended up making a second trip to get items that we could strip, repair and restore as well. We are very pleased with the outcome of all the hard work of hand striping, staining and hand rubbing.
The items that we have includes some lovely dishware, a possum belly hutch that we believe is from the 1850’s, a wash stand with a granite top –which could be from the 1850s-1870s, a trundle bed from the 1860s- 1880s, a tobacco chopper dated 1865, and a German immigrant trunk dated 1840. We also received a rolling pin.
The Thome – Benning House (Cannonball House) at Athens State Historic Site reflects how the home would have looked at the time of the Battle of Athens and anything you have that helps in that impression helps to portray that image. Certainly the items that Mr. Buford has donated will go a long way towards that image, as now when you visit the house it will look even more period and as if those who lived there have simply stepped out of the house and are not home. Whether it’s the dishware or hutch either one gives the kitchen a better impression. The trundle bed explains how families during that time lived under one roof with limited space, as they simply pulled out the trundle beds. The German Immigrant Trunk is amazing as it’s all original with its original paint. Besides the date of “1840” it also had within it as receipt where grain had been sold at so much a pound. The date on that receipt was 1900. So we know the owners of the trunk were in America by at least 1900. There are also nail holes in the corners of the trunk where leather straps would have been nailed to make it more secure for the trip across the ocean. The lock on the trunk still works and it came with a key, so it’s just a fascinating piece. But these pieces just add so much to the overall appearance. Imagine going to George Washington’s home Mount Vernon and it being empty. The furniture and other pieces all tell their stories as well as about the lives of the people who lived there. Presently the tobacco chopper is on display in the Site Museum in the office building.
We are very grateful to Mr. Buford who wished to have his items donated to Athens and it will no doubt enhance the Site’s historic image. We have extended an invitation to Mr. Buford to come to the Site and see how the items have been restored and how we have them on display.” In an interview with Mr. Buford, he stated, “I had visited the park before although it has been a while, but I read about their work there, I just wanted to see that they had some good pieces that I thought would add to their displays. As far as what my favorite piece is, it would have to be the trundle bed simply because a lot of people have no idea of what they are and their purpose. But with the houses during that day being the size they were and the families being the size they used to be, children had to sleep somewhere and they had limited space. Most of the items, which I gave to the park, came from the Kahoka area and I cannot tell you how happy I am to see them being available for people to see and enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing them myself in a setting that they were originally in such as in the kitchen or bedroom.”