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Child's Play in Scottsville

Child's Play in Scottsville

Name:  Child's Play in Scottsville

Date:  1911

Image Number:  RB124cdRB08

Comments:  William Harold Burgess, son of Scottsville photographer, William E. Burgess, is shown in the above photo at age four as he enjoyed the toys he had been gifted for Christmas, 1911.  During the late 1890's and early 1900's, toys for children were often handmade and always greatly enjoyed by their recipients.

At Christmas in 1890, Edith and Theodore Roosevelt, despite their modest income, spent lavishly on presents for their three children, ages 6, 4, and 1.  Among the toys were a Noah's ark, Buffalo Bill, Indians, soldiers, horses, and dolls.  Writing to his sister, Theodore said, "I suppose Alice and Ted came as near to realizing the feelings of those who enter Paradise as they ever will on this earth."  We don't have a picture of that happy scene, but we do have a photo of young William Harold Burgess of Scottsville, age four, sitting under the Christmas tree surrounded by his toys; see above photo.  Among them one can see a wagon, a paint box, and a selection of wood toys.

Leather-covered horse pull-toy and Sock Monkey
Leather-covered horses on wheels, late 1800's (at left), Helen Bell Gruenhut Collection, Scottsville Museum; sock monkey (at right), 1979, by Cenie Moon, Scottsville Museum

Long before Legos, there were blocks, and long before toy cars, there were toy horses and carts.  For example, Scottsville Museum has a late 19th century team of horses made of leather and stuffed with sawdust, who were designed to pull a wagon; see above toy at left.  The dolls we have (long before Barbie) range from elegant china dolls, meant for display and not for play, to baby dolls and life-sized dolls complete with baby carriage and wardrobe.  The simplest dolls were rag dolls, such as the Raggedy Andys and Anns of the early 20th century.  Edith Taggart, the town's beloved telephone operator, made monkeys out of socks and gave them to area children as gifts.  After she lost her job with the phone company, Edith made her sock monkeys for sale, "her monkey business," she called it.  We do not have one of Edith's monkeys, but we do have one made by Cenie Moon for my son, Ben, in 1979, doubtlessly following Miss Edith's pattern.

Miss Susie Blair left quite a collection of her toys to the Museum, including an elaborate doll house made for her mother, Susie (Powers) Blair, and her aunt, Marietta Powers, in the 1870's.  The doll house is fully furnished with carpets, beds and tables, miniature books and paintings, and suitably-sized dolls.  When Miss Susie gave it to the Museum, she noted, "A few of the accessories are much older than I am.," The doll house (shown below) is not presently on display at the Museum.

Exterior of Miss Susie Blair's dollhouse

Interior of Susie Blair's dollhouse
The doll house above belonged to Susie Blair's mother (Mrs. J.P. Blair) and her aunt (Miss Marietta Powers) between 1870 and 1880.  The ceiling papers and the living room carpet are original.  Other carpets and all furnishings were those used by Miss Susie Blair when she inherited it around 1902-1903.  Dolls shown belong with the house.  Some painting and redecorating were done, but whereever possible, old materials were used and in general the appearance of the doll house is the same.  Some of the accessories predate Miss Blair.  Susie Blair Collection, Scottsville Museum.

Evelyn Edson, President
Scottsville Museum

Copyright © 2020 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDRB08, Rita Burgess Collection

Second Image Located On:  Capturing Our heritage, CG2020, Connie Geary Collection

Third Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, WBC01, William and Bonnie Cooper Collection

Fourth Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, WBC01, William and Bonnie Cooper Collection



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