Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Stoves - by Abraham Lincoln

The stoves we had in the kitchen are totally different from more modern electric and gas kitchen ranges today. They don't even call them stoves these days.

You can no longer go to a hardware store and buy a coal bucket or an ash shovel, or an ash pan, not to even mention a rake to get all the ashes out of the ash bin.

I bought a little pot belly stove, when my office was built new, and used it for several seasons but the dust and ashes were more than we wanted to cope with so the stove is gone.

But I did have my wife's uncle Ed make an ash pan and a poker and a rake to get all the ashes out. I still have those three pieces in my shop (see photo).

For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, corn cobs are the part of an ear of corn you don't eat. Nowadays cobs are ground up and discarded when harvesting or used in animal food or as bedding for animals kept in stalls.

We usually kept coal oil (now called kerosene) to use in coal oil lamps when the electric went out. Starting fires in a stove requires something that will ignite and burn long enough and get hot enough to ignite coal.

We always had some split wood pieces called, "kindling" but used corn cobs if we had any. Coal oil was good to soak a corn cob in so it was easy to light using a kitchen match. The cob would burn long enough to start wood or coal to burning in stoves.

The kitchen cook stoves were heavy and stood on legs. There was four iron lids on the stoves like modern-day burners, where you set the frying pan or tea kettle if you wanted to cook or make hot water.

You had to use a lid lifter and stick it in a slot to lift up the lid. You lifted the lid to pour coal on the white-hot coals in the stove or you could leave the lid off long enough to toast a piece of bread on a fork held over the hot coals.

Mom kept a large tea-kettle on the stove so we always had hot water.

In the middle of the stove, in the front, was an oven door. You could open it and there were two racks to put food on to cook or bake. The temperature of the oven depended on how hot you had the fire burning in the fire box. And you had to keep it hot to cook meals in the oven or to bake a cake or a loaf of home made bread.

The oven door sometimes had a thermometer on it to tell you how hot the oven was. The one on our stove had not worked in years so mother learned how hot to keep the oven from years of trial and error. The best thing to come out of the oven was chocolate cake and home made bread.

On the side of the stove was a bulge usually filled with water called a, "water reservoir." This was the water used to wash your hair in or to use in the galvanized tub on the kitchen floor to take a bath in. Mother kept the reservoir on the stove filled with soft water from the rain water cistern out back.

Rain water ran off the roof into a gutter into a downspout and into the cistern. The cistern was hand-dug about 6 feet deep and 6 feet in diameter and lined with plastered brick. It was a water tight reservoir filled with soft water. Each time it rained the reservoir was filled again.

Rain water is called soft water because rain water does not contain the salts, minerals and metals found in ground water. Soft water makes lots of suds or bubbles and cleans clothes easier and leaves clothes feeling softer to the touch.


  1. Mr. Lincoln. I have been wondering if you have had any books published that I might read. I find your stories very interesting. I appreciate you efforts in sharing them here. Thanks.

  2. Yes, I have two out but nothing just recent. You can get them at via the Internet. I would recommend "My Life as Abraham Lincoln." You can also get it on if you type in my name or the title of the book. Either way it is available. Thank you for thinking about it.

    It is not the last though. I will be 77 this October and have more than enough material for another book that uses just my blog stories. My blog is and there are some stories on it at the moment. I don't let them accumulate and delete them from time to time.

  3. Thanks so much! I will indeed look for them.


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