Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You Should Go......To Kokomo

Tour begins outside the glass factory

  If you love glass, you should go to Kokomo, Indiana and visit the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory.
  This factory has been in continuous operation since 1888 at its present location at 1310 South Market Street.  They give daily tours but be sure to check their schedule to start planning your tour. You will be pleasantly surprised.
  On October 6, 1886 natural gas was discovered in a corn field in Kokomo, Indiana and the Indiana Gas Company was formed to supply natural gas to the surrounding area.  Charles Edward Henry was a glass chemist and in 1883, he formed  Henry Art Glass in New Rochelle, New York.  The factory made glass buttons, opalescent glass rods, and some novelties items.  Charles heard about the natural gas discovery and he traveled to Kokomo, met with local officials, and formed the Opalescent Glass Works.
Glass Buttons
Glass Button
Glass Button
  Within a month, he moved to Kokomo, brought a house and started building the factory.  On November 13, 1888, the seven pot furnace started producing molten glass.
Glass Furnace
Furnace and glass mixture
Hauling extra glass
Dumping extra glass
  The main production was sheet glass that was made by mixing up to seven different colors of glass and then squeezing the molten glass into thin sheets with a wringer type device.  By November 1888, Louis Tiffany received the first shipment of sheet glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works.
Pouring molten glass
Mixing different colors of glass
Pressing mixed colored sheet glass
   Production was in full swing by January, 1889 with 50 people working around the clock.  The Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works exhibited their glass at the Paris Exposition World Fair and won a Gold Medal. They received thousands of dollars of  orders for sheet glass.  The factory was a success but Charles Henry's problems became significant.  He had many unpaid bills and a lien was filed against the factory.  Mr. Henry sold the factory to his son-in-law, developed a drinking problem, was jailed, and spent the remaining 2 years of his life  in the Indianapolis Insane Asylum.  He died there at the age of 46.
Warehouse of  colored sheet glass
Warehouse of colored sheet glass

Tiffany stained glass window at Corning Glass Museum
  The Opalescent Glass Works company was sold to three local businessmen  whose descendants are still involved with the business today.  Louis Tiffany purchased over 10,000 pounds of glass from the factory for use in the manufacture of beautiful stained glass windows along with others, such as, John LaFarge and J Lamb.
  Today the company still operates using the tried and true methods it used when the factory was first built.  They have many of the old glass recipes and the original texture presses that were used when Tiffany was purchasing glass from them. Many antique shops and museums commission specific glass colors to restore lamps and stained glassed windows.
Powder colored additives
Powder color additives
Single color recycled glass
  The Kokomo Opalescent Works also sell stained glass sheets, hand mixed art glass sheets,  cast glass, sheet glass, rondels,  custom glass and blown glass items.  Their gift shop offers a wide assortment of all of these items.  Visit soon.  You will have a wonderful experience.
Glass medallion in gift shop
Sale pieces in finishing room
Sale pieces in finishing room

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Gardner Returns

The Lillies said:
"Welcome home"
The Annuals said:
"We were fine without you"


The Herbs said:
"We are ready to use"
The Roses said:
"We need food"

The Tree Seedling said:
"Come and find us"
And the Weeds said:
"We are in control now!"


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dead Horse Point State Park

Early May and the campgrounds are all full. Retires rule the state of Utah. It was still a great time to travel, even if was a little tough finding a campsite. Who could pass up these views?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Overnighting at Hittle Bottom Campground, Utah

As we were heading down Hwy 128 toward Moab in Utah, we were not sure if we would find a place to stay for the night. As we rounded the corner we came upon a quaint camping spot called Hittle Bottom. It is run by the The Bureau of Land Management and sits along the Colorado River.  Look at the beautiful view we had!  A random find of the magical kind.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Historical Background on the Vars Cemetery

The old Vars burial place also known as Vars and Hall Cemetery and  is one of the oldest cemeteries in America.  It is located 500 feet east of Bradford Road at telephone post number 3710. Once you find the telephone pole, turn right onto a dirt path called Woody Hill Road Extension.  At the end of Wood Hill Extension, turn left, walk straight through a lot with a house on it and proceed through the woods.  Enter the Vars Cemetery and about 210 rods northwest is the location of the  Vars homestead, on a hill sloping west. Nothing remains of this original homestead today. Many members  of the Vars family are buried in the cemetery here, including:

Theodaty Rhodes, died in 1733
Mary Vars  Rhodes, wife of Lord John De Vars and Theodaty Rhodes, died in 1740
Isaac Vars, only child of Lord John De Vars, died in 1760
Rebecca Larkin Vars, wife of Isaac Vars, died about 1760

However, their tombstones no longer exist. Today there are over 60 known burial sites with about 50 inscriptions dating from 1846 to 2006.

Our Search For The Vars Cemetery

  My great grandmother was Mary Elvira Vars and her ancestry can be traced back to early European settlement in the United States.
  Lord John De Vars sailed to this new land in the late sixteen hundreds and visited a small settlement with good land, deep harbors, and pleasant weather. This settlement was Newport, Rhode Island. John returned home, sold his property, collected his wife, Mary and his young son, Isaac, and sailed back to America. On the return trip, Lord John De Vars died at sea. There are many stories about the cause of his death. One story states that he was wounded in a duel and died of his injuries. Another story claims that the ship's captain had him killed so the captain could take procession of Lord John De Vars's fortune. Whatever happened, when the ship arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, Mary and her son, Isaac were left there to find their way in this distant foreign land among strangers.
  Several years later, Mary married a man named Theodaty Rhodes. Accounts vary about who purchased the original Vars homestead in Westerly, Rhode Island. One account claims Lord De Vars purchased the land from the Native American Chief before he returned to France. Another account states that Theodaty bought land just south of Newport, near the towns of Westerly and Charlestown, Rhode Island from the chief of the Narragansett tribe and then Theodaty sold tracts of land to early settlers. A land deed from 1707 shows Theodaty Rhodes (died in 1733) and Mary (died in 1740) buying 2 pieces of land in this area and a month later a 50 acre tract of land was deeded to Mary's son Isaac Vars. This land became the Vars homestead.
Isaac Vars Homestead

  Today the Vars Cemetery still exists on a portion of this land but it is not easy to find.
  Last fall, my daughter, my niece and I traveled to Westerly, Rhode Island in search of the Vars cemetery and our ancestry. We were helped in our quest by a lovely lady who owned Maize 'N' Manna Cafe in Westerly that went above and beyond kindness to strangers to start us out in the right direction.

We traveled on Bradford Road looking for a number on a telephone pole. When we found telephone pole #3710, there was a dirt track leading in opposite directions. Luckily, another lovely lady was outside in her yard and she directed us down the correct dirt track, through a yard and down a very overgrown, rocky, and what looked like an abandoned dirt path. We headed out, crawled through and over fallen trees and brush, and laughed all the way. We couldn't believe it as we entered a clearing and saw a fairly well maintained cemetery.

 The grass and brush were cleared away but sadly many of the tombstones had been vandalized.

We spent much of the afternoon taking pictures of the tombstones so that later I could fit them into my genealogy records. We left that remote and deserted cemetery with a real sense of connection of our distant heritage.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Early American Pattern Glass or Pressed Glass

Cut Glass Compote
Cut Glass Plate
Cut Glass Cruet
If you were wealthy in 1880, your dining room table was set with an elaborate array of cut glass pieces but if your household had less money to spend, your table held early American pattern or pressed glass. Pattern glass copied the look of cut glass but it was much cheaper to make because the glass was pressed into molds.

Pressed Glass Pickle Dish
Pressed Glass Creamer
Pressed Glass Cake Plate
In 1829, The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company built molds and patented a machine to press glass. By blowing glass into the mold and using a plunger type device to press the glass into the pattern carved in the mold, pattern glass could be manufactured quickly and inexpensively.


Pressed Glass Amber Bowl
It is sometimes difficult to distinguished cut glass from pressed glass but can be done by looking closely at the glass item.  Cut glass is hand cut on a wheel and is labor intensive.  The edges of cut glass are sharp, the cuts are deep and the finished product sparkles as it catches the light.  Pressed glass has mold seams, blunt edges, and somewhat less sparkle but the mold seams can be eliminated by fire polishing. Notice the mold seam on the base of the amber pressed glass bowl to the right.
The Victorian period between 1850 and 1910 was the hay day of the pressed glass or early American pattern glass manufacturing.   There were hundreds of factories producing thousands of different patterns in every imaginable type of object.  Some patterns included up to fifty different pieces, including table sets, goblets, pitchers, compotes, vases, centerpieces and novelty items.  The homemaker could not only choose a pretty pattern but also a wide variety of colors from clear crystal glass to beautiful blues, greens, yellow, or amber to give her dining room a special elegance. 

Pressed Glass Goblet

Pressed Glass Table Set
Pressed Glass Vase
Pressed Glass Tumbler
Pressed Glass Compote
Today pressed glass or early American pattern glass is collected by glass connoisseurs around the world for its beautiful colors, unique designs, historical significance or its nostalgic connection to an ancestor. Glassware worldwide is still being manufactured by the machine pressed process making ordinary utilitarian products and reproductions of early American pattern glass. Check out Reuzeit     Emporium for a wide variety of great antique pressed glass and cut glass pieces.

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