footwarmFoot Warmers

Before central heating, people would use foot warmers to keep themselves warm. These portable heaters would be carried from place to place by women and children. Women’s long skirts would cover the foot warmer, holding in the heat. Later, foot warmers were used in sleighs, carriages, and automobiles. Foot warmers are metal boxes with holes poked along the sides and a tray inside for hot coals. The ventilation holes on the boxes often incorporated decorative patterns. Popular in early America as wedding gifts, foot warmers were commonly decorated with hearts.

Mystery Cushearstters

This handcrafted tool was identified by museum members Jerry Burchette and Herb Kean as a hay cutter. Farmers often created new tools for a specific purpose. These blacksmith-made shears probably did not work very well, perhaps leading to their reconfiguration as a hay knife. Evidently, the tool did not work well as a hay knife either, and the handle was cut off, leaving the remains of a hole that once held a peg to be used as a footstep. Presumably, the handle was cut off so that the blades could be used as a chopper. Therefore, these cutters appear to have been modified from gardening shears, to a hay knife, and finally to a chopper.

rattleWatchman’s Rattle

This rattle was used by town watchmen in the 19th century, before organized police forces. The rattle would be used as a noisemaker to alert the local residents of an emergency. Madison formed its own police department in the 1890s.This rattle is unusual in that the clackers and the frame are carved from one piece of wood.
This rattle, a gift of Theodore Trowbridge of Madison, is crafted from what appears to be cherry wood.

Other Tools that can be found in the museum: bellows, broadax, drawknife, hammerhead, and nails.

Other Tools