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Posted Jul 9, 2016

From the Quill of Elizabeth Thornburg


68.1: The first artifact in our collection

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts about how the village relies on donated artifacts to enhance the village. Now I’d like to take us back 50 years and highlight the very first artifact in our collection: A carved piece of wood, 25 inches tall by 12 inches wide with an intricate drape motif.  Can you guess what it is?

[Troy Historic Village Artifact #1. Donated by Morris Wattles.]

[Troy Historic Village Artifact #1. Donated by Morris Wattles.]


It is a hearse curtain, off the side of an undertaker’s hearse right here in Troy, circa the late 19th century. It once belonged to a relation of the Wattles family, who ran a mortuary in the area. It might once have been painted, but over one hundred years later, not a spot remains. It is also possible that the wood had a natural, varnished finish.


[image of an 1894 Rock Falls hearse, image from]

[image of an 1894 Rock Falls hearse, image from]


Like other vehicles before the age of Henry Ford and the automobile, the hearse was drawn by horses. There are many different variations on the hearse throughout the United States and the world. An interesting online exhibit is offered through the National Museum of Funeral History in Hoston, Texas.

On Thursday, August 18, we invite you to join us here at Troy Historic Village to celebrate the Troy Historical Society and 50 years of memories and accomplishments. Check our calendar for details!



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