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In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 4

Lesson Four, Parts 6
The Wells-Thorn House

The oldest section of the Wells-Thorn house is the middle. This section is as it would have been about 1720 when Ebenezer and Abigail Wells were married. The house was originally a simple two-room structure intended to shelter people and keep them safe. As was common in the period, the exterior was not painted, and the interior had a central chimney with a fireplace in each room. Sometimes we can learn how houses were furnished if an inventory was made. When the head of the household died, three town-appointed men listed everything of value in the house and on the property. Inventories were valuable accounting tools and were used to calculate the value of an estate for a number of purposes, including the payment of debts owed, fulfilling the requirements of the will, or for equitable distribution of property to the heirs.

In the kitchen, the fireplace and its built-in bake oven are prominent. A fire would have been made in the bake oven and allowed to burn for two or three hours until it was hot enough for baking. The coals were then removed, food was put in, and the oven opening was covered. There is a door to the cellar where root vegetables, cider, etc. could be stored in winter. There is also a well in the cellar. Bags of grain are hanging in the kitchen to keep the contents dry and safe from mice. There is no table in this room. There are a storage bin and baskets. Storage rooms are on the north side of the house, away from the sun, for better food storage conditions. The second room is known as the hall. In it are objects that are similar to what Ebenezer and Abigail Wells would have had. The Wells-Thorn house is furnished with four categories of furniture which were valuable for keeping house: a table, which could be used for many purposes and could be moved from place to place as needed; some chairs; a bed frame with crisscrossed ropes to support a mattress stuffed with hay or feathers, and surrounded by bed curtains for warmth; and two storage chests, including a six-board pine chest made in 1694, and one from 1720 with painted graining. Graining is a painted design that imitates the grain of a fancy wood, in this case, burled walnut.

Ebenezer and Abigail had no children. They owned two slaves, Lucy Terry and Cesar who probably shared space in the house with their owners as was common throughout New England. The family probably had farm animals and a kitchen garden.


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