Advertisement for cook stove, June 1852*
Wednesday June 23d Work again weeding the garden
untill nine or ten and then about house
attending to the new stove that was put up
last night Passed the afternoon at Mr
Howard Lothrops with Mrs Witherell, S Ames
& Helen. Got 4lbs of butter of Mrs Harvey &
Eggs of Mrs Howard & Pratt
Evelina had a new, cast-iron stove, a high-tech appliance in the new, industrial age. Cast iron was “the wonder material of the 19th century and led to a prolific industry in making stoves for cooking as well as heating. Cast iron could take the repeated temperature swings of hot and cold, and it was an ideal medium for casting into complex, prefabricated parts, as well as for decorative surface ornament.”** Coal and iron mines were kept busy providing the raw material as middle-class households bought cook stoves for their transformed kitchens.
The new stoves had various brand names, naturally; one model was even named for everyone’s favorite opera star: the Jenny Lind Double Oven Stove. The dominant design for cookstoves was called “step-top,” which allowed two separate levels for cooking on. The choice of cooking surface facilitated the preparation of several dishes. Evelina could be confident that her kitchen was state-of-the-art, whatever her father-in-law had to say about it.
Evelina may even have talked about her new stove as she was out and about this afternoon, picking up butter and eggs, and visiting with her two sisters-in-law at the elder Lothrops’ home.
*Advertisement from Charleston, Illinois newspaper,