Fixing the Stove

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, November 17, 1912:  Went to Sunday School this afternoon. The house was simply topsy-turvy today. Such a mess. Pa and Ma were fixing the stove.

This isn’t a very good picture, but you can see what a stove in a kitchen looked like a hundred years ago. (Source: Good Housekeeping, May, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I don’t know much about wood/coal stoves. What might go wrong that would require immediate repairs on a Sunday in November? How long was the stove out of commission?

What was the weather like? Was the house cold while they were fixing it? . . . Or did the house have two stoves—one in the kitchen and one in the living room?

What did they eat if they were unable to cook hot foods?

6 thoughts on “Fixing the Stove

  1. Maybe cleaning the stove pipe? Can’t imagine what could have gone wrong that took one person, much less two to fix. And I’ve used wood stoves over the years a lot.

  2. Don’t know about 100 years ago in America. We are now in Ireland (on a visit) and it is November – nothing compared to American cold but it is cold and there is no heat. We depend on the wood stove or the fireplace. I remember the stoves having trouble with the chimney or the liner and I suppose they had to clean it out and there is quite a mess before they can repair it – sometimes there is a crack to be repaired. I, too, wonder what the method of cooking was – open fire? Probably had it fixed before the day was out.

    1. It makes sense that they found some sort of a problem–like a crack–that needed fixed. My sense is that there always was the risk of a fire if the chimney wasn’t clean or if there was a crack.

  3. Oh boy, I bet it would have gotten cool in the house. I can’t imagine what could break on a stove except maybe a venting problem. Once we showed up on the farm and Daddy opened the lid on stove to light the fire and a bat flew out…we all went screaming outside while Dad tried to shoe it out….poor thing, who knows how long it was there.

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