Paranormal

Mourning in the Tinker Swiss Cottage

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With October nearing a close, everyone is heading out to the local apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses. While you’re carving pumpkins, drinking apple cider, and telling ghost stories, don’t forget to check out Tinker Swiss Cottage for a historical twist to the fall season!

What’s new (and maybe a little creepy) at Tinker Swiss Cottage for the month of October?

On September 4, 1901, Mary Tinker passed away in her home at the age of 72. The Tinker family stopped the clocks at the time of her death, and her portrait in the parlor was adorned with flowers. In the Victorian era whenever a death occurred in the family the clocks would be stopped at the time of death, as if time itself stopped with the passing of the loved one. If a portrait existed of the departed, it would be strewn with beautiful flowers. When you visit us this month you will notice that the clock in the parlor has been set to the time of Mary’s death, and her portrait is once again decorated with flowers and crape.

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©TinkerSwissCottageMuseum

The most obvious difference you will find in the parlor is the authentic Victorian coffin. Don’t worry, nothing is going to pop out at you, but it does bring a creepy feel to the room. Along with the coffin, you will notice that the full-length mirror is covered in black. The Victorians covered mirrors for two purposes. First, it allowed the family to mourn without having to watch themselves cry. However, the second purpose is far more interesting – a spiritual movement in the Victorian era. During this movement, not only were Victorian families going to church every Sunday and reading their Bibles, but they also believed heavily in the spirit world. Some tried to make contact with their departed through séances and Ouija Boards, while others simply did not want their loved one’s spirits to be trapped in the home. The Victorians believed covering the mirrors stopped the departed souls from getting trapped inside of it, thereby allowing them to find their way out of the home more easily.

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©TinkerSwissCottageMuseum

 

In the library you will find a Witch’s Ball sitting on the fireplace mantle. Legend has it that a homeowner with children would place string inside of the Witch’s Ball in order to protect their little ones from the witches who would sneak in through the windows at night. The Victorians believed that the witches would be attracted to the ball with the string inside of it. They would waste away their nights trying to pull the string out one little piece at a time until morning came and they had to flee. The children’s souls would be safe from the witches, and enough string would be left in the ball to protect the children the next night as well.

What other aspects of death were the Victorians interested in?

The Victorians had many other mourning traditions. For example, the family of the deceased would wear specific mourning garb. The style, fabric, and color varied depending on one’s relationship with the departed. Wives wore mourning clothes longer than any other member of a family. The women wore black veils covering their faces for 3 months after their husband’s death, and then the veil was moved to the back of their bonnet. Widows wore veils for approximately one year and the rest of their mourning attire for a total of two years. After two years they did not need to wear the deep black dresses, but they had to slowly transition from dark colors to lighter ones. Many widows never returned to the brightly colored dresses, choosing to remain the muted colors for the rest of their lives. Men would wear their black suits, gloves, and neck ties for a year after their wives passed. Parents would mourn the loss of their children for a year, and children would mourn their parents’ deaths for approximately a year as well. Siblings mourned for approximately six months. Be sure to stop in to see Mary Dorr Manny Tinker’s Mourning gown on display in our sitting room for yourself!

Marry Dorr Manny Tinker ©TinkerSwissCottageMuseum

 

In an era before Facebook and Instagram, the Victorians did not have many images to remind them of their loved ones who had passed. Post-mortem photography became very popular, since it was possibly one of the only times a person could have their portraits taken (generally due to the high cost). During these sessions the body of the deceased would be propped up in an effort to make them seem more lifelike. It was also very common for other family members to gather around the dead in order for their picture to be taken at the same time. In the Tinker Dining Room you will get a chance to see one of these images.

Along with post-mortem photographs, the Victorians would also take pieces of their loved one’s hair to fashion into a keepsake. Some fastened locks of hair into jewelry, while others were arranged into floral shapes and framed. Many Victorian families even collected hair from every family member who passed and fashioned the strands into pieces of art. In Jessie’s bedroom, you will find a lock of Jessie’s first husband Gye Hurd’s hair next to his photo on her dresser.

Remember, these pieces are only out on display for the month of October! Hurry in to learn about mourning customs in the Victorian Era before October’s over!

It’s also not too late to join us for one of our unique Paranormal Tours! Our final tour for the season will be this Friday, October 26 at 7pm.
¤ Samantha
Some extra reading:
http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/7-most-morbid-victorian-mourning-traditions
http://www.victoriana.com/VictorianPeriod/mourning.htm
Victorian Funeral Customs and Superstitions
http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/mourning.html
http://www.quilthistory.com/vmc.htm

Tinker’s Shadow

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Looking for a fun way to take Tinker Swiss Cottage home with you? Filmmaker Michael Kleen has put together a wonderful new documentary on Tinker Swiss Cottage, titled Tinker’s Shadow: The Hidden History of Tinker Swiss Cottage.

 

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Photo Copyright of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens

The documentary focuses on both the history of the Cottage and also on the paranormal aspect of the museum. Staff members, volunteers, and paranormal experts join together to share our history and stories with you. All proceeds go directly to maintaining the Cottage.

You can now purchase the documentary through Amazon Instant Video, with DVDs coming to our gift shop later this year! Click HERE for a direct link to our new documentary!

 

#Didyouknow that when you shop at Amazon you can select a non-profit organization to receive a donation through your regular everyday purchases? Just go to smile.amazon.com and type in “Tinker Swiss Cottage”, and Amazon will donate part of their proceeds from your purchase to our museum!

Mourning in the Victorian Era

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Everyone gets excited when October rolls around. Halloween parties, pumpkin patches, and visits to the apple orchard are always on the top of our fall bucket lists. Pumpkins are carved, and kids pick out their costumes. Like everyone else, the staff at the Tinker Swiss Cottage get excited about preparing for the month of October.

What’s new (and maybe a little creepy) at Tinker Swiss Cottage for the month of October?

In the library you will find a Witch’s Ball sitting on a root wood table. Legend has it that a homeowner with children would place string inside of the Witch’s Ball in order to protect their little ones from the witches who would sneak in through the windows at night. The Victorians believed that the witches would be attracted to the ball with the string inside of it. They would waste away their nights trying to pull the string out one little piece at a time until morning came and they had to flee. The children’s souls would be safe from the witches, and enough string would be left in the ball to protect the children the next night as well.

On September 4, 1901, Mary Tinker passed away in her home at the age of 72. The clocks were stopped at the time of her death, and her portrait in the parlor was adorned with flowers. In the Victorian era whenever a death occurred in the family the clocks would be stopped at the time of death, as if time itself stopped with the passing of the loved one. If a portrait existed of the departed, it would be strewn with beautiful flowers. When you visit us this month you will notice that the clock in the parlor has been set to the time of Mary’s death, and her portrait is once again decorated with flowers and crape.

Yet the most obvious difference you will find in the parlor is the authentic Victorian coffin. Don’t worry, nothing is going to pop out at you, but it does bring a creepy feel to the room. Along with the coffin, you will notice that the full-length mirror is covered in black. There were two purposes to covering the mirror. First, it allowed the family to mourn without having to watch themselves cry. However, the second purpose is far more interesting – a spiritual movement in the Victorian era. During this movement, not only were Victorian families going to church every Sunday and reading their Bibles, but they also believed heavily in the spirit world. Some tried to make contact with their departed through séances and Ouija Boards, while others simply did not want their loved one’s spirits to be trapped in the home. The Victorians believed that if all of the mirrors were covered, the departed souls would not get trapped inside of it and could find their way out of the home more easily.

Apparently, covering the mirror did not work here at the Tinker Swiss Cottage. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are many who believe that the Tinkers never left their home and still inhabit it today. Curious as to whether or not this is true? Come out to join us for a paranormal tour on a Friday night in October and get a chance to make contact with their spirits yourself! (See schedule below)

What other aspects of death were the Victorians interested in?

Although not on display at the Tinker Swiss Cottage, the Victorians had many other mourning traditions. For example, the family of the deceased would wear specific mourning garb. The style, fabric, and color varied depending on one’s relationship with the departed. Wives wore mourning clothes longer than any other member of a family. The women wore black veils covering their faces for 3 months after their husband’s death, and then the veil was moved to the back of their bonnet. Widows wore veils for approximately one year and the rest of their mourning attire for a total of two years. After two years they did not need to wear the deep black dresses, but they had to slowly transition from dark colors to lighter ones. Many widows never returned to the brightly colored dresses, choosing to remain the muted colors for the rest of their lives. Men would wear their black suits, gloves, and neck ties for a year after they were widowed. Parents would mourn the loss of their children for a year, and children would mourn their parents’ deaths for approximately a year as well. Siblings mourned for approximately six months.

Mary in mourning for her first husband John Manny

In an era before Facebook and Instagram, the Victorians did not have many images to remind them of their loved ones who had passed. Post-mortem photography became very popular, since it was possibly one of the only times a person could have their portraits taken (generally due to the high cost). During these sessions the body of the deceased would be propped up in an effort to make them seem more lifelike. It was also very common for other family members to gather around the dead in order for their picture to be taken at the same time.

Along with post-mortem photographs, the Victorians would also take pieces of their loved one’s hair to fashion into a keepsake. Some locks of hair were turned into jewelry, while others were fashioned into flowers and framed. There were many Victorian families who collected hair from every family member who passed and fashioned the strands into pieces of art. While we do not have any post-mortem photos or locks of hair from the Tinkers, one can easily find examples with a quick online search.

Come visit us on an upcoming Friday night for a paranormal experience of your own!

October 7 from 7-10 pm: Meet us in the barn!

October 14 from 7-10 pm: Meet us in the barn!

October 28 from 7-10 pm: Meet us in the barn!

 

¤ Samantha

Things that go bump in the night…

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As a historic home, we receive several questions everyday. From “ How much did this home cost to build?” to “What wood is in the floors?” to general statements like “I wish I could live here!“, all of these come throughout our daily guided tours.

However, these questions turn a bit macabre as October and the Halloween season comes creeping in.

“Have you seen anything? “, “Have you heard anything strange before?”“Is the house haunted?!”

This much is certain, as a home that just celebrated our 150th anniversary, we have a lot of history. We have a lot of stories to share. That is why we have paranormal tours.

Join us every Friday in October for scintillating tales from paranormal experts. Each tour brings a new author or investigative group to Tinker to share their knowledge and experience in the paranormal field. Many of these speakers have investigated the Cottage and will share their stories throughout the night. Audio clips, video footage and pictures of investigations inside the Cottage and at many other haunted locations are showcased.

Then comes the best part- a tour of Tinker Swiss Cottage and a chance to have your own paranormal encounter! Tour all three floors of the historic house as you listen to stories of Victorian mourning culture, family history and (of course) personal experiences and paranormal encounters that have taken place over the past 70 years.

You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, audio recorders, emf).  The first tour is October 2nd, with many to follow. Each tour brings a new guest paranormal expert that is sure to leave you in the “spirit”!

So don’t forget to join us for our 2015 paranormal events!

  2nd: Paranormal Tour,  with Steve Litteral 7-10 pm 
9th: Paranormal Tour with Sylvia Schultz , 7- 10 pm
16th: Paranormal Tour with Kathi Kresol of Haunted Rockford, 7-10 pm
23rd: Paranormal Tour , 7-10 pm
30th: Paranormal Tour, 7-10 pm with Wisconsin and Illinois Paranormal investigation Team (WIPIT)