People’s Possessions: A Peek At The Past

by Categorized: Antiques, Heritage, Historic Houses Date:

Howard Inventory

A sleigh blanket valued at 75 cents. A silver medal, 50 cents. A $2 pair of boots. Two sets of curtains, $7. Two dining tables, $8. Three “comfortables,” $7.50 — those are comforters, or quilts. A $4 watch. A $1 candle stand.

The list goes on. These items were among the possessions included in a three-page inventory that described and valued the clothing, furniture, stock and land that Captain Nathaniel Howard owned when he died in 1819.

Curator Christina Vida of the Windsor Historical Society will give a talk on Oct. 22 titled “What People’s Belongings Can Tell You,” about probate inventories and the information and insights they often can offer curators, researchers and genealogists.

Captain Howard’s inventory helped provide an understanding of what Windsor households looked like around 1810 and also helped guide Vida’s decisions on furnishing the recently opened parlor and store at the Strong-Howard House.

The house, which dates from 1758, is undergoing restoration slated for completion by the end of 2015. What makes it interesting is that it’s being furnished with reproduction antiques, so that visitors can gain a more direct experience of what life was like there. Unlike most museums, visitors will be able to sit on the chairs, poke through documents in Captain Howard’s desk, examine the items like combs and fabrics that were sold at the store — and eventually even have a chance to cook at the hearth.

Vida’s talk on Tuesday, Oct. 22, is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Windsor Historical Society, 96 Palisado Ave. (Route 159), Windsor. The fee is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for society members. For more information, call 860-688-3813 or go to


Photos: A detail of Captain Nathaniel Howard’s probate inventory, top. The Strong-Howard House, above. Both via the Windsor Historical Society

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