This Larimer township, Somerset County, PA house was once the home of Ephriam Geiger. This picture was taken when the farm belonged to my grandfather Irvin Henry Dietle. Note the full length porch, the steep hill in back, and the "summer house" on the left. Like most older Somerset County farm houses, this one was located near a year-round spring. Just beyond the house, to the left, was a large stone spring house (not shown) that was used for cooling food, and served as the only water supply for the house.
There was no fireplace in this house, although it was an older style house with no central hallway. One entered directly into the kitchen, then one room connected to another, without hallways. The interior doors that I remember were rough-sawn boards painted orangish-brown, with crude thumb latches rather than doorknobs. The windowpane glass was somewhat wavy. A large upstairs room was converted into a bathroom. When I was a kid in the 1950-60's, the house was heated with a coal furnace in the basement, but when my dad was little there was a heating stove in the living room. The beams supporting the first story floor were partially flattened logs.
I don't remember much of the summer kitchen. I do remember that it contained an old cast-iron cream separator that was quite tall. I also remember that my dad, grand-dad, and uncles hung quarters of beef there. Each fall, they would slaughter one of Grand-dad's black angus cows, and split it amongst them. Dad told me when I was little, and told me this year, that the purpose of the summer kitchen was to keep the heat of the cook stove out of the house in the summer. I have also read recently that Somerset County summer kitchens were a way of getting heavy food preparation tasks out of the house.
L. Dietle January, 2008
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