Sandburg's Hometown

October 20, 2014

Comstock Castle Parlor Stove advertisement
Comstock-Castle iron stoves, ca.1897

The Parlor Stove

by Barbara Schock

The controlled use of fire goes back millions of years. The first method was an open hearth. Many centuries passed before the first metal stove was invented. By the 1850s cast iron stoves for household use had become very popular.

In Quincy, Illinois, stove manufacturing began in 1848. One of the first companies was the Comstock Stove Company. By 1868 the company was manufacturing 12,000 stoves per year. These included both parlor stoves for heating and kitchen stoves for cooking and heating. It is still in business today manufacturing restaurant-style stoves and other professional kitchen equipment.

An article appeared in the Quincy Whig of November 6, 1869, describing the trials and tribulations of putting up the parlor stove for winter. Carl Sandburg doesn't mention putting up his family's parlor stove in his memoir, Always the Young Strangers. Perhaps it was just too painful to remember.

The Whig article declared “The first step to be taken is to put on a very old and ragged coat, next the operator gets his hand inside the place where the pipe ought to go, blacks his fingers, and then carefully makes a black mark down the side of his nose. Having got his face properly marked, the victim is ready to begin the ceremony.

The head of the family grasps one side of the bottom of the stove, and his wife and the hired girl take hold of the other side. In this way, the load is started from the woodshed toward the parlor.

Having got the family comfort in place, the next thing is to find the legs. Two were left inside the stove since the spring before....The other two are usually found under the coal. Then the head of the family holds up one side of the stove while his wife puts two of the legs in place and next he holds up the other side while the other two are fixed and one of the first two falls out.

Then he goes for the pipe and gets two cinders in his eye. It doesn't make any difference how well the pipe was put up last year, it will always be found a little too short or a little two long. The head of the family jams his hat over his eyes and taking a pipe under each arm, goes to the tin shop to have it fixed.

Then he gets an old chair and climbs up the chimney again to find that, in cutting the pipe off, the end had been left too big for the hole in the chimney.

So he goes to the woodshed and splits one side of the pipe with an old ax, and squeezes it in his hands to make it smaller.

While getting the blocks under the legs, the pipe comes out of the chimney. That remedied, the elbow keeps tipping over, to the great alarm of his wife. Head of the family get the dinner table out, puts a chair on it, gets his wife to hold the chair, and balances himself on it to drive some nails in the ceiling. Drops the hammer on his wife's head. At last the nails driven, makes a wire swing to hold the pipe, hammers a little more, pulls a little there, takes a deep breath and announces the ceremony completed.

Job never put up any stove. It would have ruined his reputation if he had.”


Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
October 20 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity