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What’s really behind that wall?

illustration shows weird things behind walls

Yes, I thought it was charming that Delawareans of the early 18th century would skate—Hans Brinker style—on the local ponds in the winter. These days you don’t see people doing that here, either because ponds don’t freeze as solidly or as often, or perhaps a cultural shift to a preference for skating rinks, or all these reasons.

But what really caught my attention about the skates shown below was the fact that their owners stashed them, and a spoon, into the walls of a mill house, where they were found by workers disassembling the structure centuries later.

I’ve often encountered stories of historic newspapers being found crumpled behind walls of old buildings. But that makes complete sense to me: newspapers acted as an insulator against the cold.

Collection of Smyrna [DE] Museum

But why would someone stash skates and a spoon behind a wall? Why not dispose of these items if you’re done with them? Stashing them like this suggests that something needed to be hidden from public eyes. Were they stolen? Were they a family heirloom handed down that the recipients didn’t want, but were embarrassed to be seen throwing out?

History’s mysteries!

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