History lessons from an old house

Patriotic floor boards

My wide pine flooring is patriotic. No, my floor boards aren’t red, white, and blue. In fact, in some places the centuries-old planks are horribly worn, with no stain at  all. But their age and width tell me they’re patriotic. Our New Hampshire farmhouse was built right after the Revolutionary War.


And one of the little riots—virtually in my backyard—that started that giant war isn’t talked about much today. Maybe because it was in a backwoods NH town, maybe because the story of the Boston Tea Party, filled with masquerade and delicious-smelling bay water, is, well, more eventful to write about in textbooks. But a simple yet brave mill owner said “no” to the King.

The British crown wanted more tall, strong masts for their navy, so England asserted that the colonists only use the puny pine trees. The grand ones—12 inches or greater in width—were off limits. But Ebenezer Mudgett, and others who stood with him, said “no.” They said Mudgett had every right to provide the best products for his customers, hand hewn from the finest lumber that North-American-made had to offer. He refused to pay exorbitant fines for lumber in his own backyard, while the king gave him nothing in return. Nothing but forced taxation without representation.

So in typical New England-head-strong fashion, most NH homes suddenly had 12-inch-wide pine plank floors.


Patriotism was fashionable. With every step on their wide-plank pine boards, the colonists were asserting their voices for freedom. Not surprising coming from the first colony to declare its independence. The pine tree went on to become a well-known symbol of Colonial ire. With prideful obstinance, they even depicted the pine tree on the flags flown on colonial warships. Throughout the colonies, people knew of the common mill owner in a small New England town who took a stand, inspiring many others to do the same.

So when I traverse my patriotic floors, every now and then I will think about all the head-strong men and women who take a stand every day for our freedoms in this great nation.

I’m going to remind my daughters of how thankful I am for so many who have gone before me, bravely taking steps against oppression. And I’m thankful for my floors, worn and scratched as they are, that remind me that sometimes everyone—simple mill workers, tired moms, everyone—needs to take a stand.




“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind… remember the former things of old.” Isaiah 46: 8-9.

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history lessons in old floors


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0 Comment

  1. Love the history on this especially since we have wide plank, pine floors in our kitchen that came from New England.

    1. And I love hearing how the history lesson extends well beyond the New England borders! Thanks for sharing, and be sure to traverse your kitchen boards with great pride.

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