- 1798 Livingston Map of the Region
- (Note: Northward direction goes towards the left)
- 1798 Livingston Map of the Region
- A close-up of the area highlighted in yellow above (from research notes, ca. 1986)
Homestead and Farm
Osborn’s home was positioned right at the corner of the major north-south highway and a roadway that led in a northwestern direction towards the Hudson River edge and accompanying hamlets found on occasion along this route of travel. The placement of his home at this intersection made it easy for someone passing through and in need of a doctor’s service to get directions for, easy to recognize, easy to find.
The makings of the old home on this dwelling are fairly important to understand, due primarily to the fact that two possibilities exist for the type and form of Osborn’s dwelling. The first possibility is that this homestead is very much like that of the now popular Madame Brett homestead as well as other Colonial Dutch homesteads found in this part of the valley (ca. 1680-1700 perhaps)–a traditional Dutch dwelling made several ways, and taking on any of several fairly decorative shapes and forms. The other option is that Osborn’s place-to-be was a more recently raised dwelling (ca. early 1700s, perhaps as late as 1720-1730) in which there were additional English influences regarding its form and architecture.
Whereas the traditional Dutch home can often have a blazing family symbol, figure or letter visible on its sides, with a typical false front appearing much like those in Holland, the English style farm dwelling would be more like the typical colonial style frontface, and lack the decorative, “blazed” side panels of a traditional Dutch home. Both of these homes might also have an additional room placed in the back that tapers down from the roof edge, used mostly for storing household goods and for guests (maybe even Osborn’s apothecary work setting). For Osborn, this could very well be the case during the mid to late 1770s, the reasons for which are made apparent in the next section (webpage) discussing his occupation-related needs.
The floorplan of Osborn home is expected to be fairly standard for an old Dutch farm. That is to say there is a front and rear door, each with top and bottom halves which can be opened separately from each other. Any windows for this home could be made of either glass or simply have oil cloth placed over the opening, of which there were perhaps one or two openings for each side of the house. Entering the house from one end, you would be able to walk through to the other end, and to the left and right of this hallway pass by 2 or 3 doors, the first of which heading in the main room, and the remaining doorways leading you into the bed rooms (with typical standup beds that pull down and are opened from a frame) and perhaps an additional room designed for any of several uses.
The main room for the house is the first one you come upon from the front, on the left or right side, and is almost twice as large as the other rooms in the house. This room is where the family gathers, where vistors are seated, where the cooking is done, where meetings are held, and where dinner is served. This room has a fairly large fire place, which if produced in typical Dutch fashion would almost be large enough to walk into. In that fireplace there would be the metal devices and contraptions needed to hold your cooking pots. The brick or stone trim around the fireplace and next to and on the ceiling overhead, would be where many other cooking vessels and such would be hanging.
The appearances of the insides of typical Dutch homes are exemplified by the local site Madame Brett’s homestead, which represents a 17th century homestead with some updates of course added due to time and its more recent uses. Madame Brett’s homestead could be quite different from what the Old Dutch farm on Osborn hill might have been however. For one thing, the topography of Osborn’s land is completely different from that of Madame Brett. Whereas Brett had a stone mill or two set up on her property, Osborn apparently lacked any such elaborate pieces of farming equipment. Instead, based on the local topography and farmability features, this region could have at best become a local orchard (there is some biological evidence for this type of Old Dutch Farm history) with a few patches of flat land that could be tilled for grains and hay.
The makings of the old home on this dwelling is important as well to understand, due to the two possibilities that exist for this dwelling. The first possibility is that this homestead is very much like that of Madame Brett and others in the area, and is a traditional Dutch dwelling made in several ways, shapes and forms. The other option is that this was a more recently raised dwelling with possible English influences on its form and architecture. Whereas the traditional Dutch home can often have a blazing family symbol, figure or letter visible on its sides, with a typical front appearing much like those in Holland and the like, the English style farm dwelling would more than likely lack the decorative side panels and have a typical colonial style frontface. Both of these homes might also have an additional room placed in the back that tapers down from the roof edge, used mostly for storing household goods and for guests (maybe even Osborn’s apothecary work setting).
The floorplan of this home is expected to be fairly standard for an old Dutch famr. That is to say there is a front and read door, that has top and bottom halves which open separately from each other, windows made of either glass or oil cloth placed alongside these doors and perhaps one or two on each side of the house. Entering the house from one end, you would be able to walk through to the other end, and to the left and right of this hallway there are 2 or 3 doors heading in the main room, bed rooms and an additional room of various forms and uses. The main room for the house is the first one you come upon from the front, on the left or right side, and is almost twice as large as the other rooms in the house. This room is where the family gathers, where the cooking is done, and is where dinner is served. It has a fairly large fire place, which if produced in typical Dutch fashion would almost be large enough to walk into. In that fireplace would be the metal devices and contraptions needed to hold your cooking pots. The brick or stone trim around the fireplace and next to and on the ceiling overhead, would be where many other cooking vessels and such would be hanging.
Inside the Home
According to a listing of household goods found in Old miscellaneous records of Dutchess County (the second Book of the Supervisors and Assessors) (Poughkeepsie: Vassar Brothers’ Institute, 1909, pp. 188-189), the following are the possessions of a farmer’s home owned by “Adam alsteyn of Dutchess County”, dated September 28, 1723:
Throughout his vade mecum, Osborn offers us insight into the types of preparation equipment he had. Many of the smaller items he mentions specifically in his writings, others are inferred based on the preparatory processes he tells you to follow. The following are these objects that he mentions in reference to his preparatory processes:
- “covered container”
- “Gug or an earthen pot”
- large boiling vessel/pot
- chamber pot/Iron Kettle
- shovel for live coals
- vessel large enough to cook 10 gallons of water along with a beehive, bees and all
- chafing dish
- “cag” (keg)
- a sitz bath equivalent
Other typical hosuehold items we might expect his to have include:
- a strainer
- liquid measuring devices–pints, teaspoon, wineglass for “wineglassful” amounts or gills” (jills),
- solid devices for teaspoonfuls, scruple, grains, drachms and ounces,
- mortar and pestle,
- rasping tool used to produce raspings of tree bark.
- rags used to administer medicines as dressings for the skin
- spoon or other item used to give a linctus (thick syrupy medicine) with
The following medical devices were noted by Osborn as well:
- phlebotomy tool for bleeding
- clyster instrument for an enema/clyster
- cupping devices (glass cups set, 6 to 8 cups)
- surgical tools for treating the fistula, etc.
A typical medical practice during this time was carried out mostly on horseback. The physician would some times have tours he made regularly to visit with the patients he served, but more than likely this schedule was never a regular one for Dr. Osborn, except for those patients whom he needed to see on a fairly regular basis or due to some sort of long-term treatment or recovery plan already established. It is tough to imagine how and where physicians would see their patients during this period in history, although most visits rarely had any social taboo-related problems, undressing for you physician was an atypical expectation and almost never expected for women patients. Since the physician was pretty much working with the power of observation of the body from the skin/clothing out, to which some palpatory observations might be added such as feeling the pulse or place the hands over a chest or better to detect unusual vibrations or strange organ or tissue palpitations, the standard visit consisted of questions, observations using as many senses as possible, and feeling for pulse, counting and otherwise analyzing the breaths and breathing pattern, and so forth.
It is important to note that the skill of auscultation of the heart (the use of the early tubular wooden stethescope) had yet to be invented and popularized. The primary observations physician relied upon related to disease types and history was the condition and status of the patient, the personal and natural events that took place previous to disease onset, and the chances that any local natural changes took place that could be responsible for the disease like an incoming storm with subsequent increase in humidity, the rising of a swamp gas in large volumes that particular morning, local problems with water supplies due to an ongoing drought, the failure of a local farmer to keep the fields clean of animal waste, or the recent changes in temperature due to the upcoming winter. Osborn’s professional use of his home would most likely be devoted to his apothecarian and brewing practices, not any patient visits unless these were happenstance.
There still remains the question regarding where exactly Osborn’s property was during his period of ownership. This would perhaps provide a way to learn more about him, and to find his as of yet undiscovered burial site, assuming it exists in Dutchess County.