October 4, 2017
CONTACT: Trevor Beemon
Root House Museum Goes Into Mourning this October
Marietta's antebellum William Root House will teach visitors about mourning practices of the 1850s by setting up a wake for a departed family member.
MARIETTA - During the 1850s, Hannah and William Root shared their home with their children and extended family. Hannah Root's father, Leonard Simpson, lived with the family and passed away on October 11, 1856. During the month of October, the Root House will be decorated for mourning as it would have been at the time of Leonard Simpson's death.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: During the 1850s, Antebellum parlors were used for guests, family gatherings, and special occasions such as weddings and funerals. During a funeral, the coffin would have been kept in the parlor with the feet of the body facing towards the door. Many of the items in the parlor would have been draped in a black fabric. The fabric, called crepe, was commonly used for funerals because it was inexpensive and had a matte, lusterless surface that was deemed appropriately solemn for mourning. It was also customary to have flowers for a wake. Lilies were the most commonly used flower at this time because, in the "language of flowers," lilies symbolize purity.
In the dining room, some of the furnishings would have been moved around according to need. During a funeral, furniture would have been moved to the side to make room for chairs for the ceremony. Funeral guests would have been seated across the hall from the parlor so they could view the ceremony through the doorways without being too close to the family and the body. They would be permitted to see the body one at a time after the ceremony. A traditional food for funerals was funeral biscuits. These were shortbread cookies made especially for funerals. They would have an image imprinted on the cookie, such as a heart, cherub, winged head, hourglass, or skull. It was customary to serve the funeral biscuits with beer or ale, and they were usually dipped in the ale before being eaten.
INFORMATION: 770-426-4982; roothousemuseum.com/mourning
Daytime tours are included in the cost of general museum admission. Special night tours are offered Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00pm to 10:00pm through October. Night tour tickets are available in advance online at roothousemuseum.com/mourning.
ABOUT THE WILLIAM ROOT HOUSE MUSEUM & GARDEN: Owned and operated by Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, the William Root House Museum & Garden offers an authentic look at life for a middle-class Georgia family during the 1860s. The simple frame house is more typical of its time and place than the grand plantations and columned mansions people typically imagine when they think of the Old South.