Foot Stove

This is a ceramic foot warmer from the late 19th century. By boiling water over a fire, filling the bottle, and placing it at the foot of a bed, one could keep their feet warm though cold winters. My family does not know much about the first generation of owners except that it belonged to my great-great-great grandmother (b. 1884) in Ireland. She moved to Scotland in her teens to get married inter-religiously with her Irish-Catholic husband, which was not permissible back home. Their life there was significantly better than in Ireland, and the teaching jobs they both had allowed them to afford the foot warmer, which was considered a luxury product.  Their daughter, Sarah (b. 1906), came to the US in 1927 and brought the foot stove with her. Little did she know, the man she would marry was simultaneously crossing the Atlantic from Ireland, and they would soon meet in Pittsburgh. Barney left Ireland to avoid recruitment by the IRA, and to make something for himself because he was not the heir to his family’s farm. Once they took their vows, they moved to Chicago, where they had thirteen children, the tenth of which is my grandmother. Barney became a carpenter, and a proud member of the union. Much of family still lives in Chicago. They eventually came to live a comfortable middle class life. This foot stove remains, serving as a reminder of the early days in cold beds in Pittsburgh and Chicago, when they used it just like Sarah did back in the old country.

Year: 1927

– Kellan Stanner

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more