Tools of the Trade
This exhibit examines common tools and utensils used in 19th-century. They tell stories that reveal much about the character of life in developing towns like Newbern. Visitors to the Wilderness Road Regional Museum often shake their heads in wonder at the amount and rigor of work required in 19th c. Virginia to maintain a large farm and household that included a busy country store such as the one started by the Hance’s and later expanded by the Alexander’s. Domestic tools, farming tools, and carpentry tools are displayed.
“By Her Hand,” displays 19th- and early 20th-century handwork crafted by local women. Quilts, tatted lace, hand sewn garments, and woven coverlets are shown, along with 19th century sewing implements—needle cases, scissors, thimbles, pin cushions, and other tools. These items from the museum’s collection have never before been assembled to highlight the skill of local women artisans.
Into the Wilderness — On permanent display at the museum, Into the Wilderness traces the history of the western spur of one of America’s first highway systems. This road, formed along ancient animal trails and Iroquois footpaths, ran from Philadelphia, down through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, then forked, turning west toward the wilderness of Kentucky and beyond. Known as the Great Philadelphia Road, the Great Wagon Road, or sometimes simply the Wilderness Road, the road played a major role in the settling of America. The exhibit traces this richly drawn tale of American expansion and commerce, explaining the early development of the road and the reasons that tens of thousands moved up and down the road during the 18th and 19th centuries.Hance Store Exhibit–The building that houses the Wilderness Road Regional Museum was once a store owned by Henry Hance, son of Newbern’s founder. The new exhibit recreates the Hance Store of the early nineteenth century. One of the most unique attractions is the original ledger Hance used to keep track of purchases made by specific customers. There are names of townspeople, which items they bought, and how the account was paid. This artifact recently won the honor of being placed on the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts by the Virginia Association of Museums. Our new exhibit features many of the items that the store would have sold–antique jars that hold spices, hanging herbs, tools, period clothing, and blankets.