Catoctin Furnace Historical Society discovers 100 pieces of clothing from the 19th century


Elizabeth Comer is an archaeologist and the secretary for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society.  She says recently her organization was working to transform the Forgeman’s House on site into a bed and breakfast when they made a surprising discovery.

“As a part of that restoration, we reached into the eaves of the building and started pulling out clothing and now we have 100 pieces. We found it all, there’s no more, we have 100 pieces of clothing from men, women and children,” said Comer.

On Tuesday the group had their monthly meeting and went through the boxes of clothes looking at the artifacts.  They noticed everything from socks, dresses, and even long underwear from the 19th century. Members say looking at the clothes can help them better tell stories from the people during that time period.

“It’s indicating that the village of Catoctin Furnace, which has a total of 12 houses now, which was a much bigger operation 100, 200 hundred years ago was connected to the world, it was connected to the global economy,” said Christopher Gardner, president of the organization.

The people who lived at Catocin Furnace were workers in the rural village who made most of their clothing or wore primarily hand me downs. Comer says coming across this type of clothing is very surprising within itself. 

“Worker clothing, the everyday clothing is not what people keep, they keep maybe a wedding dress or a confirmation dress to the first pair of long pants or whatever, not the clothing that was used on an everyday basis,” said Comer.

Right now members are working to date the clothing and are having the clothes remade so they can wear the clothing from Catoctin Furnace as an interpretive mechanism.

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