Bed to Bench

Week 40: #52 Ancestors – Preservation

By Eilene Lyon

Back in the early 20th century, my great-grandparents, Clara Pearl (Ransom) and Sterling Price Davis, pooled their resources and bought a farm near Moscow, Idaho. I’ve written about this beautiful property several times before.

The current owner, Kathy, who bought the property from Clara and Sterling’s daughter and son-in-law in the 1960s, is like an honorary member of the Davis-Wickward clan. She hosts family reunions and has graciously offered tours of the property and shared other information about it.

Kathy had long-sought someone to take an old bedstead stored in the rafters of one of the outbuildings, gathering dust for decades (a century?). Recently, my second cousin, Bonnie, took Kathy up on the offer, because she knew a woodworker with experience turning old bed frames into benches.

The filthy foot board taken down from the rafters.
The headboard before cleaning.

We don’t know much about the bed—who owned it, when it was built, or by whom. We expect it probably belonged to the Davis family, as they were fairly well-to-do, and this is a finely crafted piece. The man who made the bench, Brad Grant, of California, thinks it dates back at least to the 1840s, possibly even earlier.

It is solid walnut, including the beautiful burl wood you can see on the back and in front of the hidden blanket shelf under the seat. All that detail was covered under many layers of grime, carefully cleaned away during the alteration process.

The finished bench. All the wood except the seat and shelf came from the antique bedframe. Only wood dowels and glue were used in construction, in keeping with the historic nature of the piece.

What a wonderful way to preserve and pass on our family heritage!

(Bed and bench photos courtesy of Bonnie)

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