Huckster Wagons Carried the Load

Early vehicles, like the huckster wagon, defined rural life

| May 2000

When John Crowl sets foot in the wagon sheds at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, Md., he embarks on a journey down Memory Lane. 

John, 80, was born (and still lives) on a farm first developed by his great-grandfather in Westminster in 1884. He stopped active farming in 1986, but maintains a keen interest in preserving the memories and artifacts that relate to a way of life now fading into the past.

In one of the two wagon sheds are a pair of huckster's wagons. One is fitted out with runners for winter use and the other, which resembles a Conestoga wagon, is prepared for summer service. The wagons were built for William Henry Segafoose of Uniontown, Md., between 1870 and 1900, by Charles Sittig, also of Uniontown. They were owned by three generations of the family before being donated to the museum in 1966.

"I remember the huckster's wagon coming to the farm," John says. "It usually came once a week. They would pick up butter, eggs, chickens that were no longer producing, geese, ducks, turkeys ... whatever they had. In season, it was fresh fruit and vegetables. And pigeons. The children used to climb up in the barn at night with a flashlight and pull the birds from the rafters. Pigeons got to be a nuisance. They went for 10 cents a pair, and were used to make pigeon pot pie."

John recalls hucksters as an integral part of the rural community. They had different routes and schedules, depending on the weather and the season. They took the produce from the farms to the city, a journey that could take three days.

"They'd go back and forth to Baltimore," he says. "They'd bring back fresh fruit, molasses and sugar."