News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 30, 2013

Historical treasure: The overlooked sugar bucket on display

Jan Buffington
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — This week’s Historical Treasure has been sitting high up on a shelf in the Country Store in the lower level of the Historical Museum for as long as the exhibit has existed. The color makes it hard to see, and it is, therefore, overlooked by many visitors. It sits beside a larger, white container that was used for the same purpose as our subject for today.

Called a “sugar bucket,” this treasure is a small, lidded wooden barrel with a handle. Another name for the bucket is a firkin. Although most sugar buckets had a wooden handle, this one is wire. Besides sugar, this bucket could also have been used to store other staples, such as flour or salt. These buckets were made in several sizes. This one holds about five pounds. Research of the bucket tells me that the gray paint is probably original and is milk paint. Further research dates it to the mid 1800s.

This sugar bucket came from the Eugene V. Debs Collection, donated by his niece, Mrs. Marguerite Debs Cooper. She was the daughter of Theodore Debs, Eugene’s brother.

The collection, which includes about 50 items, was given to the museum on Aug. 10, 1958, just three months after the Historical Museum opened its doors to the public.

Historical Treasure

• The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through