Wallingford resident David Klock was the speaker at the Wallingford Historical Society’s June program. Klock is a wealth of information about Wallingford history and a pleasure to hear relate history and stories about Wallingford’s past, partly because you can tell that he just enjoys passing on the information to his audience.
Klock presented his grandmother Minnie Stafford’s doll collection to the Historical Society during the hour-long program at the Historical Society’s Museum located on the second floor of the Wallingford Town Hall. Minnie Stafford is the daughter of Alfonso P. Stafford, for whom the Wallingford Town Hall was named. A.P. Stafford, as he was known, was the town tinsmith with his business located just south of the Gilbert Hart Library. In 1876 he and his family, including daughter Minnie moved into the house on Main Street that David and his wife Lowell currently call home.
Klock had the doll collection laid out on a table together with all the accouterments for each doll so that the audience would have an opportunity to come up close and see the beautiful antique dolls firsthand which was a real treat for audience members, who eagerly came up when invited to do so. The dolls, Klock explained, have been stored in an impeccably maintained steamer trunk in the Klock home since his grandmother moved into the house in 1876. Each doll, save the smallest one, had a name. The smallest, unnamed doll, a beautiful bisque doll measuring about six inches is simply referred to as “the Little One”.
The largest of the dolls, and by the looks of it, maybe Minnie’s favorite was the doll called Hattie.
Hattie has her own homemade four poster bed and handmade quilt along with a beautiful straw hat that most likely was instrumental in her name. She bears leather hands and feet with a porcelain head and cloth body. She came with a trunk full of clothes that Klock says were handmade by Minnie, her mother and her sisters.
The next doll in the collection, Emma is a slightly smaller porcelain doll with a completely cloth body. She travels in her wooden cradle, which I am sure was also handmade with lots of love and her own trunk full of handmade clothes and a homemade quilt. The gorgeous craftsmanship of the tiny quilts is amazing and considering that they were most likely made by children, makes one more appreciative of the time and effort that was put into each one.
The third doll, Annie, another porcelain doll with a cloth body is smaller still from the other two and resides in her wood cradle with her own quilt. Her clothing is a bit smaller and fits into a cigar box, but still sports the same wonderful care and detail as the other dolls’ clothing.
The final doll, the one that bears no name but is affectionately referred to by Klock as “The Little One” doesn’t have a cradle, but rather a sort of makeshift box bed in which she is safely tucked. Not to be outdone, she comes complete with her own, tiny wardrobe.
Klock recounted during the program, fond memories of how his sisters played with the dolls each and every summer that they came to visit in Vermont. Wallingford resident Nelly Button, the author of the book “Creative English” was also privileged to be able to play with Minnie’s dolls as a child. In fact, as part of the collection being given to the Historical Society, Klock displayed for the group a copy of Button’s book with a personalized inscription recounting that she was one of the lucky few to be able to play with Minnie’s doll collection.
The dedication ceremony concluded with the packaging of the dolls and their belongings back into the beautiful steamer trunk that they have called home for the past almost 150 years. The trunk and its contents will become part of the Wallingford Historical Society’s Museum collection. The dolls will be placed on display at an undisclosed date in the future for those of you who were not fortunate enough to enjoy Klock’s informative program.