Finding Hidden Treasure
I’ve enjoyed visiting the Rugby Settlement in Tennessee, the Shakers in Kentucky, Anabaptists in Shipshewana, Indiana, Moravians in Winston-Salem, and Waldensians in Valdese. Now I was interested to learn about Hiddenites. I hadn’t found anything about their heritage or culture, and very little about the museum itself. I do know the museum has an extensive doll collection of the Victorian era, and a gift shop. They might be interested in my Blue-Eyed Doll book, so I took samples along with business cards.
The turn-of-the-century Victorian building on the National Registry of Historic Places is something to behold. In 1914, after the bride-to-be told her future husband, the owner of the place, that it was too small and she was returning to New York City, he cut the two-story house in half – horizontally – and inserted a new second floor between the two existing floors, making it a three-story mansion. In the photos it looks like he jacked the floor up using stacks of wooden pallets. Love makes men do things.
Inside is a 3,000 piece doll and toy collection c. 1700-present, dollhouses, art gallery, history related exhibits, antique household furnishings from the 1914 residence of “Diamond Jim” Lucas who was a diamond and gem importer, some gems and minerals. There’s a gift shop and an herb garden. All very nice treasures. But I wanted to learn about the people.
“Can you tell me something about Hiddenites?” I asked the hostess. “Oh, of course, come right over here.” We were standing in front of glass cases full of rocks and gemstones. It said something about the emerald mine up the road. “This,” she pointed, “is a fine example of hiddenite.”
Hiddenite was discovered near the emerald mines by Mr. Hidden who had been sent on an excursion by his boss, Thomas A. Edison. He was supposed to find platinum, which Mr. Edison needed to make phonograph needles. But Hidden discovered this gem, or mineral, I’m not sure which, and named it after himself, Hidden. Hiddenite. Huh.
“Well, thanks, it’s been interesting. Hiddenite. I’m sure I’ll remember that.” The joke is surely on me. I could hardly keep a straight face when four hours later I got back home and explained where I’d been and why I drove six hours to see hiddenites. My lovely husband smiled, shook his head and took us to Wendy’s for supper.
Now, tell me the truth. Did you know hiddenite wasn’t a people?