I’ve written potbellied stoves into a couple of my stories. You’ll still find them plenty of places in Appalachia and I have direct experience with two.
Our one-room church had a potbellied stove on each side of the sanctuary. It was a deacon’s job to come to church early in the winter to get the coal fires going and knock the chill off the pews. Eventually we upgraded to gas heaters, but those stoves were plenty toasty!
As a matter of fact, they were HOT. We were strictly forbidden to mess with the stoves or even to get too close to them. Bump up against one and you’ll know why. But one Sunday I decided to get rid of my chewing gum by snatching open that little door in the side and throwing it in. And I did it bare-handed.
Suffice it to say it’s a VIVID memory and my parents thought the natural repercussions of my decision were punishment enough. That was a bad burn!
My second first-hand stove encounter was at my grandmother’s house. She had a stove in the front room that heated the four-square house (sitting room, kitchen/dining room, two bedrooms). The rule when visiting Grandma’s was to keep your shoes on.
Now, most farm folk know you take your shoes off when you come inside the house. We had a “shoe rug” where you parked your shoes when coming in. But at Grandma’s if you took your shoes off you’d soon have black socks. No matter how much you clean, if you have a coal stove for heat, there WILL be coal dust on the floor.
Here’s a snippet from The Sound of Rain that included a potbellied stove.