Old Home Manufactures


This article collects links to articles dealing with life ways in Southwest Virginia. Most of these articles focus on some aspect of "making a living" during the colonial and post revolutionary periods, and apply to many other areas besides Southwest Virginia. The intent of these articles is to provide the information needed to improve our understanding of circumstances and events described in formal records of the period. As an example, some colonial records, particularly for the Augusta County area refer to payments for "winter rotted hemp". Why someone would buy "rotted hemp" is not entirely obvious, but if you review the article on flax, (aka "hemp"), you'll note that

The flax...was spread upon the ground until the stalk had "rotted" enough to be easily broken. It was then bound into bundles and stored away.

The more common term for this process was "retting", but Addington's term is more easily understood, and explains nicely why "winter rotted hemp" was a commodity worth paying for. Now, when we read a passage from some of the older records where a payment is made for "winter rotted hemp", we know that the "rotting" was a deliberate process necessary to the extraction of flax fibers from the hemp, and not an accident due to bad winter weather.

A similar example is found in the article on "Maple Sugar". Maps of the area often show small streams, or locations designated as "Sugar Camp". The term "Sugar Camp" designates a location where sugar maple sap was collected from a "sugar orchard" where the sap was boiled down to syrup, and/or eventually sugar. So, when you see a stream called "sugar camp", you can presume that this was near a sugar orchard, where one of our pioneer ancestors harvested his annual crop of sugar.