Showing posts with label mass bay colony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mass bay colony. Show all posts

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Voyage To Massachusetts

From  "Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony"

"Before you come," wrote Rev. Francis Higginson, the first minister at Salem, "be careful to be strongly instructed what things are fittest to bring with you for your more comfortable passage at sea, as also for your husbandry occasions when you come to the land. For when you are once parted with England you shall meete neither markets nor fayres to buy what you want. Therefore be sure to furnish yourselves with things fitting to be had before you come: as meale for bread, malt for drinke, woolen and linnen cloath, and leather for shoes, and all manner of carpenters tools, and a great deale of iron and steele to make nails, and locks for houses, and furniture for ploughs and carts, and glasse for windows, and many other things which were better for you to think of there than to want them here."[1]  Elsewhere the good pastor set down "A catalogue of such needfull things as every Planter doth or ought to provide to go to New England" in which he enumerated the necessary victuals per person for the first year, viz.:

"8 Bushels of meale, 2 Bushels of pease, 2 Bushels of Otemeale, 1 Gallon of Aquavitae, 1 Gallon of Oyle, 2 Gallons of Vinegar, 1 Firkin of Butter; also Cheese, Bacon, Sugar, Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, Nutmegs and Fruit."

The household implements listed were: "1 Iron pot, 1 Kettel, 1 Frying pan, 1 Gridiron, 2 Skellets, 1 Spit, Wooden Platters, Dishes, Spoons and Trenchers."

Mr. Higginson listed in detail the food supplies required per person for a year, including a good variety of spices; and also the clothing for a man, which included a Monmouth cap, a suit of canvas, a suit of freize, a suit of cloth, four pairs of shoes, three shirts and three falling bands, a pair of blankets, a coarse rug and seven ells of canvas with which to make a bed and bolster. The settler must also bring with him a complete armor, with a long piece, sword, bandoleer and ammunition, tools for cultivating the soil and for working wood, and also household implements—a limited equipment, comparable with the kit packed by the scout or mining prospector of more recent times.

On looking backward over the span of three centuries, Time lends an enchantment to these Puritan forefathers of present-day Massachusetts. Worshiping descendants have placed halos about their heads and the hardships of life during the early years have been magnified to the extent that these independent-minded Englishmen have become types of suffering fortitude—martyrs to the noble cause of free religion and self-government. That is a long tale, however, carrying with it many qualifications, and cannot be enlarged upon here. In what follows, it should always be borne in mind that aside from the Dutch at New Amsterdam and the small colony of Swedes on the Delaware, it was English stock that settled the American colonies and that these men and women brought with them a background of generations of English life. Their standards of living, manner of working their trades and natural aptitude for barter and commerce were all modeled upon English life and customs. It was only natural that this should be so. The ships crossed the Atlantic at comparatively frequent intervals and their holds came filled with all kinds of necessities and luxuries required by English standards of living—foodstuffs, fabrics and implements which the shops of London, Plymouth or Bristol could supply and which could not be produced by the American settlements. To obtain these refinements of life the colonists required only money or merchandise. Lumber,raw or manufactured, salted fish, beaver and peltry, plantation-built vessels and other products of the colonies, could be easily converted into the comforts of English life for sale in the shops across the Atlantic.
Picture from Little Acorns

The Rev. Francis Higginson (pic below) came over in the Talbot, a ship of three hundred tons burden, which was armed with nineteen guns and carried a crew of thirty men. She brought over one hundred passengers. Sailing with her was the ship George of three hundred tons, in which came fifty-two passengers and a stock of cattle, twelve mares, thirty cows and some goats. From the original records of the Massachusetts Bay Company in New England we learn what food supplies were shipped on board the Talbot for the American voyage. The amount was supposed to be sufficient for one hundred and thirty-five men for three months. As a matter of fact, the voyage from Gravesend to the anchorage in Salem harbor occupied sixty-eight days.

The ship carried 22 hogsheads of salted beef, 12,000 of bread (biscuits), 40 bushels of peas, 20 barrels of oatmeal, 450 pounds of salt fish, 10 firkins of butter and 1,200 pounds of cheese. To wash down this food they took on board 6 tons of water, 45 tons of beer, 20 gallons of brandy, 20 gallons of Spanish wine (Malaga and Canary), 2 tierces of beer vinegar and 20 gallons of olive oil.[2] During the voyage two died of smallpox, including a blasphemous seaman. A child died of consumption and a dog fell overboard and could not be recovered. The rest came through and reached Salem harbor in a good state of health.

The Massachusetts Bay Company seems to have maintained a "company store," in the modern phrase, at which the colonists might obtain clothing, fabrics, foodstuffs and supplies of all sorts. When Governor Endecott came over in 1628, the Company sent extra clothing sufficient for one hundred men including three hundred suits of clothes, four hundred shirts and four hundred pairs of shoes. Two hundred of the suits of clothes consisted of doublet and hose made up of leather, lined with oiled skin leather, and fastened with hooks and eyes. The other suits were made up of Hampshire kerseys, the doublets lined with linen and the hose with skins. There were a hundred waistcoats of green cotton bound about with red tape, a hundred Monmouth caps, at two shillings each, five hundred red knit caps, milled, at five pence each, and one hundred black hats, lined in the brows with leather. This store supplied the natural wear and tear of headgear among the hundred men. The stock contained four hundred pairs of knit stockings, ten dozen pairs of Norwich garters, three hundred plain falling bands, two hundred handkerchiefs and a stock of sheer linen with which to made up other handkerchiefs. Scotch ticking was supplied for beds and bolsters, with wool to put therein. The blankets were of Welsh cotton and fifty rugs were sent over to place over the blankets, while mats were supplied "to lye vnder 50 bedds aboard shippe."[3]

During the ten years that followed the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay, a continuous flow of emigration from England crossed the Atlantic in all kinds of available sailing craft.[4] The passage usually cost £5 per person and this included provisions provided by the ship such as "salt Beefe, Porke, salt Fish, Butter, Cheese, Pease, Pottage, Water-grewell, and such kinde of Victualls, with good Biskets, and sixe-shilling Beere; yet it will be necessary to carry some comfortable refreshing of fresh victuall. As first, for such as have ability, some Conserves, and good Clarret Wine to burne at Sea; Or you may have it by some of your Vintners or Wine-Coopers burned here, & put into Vessels, which will keepe much better than other burnt Wine, it is a very comfortable thing for the stomacke; or such as are Sea-sicke: Sallat-oyle likewise, Prunes are good to be stewed: Sugar for many things: White Biskets, and Egs, and Bacon, Rice, Poultry, and some weather-sheepe to Kill aboard the Ship: and fine flowre-baked meates, will keepe about a weeke or nine days at Sea. Iuyce of Lemons well put up, is good either to prevent or curre the Scurvy.[5] Here it must not be forgotten to carry small Skillets or Pipkins, and small frying-panns, to dresse their victualls in at Sea. For bedding, so it be easie, and cleanly, and warme, it is no matter how old or coarse it be for the use of the Sea: and so likewise for Apparrell, the oldest cloathes be the fittest, with a long coarse coate to keepe better things from the pitched ropes and plankes. Whosoever shall put to Sea in a stoute and well-conditioned ship, having an honest Master, and loving Seamen, shall not neede to feare, but he shall finde as good content at Sea, as at Land.[6]

The Mayflower shipped 15,000 brown biscuit and 5,000 white, that is, hard bread, i.e. crackers; also smoked or half-cooked bacon, as it came from the smokehouse, which was much liked with the biscuit and when fried was considered a delicacy. Haberdyne (dried salted codfish) was also a staple article of diet; also smoked herring. Potatoes were practically unknown at that time and the store of cabbages, turnips, onions, parsnips, etc., soon ran short and gave way to boiled mush, oatmeal, pease puddings, etc. Their beer was carried in iron-bound casks.

When passengers came aboard vessels bound for New England in those early days, how did they stow themselves and their possessions? The Mayflower had a length of about 110 feet and measured about 244 tons. It was originally intended that she should carry ninety passengers, men, women and children, but when the Speedwell put back, twelve of her passengers were taken aboard, and two boys were born during the voyage. The ship also carried a crew of twenty to twenty-five men, and officers and petty officers, about sixteen in number, would bring the total of those aboard to one hundred and forty or more. Goats, pigs, and poultry occupied pens on the upper or spar deck and in the boats carried there. Small sleeping cabins were provided for the ship's officers and the more important passengers; most of the company slept in narrow bunks, in hammocks, and on pallet beds of canvas filled with straw, placed on the deck beneath the hammocks. The crew bunked in the forecastle. The chests and personal possessions of the passengers were stowed below on the lower deck where the food, water and ship's stores were kept. On the Arbella, Governor Winthrop's ship, the male passengers lodged on the gundeck and four men were "ordered to keep that room clean."

The ship Whale, in 1632, brought thirty passengers, including Mr. Wilson and Mr. Dummer, all in good health, and seventy cows of which they lost but two. The ship Regard of Barnstaple, 200 tons, arrived in 1634, brought twenty passengers and about fifty cattle. The ship Society of Boston, N. E., 220 tons, with a crew of thirty-three men, arrived in 1663, with seventy-seven passengers. A notable example of fortitude is found in the voyage of the sloop Sparrow Hawk, that sailed from London in 1626 for Virginia and having been blown off her course was wrecked on Cape Cod.

She was only forty feet in length, had a breadth of beam of twelve feet and ten inches, and a depth of nine feet, seven and one-half inches. Bradford in his History records that she carried "many passengers in her and sundrie goods ... the cheefe amongst these people was one Mr. Fells and Mr. Sibsie, which had many servants belonging unto them, many of them being Irish. Some others ther were yt had a servante or 2 a piece; but ye most were servants, and such as were ingaged to the former persons, who also had ye most goods ... they had been 6 weeks at sea, and had no water, nor beere, nor any woode left, but had burnt up all their emptie caske."[7] And this happened in the month of December!

In those days cooking on shore was done in an open fireplace. On shipboard, the larger vessels were provided with an open "hearth" made of cast iron sometimes weighing five hundred pounds and over. More commonly a hearth of bricks was laid on deck, over which stood an iron tripod from which the kettles hung. More crudely still a bed of sand filled a wooden frame and on this the fire was built, commonly of charcoal. On the ship Arbella, in which came Governor John Winthrop and his company, in 1630, the "cookroom" was near a hatchway opening into the hold. The captain, his officers and the principal men among the passengers dined in the "round house," a cabin in the stern over the high quarter-deck. Lady Arbella Johnson and the gentlewomen aboard dined in the great cabin on the quarter-deck. The passengers ate their food wherever convenient on the main deck or in good weather, on the spar deck above. Years later, a new ship lying at anchor in Boston harbor was struck by lightning which "melted the top of the iron spindle of the vane of the mainmast" and passing through the long boat, which lay on the deck, killed two men and injured two others as "they were eating together off the Hen-Coop, near the Main Mast."

The ship supplied each passenger with a simple ration of food distributed by the quartermasters, which each family or self arranged group of passengers cooked at a common hearth as opportunity and the weather permitted. Of necessity much food was served cold and beer was the principal drink. John Josselyn, Gent., who visited New England in 1638, records "the common proportion of Victualls for the Sea to a Mess, being 4 men, is as followeth:

"Two pieces of Beef, of 3 pound and ¼ per piece.

"Four pound of Bread.

"One pint ¼ of Pease.

"Four Gallons of Bear, with Mustard and Vinegar for three flesh dayes in the week.

"For four fish dayes, to each Mess per day, two pieces of Codd or Habberdine, making three pieces of fish.

"One quarter of a pound of Butter.

"Four pound of Bread.

"Three quarters of a pound of Cheese.

"Bear is before.

"Oatmeal per day, for 50 men, Gallon 1. and so proportionable for more or fewer.

"Thus you see the ship's provision, is Beef or Porke, Fish, Butter, Cheese, Pease, Pottage, Water gruel, Bisket, and six-shilling Bear.

"For private fresh provision, you may carry with you (in case you, or any of yours should be sick at Sea) Conserves of Roses, Clove-Gilliflowers, Wormwood, Green-Ginger, Burnt-Wine, English Spirits, Prunes to stew, Raisons of the Sun, Currence, Sugar, Nutmeg, Mace, Cinnamon, Pepper and Ginger, White Bisket, or Spanish Rusk, Eggs, Rice, Juice of Lemmons, well put up to cure, or prevent the Scurvy. Small Skillets, Pipkins, Porrengers, and small Frying pans.

"To prevent or take away Sea sickness, Conserve of Wormwood is very proper."[8]

The settler also must take with him a supply of food to answer his needs on reaching Massachusetts, and it was advised that enough for the space of a year might be required in which case each person should be certain to have in store 8 bushels of meal, 2 bushels pease, 2 bushels oatmeal, 1 gallon brandy, 1 gallon oil and 2 gallons vinegar. Sugar could be had in New England as the Colonial vessels were bringing it from the West Indies in the way of trade, but spices, necessary to the English diet, must be brought from England.

John Josselyn, writing in 1638, listed the following articles as necessary equipment for every family coming to New England, viz.:

Bellows £0 2 0
Scoop 0 9
Great pail 0 10
Casting shovel 0 10
A sack 2 4
Lanthorn 1 3
Tobacco pipes
5 broad howes 10 0
5 narrow howes 6 8
5 felling axes 7 6
2 hand saws 10 0
1 whip saw 10 0
1 file and wrest 10
2 hammers 2 0
2 augers 1 0
Wheels for a cart 14 0
Wheel barrow 6 0
Canoe 3 0 0
Short oak ladder 0 10
Plough 3 9
Axle tree 0 8
Cart 10 0  [11]3 shovels 4 6
2 spades 3 0
2 broad axes 7 4
6 chisels 3 0
3 gimblets 0 6
2 hatchets 3 6
2 frows 3 0
2 hand bills 3 4

Nails of all sorts 2 0 0
3 locks and 3 pr. fetters 5 10
2 curry combs 0 11
Brand for beasts 0 6
Hand vise 2 6
100 wt. spikes nails and pins (120) 2 5 0
2 pick axes 0 3 0
Chain and lock for a boat 2 2
Coulter (10 pound) 3 4
Pitch fork 1 4
Plough share 2 11

Household implements for a family of six persons, viz.:

1 iron pot 0 7 0
1 great copper kettle 2 0 0
1 small kettle 10 0
1 lesser kettle 6 0
1 large frying pan 2 6
1 small frying pan 1 8
1 brass mortar 0 3 0
1 spit 2 0
1 grid iron 1 0
2 skillets 5 0
Platters, dishes and spoons of wood 4 0

The above prices are estimated costs in England and the freight on the same would be reckoned at the rate of half a ton per person.

The vessels which carried the great emigration to New England between 1630 and 1640 were of small tonnage and the passenger accommodations on board were limited in space and barren of creature comforts. Small wonder that the health of many of the first settlers, shaken by the passage at sea, paid toll to the severity of the New England climate—the biting cold of the winter and the heat of the summer days to which they were unaccustomed.

"It was not because the Country was unhealthful, but because their bodies were corrupted with sea-diet, which was naught, their Beefe and Porke being tainted, their Butter and Cheese corrupted, their Fish rotten, and voyage long, by reason of crosse Windes, so that winter approaching before they could get warme houses, and the searching sharpnes of that purer Climate, creeping in at the crannies of their crazed bodies, caused death and sickness."[9]

The ship Talbot, on which Mr. Higginson sailed, brought over one hundred passengers and thirty seamen. She measured nearly[12] eighty-six feet in length and had a depth of hold of eleven feet. By present-day measurement she was about two hundred tons burden. The space between decks, where the passengers slept and spent much time during the dreary voyage, was so low that a tall man could not stand erect, and whenever a severe storm arose, so that the ports and hatches must be kept closed, the air below deck in time must have become intolerable. Such a storm arose when the Talbot was thirty-three days out and "ye wind blew mightily, ye sea roared and ye waves tossed us horribly; besides it was fearfull darke and ye mariners made us afraid with their running here and there and lowd crying one to another to pull at this and yt rope."

These small emigrant ships of the seventeenth century, besides men, women and children, brought over much livestock housed in temporary pens and shelters built amidships. The long boat or pinnace was also carried on board, all of which left little room for movement about the deck. But these three hundred tons ships were traveling palaces when compared with some of the smaller craft that boldly ventured across the Atlantic. Barks, ketches, pinks and other small vessels of less than fifty tons burden were common. In 1635, a "small Norsey bark" of twenty-five tons reached Boston. She was bound for Connecticut, but a stormy voyage had forced her to seek safety in Boston harbor. This vessel, little over thirty feet in length, brought over fourteen passengers, including two women, with their household goods.


[1] Rev. Francis Higginson, New-Englands Plantation, London, 1630.
[2] Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. III, p. 12.
[3] Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. III, p. 6.
[4] Between 1630 and 1643,198 ships brought over 21,200 passengers.—Edward Johnson, Wonder Working Providence, London, 1654.
John Josselyn, coming to New England in 1638, mentions in his journal of the voyage sighting or speaking thirteen vessels between the Scilly Isles and the New England coast.
[5] Anti-scorbutics were very necessary for the long voyage. John Josselyn during his first voyage (1638) writes that a young man, a servant to one of the passengers, "was whipt naked at the Cap-stern, with a Cat with Nine tails, for filching 9 great Lemmons out of the Chirurgeons Cabbin, which he eat rinds and all in less than an hours time."
[6] William Wood, New-Englands Prospect, London, 1634.
[7] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, Boston, 1856.
[8] John Josselyn, Two Voyages to New England, London, 1675.
[9] Wood, New-Englands Prospect, London, 1634.
[10] Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, Vol. I.
[11] Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, Vol. I.
[12] Mourt's Relation, Boston, 1841.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Iron Working in Early New England

A private collector of ironware shares his knowledge and passion with John Fiske From New England Antiques Journal

The rolling and slitting mill. Sixteen-foot water wheels, each with a sluice, turn the upper and lower rollers, which have to rotate in opposite directions. The water wheels can only turn in the same direction, so two huge gears are needed to reverse the rotation of the upper roller.

We don’t usually think of seventeenth-century New England as industrialized. Of course, it wasn’t, but with one exception, and that exception was huge and important: the iron industry. The Hammersmith Iron Works (later known as Saugus) on the Saugus River at Lynn, Massachusetts (1646-1668) was one of the largest industrial complexes in the world.
The works was the brainchild of John Winthrop Jr., the son of the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He had discovered ore deposits in the Boston area, and was encouraged by the Massachusetts government to establish an ironworks as a vital part of its plan to make the Colony as self-sufficient as possible, and, in particular, independent of England and its corruption. In 1641 Winthrop sailed to England to form the Company of Undertakers of Iron Works in New England, to raise the necessary capital from Puritan sympathizers, and to recruit skilled iron workers. The company was granted a monopoly.
After trying, but failing, to establish a works at Braintree, Winthrop was replaced by Richard Leader, who decided that the Saugus River was the ideal spot for his enterprise. At the navigable head of the river, there was a steep enough fall to provide water power. There was ample iron ore in the surrounding bogs, and seemingly limitless timber for fuel.
After its bankruptcy in 1668, the Hammersmith Ironworks fell into decay and all but disappeared. In 1943 local citizens formed an association to recover and restore it. Archeological excavation began in 1948, and by 1954 the site had been restored, the main buildings had been replicated, and the site, now called the Saugus Iron Works, was opened to the public. The collector seated me in a comfortable overstuffed chair before showing me his collection. “You’ve got to have the background,” he said. “You can’t understand iron without it.” He turned his eyes to the ceiling to focus his thoughts. I was taking notes so rapidly that I could do no more than glance at the bits of his collection that surrounded me – a fireplace thickly hung with iron, a hutch table packed with hollowware, a corner cupboard with brass and bronze. There was iron all over the house, in the garage, the basement, just everywhere.

Miniature posnets, probably toys. All with round sprues, thus probably before the 1760s, when the gate sprue became common. The gate sprue was a straight line that was easier to break off than the traditional round sprue. One of them shows the girl’s initials formed by pressing nails into the casting sand.

 Toaster with 11 hearts used for bread or cheese, probably Connecticut, second half of the 18th century. Toasting was a way of preserving bread or cheese to make it last longer. “Did you know that these early iron works were called ‘plantations’?” he asked. “You see, they were like the tobacco plantations in Virginia because they were living-working complexes for as many as 400 people. As well as the iron works, there were cottages for the workers and their families, a plot of land for each family, farm animals and chickens, a church, a one-room schoolhouse (sometimes doubling as the church). blacksmith’s and carpenter’s shops, a pottery, a grist mill, a company store where workers and their families could buy on credit against their future wages (an effective way of binding them to the plantation) and, of course, the iron master’s house overlooking and overseeing the whole complex. It was like a benevolent feudal barony. They liked to keep the iron workers separate from the locals, so an iron works was as far as possible a self-sufficient, self-contained community. A company town, we’d call it today.
“Relationships between the company town and neighboring town weren’t always the best. The iron workers were a hard-working, hard-living bunch of men. Their lives were made up of three things,” he told me. “Working their 12-hour shifts, six-and-a-half days a week; hunting and fishing – their wives and children tended their plots of land – and visiting the town taverns for frolic and jollification of every kind.” His words were tactful, but the collector’s eyes left me in no doubt that what went on under that word “jollification” was much less pretty than the word itself. Disputes, sometimes violent, often sexual, were inevitable.
“Iron workers were a different breed of people and that could cause resentment,” he explained. “To start with, they weren’t Puritans. The skilled workers had been recruited in England and certainly hadn’t come over here for religious reasons. Some 60 of them were Scottish prisoners of war, captured by Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar and sent over against their will. They didn’t like the somber clothes of the Puritans, and ignored the sumptuary laws that dictated the proper mode of dress in the Colony. They didn’t like going to church, and got away with it because the furnaces had to be kept “in blast” 24/7, so the General Council of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had to allow them to operate on the Sabbath.”
Other causes of friction were more substantial. There was competition for fuel. The plantation’s colliers needed huge quantities of wood for the charcoal to fire the furnaces, and the surrounding forests were rapidly denuded of trees. More than 230 acres of hard-won farmland had been flooded by the dam built across the Saugus River to control the flow of water to the plantation’s water wheels. After heavy rain, this could cause more flooding in local fields and thus cause the farmers to lose their crops. Then there was the constant, deafening noise of the trip hammer, the clatter of the bellows and the roar of the furnace. Most of the Puritans had come from agricultural communities, and industrial life was completely alien to them. An iron works was not the best sort of neighbor, particularly if you wanted a contemplative religious life.
Cast iron figural andirons, late 17th/early18th century. The figure wears a “pilgrimish” sort of cap.

Two spiral broilers. The collector has only seen three of this form, and owns them all.

 Food choppers. The exceptional chopper on the left is for cabbage, the circular one is for vegetables in general. Both are from the mid-18th century. The other two are early 19th century, from Vermont.

The early iron ore came from bogs. Using long-handled clam shovels from small boats, workers would dredge these bogs sometimes as deep as 15 feet to obtain the iron-rich mud. Incidentally, the collector told me, most of today’s cranberry bogs in New England and New Jersey were once iron bogs. “Bog iron” was used until the mid-eighteenth century when it was exhausted in New England, and was replaced by ore from mines. The first commercially successful iron mine was dug in Salisbury, Connecticut, in 1731.
The dredged mud, which was 35 to 50 percent iron, was dried by roasting to leave lumps of bog ore. It was critical that all water was expelled, because steam could explode in the furnace, causing immense damage. The lumps of bog ore were then crushed in the stamping mill, along with flux, which was basically a calcium carbonate that helped the production of slag. Slag, the non-ferrous part of the ore, melted first (at about 1300 degrees Celsius) and could be drawn off to leave the pure iron ore. This melted at 1500 degrees, and dripped into a crucible, a sandstone pot about four feet wide and two feet high. The furnace had to be kept “in blast” 24 hours a day, if it cooled, or went “out of blast,” the iron and the slag solidified into a useless “salamander.” This clogged the furnace, and removing it could be difficult. In the worst cases, part of the furnace had to be dismantled and rebuilt.
Once every eight hours or so, the crucible was tapped to allow the molten iron to flow down troughs scraped in the sand floor of the furnace shed. Some of the iron was allowed to cool in cylindrical molds with small channels on either side. The smaller molds, of about 40 pounds, were called “pigs,” and the larger ones, up to 300 pounds, “sows.” From above, the cylinders of cooled iron looked like sows suckling their piglets, hence the names. “Pig iron” cast in this manner was very hard and brittle.
Some of the molten iron was directed to molds shaped in the sand floor to “puddle cast” objects such as firebacks and the uprights of andirons. Other molten iron was carried in ladles to the “flasks,” the two-part wooden or clay molds used for making hollowware in the adjoining casting shed.

Much of this cast iron, however, went through more processing to turn it into wrought iron. First it went to the forge, or “finery,” where it was heated again to get rid of any carbon from the charcoal. It was heated enough to turn it spongy rather than molten, and in this state was called a “loop.” The hot loop was put on an iron plate and hammered with sledge-hammers to expel impurities. It next moved to the trip hammer, or “helve,” a huge, 500-pound, water-powered hammer that pounded it into a square block known as a “bloom” that was, in turn, worked and shaped into an “ancony” that resembled a large dumbbell with square ends. The ancony went to the “chafery” where it was again heated and pounded into wrought iron bars, roughly four feet long, three or four inches wide and an inch or two thick. Wrought iron is softer and more malleable than cast iron, and has a fibrous structure, often clearly visible, that enables it to be bent in a way that cast iron cannot. These wrought iron bars, known as “merchant bars,” were sold all over New England. Blacksmiths used the merchant bars to meet the local demand for everyday items such as broilers and toasters, horse shoes, farming tools, mending iron, or hinges and door latches. These utilitarian objects showed little stylistic variation, so it is often impossible to date them with any precision or to tell which part of New England they came from.

Four flesh forks used for broiling meat. Toasting forks (for bread) are of much lighter gauge iron. The lower two are from the first half of the 18th century, the upper two from the second.
Spatulas and a fork. The upper spatula is initialed “WS” and is dated on the handle “1704” making it one of the earliest known; the lower is dated 1791. The fork is mid-18th century.
About ten percent of the bar iron went to the rolling and slitting mill, one of only 12 in the world. Rollers flattened the iron into plates that could be cut with shears and sold as sheet iron for the manufacture of dishes, tools and utensils. Slitters were disk cutters that cut the plates into strips. One important product of the slitter was nail rod that went to “naileries” for the production of the cut nails that replaced hand-forged rose-head nails late in the eighteenth century. Even before mass-produced cut nails displaced the rose-head, nail rod gave the makers of rose-head nails, often farmers keeping themselves busy in winter, a better product to start with. Nails were not made at Hammersmith: labor costs in England were much lower, so it was more economical to ship the nail rod to England and then bring the nails back to Massachusetts!
By the time I got up from the chair to view the collection, I’d become fully aware that something as basic as iron was the product of a technologically advanced and capital-intensive industrial process. It consumed huge amounts of raw material; bog iron in New England lasted for only about 100 years. Mines solved the problem for a time, but during the eighteenth century, they had to be supplemented by ore imported from Sweden, Scotland, Russia, Spain and elsewhere.
The process also required good water power. The original ironworks needed nine or ten water wheels (Saugus today needs seven) to power all the heavy machinery. There was, of course, a serious drawback to water power in New England: the streams froze in winter, causing the works to shut down for the winter months.
Iron making required a large and varied labor force. At its peak, Saugus employed more than 170 men. The cocks of the roost were the 35 to 50 highly skilled workers who operated the furnaces, foundries and forges. Supporting them were wood cutters, colliers, teamsters and boatmen, carpenters, molders (who made the two-piece molds for hollowware), and laborers. Lower in the hierarchy were the women. With the help of the children, they kept house, tended the animals and grew the vegetables, and sometimes worked at the least skilled jobs in the iron works – smoothing and cleaning rough castings and so on. Perhaps Hammersmith was too big for its own good; its debts piled up and its investors did not get the returns they’d hoped for. But there was a silver lining to its closure; its skilled workers spread across New England and into New Jersey taking their skills with them, thus establishing the iron industry that was to become one of the powerhouses of American wealth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Saugus Iron Works is open every day except major holidays. Entrance is free. For more details call (781) 233-0050, or visit Our thanks to Curtis White, Chief Interpreter at the site.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Puritan Hair - Massachusetts

Ipswich Chronicle May 2, 2013

Back in the day, head fashion became a hairy scene in the Mass Bay colony. The magistrates launched an aggressive campaign on the matter, and several ministers “wigged” out in sermons, using Biblical references to shame their flock. This focus on fancy fashion and kinky hairdos was not taken lightly by the Puritans. Social order and convention were necessary for survival, and individual expression or adornment was considered a sin and a crime.

A “Roundhead” man with closely cropped hair was safe and godly. The General Court in 1634 issued “a burning theme of pulpit address” stating long hair “should by no means lie over band or doublet collar.” No proper Christian man would want to look like a “ruffian, varlet, and a vagabond.”

Governor Endicott imposed legal pressure to submit to a balding lifestyle: long hair was “uncivil and unmannerly” and “corrupts good manners.” Punishment would certainly be issued if hair was not cut to a civil frame.

Harvard College became an evil fortress in regards to shagging. The youth were cited for provoking evil with their long hair, even in the “pulpits to the great grief and fear of many Godly hearts in the Country.” Clearly, the stakes were high, and long hair became a penal offense. Rev. Rogers’s nephew Ezekiel, who attended the college, was cut out as sole heir of his estate for not trimming his mane.

Newcomers to the colony were warned about all things abominable. On board the Fame, Henry Vane and Lord Leigh cut off their lovely locks in preparation. Rev. John Cotton commended them for honoring God by shortening their hair, which demonstrated a “complete reformation by bringing it to the primitive length and form.”

Apparently the community of Ipswich did not take the hair policy very seriously. In 1651, a citation records “intolerable excess and bravery for bold apparel and head dress.” Puritan women were targeted for their puffed-up hairdos. 

However, they were willing to pay a high price for fashion. Several trunks landed in town, supplying all sorts of illegal garb and headdress, including combs, ribbons, scarfs, and other contraband. In 1679, records again note the “manifest pride openly appearing among us by some women wearing boarders.” These women were no doubt sporting “heartbreakers,” which set out like butterfly wings over their ears.

The proper hair attire for women was a neat bun and cap, called a “cornet,” or “Dutch coif.” 

Any mischievous locks or flirty curls were a sure sign of evil, a “wile of the devil.” In April of 1682, warrants were issued against young local girls for "folding their hair, frizzing and knots, and for wearing silk scarves." A total of eight girls, two of them servants, were arrested and made to crop their sultry, sinful styles.

A sermon by Increase Mather served up a stern message to these femme fatales, calling them “Apes of Fancy.” His disapproving words rang out from the pulpit: “Will not the haughty daughters of Zion refrain their pride in apparel? Will they lay out their hair, and wear their false locks, their borders, and towers like comets about their heads?” This reference was to a hair accessory known as a “commode,” a wire lace frill that kept the hair erect when attached to a smaller cap.

The wearing of wigs was a sin as well, and Samuel Sewall was in knots over the issue. His diary notes a visit to cousin Josiah Willard, inquiring about his wicked wig. He informed him that artificial hair was against the laws of God; God ordained our hair, and we are not to put that in question. Regardless, Willard liked his new look and made it clear he would not give it up.

In Sewall’s instance, God chose to leave him hairless. His courtship with Madame Winthrop parted ways when she could not entice him to cover his cold head with more than a velvet cap. She suggested enhancing his wooing charms by paying more attention to his own appearance, which included wearing a wig like his competition. However, Sewall was content with God’s design and rested that his Maker would send him another dame.

In their attempts to control every aspect of daily life, the Puritans were concerned with all modes of personal appearance and clothing choice. The Puritan fashion police would certainly have a field day with the outrageous hair styles seen these days. Surely Lady Gaga would easily earn herself 50 lashings and a day in the stocks for each of her crazy hair contraptions.