Monday, May 27, 2019

Seeking out worldly goods

In this day and age, historical diaries and documents are becoming available through online archives and university collections.  I stumbled across this diary a year or so ago and found some amazing items being purchased for the men and women of the "backcountry" of North Carolina.   

When I began interested in researching inventories of North Carolina residents and noting the wealth of goods and textiles of these women a friend of mine recommended this book.  "Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia" by Ann Smart Martin.  I highly recommend that you get a copy to read.  It is a great resource of information and sheds light into the consumerism of the 18th century.

Granted there is no book to describe the consumerism of North Carolina settlers, the diary of William Sample Alexander of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina 1770-1778 provides us with one example to the trading that was going up and down the wagon road from Charlotte to Philadelphia and also from Charlotte to Charleston.   People were finding ways to seek out worldly goods from the ports of Charleston, Wilmington (NC) and Philadelphia.   Granted not everyone was able to purchase worldly goods but to say everyone in the "backcountry" wove their own fabric, were barefoot and wore the simplest of clothing is simply not true.  They wanted to be just as fashionable as everyone else and consumerism is very apparent in this diary.  

As we continue to update our research and with the accessibility of online collections hopefully this research will help debunk the myths going around in the re-enacting communities as well as in the house museum field that settlers in the backcountry did not wear the latest fashions or had access to worldly goods.   It just simply isn't true and this diary along with other resources such as inventories and estate files should help debunk these myths.

[Reference to clothing and textiles to be purchased in Chester County, PA], in the William Sample Alexander Diary #1504-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.William Sample Alexander diary

Scan # 4 in the William Sample Alexander Diary approximately 1770
As we see on the first page the grocery list of items he has been requested to "fetch" for his family on his trip North.

"Memorandom of things to fetch for the family"

  • Blue Sagathy for one suit of clothes
  • 1 piece of 4(pound symbol above it?) linen
  • 3 pairs of silver buckles
  • 1 rain good writing paper
  • 1 doz linen handkerchiefs
  • white persian red lining  (bonnets)
  • black tafety with trimmings (bonnets)
  • 1 yd cambrick
  • 1/2 yd lawn
  • 2 calf skins (illegible)
  • check silk handkerchief

The bonnets is what struck me as "wow!"  Those are fashionable bonnets and the textile items such as cambric, lawn are probably to be used to make caps, aprons and other items.

The next page continues for items for the family and for neighbors

Scan # 5 William Sample Alexander Diary

"2 case bottle full rum 1/2 gallon each"red durant for 2 petticoats
3 bibles
2 pairs mens stockings thread & cotten
1 dozen knifes and forks
1 pair black silk mitts
1lb. pepper, 1 lb alspice,1 lb ginger
2oz nutmeg 4 lbs coffee"

Red durant for petticoats and black silk mitts.  Swanky!  Also note the spices and coffee.  

For Sally Thomson: "9 yds pale blue calimanco, 2  1/4 yds cambrick, brown sattin bonnet white lineing and trimmings made at uncle (illegible).  1 1/2 yds of fine holland, womans riding whip horn handle silver & fashionable (illegible) mounted.

For Nancy Graham
1 barcelona handkerchief black

For Mr. Avery
1 calf skin
item crossed out

For Jean Semple - received 1 pound light
11 yds crape black and blue
1 yd black ell wide persian
3 yds black ferritan
1 yd canvas
3 knifes and forks
1 pair black gloves

For Wm Alexander Smith
20 lbs ground red wood received in cash 1 dollar

Here we see request for 3 1/2 yards of blue hair plush, 7 1/2 yds fringe and other items for James Wilson. 

Both items are from Scan #16 William  Sample Alexander Diary

While Abraham Alexander asks for 3 pairs stockings to wove in Philadelphia and one the rest to be wove in mits.  Received 3 shillings. 

Woven mitts?  You decide.

Scan #17 William Sample Alexander Diary

This is the final list of items to be purchased for friends and family.

It is noted that from Sally Thomson he recieved 1 half Joe and 7 shillings in racoons (pelts).

Jno. McKnitt
1 brass kettle hold 32 gallons
1 large ivory fan

For John Allen
1 pair womens shoes white or blue damask - 9 inches and 3/4 long so wide as to receive my hand to with my fingers to the toe.

For black ---- one pattern for gown red and white calico, 2 silk handkerchiefs, 2 black 1 check.  
What is interesting about this entry is that the pattern for the gown in red & white calico was marked out.

Skipping down to the bottom: Robert Donnal light colored Sagathy for Coat and Jacket with trimmings.

Scan #49 William Sample Alexander Diary

Here we see the invoices for the items purchased on the trip.  These pages clarify what was requested since his original list was very cluttered.  
Sarah/Sally Thomson

9 yds caliminco
1/4 yd cambrick
1 bonnet ~ this was a brown sattin bonnet with white lining.
1 cap
1 paper box
1 hair pin
 1 1/2 yd holland
1 womans whip

Nancy Grams
1 silk handkerchief - black barcelona

Jean Semple
11 yds Crape (blue & black)
1 yd canvas
1/2 set knives & forks
1 pair silk mitts - originally listed as 1 pr black gloves

Scan # 49 William Sample Alexander Diary

Jas. Wilson 
3 1/2 yds plush (blue)
7 1/2 yds fringe

Jno. McKnitt Alexander: 1 brass kettle (which was to hold 32 gallons) and 1 fan

Widow Edminson
4 1/2 yds Durant at 3/2 per yard = 0: 12:6
I am guessing this was the red durant for 2 petticoats.

Widow Sharp
1 yard persian
3 yds of black ribbon

Scan # 51 William Sample Alexander Diary

This page clarifies the possible woven mitts for Abraham Alexander.

2 pair stockings to be wove, 1 pair mens cotton and linen the other womens all cotton for Elizabeth.  1 dollar worth credit? received 2 dollars.

For widow Edminson 1 pair stockings for John, cotten and linen received 5 shillings

For Isaac Alexander 7 pairs of stockings to be wove
Received 40 shillings.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Run Away Girl

Runaway advertisements have become a staple for people researching 18th century material culture.  The digital age has helped us researchers learn more about those who were considered property whether as enslaved persons of color, indentured servants or convict servants and the clothing they were wearing.  

The first book to really spark my interest was "Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls" by Don N. Haigst.  It is a great resource for material culture.  However, there is only 1 runaway advertisement for North Carolina mentioned.

Unfortunately, the newspapers are limited in North Carolina.  Granted we have some printed as early as 1751 but the editions are sparse.  Lots of missing years and it makes it hard when doing research.  You tend to get jealous at the newspapers like up in PA, MD and VA where there are TONS of references to runaways.  I only have THREE runaway ads from 1757-1775  for North Carolina, 2 in NC newspapers and 1 from a VA newspaper.  However, those three give us a glimpse of what the women were wearing and the fashions of the day.

"North Carolina Gazette" April 15, 1757

"Ran away from the Subscriber in Newbern, an Irish Servant Woman named MARY LAMBERT, a short, lusty, full faced Woman, very fresh complexion, wears her hair down behind, which is very black, and curls handsomely, had a Blemish in one of her Eyes.  Had on a check'd Woolen petticoat, Callicoe gown, red stockings, and a pair of old Calimancoe shoes.  She took with her a dark color'd Callicoe gown, white Sattin hat, with red ribbon, a plain Lawn apron and other good Cloths.  Whoever brings the said servant to me in Newbern, shall have Forty Shillings Reward.        James Davis"

The first thing that struck my attention was her check'd woolen petticoat.  We don't see that very often in runaway ads or listed in inventories.  I am sure it was a nice warm alternative to a quilted petticoat.  

Then the listing of 2 types of callico.  I wonder if her Callicoe gown that she ranway in was a white callico while she took with her a "dark color'd" callicoe gown.     

And then the white sattin hat with red ribbon.  I wonder if the hat looked like the one is this image: 

Catherine, Lady Chambers, 1756 - Joshua Reynolds
Circa 1750s

Then we move forward to 1773 in Wilmington, North Carolina
"North Carolina Gazette", September 22, 1773
"Three Pounds Rewand [sic]
Indented Servant Girl named MARY KELLY  lately from Ireland, but says she has lived 14 years in London; is about 18 or 20 years of age, five feet six or eight inches high, stoops in her walking, fair complexion and redish hair; had on when she went away a little round man's hat, green petticoat and black stuff shoes; took with her, two striped blew [sic] and white cotton, and one calico red flowers, short gowns, and 6 yards of dark colored calico not made up.  Whoever takes up the said run-away servant, and secures her in any of his Majesty's Gaols so that she may be had again, shall be intitled [sic] to the above reward, and if brought home all reasonable charges paid by me.

at the Sign of the Harp & Crown in Wilmington.  September 13, 1773"

Her green petticoat is interesting - wonder what color green it was?   Goose turd green, pea green but nonetheless it is green and striking enough to be noticed.

1770s is when we see short gowns make an appearance in North Carolina.  The estate of Ann Carter of Onslow County contained 4 short gowns.  Other inventories in the 1770s and early 1780s also list short gowns.

Janet Schaw describes them as a hot weather garment, "The heat daily increases, as do the Musquetoes, the bugs and the ticks. The curtains of our beds are now supplied by Musquetoes' nets. Fanny has got a neat or rather elegant dressing room, the settees of which are canopied over with green gauze, and on these we lie panting for breath and air, dressed in a single muslin petticoat and short gown.” (Journal of Janet Schaw, 1774-1776; in this entry, she is in Point Pleasant, North Carolina)

 It seems that Mary Kelly had 3 short gowns, two blue and white striped cotton and one calico with red flowers.   We see white ground with red flower callicoes in the 1770-1780s.
Colonial Williamsburg has several white callicoes with red flowers.  I wonder if this is what it looked like: 

Red Flower Calico

Then we have our final runaway ad.   She is a North Carolina runaway enslaved woman but it is posted in a Virginia newspaper.  It makes sense since Edenton is close to the tidewater region of Virginia. 

"Rind's Virginia Gazette" June 22 1775

"Run away from Edenton, in North Carolina, on the 27th of April last, a negro named ROAD, about 28 years of age.  She was born in New England, and speaks in that dialect has remarkable thick lips, wears her hair combed over a large roll, and affects gaiety in dress.  She had on, and took with her, a homespun striped jacket, a red quilted petticoat, a black silk hat, a pair of leather shoes, with wooden heals [sic], a chintz gown, and a black cloak.  She is supposed to have forged a pass, and may endeavor to pass as a free woman, and change her clothes and name.  Whoever will take up the said wench, and return her to the subscriber, or to Joseph Blunt, esquire of Edenton, or to Keder Merchant, esquire, of Currituck, or secure her in any of the majesty's gaols, and notify the owner,shall receive FORTY SHILLINGS reward and reasonable charges by  JOSIAH HALL"

Coming from Edenton, I wonder if she witnessed the 1774 Edenton Tea Party since Penelope Barker's maiden name is Blunt.   Also there were many residents of Edenton who settled there from New England, so one can speculate that she was brought down as a teenager since she speaks in "that dialect."  An upper class family no doubt owned her based off her wardrobe.  She wears a homespun striped jacket and red quilted petticoat and a black silk hat.  She wears her hair in the latest style with the front roll and she took a chintz gown and a black cloak.  The cloak I wonder was it a capuchin or cardinal?

If you are wondering if one is worth more than the other in reward money well,  yes and no.   Mary Lambert and Road were worth the same amount.  40 shillings = 2 pounds.  While Mary Kelly was worth 3 pounds.  Maybe because she was younger?  Who knows.  And if you are wondering about the conversion for currency well....

12 pence = 1 shilling
20 shillings = 1 pound

These three women escaped their owners and I hope to live better lives.  By running away, and their owners posting in the newspapers descriptions of them and their clothing - they provide us a glimpse into their lives of those who lived in North Carolina during the 18th century.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Dreary Days of Winter

The roller coaster weather here lately makes it hard to plan what to pack for an upcoming event.  Will a linen gown be suffice or should I pack my new mixed indigo blue worsted gown that I made?  This mixed indigo is from Burnley & Trowbridge.  I loved how it draped and it has a nice light but warm feel to it. 

So, looking at the inventories, what was available for women to stay warm on these damp and cool days.  There was a variety of textile available for women to make gowns out of during the 18th century.  Callimanco, Duroy, Crape, Camblet, Stuff, Saggathy, Grazet and Worsted are all mentioned in the estates of women in North Carolina as a textile for gowns.

Mary Stubbs in 1738 listed a callimanco gown among others in her inventory.  The Dreamstress has a great article about what exactly is callimanco.   Callimanco is defined as "a worsted 'stuff' . . . [with]a fine gloss upon it.  Callimancos are of all colours, . . .some are quite plain, and other have broad stripes, adorned with flowers, some with plain broad stripes, some with narrow stripes, and other watered. (Montgomery, 185).  Unfortunately, there are no vendors currently carrying callimanco in their stores.  Maybe that will change.

Then we come across the textile Duroy in the inventories of Mary Glouster/Glaister in 1740 and in Elizabeth Montague's 1756 inventory.  Note both of these ladies were early Quaker settlers in the northeast portion of North Carolina.  Duroy is a "lightweight worsted material generally used for men's clothing." (Montgomery, 230).  However in the case of Elizabeth Montague, she specifically said for duroy to be purchased from her estate to make the gown.  
"Item.  I give to Naomy Newby wife of James Newby, Duroys for a gound to be bought from my Estate."
Elizabeth Montague's will 1756, Perquimans County, North Carolina

Crape gowns are mentioned in three inventories: Elisebeth Handcock (1743 Craven County); Alice Whitehead  (1743 Craven County); and Elizabeth Montague (1756 Perquimans County).  Crape is defined as " a light transparent stuff, in the manner of gauze, made of raw silk, gummed and twisted on the mill; wove without crossing and much used in mourning."  Other crapes were made of worsted and sometimes mixed with silk. (Montgomery, 207).  I am guessing these three are the worsted types since they do not list them as "silk crape" like in the inventory of Lawrence Mague (1740 Bertie County) that lists a silk crape gown and coat. (probably his late wife's.)

Imported good from Samuel Cornell in Newbern, NC 1764.   "The Newbern Gazette" 02 November, 1764 (

Camblet gown is listed in Anne Pollard (1750 New Hanover County).  Camblet example from Burnley & Trowbridge.  I actually have a bedgown completed and a gown cut out to be made from their Camblet.  Camblet was very popular for clothing during this time.  Numerous runaway advertisements in newspapers list camblet or camlet gowns being worn all up and down the East Coast.  We also see camblet imported and sold in North Carolina at the store of Samuel Cornell of New Bern, NC.  

Margaret Prichett bequeathed a stuff gown to her "grand daughter Margaret Prichett"  Interestingly enough, this gown is absent from another version of the will.  No color description of the gown but nonetheless, a woolen gown can be very warm on a damp winter day.

Will of Margaret Prichett (1756 - Beaufort County)

Inventory of Rachel Hill (1763 Carteret County)

The inventory of Rachel Hill is very interesting on several levels.  Of her six gowns she has in her estate, two are of a woolen material.  "Saggethe" and "Grapset".   

Saggathy is listed as "a slight woolen stuff of twill weave, a kind of serge or ratten sometimes mixed with a little silk." (Montgomery, 337)  As you notice in the list of imported goods in Samuel Cornell's store, saggathie is listed.  I have seen other references to saggathy in North Carolina.  

Grapset or Grazet is similar material. Grazet can be found as early as 1732 in Pennsylvania.  What is interesting about Rachel's inventory is that there is a gown, petticoat and a bonnet all made from grazet. 

And then we round out the list of woolen gowns with Ann Eborn's estate in 1769 of a "worsted gown"

So when you are trying to decide on if a woolen gown is appropriate in the south, the answer is yes.  If you notice that all of these textiles are considered a "lightweight" and not a heavy wool like say serge, broadcloth or etc.  I don't think you could make a gown out of something of a heavy material.  Plus living and working on the water, there are many days that the temperatures are 10-15 degrees cooler than up in "town."   Even in the late spring, you could still comfortably wear a woolen gown based off of experimental archaeology.   Have a great weekend!


Textiles in America, 1650-1870A Dictionary Based on Original Documents, Prints and Paintings, Commercial Records, American Merchant's Papers, Shopkeepers' Advertisements, and Pattern Books with Original Swatches of Cloth by Florence Montgomery.

If you don't have this book - I highly recommend getting a copy somehow.  It is the bible of historical textiles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Art of Deciphering Historical Handwriting

Inventory of Mary Morris Pasquotank County, North Carolina
April 5th 1746

Cursive writing......for most historians, we can read and write it.   But before too long, there might be a generation of historians who will not understand or know how to read cursive handwriting.   I hope it does not become an lost art among historians and or the general public.

My first experience reading historical cursive writing was probably when I began helping my parents do genealogy research and looking at census records. (Yeah, I am nerd.)   Then off to college and began my journey in the Historic Preservation field where our "Intro to Local and Public History" aka HST 200 with Mr. Bob White.  This class weeded out those who would continue in the program.  We had to complete 3 projects that semester.  The one that sticks out the most was "find your dead person" in historical records.  So basically we were given a name of a resident in Cape Girardeau County prior to 1860 and we had to find all the primary historical records we could about him/her and then write a tour script for their "historical house."  This was way before the digital age, so we had to go to the courthouse and look up probate, wills, land transfer and estate records and then look on microfilm any census records.  Needless too say, I learned my mad research skills from that class.  Thanks Mr. White!!!!!!!

Deciphering historical cursive handwriting can be a challenge and even more so when the handwriting looks like chicken scratch and there are holes and tears in the paper such like the example of the one shown below.

Inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Winslow,  Pasquotank County, North Carolina

There is also an art to deciphering what is been listed in the inventories.  Sometimes the administrator of the estate would write phonetically the articles of the inventory such as shows = shoes; jackgert/jackcoat = jacket; bunnet/bonett= bonnet; calyco = calico; pear= pair; sail=sale, fols = false, chex/chequex/check'd/check't = check; hude/hud = hood; shuebuckels = shoe buckles; cloke/cloake = cloak; linning = linen and etc.

Also terminology of clothing helps us understand what we are looking for:

18th century spelling/terminology = modern equivalent

Gound = gown
coats/pettecoats/pettycoats/petitcote = petticoats
pair of boddies/bodyes = stays
smocks = shift
sack & coat = French style gown and matching petticoat
quilts/ quilt coat = quilted petticoat

Rebecca Eborn sale of estate 1758
Hyde County, North Carolina

1 Garlick Shift
1 checked apron
1 checkered Bonit & Jacket
1 Calleco Gound
1 payr blue stockings
1 striped pettey coute
1 striped gound
1 chamber pott
1 ladel wooding
1 red clock
1 payr cambrick pinnors
1 blue silk bunit

So we decipher that there is:
1 garlix shift
1 check apron
1 check bonnet & jacket
1 calico gown
1 pair of blue stockings
1 striped petticoat
1 striped gown
1 chamber pot
1 wood ladle
1 red cloak
1 pr cambrick pinners
1 blue silk bonnet

What I like about Rebecca Eborn's inventory - she has both a blue silk bonnet and a check'd bonnet.  She is the first to have a check'd bonnet listed but it is not the only one that I find.  There is a calico bonnet listed earlier in 1753.  However, it does fall in line with other linen bonnets and or check'd bonnet.  I plan to go into more detail about bonnets in North Carolina for a future article.

Hannah Hay inventory: Carteret County, NC 1777

Hannah Hay's inventory shows us that in many cases they mix in other items amongst the clothing. So you have to pay attention because you think you have everything and then they throw an item towards the bottom.  Her inventory listed the following:

5 gowns, 4 silk handkerchiefs, 2 linen, 1 cotton ditto, 3 pettycoats, 2 jackets, 4 aprons, 3 hoods, 17 caps (yep, you read that right 17 caps!); 11 ribbons, 2 yds of white linen, 3 mantles, 1 iron trammel, 1 pr of pot hooks, 1 earthen porringer, some wool, 1 shoe hammer, 3 spoons, 2 gold rings, 3 sugar boxes, 1 looking glass, 3 hats, 2 bonnets, 1 glass salt seler[?], half bunch of tape, 1 silver buckle, 3 shifts, a few saddle nails and buckles, 3 prs of silver sleeve buttons, 43 rows of pins, 8 awls, 4 [unknown] half scaine of white thread, 3 stomachers.

 As you can see just from these two examples, sometimes they list the type of material/textile of the garment, sometimes they don't.  It doesn't deter or lessen the information.  It still provides us a number of garments or other items such as shoes, stockings, shifts and etc., that the woman owned.

I began a spreadsheet to breakout what I have found among women's inventories/wills and estate sales.  Here is my list of items:

short gowns
bed gowns
Suite of clothes
wrappers/night rales
pr of stays
pr of stockings
pr of shoes
pr of gloves
prs of ruffles
prs of pockets
sleeve buttons
gold rings/jewelry
shoe buckles

Again, I am still new to this blogging thing.  So if there is anything special you want to know more about (ie., types of bonnets, textiles, gowns, shoes, stockings and etc.) let me know.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Geography of the Old North State


As a transplanted Midwestern to North Carolina, I have learned over the past 20 years about the geography and history of the "Old North State".   Here is a link about the settlement of this state and it can go into more detail than I wish to delve into on this blog.  Colonial Settlement in NC
Early settlement and map showing the boundaries for coastal counties in NC

I also had to learn about the history of the state to understand where the $$$ was for estates and such.  The coastal counties definitely had the money.   Trade in the ports brought the money.  Tucked away in the Northeast part of the state is - Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Currituck, Bertie, Beaufort and Tyrell were the earliest to be settled.  Chowan and Pasquotank county folks had lots of nice things.   Of all of the estates, inventories and wills that I have examined - Pasquotank county led the way 82 women of which 18 had clothing listed in their inventory. Chowan county was second for that region with 45 women had estates of which 7 included clothing. 

Head down the coast and you have Craven, Onslow and New Hanover Counties.  I live in New Hanover County by the way.  I began my initial research for inventories in New Hanover County just to learn more about the women who lived here.  Today the county is much smaller than what it was in the 1700s.  Brunswick and Pender Counties were carved from it.  They moved the Royal Governor's house from Brunswick Town/Cape Fear to New Bern (Craven County).  Craven county was 2nd in the list of women's inventories/wills with 14 inventories listing clothing.

Map of North Carolina counties 1760

Inland counties not so much.  Counties were carved up and divided up so sometimes the records get lost.  There was a big expansion of counties from 1775-1780.  Another reason, the American Civil War happened and courthouse records were destroyed. [No negative comments please].  However, there are records and diaries available to show us that trade was happening down the Great Wagon road from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.  People were traveling to Philadelphia to purchase items including clothing, accessories (bonnets, shoes & etc.) and textiles to make clothing.
A map listing the counties in North Carolina 1775

So far I have as of today 19 February 2019:

Beaufort - 1
Bertie - 9
Burke - 1
Carteret - 3
Chowan - 7
Craven - 14
Cumberland - 1
Duplin - 3
Edgecombe- 1
Hyde - 3
Mecklenburg - 4
New Hanover - 8
Onslow - 3
Pasquotank - 18
Perquimans - 3
Tyrell - 1

For a total of  82 inventories & wills of women's clothing.  Some are husband and wife estates that are combined, some are of husband's estates who bequeath clothing to their daughters.  There is more to explore that is for sure and this may not seem like a whole lot but it is a awesome start.  Granted there are some inventories listed before 1738 and after 1783, but as re-enactors/living historians - the bulk of impressions are for either F&I (French & Indian War 1754-1763) or the American War for Independence (1775-1783). 

Also looking at estates from the 1770s-1780s, it would seem that clothing was not considered as much of a commodity or valued as much as in the earlier inventories.  In many cases, "a parcel of women's clothing" or a "trunk of old clothes" would be listed in these later inventories.  Frustrating for researchers but it shows the trend of mercantilism. Ready made clothing was available to people and so it makes sense that clothing was not considered valuable unless it was of personal sentiment.  It also tends to debunk the mentality that women only wore homespun.  Yes, homespun or country cloth was available and made into clothing but 9 out of 10 times, the gowns are made of textiles such as chintz, linen, calico, worsted and etc., that could be purchased at a store or even ready made.  There are numerous inventories of store keepers and also invoices and ledgers of businessmen who were purchasing ready made gowns, accessories like cloaks, mantlets, stockings, shoes, and etc. from Scotland and England to import into North Carolina.  So thus the cut off at 1783, granted I have a few inventories for the mid 1780s that shed some light on the changing fashions and those could be discussed later on.


Down the Rabbit Hole of Research

Ann Eborn 1769 Hyde County, North Carolina

When I began researching for women's inventories, I came across the estate of Ann Eborn from Hyde County, North Carolina.  She was one of hundreds that I found with her estate listing only a few clothing items.   Her estate sale was held on the 20th Day of April 1770. 

2 bonets[sic] - sold at 2s 4d
 To hollon [Holland] a remment 5s 4d
1 handkicef [sic] } sold for 5s
1 par of ruffles 
1 apron - sold for 5s 4d

Honestly I was like.....that's all?  No will?  No complete inventory of her estate? Just a record of the sale of her estate and very little in the way of clothing.....ugh.   I gave up on any more information.

Well, here recently I began looking for wills and sales records  of women estates in the various counties in NC.  It would seem that some counties kept a register of wills, inventories and sales in a different volume. While scrolling through "Wills, Inventories and Sales of Hyde County Volume 1 part 1-2 1765-1794" - I found Ann Eborn's will and her true inventory along with some other women.  I did a little happy dance when I found this information. 

Will of Ann Eborn
Hyde County, NC 20th Day of December 1769 - January 1770 Term
" Hyde County Wills, Inventories, Sales Volume 1, Part 1-2", page 32

Close up of the bequeath of clothing
"I give and bequeath to Tina Slade one Quilt paired item, I give Luorase Fortque one Quilt item, I give to Mathew Taylor one Stript Cotten Gound [sic] and pare of Leather Gloves.  I give Dorcas Bell one black Gound [sic], I give Prudens Slade one Worsted Gown [sic].

So one can only imagine what the striped cotton gown looked like.  I would love to know what the black gown was made of and what color the worsted gown was.......The quilts are they bed quilts or quilted petticoats?  Well, the inventory of her estate explains a little more.

"An Inventory of the Goods and Chattles of Ann Eborn late Deceas'd taken by Mr. Edward McSwain December 28th 1769"
2 Quilts [quilted petticoats?]
3 gowns, 1 Scarlet Cloke [sic]
1 Satten hat
1 pair of leather gloves
2 caps
1 handkerchief
2 white aprons
2 callico bonnets
2 remnents of Cambrick

2nd column

1 quarter yard of holland
1 pair of ruffles 2 chunk bottles
1 check apron 2 earthen cups

Needless to say - this inventory along her will explains what types of textiles were used for the gowns and bonnets.   Calico bonnets.  Are they printed calico, white calico ?  They fall in line with other bonnets that I have found in women's estates in coastal counties in NC of the era.  That is for another blog article.  

So, never give up.  Always keep searching and you never know what you may find.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jumping feet first

Well, here I go.  Blogging.  Hm.  Let's see how this goes.

Some of you know me as a historian/researcher/re-enactor.  Some of your may not know me.  Well here I am.

What spurred my interest in researching women's material culture in the 18th century was after I read   a post that folks down South don't appreciate nor take the time to research material culture like those up North. a transplanted southerner, I took offense and dove into the research pool so to speak.

For the past few years I have been collecting historical documentation about women's clothing in North Carolina.  Combing over women's inventories, wills and other historical documents, and what I am finding is pretty darn cool.   Women had expensive clothing, they had poor clothing, they had everything in between.  They also listed textiles as a commodity in their estates.  They also had jewelry and other accessories like bonnets, hats, cloakes, hoods, ribbons and etc.

Also looking at the inventories of store keepers and invoices of imported goods allows us to understand and debunk any of the myths as well that seem to float around in the historical community.

With the support of my friends and fellow historians including KittyCalash, I am blogging.  I wanted to do something along the lines of academia or presenting amongst the historical clothing community.  Maybe the blog will help me get noticed.  Maybe, maybe not.  But I want to share the knowledge that I have been finding. we go!