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:
Then we move forward to 1773 in Wilmington, North Carolina
|"North Carolina Gazette", September 22, 1773|
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|