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The highly profitable wheat fell to the scythe at The Bower where young tall, wiry Adam Stephen Dandridge took place in the line along with enslaved African-Americans John Pinco and “Levin.” – (1) (2).
Harvest crews helped from farm-to-farm.
If the neighbors had not finished their harvest, the force was allowed to go and help them out, receiving for themselves the usual wages. In all
the fields of corn, the outside rows were planted in a broomcorn for the Negroes’ use and they spent the long winter evenings in making brooms, baskets, hampers and split-bottom chairs all of which found a ready sale in the country stores. The chairs were of all sizes from the large porch chairs down to low, sewing chairs and chairs for children. They managed to make them very comfortable and they were substantial and lasted a lifetime. – (3).
The “cultural Congressman,” Alexander Boteler may have not been on the crew but the young men born of Philip and Hannah Thornton swung their scythes in unison at Fountain Rock farm near Shepherdstown
and when possible were part of Hugh Nelson Pendleton’s crew, farm and home at Westwood in the southern end of the County, even after ten of the African-American Thorntons in Jefferson County, opted, with support, to take passage on the barque “Cora” in May, 1855 and they sailed to Cape Palmas, Liberia Africa to start anew. – (4) (5).
Wheat was coming off Edmund and Henrietta Lee’s Oak Hill Farm on the Philadelphia Waggon Road opposite and to the immediate west of Boteler’s Fountain Rock, relying on Nace and others to harvest and get the shocks of wheat in to the barn.
September would bring more indoor work for the County’s farms.
In September, the cloth and yarn for winter work were brought home from the factory along the river and the work of making up began and was only finished at Christmas.
In every household there was a woman who could cut out the garments and all the younger girls had been taught how to sew and knit. During the year, all the girls in clean frocks assembled in some room in the great house every morning and the class of sewers and knitters was presided over by some bespectacled old Negro woman whose word was law to the girls. The work of making up the clothing and knitting yarn socks went on under her supervision, and at Christmas every man and woman on the place appeared in new clothes and new shoes and warm woolen stockings.
Every man had an overcoat every four years and a flannel hack jacket called by the Negroes the “warmus” to wear under his waistcoat in cold weather.
Tobacco was issued to each worker once a week. Sometimes it was bought in kegs of about 100 pounds and was called black-strap and one strap, sometimes two, was the ration. Some people chewed it and some of them smoked in their corncob pipes. This was before the days of fertilizers when tobacco was raised on virgin soil. Every year a farmer would clear a small patch of ground sufficient for the wants of his farm and plant it in tobacco. The fragrance of the Negroes’ corncob pipe was notorious and was due to the fact that no fertilizer had been used in growing his tobacco. – (6).
1. Serena K. Dandridge undated letter, Dandridge Collection, Duke University.
2. Adam Stephen Dandridge Account Books, Jefferson County Museum.
3. A. R. H. Ranson. “Reminiscences of a Civil War Staff Officer By A Confederate Staff Officer, First Paper: Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War.” The Sewanee Review. Vol. 21, No. (4 Oct. 1913), pp. 428-447.
4. Helen Boteler Pendleton, “A Nineteenth Century Romantic” The Shepherdstown Register, December 21, 1933.
5. Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Volume LXXV December 2011. “Jefferson County to Liberia: Emigrants, Emancipators, and Facilitators.” by Jane Ailes and Marie Tyler-McGraw pp. 43-76.
6. A. R. H. Ranson. “Reminiscences of a Civil War Staff Officer By A Confederate Staff Officer, First Paper: Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War.” The Sewanee Review. Vol. 21, No. (4 Oct. 1913), pp. 428-447.