Posts Tagged With: history

A Diversion

So I have this Monk’s Belt on the inkle loom. I am hating it. I don’t enjoy weaving it. I am trying to make myself just take it off and start over. Hasn’t happened yet. I so hate wasting yarn. It is bad enough to add loom waste to my big jar, but to just cut off so much which will be totally useless is hard to do. I am trying to at least use up the weft on the shuttle and then say I will cut it of. But as much as I’m not touching it, I probably should just chuck it.

But a diversion today. we finally took our anniversary trip a month late. First date we could get tickets for the train ride from Georgetown to Burnet with the Austin Steam Train Association. Actually, I think it was good that we had to wait this long as the bluebonnets have pretty much faded away and so it is not so crowded and they don’t need so many cars for all the people.

Waiting in Georgetown to board

Waiting in Georgetown to board

We got tickets for the adults only Rippling Stream. It was the last car of the train and you could only be in it if you had a ticket for that car. So no through traffic. We of course could walk through the others and up to the concession car near the front. Though with our tickets came some treats and drinks in our car.

A view of our car in Burnet

A view of our car in Burnet

The third window above was where our wonderfully comfortable seats and table were. It was for three people but only us two were at it. Mark got to stretch out. We could even stand off the back as we traveled which was a lot of fun.

On the back of our car, Rippling Stream, watching the track go away from us.

On the back of our car, Rippling Stream, watching the track pass away into the distance.

But the fibery part of our trip was a surprise. By the courthouse was what they called History Square. It had a town clock in the middle and a maze around the bottom. It laid out the history of Burnet County. You followed the trail and could read the history points and end up at the center by the clock.

HIstory Plaza

History Plaza

I of course had to run the maze reading as I went. I told Mark that it was fun. His comment while also watching the other kids was that it looked like kids did enjoy it. I of course said “Of course we do.” Now I did find two interesting blocks in the history.

Bertram wool and mohair production 1918

Bertram wool and mohair production 1918

Bertram cotton production 1928

Bertram cotton production 1928

These two blocks show what once was out on the pastures and in the fields around these parts. Wool, mohair, and cotton once reigned in Burnet County.

Had a great day and trip. Would love to do it again.

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I Love Inventories – North

So I found Sarah North’s father’s name and inventory today as well as the one for Henry Earnest. Sarah was Henry’s daughter-in-law and she had married Henry’s son Felix. Her father was John North and he died in Washington County, Tennessee in 1794. Now I have seen his death date as 15 October 1794 but have discovered that date is actually the date of the sale of his property. So he died earlier in actuality unless something strange was happening. Hmmm….

His inventory filed in the August Sessions 1794 lists many fibery things. 10 head of sheep, 1 loom and tacklings (another great term for loom accessories), 1 large wheel, 3 small wheels, 1 pair cotton cards, 1 pair wool cards, 1 pair sheep scissors, 12 lb. wool, 1 flax break.

Now his sale pretty much is the same list. But at the sale 15 October 1794 Esther (his wife though unsure if Sarah’s mother as it seems he was married twice) bought 5 sheep £1.1s , 1 loom and tacklings £2.10s, 2 wheels and 2 pair cards 15s, 1 wheel and 2 spools 6s, wool 10s.

In comparison with Henry’s here we have more cotton references compared to Henry’s having more flax, but both have sheep and wool. Looks like Esther is not considering retiring from the need to spin and weave the cloth needed in the home since she bought back the loom, tacklings, and wheels, and cards. Rebecka North did buy one of the wheels. There must have been a few women in the home to man all the wheels but also in my latest reading in spinning history care was taken in having wheels for certain duties. They didn’t buy or build a one wheel to spin everything like we do today. They spun wool, cotton, flax on different wheels if possible. Amazing to think how the Great Wheel continued on despite what one would think as the treadle/flyer wheel should have made it obsolete but alas in many many inventories I have found a “large” wheel and “small” wheel in the same home.

Picture taken at Williamsburg

Picture taken at Williamsburg

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I love Inventories – Earnest

Ok, I have the loom warped and weaving. Today I had big plans to get a lot done. Really big plans and even for tonight. But alas I got sidetracked in the one way that can take down a whole day without a blink of the eye. Yes, I got to looking at family history again. I found something that was taking me around the mulberry bush and was looking promising but alas and alack…. I don’t think it holds water unless you can find more out there hiding somewhere. But in rambling around the centuries, I ended up back in 18th and early 19th century Green and Washington Counties in Tennessee and in some wills, inventories, sales and found some for two ancestors. Now since getting into spinning and weaving, I have an addiction to fibery finds in inventories done at someone’s death. One, they can show how much was done in an area at a certain time when looking at a group but also just to have a kinship with my ancestresses when I see what is found in their homes. I have written about Daniel Cummins’ inventory and sale and the fact that the girls there must have clothed the family. But now for more.

I am a proud descendant of Henry Earnest. There has been quite a bit of research done on his family. He came from Switzerland with his parents who died enroute. He was taken in by Lawrence Stephens and at age married Lawrence’s daughter Mary. By 1771, they moved from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia south into what would  become eastern Tennessee. There above the Nollichucky River he built what is known today as the Earnest Fort House.

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from front

Earnest Fort House from front

I got to visit the home of Henry & Mary and it so makes one wish to see it as they knew it. As the road crosses the river today, the first thing you see is what has to be the back facing the river and road. There are three stories here and rather ugly. Wonder what once was? Then if you walk up the hill and look at the other side, you find a nice front door and stoop at the second story. But for what we don’t know about it’s first days we do know that it still looks like the fortress it has always been.

Henry died in 1809 and I have seen transcripts of his will but this time I found the ever lovely inventory and sale. So what fibery wonders did the family own? Quite a bit actually. The inventory lists less than the sale but both are interesting. So the inventory lists: 14 head of sheep, 1 loom reeds and gears etc, 2 hackles, 1 cotton wheel, 2 small wheels, 1 check wheel, set of spools, 1 ps fulld cloth, ps fulld linsey, some quantity of unbroke flax. This seems like quite the spinning and weaving shop.

But then we read the sale list and there is even more. Sale was 26 April 1809.

Mary bought back one pair cotton cards for  $.10, spinning wheel for $.10. Then quite a bit of the rest was bought by either sons or sons-in-law with a couple others sprinkled in. William Brown bought 6 yds. fulled cloth for $9.03, Samuel Snapp 3 yds. fulled linsey for $3, and 1 quill wheel $.29, and 1 reed and geers $.25, William Brown 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.50, Ezekiel Stanbury 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.48, Joseph Looney 2 3/4 yds. fulled linsey $2.02, and reed and geers $.97, Felix Earnest 8 1/4 yds. fulled cloth $14.50, John Cox 1 spinning wheel $1.20, Jacob Hiess 1 loom $4, Samuel D. Warren 1 reed and gers $1.61 and and another reed and gers $.81, Peter Earnest set of spools $.71, George Wells set of spools $.34, and 6 1/2 lb. wool $2.40, Peter Earnest 1 hackle $1.34, 7 sheep $8.27, and 7 sheep $5.02, Nicholas Long unbroke flax $1.16, Adam Shurley 1 clock reel $.80, Jacob Recer 5 lb. of wool $1.89, Jacob Earnest 7 lb. wool $3.25.

From these two lists I am thinking that Mary Earnest had a great loom set up with various reeds and “gers” or “gears” (I love the terminology in inventories for loom accessories.) I also am thinking that her daughters had set ups of their own and sent their husbands to the sale to get some of mom’s “reeds and gers” for themselves. After Henry’s death she lived with her son Peter, and I am thinking she kept at a bit of cotton spinning but that was it.

My direct ancestor, Felix Earnest, seems to have gotten quite a bit of cloth ready to be made up into something. Actually it reminds me that my dress fabric I wove was a 9 yard warp which off the top of my head I cannot tell you how much cloth came off the loom and was wet finished, but I think I have a bit of perspective of the 8 1/4 yds. fulld cloth he bought and what it took to make it. Alas mine was wet finished in a washing machine so I did get it a bit easier. I wonder if he got it for his new wife. My ancestress, Sarah North, had died in 1807 and Henry married Sarah Oliphant in 1808. I wonder if she was a spinner and weaver as Felix didn’t buy any of those items? Maybe a gift of cloth was a blessing.

One can dream up some quite interesting stories reading inventories.

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Cummins Historical Note

Now I love history and of course with that comes the love of finding your own family history and what made you – YOU. It is kind of nice to be able to blame great grandfathers and such for some of your worse characteristics though that doesn’t give us any excuse not to correct those ingrained behaviors. Now since I learned to weave and spin, I have loved finding tidbits of both in my family history.

My maiden name is Cummins and I come from a proud lot. We go back to a Daniel Cummins who died in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1819. Now anything about Daniel aside of his probate record, a couple of deeds, one tax record, and one census record, is not known except that he left behind a wife and children amongst them my 3 great grandfather John.

Now for the fun here. In Daniel’s probate inventory are listed amongst the items “1 Loom and gears” “2 Cotten wheels” and “2 pare Cotten Cards”.

Loom and gears, cotton wheels, cotton cards

Next comes the sale of Daniel’s effects. The loom and gears sold for 50 cents, the 2 cotten wheels for $2.50 and the 2 cotten cards for $1.They were all bought back by Dolly (Dorothy Copeland Cummins), Daniel’s wife. Interesting note – the loom and gears were worth the same as one pair of cotton cards. I wonder if cards were as precious in North Carolina in 1819 as they were to become during the Civil War in the South and especially in Texas where I’ve found several references about this?

Dolly bought them each back

The next bit I find interesting in the set of accounts is that there was then a committee set up to apportion to Dolly and the children a years worth of supplies. These supplies included for food items corn, pork, sugar, coffee, and salt, Then is listed 200 lbs. of seed cotton and 10 lbs of clean flax.


It is obvious to me that Dolly and the girls were providing the family’s textile needs. I would love to know how long this continued and whether or not they continued this when they moved to Indiana. Alas and alack is that information still to be found somewhere or lost in time?

Categories: Spinning, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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