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 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.