THE RICH REWARDS OF PROBATE RECORDS – JOSHUA HYDE- STURBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – PART II

The Common or green, used for livestock and training the local milita. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village,

The Common or green, used for livestock and training the local milita. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village,

 

A journey through the archives opens doors to the past. Step back 177 years to the rural village of Sturbridge, Massachusetts discussed in Part I.  Take a tour of Joshua and Sally Hyde’s farm and home and meet my 4th great-grandfather.

ESTATE FILE FOR JOSHUA HYDE

 Less than two months  after Joshua’s death in September 1838, three duly sworn men, arrived to take an inventory of the possessions to make a fair and lawful settlement of the estate.[1] The men looked over the property and buildings. They carefully examined the household items, opened up cupboards, listed the items, valued them, and presented their findings to the local probate court. The three men included two men from Sturbridge, Edward Phillips and Abijah Prouty, and one man from nearby Southbridge, Jedidiah Marcy.[2] The inventory was compiled and probably listed in the order in which the men went through the house, room by room. It would seem from the inventory that Joshua and Sally owned a modest two or three room  home. It likely included a kitchen, living area, and possibly one bedroom.

The most valuable part of the inventory is listed first, real estate. It included meadow land, mowing land, farm land, and a wood lot. Joshua owned a total of 601.5 acres of land.[3] Since a “middling farm” consisted of about 100 acres, Joshua’s farm could be considered quite prosperous. To accurately measure the land he bought, Joshua possessed  “1  pair of Chain-$2.50, and  2 chains -$2.25” (Chain- a measuring line of 100 links used in surveying.”[4])

REAL ESTATE

  • The homestead of said deceased situated in said Sturbridge containing by estimation 130 acres with the Buildings on the same appraised at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         2800.00
  • The Boyden & Lancaster farm so called by estimation 177 Acres with the building there  on in Sturbridge aforesaid                                         3800.00
  • The Stowell farm situated partly in Sturbridge & partly in Brookfield containing by estimation 77 Acres with a Barn thereon            1400.00
  • The Epraim Rice Lot situated in Brookfield 80 Acres                  1500.00
  • The Freeman farm situated in Brookfield containing by estimation including the Jos. Rice lot and wolf swamp 88 Acres with the Building thereon appraised at                                                                           1800.00
  • The last mentioned farm is however subject to the widow Betsy Freemans right of Dower which was not estimated by us or taken into account in the appraisal.
  • A lot of mowing Land in Brookfield called the Homan lot containing 3 Acres                                                                                                                       400.00
  • The Old Meadow in Brookfield  5 acres                                               60.00
  • The Bridges Meadow in &a 2 ½ acres                                                 18.00
  • The Johnson Wood lot in Sturbridge by estimate 10 acres         250.00
  • The Clark Lot in Sturbridge &a  &a 10 Acres                                       60.00
  • One undivided half of 19 Acres of Land in Sturbridge called the Barns lot                                                                                                                                100.00
  • One Pew in the Congregational Meetinghouse in Sturbridge           20.00
  •                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Total of Real Estate $12208.00[5]

 

The first property listed was the Hyde homestead which consisted of 130 acres and some buildings.  Joshua’s home likely reflected a typical New England dwelling for the late 18th–century and early 19th-century. It may have been a one story timber-framed dwelling with a chimney at the center, consisting of two or three rooms. Many New England dwellings faced south, “for warmth and light for their primary living spaces, and turned their kitchens to the north.”[6]As their family grew, the Hydes likely added a bedroom to the house.

Cisco House, "The Hundredth Town," by Forbes hariette Merrifield (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1889). p 181. http://resources.osv.org : accessed 4 March 2016.

Cisco House, “The Hundredth Town,” by Forbes hariette Merrifield (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1889). p 181. http://resources.osv.org : accessed 4 March 2016.

The last item listed under real estate is  “One Pew in the Congregational Meetinghouse in Sturbridge – $20.00.”[7] The purchase of a church pew helped fund construction of the local church. It also ensured that the owner could occupy it during his lifetime and his widow would enjoy the same privilege.[8] Joshua stipulated the following of his son and executor,  John Fay Hyde,  “for my beloved wife to provide her whenever she wishes a suitable mode of conveyance to go to meeting & wherever she may wish to go.”  Church attendance provided spiritual sustenance as well as social contact, both important in a small community and more so for a widow.

PERSONAL ESTATE – INVENTORY

Besides real estate, Joshua had a diverse and large personal estate. It included livestock, stored grain, hay, food products, wood, tools,  equipment, and household items. Understanding the social context was a critical factor when I evaluated Joshua’s personal estate. I relied on two books in particular in the process:”The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840” by Jack Larkin, and “Estate Inventories How to Use Them” by Kenneth L. Smith.

Personal Estate (vis)

  • 1 yoke of 4 years old Oxen————————————————————————75.00
  • 1 “  3 years old Oxen———————————————————————            65.00
  • 1 pair of Bulls—————————————————————————————40.00
  • 5 Yearling Steers & Heifers———————————————————————-75.00
  • 1 Two yr old Heifer——————————————————————————-16.00
  • 1 Cow at the new Barn————————————————————————–30.00
  • 1 three yr old Colt——————————————————————————- 50.00
  • All the Hay and fodder at the new Barn————————————————–105.00
  • 2 ploughs & 1 Harrow at the Barn——————————————————–       9.00
  • 104 bushels of Corn @ 6/per Bushel—————————————————— 104.00
  • 1 Chain 2 Forks. 2 Dungforks at new Barn———————————————–    11.75
  • 2 ox yokes & horse Traces &a————————————————————-       1.00
  • 2 shovels & 2 Iron Bars————————————————————————– 2.25
  • 1 Cart Boddy————————————————————————————     1.00
  • 8 Cows at home Barn———————————————————————–   200.00
  • 5 Calves at &a———————————————————————————-   31.00
  • 32 Sheep &a————————————————————————————  60.00
  • 1 Horse &a————————————————————————————— 65.00
  • 5 Store Pigs————————————————————————————– 22.00
  • 3 Fat Hogs————————————————————————————— 75.00
  • 1 Farrow Cow & Calf at Wm Richards—————————————————- 26.00
  • All the Hay & fodder in home Barn—————————————————— 150.00
  • 1 Ox waggon & 2 Waggon bodies——————————————————— 25.00
  • 2 chains——————————————————————————————- 2.25
  • A lot 4 feet wood beside the road———————————————————10.00
  • 1 Old ox waggon & cart body—————————————————————-10.00
  • 1 Cow at the Freeman farm————————————————————————30.00
  • 1 Horse waggon harness & Buffalo———————————————————–27.00
  • 1 Old horse waggon——————————————————————————-2.00
  • 1 Sleigh———————————————————————————————–4.00
  • 1 Horse Collar—————————————————————————————-.75
  • 2 Ox yokes——————————————————————————————-1.00
  • 2 Ploughs——————————————————————————————–9.00
  • 1 ox scraper—————————————————————————————–2.00
  • 1 horse Plough & Traces————————————————————————- 2.00
  • 2 Draft Chains & 1 pair of Chain—————————————————————- 2.50
  • 1 Grind Stone & Crank—————————————————————————–1.00
  • A lot of Sycthe sneaths Cradles & old scythes————————————————4.00
  • 2 Saws 1 Broad Axe 1 Adze & Augers ———————————————————-3.00
  • 1 Rope & Cheese press—————————————————————————–1.25
  • 4 Hoes————————————————————————————————–.75
  • 4 Axes————————————————————————————————2.00
  • 20 Bushels of Wheat—————————————————————————–40.00
  • 2 Bushel of Winter Rye—————————————————————————-2.50
  • 130 Bushels of Oats @ 48 cents—————————————————————-62.40
  • 2 Sides of harness Leather———————————————————————–9.00
  • A lot of Dry Casks———————————————————————————-1.00
  • 3 sickles————————————————————————————————.50
  • 10 Bushels of Salt———————————————————————————-9.00
  • A lot of White Beans——————————————————————————-2.00
  • A lot of Meal Bags——————————————– ————————————-1.50
  • 130 lb of Wool @ 42 cents——————————————————————      -54.60
  • 1 Side Saddle—————————————————————————————-3.00
  • 39 Barrels of Cider with the casks——————————————————– —52.00
  • 125 Bushels of Potatos @ 2/3 per Bush.—————————————————–46.87
  • A Lot of Meat Casks——————————————————————————-1.00
  • 7 kegs of Butter 350.b @ 20 cents————————————————————-70.00
  • 2.50 lbs of Cheese @ 6 cents——————————————————————–15.00
  • 5 Beds Bedsteads Cords & Bedding———————————————————–60.00
  • 1 Wood Clock & Case——————————————————————————1.00
  • 4 Tables & 1 Light stand————————————————————————–4.00
  • 1 Bureau 1 Desk & 2 pine Chests————————————————————–10.00
  • 2 Looking Glasses @ 6/—————————————————————————2.00
  • A lot of chairs—————————————————————————————2.50
  • A lot of Crockery & glass ware—————————————————————–5.00
  • A lot of Pewter dishes plates——————————————————————–5.00
  • A lot of Tin pans & other tin ware————————————————————–3.00
  • A lot of Iron Hollow ware———————————————————————–3.00
  • 2 Flat Irons—————————————————————————————– 2.00
  • 3 Pairs Iron Dogs & shovel & tongs————————————————————2.00
  • 2 Brass Kettles————————————————————————————–3.50
  • A lot Brown Earthen & Stone pots————————————————————–1.00
  • 1 Old Loom——————————————————————————————–.25
  • 1 Cheese Tub—————————————————————————————–1.00
  • Lot of Tubs, Pails & Wooden ware————————————————————-3.50
  • 1 Steel yard——————————————————————————————–.25
  • 1 Set of Measures————————————————————————————.50
  • Lot of Knives & Forks—————————————————————————–1.50
  • 2 Glass Lanterns————————————————————————————-.25
  • 1 ox sled————————————————————————————————.50
  • 3376 Feet of Pine Boards———————————————————————–33.76
  • 800 Feet of 1 ¼ pine Boards——————————————————————–5.75
  • 6 Silver Tea Spoons & other pewter spoons————————————————–2.00
  • 1 Silver Watch————————————————————————————–6.00
  • 1 Cow at Charles Richardsons—————————————————————–20.00
  • All the Hay & Fodder in Stowell Barn——————————————————-80.00
  •                                                                                                                                             TOTAL:  $ 1817.87

Viewing Joshua’s personal estate inventory I learned what “conveyance” Sally and her family used to get around Sturbridge. Joshua owned “1 Old horse waggon, 1 Horse waggon harness & Buffalo,1 sleigh, 1 Horse,1 three yr old Colt,1 Horse Collar and 1 Side Saddle.”[9]

Lightweight road wagon c 1840, 1 horse hay wagon, upholstered seat sleigh c 1820, two passenger one horse sleigh c. 1801, side saddle c 1790-1810. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org

Lightweight road wagon c 1840, 1 horse hay wagon, upholstered seat sleigh c 1820, two passenger one horse sleigh c. 1801, side saddle c 1790-1810. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, http://www.osv.org

Sally likely confined her travel to the local neighborhood to visit friends, family, and the meeting-house. Most of the year she would have walked, ridden side-saddle, or used the farm wagon drawn by a horse.  In the early 19th-century “owning a farm wagon and horse was the mark of middling economic status”.  The Hyde’s didn’t own a “pleasure vehicle”, a comfortable carriage,  as only the very rich could afford one.[10] Some farm wagons had removable seats but improvisation saved money. One method involved placing two chairs side by side for the parents while the children sat in the back on straw.  During the winter months the Hydes used their sleigh to glide quickly across the snow-covered ground. The buffalo hide served as a lap robe to provide warmth and protection from cold and wet weather.

FURNITURE

The list of household items provides a glimpse into Joshua and Sally’s sparsely furnished home.Eating, working, and socializing spaces were shared since most early American families lived in close quarters. They gathered around the hearth to share light and warmth in the evenings. Even in the “rigorous climate of inland Massachusetts” families rarely had more than two sets of fireplace andirons in a house.[11] Joshua’s inventory lists “3 Pairs of Iron Dogs [andirons] & shovel & tongs” valued at $2.00.[12] He must have had three hearths and a warmer house than many of his neighbors.

Wrought Andirons c. 1780, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Wrought Andirons c. 1780, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Sharing a bed also provided warmth for cold winter nights and siblings often slept together. Joshua owned “5 Beds Bedsteads Cords & Bedding” valued at $60.00. Since upholstered furniture didn’t become available until about 1830, beds served as cushioned seating in a family room.  The number of beds and grading of the bedding indicated status. Since Joshua owned five beds, it is more than likely that the bedding consisted of down feathers, not itchy straw ticking. [13]

Joshua and Sally owned utilitarian furniture, no extravagances. Besides the five beds, they had four tables, and one light stand, two glass lanterns, one bureau, one desk, and two pine chests, two mirrors, one wood clock and case, and a “lot of chairs[14].( The word “lot” in estate inventories  refers to “a number of associated things taken collectively; not used to mean ‘a large number of.”)[15] The pine chests were a “box-like piece of furniture with a hinged lid.[16] and probably served as storage for extra bedding and clothing. I can imagine Joshua seated at the desk on one of his simple wooden chairs, the lantern casting a dim light as he tallied his account books. Sally sat nearby doing needlework and discussed mundane family matters with him.

Farmers account book Old Sturbridge Village.

Farmers account book Old Sturbridge Village.

At the turn of the century, most households had enough chairs for family members to sit down to meals as well as for guests. Most families had nine or more chairs. Listed on Joshua’s inventory are “A Lot of Chairs” valued at  $2.50. Mass produced chairs were manufactured by the thousands by 1820 and cost between thirty and seventy-five cents, so Joshua likely had  seven or eight chairs. I imagine he bought cheaper chairs to save money because they served the purpose well enough. Expensive chairs were an extravagance.

Images obtained from "Furniture of Rural new England" (New York, American Art Assoc, 1929), digital images : https:archive.org accessed 4 March 2016).

Images obtained from “Furniture of Rural New England” (New York, American Art Assoc, 1929), digital images : https:archive.org accessed 4 March 2016).

By 1830, half of the New England farmers had clocks in their homes. Mass produced clocks with inexpensive wooden works made them accessible to average families. Owning an inexpensive clock indicated “time consciousness.” The Hydes were punctual people. Joshua owned “1 Wood Clock & Case” valued at $1.00. He also owned “A Silver Watch” valued at $6.00, perhaps he carried it on special occasions, such as attending services at the Meeting House. The only other silver items on his inventory are the “6 Silver Tea Spoons” discussed in a previous blog.

Rural Massachusetts families in the early 1800s rarely had wall paintings or images on the wall. “Only looking glasses, or framed mirrors, broke the empty expanse of walls and most houses had no more than one or two.”[17] Joshua and Sally had “2 looking glasses” valued at $2.00. They served two purposes. They reflected dim candlelight and were used for grooming. They probably hung in the main room of the home where more family members had access to them. Sally and her two daughters could primp at one mirror before they went to church on Sunday; the boys could dash by the second mirror, quickly pat down their hair, and dash out the door to join their family.

I’ve listed all the furniture in the Hyde household. Did you notice that no window or floor coverings are listed? Carpets and curtains became more common among the more affluent after the 1830s. Rural families used woven “rag carpet” as a substitute for the more expensive parlor rug, or “even painted their parlor floors with carpet stripes.”[18] Did Joshua and Sally paint a substitute rug?

KITCHEN AND FOOD

The kitchen, Sally’s domain, listed items  you wouldn’t find in my cupboards. Using Kenneth Smith’s book, Estate Inventories How to Use Them, and the Old Sturbridge Village website http://www.osv.org, my admiration for Sally’s cooking challenges grew. She cooked over the kitchen hearth as no stove is listed on the  inventory.

  • A lot of Crockery & glass ware
  • A lot of Pewter dishes plates
  • A lot of Tin pans & other tinware
  • A lot of Iron Hollow ware [“A generic term for cast-iron vessels; e.g. pots, pans, skillets][19]
  • 2 Brass Kettles
  • A lot of Brown Earthen & Stone pots
  • Lot of Tubs, Pails & Wooden ware
  • 1 Steel yard [“A type of scale with a moveable weight and calibrated arm”][20]
  • 1 set of Measures
  • Lot of Knives & Forks
  • 1 Cheese Tub
  • 1 Rope & Cheese Press
Glass pitcher, tinware, iron holloware, Stone preserve pot, wooden ware, images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Glass pitcher, tinware, iron holloware, Stone preserve pot, wooden ware, images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

The Hydes ate common New England fare that consisted of salt pork and beef, dried beans, squash, onions, turnips, cabbages, potatoes, bread, milk, cheese, and butter. Meals depended on the seasons with more produce in the summer and fall and provisions stored in casks and barrels for the winter months. To store the food the family possessed: “A lot of Dry Casks-$.50, A lot of Meal Bags-$1.50, and  A lot of Meat Casks-$1.00”.

“As the heavy labors of the harvest season start to wane, the attention of the nineteenth-century family turns to filling the house to the rafters with foodstuffs. The yearly food preserves must be carefully tended now that the harvest is almost complete. Root vegetables are neatly buried in bins of sand in the cellar. Nearby are barrels of meat covered with brine, in readiness for use in the coming year. Crocks of pickled cucumbers and cabbage line the shelves. The cheese made last summer is now ripe and the excess will soon be sold off. The fall egg production has been preserved by wiping each egg with lard and packing them all in finely sifted ashes. The hope is that enough eggs have been preserved to last the family until the chickens begin to lay again in the spring. Firkins of salted butter have been set aside for winter use. From garret to cellar, the fruits of the family’s toil fill every nook of the house and allow them to look with anticipation toward a season in which more leisure time and an abundance of food will be enjoyed.”[21]

Preparing the winter reserves required the entire family to help but certain tasks fell to the women and girls. American farm women learned to make butter and cheese from their mothers. It required “skills of a high order, ‘dexterity as well as strength.’After milking and putting the milk into shallow pans to separate the cream, dairywomen would churn it vigorously – usually for an hour or so for each churnful – to ‘bring the butter.’ They then ‘worked’ the butter, kneading and pressing it into a solid consistency; some used their hands, wetting them to keep the butter cool and clean while others worked with wooden paddles.”[22] A skilled dairywoman became an economic asset to her family because the butter could be sold or bartered. Sally’s ability to make butter is clear as the inventory listed  “7 kegs of butter”  valued at $70.00.

Dasher Butter Churn, early 19th c. wood pine. Early 19th century lever type cheese press, images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Dasher Butter Churn, early 19th c. wood pine. Early 19th century lever type cheese press, images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, http://www.osv.org.

She used her “cheese tub” and “cheese press” to prepare the“2.5 pounds of cheese” listed. Although a small amount, it required more ability to make. “Much of the skill of the process resided in the proper preservation of the ‘rennet’ a piece of the lining of a young calf’s stomach, which contained the digestive enzyme that solidified the milk into curds.”[23] Cheese provided a source of protein and it was a valuable exchange commodity.

Another source of protein for the long cold winter months were beans. They were a basic staple of the New England diet. Joshua’s inventory listed “A lot of White Bean-$2.00.”

Potatoes were an alternative to bread and added another staple to the basic diet helping stretch the meat supply through the winter months. Did Joshua and his family consume all “125 bushels of Potatos- $48.87” ?

LIVESTOCK AND CROPS

Rural America relied on trade and bartering. “…so farmers and most artisans kept account books that gave each of their transactions a monetary value. They settled accounts most often in March or April, at the beginning of the agricultural year, but often let them run for two years or even more.”[24]  Based on the large quantities of produce listed, Joshua sold or bartered a variety of goods such as butter, cider, potatoes, grain, meat, wool and timber. Using the surplus from his farm he could buy tea, coffee, salt, sugar, and cotton cloth at the local store.

Joshua’s livestock included:

  •  4 oxen, 11 cows, 5 calves, 6 heifers and steers,  2 bulls
  •  1 horse, 1 three-year-old colt
  • 32 sheep and 8 pigs
"Different Breeds of Sheep & Hogs" by Solon Robinson. (New York: A.J. Johnson publisher, 1866), digitall image http://resources.osv.org : accessed 4 March 2016.

“Different Breeds of Sheep & Hogs” by Solon Robinson. (New York: A.J. Johnson publisher, 1866), digitall image http://resources.osv.org : accessed 4 March 2016.

According to historians at Old Sturbridge Village, “a middling farm…might typically have a horse, a team of oxen, 4 to 7 cows, 3 or 4 young cattle, a couple of pigs, between 6 and 20 sheep, a dozen or more chickens, and frequently a dog or cat. A more prosperous farmer might have 3 horses, 2 or 3 teams of oxen, 10 to 20 cows, 10 young cattle, 3 or 4 swine, 20 to 60 heads of sheep, and sundry pets and poultry.”[25] Yet again, more evidence that Joshua prospered as a farmer.

New Englanders worked their land primarily with oxen. They were sure-footed, cheaper to feed than horses, and eventually consumable. Farmers began slaughtering animals in November and filled their meat barrels by early winter with pork, beef, or oxen. To store the meat Joshua used “meat casks”. The meat was preserved in a brine solution. Listed in the inventory are “10 Bushels of Salt- $9.00” that were used to preserve the meat,as well as the butter and cheese.

A common sight on a New England farm was the pig sty. Pigs were traditionally fattened on the “dairy waste- the leavings of cheese and butter making.”[26] Joshua owned “5 Store Pigs – $22.00 and 3 Fat Hogs-$$75.00.”  According to the inventory, an additional fat hog had been butchered and sold for $30.00 just before the appraisal so perhaps the same fate awaited the other “3 fat hogs.”. A “store pig” is a pig that has not yet been weaned and is to be fattened up for the market.

CULTIVATION, TOOLS, AND ANIMALS

Old Sturbridge Village was an invaluable website. Caitlyn Emery, the Curatorial Director, granted me permission to use images for non-commercial purposes. To gain an appreciation for farming techniques Joshua used, watch the following video on YouTube showing how to plow a field with oxen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuytRXRfyeI

  • 1 yoke of 4 years old Oxen – $75.00
  • 1 yoke of 3 years old Oxen – $65.00
  • 1 Ox waggon & 2 Waggon bodies – $25.00
  • 1 Old ox waggon & Cart body -$10.00
  • 1 Cart boddy- $1.00
  • 2 ox yokes & horse traces-$1.00,
  • 1 Old Horse waggon – $4.00
  • 1 Horse $65.00
  • 1 horse Plough & Traces – $2.00
  • 2 sides of harness Leather- $9.00 [“the components of standard harness include: reins, overcheck rein, checkhook, terret, crownpiece, front, blind, facepiece, cheekpiece, throatlatch, neck strap, breast band/collar, saddle, bellyband, breeching, crupper, hip strap, trace, billet, hame, chokestrap, neck yoke, breeching stay, lazy strap. Not every harness rig contains all of the above.”[27]]
  • Wooden Dutch plow early 19th c., Shod Shovel c. 1798, Curved Scythe Snath used for cutting hay. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

    Wooden Hay Rake late 18th c.., Shod Shovel c. 1798, Curved Scythe Snath used for cutting hay. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

    4 ploughs & 1 Harrow – $18.00

  • A lot of Sycthe sneaths Cradles & old scythes-$4.00[“snead – the handle for a scythe”[28]
  • 2 saws 1 Broad Axe 1 Adze & Augers-$3.00 [Adze-an edged tool with the blade at a right angle to the handle; used for achieving a flat or hollowed surface on wood.”[29] “Auger- a tool for boring holes in wood; some types were intended to make holes in the ground.”[30]]
Wooden Dutch plow, early 19th, c., Harrow to break up clumbs and level the ground, Large Ox Cart, late 18th c.. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Wooden Dutch plow, early 19th, c., Harrow to break up clumbs and level the ground, Large Ox Cart, late 18th c.. All images courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

  • 4 Hoes
  • 4 Axes
  • 3 sickles [“a tool like a curved knife for cutting grasses”[31]]
  • 2 shovels & 2 Iron Bars-$2.25
  • 1 chain 2 Forks. 2 Dungforks -$11.75 [“Dung Fork- a tined tool used for moving manure or working it into the soil”[32]
Ox Cart, farmer using dung fork to spread manure. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village. www.osv.org.

Ox Cart, farmer using dung fork to spread manure. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village. www.osv.org.

Since Joshua died in early September many of his crops had already been harvested and stored. When the appraisers walked around his property they found his barns stocked with winter supplies, enough for his family with extra he could sell.

  • Hay and Fodder at the Stowell Barn – $80.00 and at the New Barn $105.00
  • Joshua stored his hay and fodder for livestock in a barn on one of his properties, the Stowell Barn. Livestock provided meat, labor, dairy products, and hides and was one of the most important components of a New England farm. Farmers devoted a large part of their acreage to grass. It provided feed during the summer and hay during the winter. If Joshua followed the typical Sturbridge pattern, 1/3 of his property was pastureland, 1/5 hay fields, and 1/15 tillage (land under cultivation). Only about 6 to 12 acres on a farm were devoted to grain crops such as wheat, rye, oats and corn. The grass harvest usually occurred during late June or early July. It meant long days cutting the hay with scythes and gathering it before a summer shower could spoil it.The day began early as the grass cut better early in the morning when it was still wet. During the afternoon heat the men turned the grass, spread it out,  and “made hay.”[33] Joshua probably did not need to hire extra help as he had six strapping sons to help him. The work was hot and tiring; for refreshment they quenched their thirst with cider, rum, or a mixed beverage called switchel.[34]
Harvesting grain, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Harvesting grain, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, http://www.osv.org.

  • 20 bushel of Wheat – $40.00

Wheat was a difficult crop to grow in New England but still desirable for making flour. In 1838, Massachusetts began offering farmers a bounty for farmers to plant it. The same year the highest yield of wheat/acre in Worcester County was 15 6/7 bushels, the lowest 10 1/5 hence Joshua probably had about two acres of wheat planted that year.  Spring wheat was preferred over winter wheat. It was planted in April and harvested in July or August. Joshua may have already sold some of his harvested crops. He used a sickle to cut the wheat, and then bound the dried shocks in bundles, called sheaves. Later during the winter he threshed the wheat and other grains in the barn.

2 Bushel of Winter Rye – $2.50

Rye became a significant cash crop in early  New England. Combined with corn it served as a replacement for wheat to make bread. It was also a favored crop sown in large quantities to sell to local distilleries. After 1825 sales declined when the Erie Canal opened because wheat could be imported from nearby states. The temperance movement also adversely affected sales about 1830. Rye straw was highly prized for animal bedding. Given the small amount Joshua planted, he probably used the straw for his livestock and the grain for baking brown bread.

130 Bushels of Oats- $62.40

Described in the 1824 Farmers Guide, “The oat is, among grain, what the ass is among animals –very   little respected, but very employed.”[35] Agricultural literature of early nineteenth-century New England devoted most of its focus to wheat and other grain crops and very little on oats. Although used as a substitute for wheat in bread making, oats were invaluable as grain for horses. Nearly every farm had one or two horses, and livery stables, and stage lines required the grains to supplement hay. They were grown primarily for local use. An average yield was between twenty and forty bushels of grain, so Joshua’s yield of 130 bushels indicates he planted about four acres of land in oats. To prepare the soil Joshua plowed and then harrowed the fields. Each acre of oats produced between one half-ton to a ton of straw. [36] Using a scythe to harvest the oats made it easier for the farmer to cut the straw very low and avoid any waste of fodder.[37] Joshua had fodder stored in two barns for the winter.

104 bushels of Corn – $104.00

The most common grain grown in the 1830s in New England was corn.The average yield per acre was 40 bushels so Joshua probably had 2-3 acres planted in corn. There are seven types of corn and open pollination led to many varieties.  To prepare the soil Joshua cross plowed, harrowed and then furrowed the fields. Having kept the best seeds from the previous harvest, he planted 4 or 5 kernels in small hills spaced about 3-4 feet apart. He may have followed the local Indian practice of planting pumpkins in between to prevent weeds.[38] Joshua was likely one of the wise farmers who rotated his crops and traded seeds with neighbors to improve his yield

There were two common methods of harvest in the fall. The farmer could cut the stalks close to the ground and bring the corn to the barn to husk; the saved seeds provided winter cattle feed. The corn could also be husked in the field and the cattle allowed to browse among the stalks. Dried corn kernels, if kept dry, could be stored indefinitely.

Human consumption of corn required milling it into a meal and used in such foods as hasty pudding or “Rye’Injun” bread. Animals were fed the plant stalks as well as coarsely ground corn.

39 Barrels of Cider with the casks-$52.00

Most New England farmers had apple orchards for personal use and sold the extra cider produced. Joshua had 39 barrels of cider. He didn’t consume all of it himself, at least I hope not, so he sold some of it for profit.

Apples for making cider, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Apples for making cider, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, http://www.osv.org.

Cider was a common table beverage and “all ages drank it freely. ‘Dramming’ – taking a fortifying glass in the forenoon and again in the afternoon- was part of the daily regimen of men. Clergymen took sustaining libations between services, lawyers before going to court and physicians at their patients’ bedsides. To raise a barn or get through a long day’s haying without fortifying drink was thought a virtual impossibility.”[39]

There was a special art to creating cider. Few farmers had a cider press, rather four or five farmers in a town would take the time and investment to build and maintain a local cider mill. Since Joshua’s inventory doesn’t list any cider making equipment, he took his apples to the local cider press where “the pomace was pressed.” The process included “bruising” the apples, leaving them exposed to air for a certain time, then pressing them. “A mash was made into pomace or ‘cheese,’ then carefully placed between straw mats so the juice could be pressed out.”[40] The fermentation of the apples provided the 4% to 8% alcohol needed to preserve the cider. An average family might store eight or ten barrels of cider.[41] “If you were a farmer you would bring your apples and barrels and straw down to the mill and run it yourself. Usually the owner of the mill allowed anyone to use it as long as they paid a fee.”

American Farmers Almanac 1837, Cider Press, image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village

The villagers near a cider mill would have recognized the sounds and smells of harvest time. “When the mill was in use children would very often come down to sip some of the fresh apple juice or must as it ran from the cheese. Sometimes children would be brought to the mill to help in the process. There would be a need for someone to poke at the apples to keep them from jamming in the nuts or prod the horse to keep the mill turning.”[42] If you’ve ever visited a New England cider mill you can conjure up the sights, sounds, and aromas associated with it. I have vivid memories of a cider mill near New London, CT and the taste of freshly pressed cider, what sweet nectar.

Two more profit-making items on Joshua’s inventory are wool and lumber. Joshua owned “32 Sheep-$60.00.” It was quite common to see flocks of sheep on the hillsides in the Sturbridge area in the 1830s.[43]  There were two basic types of sheep found in Massachusetts in the early 19th century- natives and Merinos. The animals provided mutton and a coarse wool.  Shearing took place in June and in September when he died, Joshua’s inventory included “130 lb of Wool – $54.60.” Had he already sold a portion? Nearby Southbridge had manufacturing companies that purchased locally grown fleeces which are likely where Joshua brought it.

Carding Mill c. 1840. Farm families brought sheared, sorted and cleaned wool to the mill for processing. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

Carding Mill c. 1840. Farm families brought sheared, sorted and cleaned wool to the mill for processing. Image courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, www.osv.org.

The inventory also mentions “1 Old Loom – $.25.” In the early years Sally wove her own cloth, a time-consuming task. “But by 1830s there were hundreds of water-powered factories, large and small, that performed the tasks of picking and carding, spinning and weaving, on a vastly larger scale and far more swiftly.”[44] She would have been grateful to be spared the laborious and time-consuming task.

Besides the wool, Joshua had a supply of lumber. It may have been harvested from the land he cleared for farming. Proximity to water-driven saw mills in the area ensured a means to quickly process the lumber. His inventory included,  “3376 Feet of Pine Boards – $33.75, 800 Feet of 1 ¼ Pine Boards – $5.75” likely used to build new barns. The inventory noted “one cow at the new barn” indicative of new construction. Any excess lumber Joshua owned could be sold or bartered.

JOSHUA HYDE- DESCRIPTION

A vital aspect remained absent – a picture. No portraits exist and photography wasn’t developed until 1839, so I based my vision of Joshua Hyde by combining two elements.  First, I examined portraits of three of his sons, who bear a striking resemblance to one another.  Each of them was probably just under six feet in height, typical for men in New England around the turn of the 18th-century.[45] They share much in common besides their evident girth. Their heavy jowls and ponderous noses are topped by a rounded balding dome. Benjamin and George have intelligent, steady, blue eyes in their portraits. John’s eye color isn’t visible in the black and white photo.  Although two of the brothers sported beards, Joshua would have been clean-shaven in 1830 with simply cut short hair, unless his hairline had receded.  I picture Joshua with the same heavy features of his sons. Did he also have the Hyde beautiful blue eyes that my mother, grandfather, and great-grandfather inherited?

Benjamin Dwight Hyde 1803-1869, George Baxter Hyde 1811-1889, portrait is in the Joshua Hyde Library; John Fay Hyde 1817-1889, photograph taken in Buda, IL c. 1890, in personal possession of author.

Benjamin Dwight Hyde 1803-1869, George Baxter Hyde 1811-1889, portrait is in the Joshua Hyde Library; John Fay Hyde 1817-1889, photograph taken in Buda, IL c. 1890, in personal possession of author.

The three sons pose in groomed business attire, starched white shirts, dark vests and jackets. All became successful businessmen; Benjamin a lawyer, George an educator, and John eventually a banker. They owe their education to their industrious father, a farmer. Joshua would have dressed very plainly, in contrast to his sons. In the early 1800’s farmers generally wore home-spun clothing made from home-produced linen, wool, or a combination of the two.   “A man whose clothes were made at home,could be easily distinguished at a hundred yards’ distance by his slouchy and baggy outlines, and the home-dyed colors and coarser textures of his cloth.”[46] The few clothes Joshua owned probably consisted of “butter-nut colored” trousers, shirt and vest. Atop his head he likely wore a tall “stove pipe” hat with a narrow brim. The Old Sturbridge Village image provides an example of period clothing.

Farmer plowing a field in Old Sturbridge Village dressed in period clothing. Image courtesy of www.osv.org.

Farmer plowing a field in Old Sturbridge Village dressed in period clothing. Image courtesy of www.osv.org.

I combined images of Joshua’s three sons in my mind, dressed him  in period clothing, and then I incorporated a description of a rural Yankee farmer to complete my vision. ”New Englanders moved heavily. The great physical demands of unmechanized agriculture gave men a distinctively ponderous gait and posture. Despite their strength and endurance, farmers were ‘heavy, awkward, and slouching in movement,’ and walked with a ‘slow inclination from side to side.”[47] When two farmers greeted one another, their expressions “might seem to a stranger gruff or surly, since the facial muscles were so inexpressive, while in fact, they were on excellent terms.”[48] They spoke with a drawl, “giving their vowels a long and painful drawing-out”, according to the British.[49] Joshua likely appeared gruff dressed in homespun clothing, spoke with a drawl, and moved with a slow deliberate gait as he made the rounds on his busy farm. He was a product of his cultural inheritance, as well as the Puritan gene pool that settled in New England in the 17th-century.

Joshua’s  inventory compelled me to research social context to understand his day-to-day existence during the early 1800’s in rural New England. I can now picture his farm; the sheep grazing in the meadow; the oxen pulling the plow  Joshua steers from behind; the grain harvested in the fall and stored in the barn.  I see his strong countenance and physique as he presses fresh apple cider and takes a swig on a hot day while cutting hay. Joshua Hyde worked hard but readily shared with his neighbors when they needed assistance. He was a man of strong values who sought to establish an inheritance for his children on earth, but more importantly guided them in their journey of faith.

Joshua Hyde 1836, Sturbridge, MA, signature on his will.

Joshua Hyde 1836, Sturbridge, MA, signature on his will.

Part III will cover the history behind the Joshua Hyde Library of Sturbridge, MA.

© 2016 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Joshua Hyde 1762-1838
Parents: Benjamin Hyde 1723-1797 and
Dorcas Dyer 1726-1787
Spouse: Sarah “Sally” Fay Hyde 1775-1850
Children:

  1. Augusta Hyde, b. 31 Oct 1795, Sturbridge, MA, d. 17 Sep 1872, Sturbridge, MA.
  2. Betsy Hastings Hyde, b. 28 Mar 1798, d. 1880, Sturbridge, MA.
  3. Charlotte Hyde, b. 26 Sep 1800, Sturbridge, MA, d. 16 Mar 1870, Brookfield, MA
  4. Benjamin Dwight Hyde, b. 12 Dec 1762, Sturbridge, MA, d. 2 Nov 1869, Sturbridge, MA
  5. Emory Hyde, b. 21 Feb 1805, Sturbridge, MA, d. 31 Oct 1830, Sturbridge, MA
  6. Frederick Baxter Hyde, b. 15 Jul 1808, Sturbridge, MA, d. 25 Feb 1852, Norwalk, Huron, Ohio
  7. George Baxter Hyde, b. 20 Mar 1811, Sturbridge, MA, d. 8 Jul 1889, Boston, MA
  8. Fitz Henry Hyde, b. 2 Jun 1814, Sturbridge, MA, d. 23 Oct 1833, Sturbridge, MA
  9. John Fay Hyde, b. 5, Aug 1817, Sturbridge, MA, d. 3 Sep 1889, Buda, Bureau, IL

Relationship to Kendra: 4th great-grandfather

  1. Joshua Hyde 1762-1838
  2. John Fay Hyde 1817-1889
  3. Frederick Albert Hyde 1851-1926
  4. John Fay Hyde 1885-1950
  5. John Frederick Hyde 1911-1980
  6. Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn
  7. Kendra Hopp Schmidt

 

[[1] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),134.
2] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-24108-25?cc=2102083 : accessed 23 February 2016), Worcester > Case no 32638-32724, Hutchins, Joshua-Ide, Patience, 1731-1881 > image 907 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

[3] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),899.

 

[4] Kennth L Smith. “Estate Inventories How to Use Them”. (Pennsylvania: Masthof Press, 2000), 74.

 

[5] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-23914-99?cc=2102083 : accessed 23 February 2016), Worcester > Case no 32638-32724, Hutchins, Joshua-Ide, Patience, 1731-1881 > image 899 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

[6]Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),117.

 

[7] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” digital images, Family search, (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-23886-0?cc=2102083 : accessed 18 December 2015), Worcester; Case no 32638-32724, Joshua Hyde, 1731-1881; image 899 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

[8] Joseph S. Clark. An Historical Sketch of Sturbridge, Massachusetts from Its Settlement to the Present Time. (West Brookfield, Massachusetts: E. and L. Merriam, Printers 1838),  33; digital images, (http://www.archive.org : accessed 07 January 2016).

 

[9] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-23916-13?cc=2102083 : accessed 22 February 2016), Worcester > Case no 32638-32724, Hutchins, Joshua-Ide, Patience, 1731-1881 > image 900 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.
[10] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988)216.
[11] Ibid, 135.
[12] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-24111-20?cc=2102083 : accessed 22 February 2016), Worcester > Case no 32638-32724, Hutchins, Joshua-Ide, Patience, 1731-1881 > image 901 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.
[13] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988)138.
[14] “Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-46816-24111-20?cc=2102083 : accessed 22 February 2016), Worcester > Case no 32638-32724, Hutchins, Joshua-Ide, Patience, 1731-1881 > image 901 of 1184; Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston.
[15] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988)101.
[16] Kenneth L. Smith, Estate Inventories How to Use Them”, (Morgantown, PA: Mastof Press, 2008), 76.
[17] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),137.
[18] Ibid, 135.
[19] Kennth L Smith. “Estate Inventories How to Use Them”. (Pennsylvania: Masthof Press, 2000), 95.
[20] Ibid, 123.
[21] Debra Friedman. “OSV Documents – Harvest Labors Produce Seasonal Bounty.”Article. Old Sturbridge Village. (http: http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=654 : accessed 18 February 2016.)
[22] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),117.
[22] Ibid, 27.
[23] Ibid, 28.
[24] Jack Larkin, From “Country Mediocrity” to “Rural Improvement”: Transforming the Slovenly Countryside in Central Massachusetts, 1775-1840, Catherine E. Hutchins, ed., Everyday Life in the Early Republic, (Delaware: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1994), 37.
[25]Tom Kelleher. “OSV Documents- Agricultural Interpretation at Old Sturbridge village, 2002, Summary.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village. (http:// http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=1949 : accessed 12 February 2016.)
[26] [26] Andrew Baker. “OSV Documents- Managing the Flock: Historical Sheep Raising at Old Sturbridge Village., 1984.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village. http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=892 : accessed 22 February, 2016.)
[27] Kennth L Smith. “Estate Inventories How to Use Them”. (Pennsylvania: Masthof Press, 2000), 94.
[28] Ibid, 121.
[29] Ibid, 62.
[30] Ibid, 64.
[31] Ibid, 120
[32] Ibid, 84
[33] Tom Kelleher. “OSV Documents- Agricultural Interpretation at Old Sturbridge village, 2002, Summary.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village. (http:// http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=1949 : accessed 3 March 2016.)
[34] Ibid
[35] Darwin P Kelsey. “OSV Research Paper-Early new England Farm Crops:Small Grains- Barley, Rye, Oats, Buckwheat and Wheat, 1980.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village.  (http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=779 : accessed 22 February, 201.)
[36] Ibid
[37] Ibid
[38] Tom Kelleher. “OSV Documents- Agricultural Interpretation at Old Sturbridge village, 2002, Summary.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village. (http:// http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=1949 : accessed 3 March 2016.)
[39] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),117.
[39] Ibid, 285.
[40] Eric Sloane. A Museum of Early American Tools. (New York : Funk & Wagnalls Press, 1992), 46.
[41] Darwin P Kelsey. “OSV Research Paper-Early new England Farm Crops:Small Grains- Barley, Rye, Oats, Buckwheat and Wheat, 1980.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village.  (http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=779 : accessed 22 February, 201.)
[41] Ibid
[42] Ibid
[43] Andrew Baker. “OSV Documents- Managing the Flock: Historical Sheep Raising at Old Sturbridge Village., 1984.” Article. Old Sturbridge Village. http://resources.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=892 : accessed 22 February, 2016.)
[44] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),55.
[44] Ibid, 285.
[45] Jack Larkin. The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840. (New York: Harper and Row, 1988),169.
[46] Ibid, 185.
[47] Ibid, 150.
[48] Bid, 149.
[49] Ibid, 153.

 

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About treeklimber

An interest in history and travel lends itself to a passion for genealogy. The more I research, the more I realize there is to discover. It is a never-ending puzzle.
This entry was posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to THE RICH REWARDS OF PROBATE RECORDS – JOSHUA HYDE- STURBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – PART II

  1. This is amazing Kendra. The work and love of family you’ve put into it is unbelievable. It makes me want to pull out an inventory and try to tweak as much out of it as you have.

    Like

  2. What a fabulous post. Inventories are brilliant, enabling you to reconstruct the lives of ancestors and visualise their homes. Really enjoyed this. Brought to life your 4x gt grandparents.

    Like

  3. Autie says:

    So fascinating, I can see how you can get drawn in . It’s so amazing reading all the personal inventory I can literally have a sence of what the time period may have been . I know you really enjoy this for yourself, but I want you to know once again how much I appreciate all your hard work and dedication you invest into our family tree.

    Like

    • treeklimber says:

      Thanks Autie for reading and sharing your impressions. I do relish the research but I enjoy sharing it even more. It means a lot to me that you read it and let me know what you think.

      Like

  4. Happy Blogiversary! Amazingly detailed post. You have given me an idea about how to handle an inventory of one of my own ancestors. Your photos and references are an inspiration and add so much to your ancestors’ story.

    Like

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