FARMING AND MERCHANDISING.
oxen, and making it into flour was not easily done. The grain was ground between rough millstones and the product bolted by hand. Before the turnpike was built, corn, which has always been the American pioneer's stand-by, could not be carried to distant markets with profit, and this may be one reason why there were so many distilleries in the early years. Cotton and hemp were used largely in making clothing for the slaves, for there were many in the county. John K. Bain, whose father, Peter Bain, settled near the mouth of Sink Creek in 1812, says: "The productions of that section were corn, wheat, oats, and rye. Reaping was done with hand sickles. Plows used were bull tongues. Iron cost twenty-five cents a pound. The range was good. Hogs got fat on beech mast, dry cattle lived on the range all winter, and there was no thoroughbred stock." Dr. Foster writes: "Corn about 1845 sold for $1 a barrel, or ten cents the bushel if you went to the country after it. I remember when the best horses sold for $40; then the price went up some, and as fine a horse as I ever saw in the county was bought by John F. Moore at Liberty for $100. Hauling was done mostly with oxen, many men driving two yokes. As fine apples grew in the Basin as anywhere."
Freight by wagon from Nashville to Liberty was sixty cents per one hundred pounds.
- the women cotton dresses striped with indigo and turkey red, though some had silk. The men's clothing was usually made by tailors, our first tailor at Liberty being Bill Cochran; the second, Joe Perryman. The best of our early hatters was Mathias West, who made considerable money. Wool and fur hats were made. Mr. West could make as fine a 'stovepipe' as you will see. The price was $7 or $8, and when the fur was worn off the hat was brought back and made as good as new. The wealthiest people, like Francis Turner, Ned Robinson, and Abraham Overall, had fine broadcloth suits made by the tailors." The old people have always claimed that merchandise was frequently brought from New Orleans, necessitating high prices with the middlemen, for the trip by keel boat required five months. Even the Liberty merchants may have got some of their wares by water, for this item is found in Dr. Wright's daybook: "John Conger, credit for raising flatboat and keeping her till next boating season in Caney Fork, $20."
that his patrons bought on time; moreover, there is not an item charged at five cents. Joshua Bratten is charged twenty-five cents for half a pound of powder; Col. Abe Overall, $2 for eight pounds of coffee and 12 cents a pound for sugar; Hariette C. Roulstone, 43 cents for two yards of "apron checks"; Thomas Cameron, 75 cents for three yards of domestic; David L. Ray, $1.50 for three yards of calico; Leonard Lamberson, 62 ½ cents for a fourth of a pound of tea; John R. Dougherty, 62 ½ cents for a pound of raisins; E. Wright, 12 cents for two dozen eggs; John M. Leake, $1 for a bandanna handkerchief; Irving Gray (hatter), $2.50 for six yards of calico; Jacob Overall, 12 cents for two gimlets; Littleberry Vick, $5.75 for twenty-three yards of homespun; Louis Y. Davis, 25 cents for two pounds of "homemade" (maple) sugar; Col. Abe Overall, $7.50 for a mill saw (probably the straight sort); Elizabeth Overall, $2.25 for a cotton umbrella, "to be paid for in brown jeans"; Liberty Lodge, No. 77, "to cash to pay postage, 6 ½ cents"; William Blair, two reap hooks, $1.50; Asia Cooper, one dozen button molds, 6 ½ cents, and one paper of tacks, 18 ½ cents; W. B. Stokes, four pounds of nails, 50 cents; W. G. Stokes, one drab hat, $8.50, one cravat stiffening, 12 ½ cents, and one vial oil of cinnamon, 25 cents; Bartimeus Pack, one hymn book, 75 cents; Richard Arnold, one fur hat, $6. Calico was worth 50 cents the yard; nutmegs, 6 ¼ cents each. A lady is charged 87 ½ cents for three and a half yards of domestic and 60 cents for a pair of cotton hose. T. W. Duncan buys a dozen gun
flints for 6 ½ cents, and John Canler a paper of ink powder for 18 ¾ cents. James B. Pistole is charged $8 for "one Tom and Jerry hat"; William C. Garrison, $3 "for Webster's speeches"; William B. Stokes, 62 ½ cents for "one piano song"; L. H. Bethel, 37 ½ cents to pay postage; Thomas E. Bratten, 75 cents for a gallon of molasses. There is a charge of $1.20 for four pounds of loaf sugar. Loaf sugar was in conical packages and came ready wrapped in dark-blue paper. Somewhat pathetic is this charge of eighty-two years ago, "Two boys' balls, 6 ½ cents," for one cannot help wondering what came of the boy or boys. A farmer is credited $2 for twenty-four and a half pounds of butter and another $2.16 ½ for six and a half pounds of wool.
credited with 62 ½ cents for one and a quarter pounds flax seed; and at the time Jordan Sellars was charged $9 for "one fine fur hat," he was credited with 85 cents for eight and a half pounds of cheese.
this note was made by Colonel Overall, who was not poor, but owned perhaps twenty-five hundred acres of land, a score of slaves, a mill, cotton gin, and distillery: "The amount of money that I have spent since the 26th of August, 1844: September 10, $1; September 18, 50 cents; September 20, 50 cents; October 1, $1; October 20, $2; October 25, 45 cents; November 9, 50 cents; December 6, $5."
Go to Chapter 6
Return to Index Page
Return to the Dekalb County Page