Colonial Williamsburg: Governor’s Palace

As the sun set on my final day in Williamsburg, I took a quick self-guided tour of the Governor’s Palace. I really, really wanted to make it to the kitchens but didn’t get done in enough time. Costumed interpreters were stationed throughout the house to answer questions. I didn’t take notes so I hope I remember the rooms correctly.

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Governor’s Palace

Construction began in 1706, stalled due to lack of money, began again in 1711 with the completion of the entrance hall. The word “Palace” was first used for the governor’s house about 1714. Each governor made repairs until 1749 when the Palace was declared “ruinous”. The original Palace was renovated in the 1750s. The Palace hosted extravagant events such as galas and balls for Williamsburg society. The original Palace burned down in 1781 and the site eventually passed to the College of William & Mary until the 1920s when The CW Foundation purchased the property and began excavating and researching the site. The present structure was rebuilt between the 1950s and 1980s and renovated again in the 2000s to reflect the occupation of Lord Dunmore, the last of the royal governors, and his family.

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The entrance hall features accurate replication of the arms arrangement of the time when Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor, lived here. The arms represent a show of power and wealth. They were meant to send a message about imperial might.

The ballroom was added in 1752, following the a trend among English aristocrats to build special rooms dedicated to dancing and socializing. The back wall holds portraits of King Charles II and his wife Catherine of Barganza because Lady Dunmore had Stuart blood.

Heading upstairs…

The first bedroom is for the young ladies. Lady Catherine was the eldest, born 1760; Lady Augusta in 1761, Lady Susan, the youngest daughter but one born in 1767 and Lady Virginia born in Virginia in 1774. This camp bed belonged to the young ladies’ governess. I assume the doll belongs to one of the younger daughters of Lady Dunmore. I like how she’s all tucked in under the beautiful compass blanket.

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Colonial Williamsburg: R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse

The 18th-century coffeehouse stood as an alternative to the taverns. At the coffeehouse, men (no ladies were allowed) could sip coffee, chocolate and tea. Men could come here and smoke tobacco, play games and most importantly, discuss the issues of the day. In the coffeehouse, men of all walks of life came together to discuss new ideas. Those who didn’t have a voice in court were heard in the coffeehouse.

R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse is a newly recreated building at the eastern end of Duke of Gloucester Street near the capitol. Guests are led through the building by a coffeehouse employee and can sit and enjoy a hot beverage while discussing a news story or topic of discussion.

R. Charlton was a initially a wigmaker and his wife a dressmaker. They renovated a 1750 store to make it a clean, well-lit space.

The tour starts outside on the porch. The covered porch kept drinkers dry on rainy days and provided a neutral space for men to gather. Inside there are two main rooms side by side. The plain room is for the ordinary folks. It’s simply decorated and a casual place to hang out.

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newssheet and games at R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse

 

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games, pipes and a newssheet on the table at R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse

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Men could play dominoes or smoke a pipe at the coffeehouse

The second room is more refined with all the latest in fine furnishings from England.

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Fancy wallpaper from England adorns the walls of the room for the well-to-do

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a grandfather clock, a mirror and nice pictures adorn the nicer of the two rooms

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geometric print rugs were very fashionable

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The wallpaper looks like a geometric print from a distance but actually features large flowers

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a fancy tallcase clock

Charlton’s coffehouse also features a cabinet of curiosities with bones and skeletons of local fish and mammals.

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animal bones, porcupine quills, shark casing, seashell and other curiosities

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More fancy wallpaper in Mr. Charton’s office

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Mr. Charlton’s desk

The public room in the back features a drinks bar and seating. They also served food.

On my visit we discussed a topic of interest in one the newspapers of the day: should you keep old love letters? The amicable debate considered all sides of the issue: who were the letters from- an old lover or a deceased partner? Do you have children? Do you want them to know what you were thinking and feeling at that time of your life? If you were married to the letter writer and have children, don’t you want to preserve the letters for them and their children and so on? As an archivist, I’m firmly in the camp of saving letters no matter what.

Here at R. Charlton’s, all drinks are made as so not to disorder anyone’s stomach. For ready cash or fine credit Mr. Charlton will add a little something extra to your drink. 

I tried the amazing hot chocolate, made from American Heritage Chocolate by the Mars corporation. It was warm, spicy and sweet. It hit the spot on a cold, windy day. I had to go buy some at the visitor’s center gift shop to bring home.

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American Heritage Hot Chocolate by the Mars corporation

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Colonial Williamsburg: Historic Trades Part 4

The Apothecary Shop

I visited the apothecary on my last visit in 2008. I probably wouldn’t have stopped in again if it weren’t for my young niece who wants to be an herbal healer. Medicine in colonial times was quite different from today.

In Colonial times, the Apothecary was a pharmacist, doctor and surgeon all rolled into one. Apothecaries provided medical treatment, prescribed medicine, trained apprentices, performed surgery and acted as man-midwives.

Apothecaries were expensive and people often diagnosed and treated their own illnesses based on folk remedies. Every good colonial household had an herb garden. Housewives were knowledgeable about herbs and their uses. Household gardens contained a wide variety of plants for both food and medicine. Personally, I’d take my chances with folk remedies passed on from mother to daughter. However, many of the remedies mentioned in Every Man His Own Doctor, an 18th-century home medical text, are hair raising and not to be practiced today.

The Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop on Duke of Gloucester Street is the site where two apothecary-surgeons practiced in the 18th-century.  Williamsburg apothecaries not only practiced medicine but they also sold cooking spices, candles, salad oil, anchovies, toothbrushes, and tobacco.

Some ingredients used in colonial remedies are the basis for modern medications. Shown here are chalk for heartburn and digitalis made from the foxglove plant used to treat heart problems. Other modern remedies known in the 18th-century included calamine for skin irritations, and cinchona bark for fevers. Cinchona bark contains quinine for malaria and quinidine for cardiac conditions.

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colonial era medicines in the foreground with a leather splint in the background

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Digitalis: A tincture made with with Foxglove to treat heart problems

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Ipecac, a powerful emetic (“it makes you barf!”) declared a school child

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Black Pectoral Troches licorice cough drops

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“cardiac troches.” ground oyster shells, chalk, sugar, and nutmeg. These contain calcium carbonate were used as antacids.

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg: Visit With a Nation Builder: Part 3

Gowan Pamphlet

 

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African-American Baptist preacher, young Gowan Pamphlet passionately shares his story with an audience

My last visit with a nation builder was with fiery, passionate young Baptist preacher Gowan Pamphlet. Gowan Pamphlet, an enslaved Baptist preacher preaches messages of equality before God. He is owned by Mrs. Jane Vobe, owner of the King’s Arms Tavern. Don’t feel too harshly towards her, he says. She’s had her own troubles. (She can’t legally free him under the law. It’s very difficult at this time to free slaves). She once had her tavern at the other end of the town from where it is now. When the Methodists set up a meeting house across the street she wasn’t pleased at first. She soon saw the light and got the message about equality.

Gowan was well-educated in manners, etiquette and services for genteel tavern diners. This serves him well as a preacher. When he was ordained in 1772, he became the only ordained black preacher of any denomination in the country. He gives fiery speeches about freedom, believing the conflict with Britain will escalate into war and soon everyone will be free. He later followed his calling and risked his life to build Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church. Large gatherings of African Americans were prohibited out of fear of slave uprisings and Baptist preachers faced harassment as dissenters from the officially recognized Church of England.

Gowan Pamphlet believes war is imminent, America will win and the slaves will be free. It was tough to listen to his optimism knowing that his hopes were unfounded.

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African-American Baptist Preacher Gowan Pamphlet shares his hopes for the future

wow! This interpreter, whose name I have discovered is Joseph Feaster, really gets into his role. He is loud enough to hear from the top of the amphitheater and when I moved closer I could see him spitting as he talked. I can only imagine what Mr. Pamphlet would have sounded like in his meetings. He explained the difference between church vs. meeting. Since the Church of England was the official state religion, all others were outlawed so when people gathered for services, they couldn’t officially announce they were going to church or they’d be arrested. They were simply going to a meeting. This was something I never understood before, in spite of living in the land of meeting house, the first colony to separate religion from the state.

Mr. Pamphlet was excited when I told him I’m from the state where his religion was founded and in his day (1774) they are building a brand new, large meeting house. I wish he could have visited and preached there but his spirit lives on in Colonial Williamsburg. The amount of information I found about this man is rich especially considering he was a man of color.

I’ve always been impressed with Colonial Williamsburg’s first person interpreters. Their depth of knowledge and skill at portraying a real person from the history books or a person forgotten by the books is just incredible. I’m even more impressed that they have uncovered lost stories of African-Americans to include in their historic programming. It’s been 40 years since they first began African-American interpretation and that interpretation is constantly evolving.

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Colonial Williamsburg: Visit With a Nation Builder: Part 2

Caesar Hope

Colonial Williamsburg has moved away from the reenactments in the streets towards telling specific stories about specific people. This allows them to tell more stories than just the figures represented by the history books. I chose to learn more about people of color in 18th-century Williamsburg. I attended an audience with Caesar Hope, barber.

Caesar Hope tells his story. He is quite the character and writing down his story doesn’t do him justice. He started by critiquing the choice of an older man in the audience to wear a beard and the man kept trying to justify his choices rather than play along with the reenactment allowing Caesar to give him fashion advice and explain what he can do for this man.

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Caesar Hope tells his story

Born in Africa and kidnapped as a small boy, he was sold into slavery in Virginia. As an adult he was manumitted and took up the profession of barbering, something he had learned from his first owner.

Caesar serves the most elite gentlemen in Williamsburg. He is known more for his conversation and wit than his barbering skills!

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Caesar Hope tells his story

Caesar is working hard to save money for his wife and son. He and his wife agreed he would first free their son and then Mrs. Hope if he could. Sadly, it will take him many years to save up to buy his child and probably his whole life before he can afford his wife. Even then, they will still legally be slaves, as his property according to the law.

The audience mainly wanted to discuss this last point, about how much money Hope’s wife would cost to buy and the intricacies of slavery at this time. I was more interested in Caesar’s Hope’s personal story and his job but there wasn’t ample opportunity for my to ask more questions.

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Colonial Williamsburg: Visit With a Nation Builder Part 1

Patrick Henry

Meet Patrick Henry orator, statesman, first elected (non-royal) governor in Virginia. lawyer, patriot and founder of American independence.

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Patrick Henry after his speech comes down to interact with people one-on-one

He had a lot to say about his past. The Interpreter was great. He spoke with enthusiasm and humor, especially for a man nearing the end of his life. (Patrick Henry would die the following year). The Interpreter effectively conveyed Henry’s life story in an interesting manner but the political history was too much information and not enough detail for me until I looked it up. After the presentation, he answered questions knowledgeably and agreeably. Then he stepped down from the stage to meet and greet people wanting to take pictures, shake his hand and discuss his impact on modern day politics.

My pictures didn’t come out so well because I was too far away. I kept moving closer as people left to try to capture his face. The zoom lens can only reach so far, unfortunately.

Colorful character Patrick Henry tells his life story. A self-starter, Henry studied law on his own. He first became famous in 1763 for calling the King a tyrant who would be disposed because the far away King refused to pass a law made by the representatives of the American people. Two years later he spoke out against the Stamp Act in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He compared King George III with dictators like Caeser and Charles I of England. On May 29, 1765, he introduced seven radical resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Five of the seven resolutions were adopted on May 30, though one was reconsidered the next day (after Henry’s departure) and removed.

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Patrick Henry relates his life story

He was a very passionate speaker and got the Burgesses (representatives) all riled up because they thought his words were treason. Henry managed to win the men to his side and led every protest for American rights and independence.

Henry was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774. On March 23, 1775, he gave his infamous speech arguing the Congress should put together an army to fight against the British. He gave a dramatic speech, holding his wrists together like they were chained. Henry raised his wrists towards the heavens and stated dramatically “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty” (imagine Henry bursting from his imaginary chains and grabbing an ivory letter opener) “Or give me death!” (picture Henry pretending to stab himself.” No one spoke for a few minutes. History will credit this speech with tipping the scales towards independence. (Listen to his speech given by Richard Schumann who interprets Patrick Henry for Colonial Williamsburg)

The interpreter was really into his speech, he was spitting a bit as his voice rose.

Henry led the militia against Lord Dunmore and called for Lord Dunmore’s removal after the Governor tried to steal the town’s gunpowder. On May 2, Henry collected the militia of Hanover County and marched toward Williamsburg. He sent a message to the governor demanding that the gunpowder be returned to representatives of the colony. Governor Dunmore wrote the Virginians a bill of exchange for value of the powder, then issued a proclamation outlawing “a certain Patrick Henry” for disturbing the peace of the colony.

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Patrick Henry answers questions from the audience

Henry served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, was a member of the Virginia committee of Correspondence, a delegate to the Virginia Convention, and a delegate to the Virginia Constitution Ratification Convention. Henry was commissioned as Colonel of the First Virginia regiment on Saturday, August 26, 1775, by the third Virginia Convention. Henry was a delegate to the Continental Congress buy resigned his position to return to Virginia to begin organizing his regiment.

On June 29 was elected the first governor of the Commonwealth under its new constitution, adopted the same day. Patrick Henry served five terms as the first and sixth governor of Virginia.

Henry was succeeded as governor by Thomas Jefferson but the two were not particularly friendly. There was some animosity between them during the war years when the British advanced on the capital of Virginia. In January 1781, British forces under Benedict Arnold, sailed up the James River and captured Richmond, the capital at the time. The government fled to Staunton, minus Governor Jefferson, whose term had expired. Jefferson took refuge at his farm in Bedford County, and because Virginia had not had another election, the Commonwealth had no governor for ten days. Several legislators, including Patrick Henry complained of Jefferson’s actions and called for an inquiry into the conduct of the executive. Patrick Henry explains how he thought Jefferson should have been impeached. (That will NEVER happen again… he adds). The Battle of Yorktown effectively ended the war before an inquiry could be held. The Virginia legislature decided against holding the inquiry and congratulated Jefferson on winning the war. Patrick Henry did not seem to thrilled by this.

Patrick Henry served as governor again from 1784-1786. He was the longest serving governor of Virginia and will always be on the record as such due to term limits.

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Patrick Henry tells his life story

Henry explained his feelings towards the Constitution. He opposed ratification because he felt it put too much power in the hands of the federal government without a bill of rights. He feared the absence of a bill of rights was a power grab by a few (as in Jefferson and Madison). Virginia agreed to ratify the Constitution when the Bill of Rights was added but Henry felt they did not adequately safeguard the rights of the people. He emphasized the rights of the people -rights NO ONE can take away from us. Fortunately the audience didn’t get into a political debate while I was busy trying to take notes.

I asked about his first wife, Sarah, who was mentally ill. He explained that after the birth of her 6th child she became disoriented and confused, not speaking and she stopped recognizing her children. Whether this was postpartum depression or not there is no way of knowing given the lack of medical knowledge at the time but modern scholars feel there is a connection. She continued to decline, becoming violent, and the family physician recommended taking her to Williamsburg to the hospital there. After touring the hospital, Patrick Henry decided it was too cruel to allow his wife to be imprisoned there. He had a “commodious establishment” made for her in the basement. It wasn’t the dank, dark, dungeon his enemies would have you think but actually sunny and comfortable. There she had light, food and water, was attended by a nurse and visited by her family. Sadly, Sarah never recovered after died after 4 1/2 years. I had read a novel, in my younger days, Or Give Me Death by Ann Rinaldi. In the novel Sarah Henry throws herself out the window crying “Give me liberty, or give me death!” thus inspiring her husband’s speech. (and my question) However, historians don’t know the truth and this seems to have been a fun piece of fiction for young adults. It seems like the truth is that her family loved her and tried their best to care for her with the limited medical treatment available at that time. It breaks my heart for her and the family who watched her suffer. I asked because I felt it was important to Sarah Henry to have her story told. I realized when I asked that this must be a frequently asked question. A tougher question would have been “Did you cover up your wife’s illness because of your political ambitions?” No doubt there would have been a great answer to that question too.

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Patrick Henry shares his story 

Patrick Henry married again after a suitable period of mourning in 1777. His second wife bore him another 11 children and survived. He will die next year in 1799 at his home on Red Hill Plantation in Campbell County. (How he knows this, he didn’t say!)

You too can have the pleasure of an audience with Patrick Henry thanks you YouTubers. I wish I had been close enough to take a video but I got there too late for a good seat.

This is a great program and I recommend visiting with as many nation builders as you can. Thomas Jefferson is still my favorite but Patrick Henry is wonderful too.

 

Colonial Williamsburg: Historic Trades Part 3

Shoemaker

The firm of George Wilson, who moved to Williamsburg from Norfolk, Virginia in the late 1760s. In 1773, George Wilson specialized in “Boots and Shoes for Gentlemen.” Boot making was considered the most sophisticated and prestigious branch of the trade. It followed a centuries-old tradition. The making of boots and shoes for men and the making of shoes for women were separate pursuits.

Shoemaker and apprentice explain the process of making shoes

Shoemaker and apprentice explain the process of making shoes

Men could select shoes from a stock of “sale shoes” in popular-styled, already-sized shoes. Alternately, if his feet were an unusual size, he could order a pair made order, which required a day’s wait. The firm’s specialty was boots for riding. Wilson’s sister-in-law was the proprietor of the shoe factory of Mary Wilson and Company.

Apprentice demonstrating process of working leather into shoes

Apprentice demonstrating process of working leather into shoes

The chart on the wall shows the prices of goods sold.

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The chart on the wall shows the prices of goods sold.

Printing and Binding Office

The printer spent hours just to produce a newspaper or book. Setting type for one page of the weekly newspaper required 25 hours of hand labor.

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Printer demonstrating hand press

The type is set in the galleys backwards, locked into the chase and secured. Learn more about the process of printing  Colonial Williamsburg Almanack

In the 18th-century the book binding office served as a stationer’s, a post office, an advertising agency, an office supply shop, a newsstand, and a bookbindery. It sold magazines and books, maps and almanacs,and even sealing wax!

Bookbinding office books

The place to buy your paper goods

Books were sold unbound. Customers liked to choose their own bindings to show off status and wealth or to personal tastes. Here you could have a book bound from start to finish.

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tool of the trade

Groups of printed pages or signatures of four, eight, 12, or 16 pages contained two or more pages on each side of a sheet. When folded and cut the signatures presented the text in the proper order for binding.

A bookbinder compiled the signatures and beat them with a heavy hammer to make the sheets lie close. He arranged them on a sewing frame and stitched them together at the back fold with linen thread. As he sewed, he looped the strands around thick hemp cross threads, which created characteristic horizontal ridges across the spine and unified the assembly. were laid on a sewing frame and stitched to cords at the back fold with linen thread. These cords formed horizontal ridges across the spine

The book binder demonstrates sewing a book.

 

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Colonial Williamsburg: Historic Trades Part 2

We wandered over to the blacksmith shop to learn how it operated during the time of the Revolutionary War. The blacksmith shop doesn’t really interest me specifically. I have seen two other pre-Industrial blacksmith shops before this one and the process is basically the same.

A blacksmith’s forge consisted of a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed its soft-coal fire and a hood to carry away the smoke. The forge heated bars of iron yellow-hot. With his journeymen and apprentices, the blacksmith used sledges weighing as much as 12 pounds to hammer the heated bars into various shapes.

For more on the blacksmith, visit The Colonial Williamsburg Almanack

Next was a quick visit to the public leather works. The leather works cut, mold, and stitch leather and heavy textiles into a variety of necessary products for Virginia’s fighting men. They sometimes made leather stays, known as jumps, for working women.

 

Saddle making was a skilled craft and produced high-quality leather goods for the wealthy.

My favorite trade, as if you couldn’t tell already, is the Milliner and Mantua Maker. English fashion dominated in Colonial Virginia. Fashion originated in Paris, spread to London and then across the ocean to wealthy women like Lady Dunmore, the governor’s wife. All the other women wanted to copy Lady Dumore’s gowns. Ordering a new gown wasn’t as simple as it sounds, as all clothes were custom made. While George Washington preferred to send his measurements and preferences to his tailor in England, Williamsburg has a Milliner and Mantua Maker’s shop where fashionable women can purchase or have made all they need to look their best.

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What d’ye buy? A new custom-made gown? A new fashionable hat?

Millinery shops were almost always owned by women. From fabric sold in the shop, milliners would make items such as: shirts, shifts, aprons, neckerchiefs, caps, cloaks, hoods, hats, muffs, ruffles, trim for gowns.

In addition to being a trades woman who made fashion accessories, the milliner was also a businesswoman who sold a wide range of fashionable imported goods such as the very latest wares in haberdashery, jewelry, hosiery, shoes “and other items too tedious to mention.” [1]

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A milliner could trim a hat and ladies could see the latest styles on a pandora or fashion doll sent over from France. Fashions changed every season!

“In a word, they furnish everything to the Ladies that can contribute to set off their Beauty, increase their Vanity, or render them ridiculous.” [2]

The mantua maker was skilled in cutting, fitting, and sewing cloaks, mantles, hats, hoods, caps, gloves, petticoats, hoops, riding costumes, and dresses for masquerades – all in the latest fashion.

The mantua maker explained how to put on stays if you don’t have a ladies’ maid. You can either put them on loosely laced and pull on a knot tied at the top of the cord to tighten or put them on, lace them backwards and shimmy around.

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Mantua Maker explains how women got dressed without a maid

We continued the discussion from earlier in the day on what women did when they had their monthlies. Conclusion? It’s fun to visit places like the museum version of Colonial Williamsburg but I would certainly not want to live then.

The shop is much smaller than I remembered. I also remember the tailor sharing this space and now he has his own shop elsewhere in town. Visitors can peer into the back workroom and see what fashions the seamstresses are working on. It’s amazing to look at the exquisite garments they still make by hand here in the shop. While I wouldn’t want to live in the 18th-century, they did have some incredibly beautiful clothes.

Trade shops to be continued ….

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Colonial Williamsburg : Historic Trades Part 1

In the afternoon, as the rain tapered off, my friend and I browsed some of the trade shops. I continued my visit the next day when it was too cold and windy to stay outside for too long.

I was especially interested in the spinning, weaving and dyeing house as I do spinning and weaving at the museum where I work. I teach elementary school groups about textile production including showing them how to card and spin a piece of wool on a drop spindle and do simple weaving on a small upright loom. In colonial New England people made their clothes at home out of necessity. In Virginia the situation was quite different as they were a much wealthier colony.

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Textiles woven in Colonial Williamsburg

Until just before the Revolutionary War most people imported textiles from Britain. Because of non-importation agreements and war, British textiles became scare. A clothing factory opened outside of Williamsburg in 1776. They mostly made cloth for the military.

Spinning was a domestic chore not much practiced in colonial Virginia, as it was very time-consuming, and most cloth was imported. It would take 12 spinners of wool to keep the weaver busy at the loom, and 100 spinners of cotton to keep him busy.

Dyes came from the natural world. Cochineal, an insect from South America,makes the color red. 70,000 cochineal are needed to make a pound of red dye. Brown comes from walnuts, blue from indigo from South Carolina, Spain, or South America. Purple comes from the Spanish log wood tree, and turmeric from India gives yellow its hue. Orange comes from the root of the madder plant.

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Dyed yarn. Red was a color associated with poor people while green was for the wealthy because it required double dyeing in yellow and blue.

Weavers were men who served a 7-year apprenticeship to learn their trade.

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Press the pedals underneath, throw the shuttle through, repeat in the other direction

Weavers can create plain or intricate patterns depending on how they set up the loom and the order in which they push the pedals that move the harnesses of the loom in the correct sequences.

He insists it isn’t hard to learn. Weaving is MUCH easier to do when you have a long arm span and long legs to reach the pedals. It’s easy enough to make a simple stripe but to create more complicate patterns requires more knowledge and artistry.

Colonial Williamsburg’s weavers weave on two types of looms that represent the types available to eighteenth-century Virginians. The smaller is a cantilever loom, developed during the eleventh century in Spain. The larger is a four-post box loom, created in England in the sixteenth century.

 

To learn how to weave, Colonial Williamsburg offers weaving workshops.

For more information on the historic trade, visit the Weaver page of Colonial Williamsburg’s website.

Colonial Williamsbug: Brush-Everard House

One of the historic houses open for guided tours is the Brush-Everard House. I toured this recently renovated home on a rainy morning.

The house was built in 1718 by John Brush, a gunsmith and armorer who was the first keeper of Williamsburg’s Magazine. Located on the east side of the Palace Green, John Brush’s home was a fashionable center-passage plan house. Brush planned for future generations to improve upon the house.

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Everard House dining room

After Brush died in 1727, the house changed hands many times before it was purchased by Thomas Everard in the mid-1750s. Thomas Everard, an orphan, was educated at an orphans school in London learning bookkeeping and record keeping before his uncle apprenticed Thomas to an important clerk in Williamsburg. After completing a 7 year apprenticeship, Everard held a number of public offices, including clerk of the York County court (from 1745 until his death in 1781), deputy clerk of the General Court, clerk of the Secretary of the Colony’s office, mayor of Williamsburg (he served two one-year terms), and was a member of the Court of Directors of the Public Hospital.

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Everard House dining room

By the 1770s Everard was a staunch supporter of American Independence, signing the 1770 Non-Importation agreement and served on the committee to elect Virginia’s delegates to the Continental Congress. By this time Everard was a prominent man in the community. He owned a house and property in Williamsburg, 600 acres of land just outside of town and more than 1,000 acres of land in the western part of Virginia.

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Everard House dining room features wallpaper and painted canvas floorcloth

Everard made fashionable updates to the house including adding wallpaper to several of the first floor rooms, putting carpeting into and repainting the parlor and adding wainscoting to the first floor rooms.

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Fashionable carpeting in the Everard House parlor

His wife, Diana Robinson had been a member of a prominent local family. When she passed away, her two daughters Francis (“Fanny”) and Martha (“Patsy”) were left to help manage the household for their father.

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Everard House parlor with harpsichord for his wife

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Original color green paint and mirror help reflect the light

The house is known for the elegant stairway with its elaborately turned balusters, sweeping handrails, and richly ornamented carving on the stair brackets.

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Elaborate staircase in the Brush-Everard House

Daughter Francis married the rector of the Bruton Parish Church/President of William & Mary in 1765. They relocated to London when he was appointed Commissary to the Bishop of London (the highest ranking church official in the colony) and member of the Governor’s Council. After her husband’s death in 1772, Francis, in poor health herself, returned to Williamsburg to stay with her father. She stayed at the house until her death in December, 1773.

Thomas Everard’s bedroom showing his wealth. His wallpaper and bedroom set were ordered from England. He requested blue textiles and had to hope they went with the blue of the wallpaper. His bedroom is downstairs, separate from the dining room and parlor.

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Thomas Everard’s bedroom showing his wealth and status

Thomas Everard’s office was also in the back of the house across from his bedroom with a separate entrance so he could separate business and pleasure.

No one knows when Everard passed away. The house was sold and again changed hands before the CWF began to restore it using clues hidden inside the house. The grounds have also been restored based on excavations and research.