Friday, January 29, 2021

John Beale Bordley 1727-1804, Attorney, Author, Agriculturist

John Beale Bordley (1726/27-1804)  by Charles Willson Peale 1790

Article from The Salisbury Times (now called The Delmarva Times), Salisbury, Maryland - May 22, 1958 from the Delmarva Heritage Series, by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.

John Beale Bordley was born in February, 1727, four months after his father's death. His mother remarried for the third time & the young boy did not have a pleasant home life. So at the age to ten, he went to live with his uncle in Chestertown. He received his early education under the direction of schoolmaster, Charles Peale, the father of the famous American painter, Charles Willson Peale. In his later life, John Beale Bordley arranged for the artist Peale to study in England under the famous American expatriate artist Benjamin West. Bordley, with the aid of others, saw to it that Peale had enough money for at least two years of study. Peale later painted four portraits of John Bordley, & also a picture of his two sons, Thomas & Matthias. 

At seventeen, John went back to Annapolis to live with & study under his attorney half-brother, Stephen Bordley. Before practicing law, however, he spent more time in studying history, philosophy, mathematics, surveying, & other fields of the arts & sciences. 

Shortly after his marriage to Margaret Chew in 1750, John felt it necessary to break away from the luxurious & fashionable society of his brother's world in Annapolis. He & his young wife went to live at Joppa, then in the "wilderness" of Baltimore County. For the next 12 or 13 years he worked his plantation & at the same time held a most lucrative clerkship, for Joppa at the time was the county seat. Later he moved to Baltimore City, where he was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court in 1776, & in the following year, a judge of the British Admiralty Court. In 1768, he had been one of the commissioners to help determine the boundary between Maryland & Delaware (some say Pennsylvania), & also served as a member of Governor Sharpe's & Governor Eden's Councils. 

The year 1770 was of great importance in the life of John Beale Bordley for his wife inherited from the Chew family half of Wye Island - the other half going to his sister-in-law, Mary, wife of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence & a governor of Maryland. Although the Bordleys maintained their winter residence in Annapolis, they moved to his beautiful estate on Wye Island in Queen Anne's County. For many years he was able to devote much of his time & wealth to agrarian experiments. From time to time he added to his holdings with the purchase of Poole's Island & farms on the mainland in Kent, Harford, & Cecil Counties. He farmed on a large scale & endeavored to improve practices of agriculture with the aid of imported machinery, seeds, & books on husbandry. It was because of his farming practice on Wye Island & on his other farms that Bordley became widely influential in the field of agriculture in this period of American history. Bordley personally conducted what amounted to an agricultural experiment station on Wye Island.

Although tobacco had long been the basis of the Maryland economy, Bordley experimented with wheat & flax; which he proved to the other farmers could be grown successfully. He also condemned the two & three field rotation system in favor of an eight field system, which included three fields of clover in the rotation plan. Thus, even without the aid of chemistry, he had hit upon the contribution of legumes to the soil. He also experimented with hemp, cotton, fruits, many kinds of vegetables, & animal husbandry. Before long, the wharves that he had built at his plantation were busy for he had established a profitable wheat trade with England & Spain. However, despite the fact he had made a small fortune from this trade when the Townsend Duties were passed by England against the colonies, Bordley showed his patriotism by abiding with the policy of non-importation.

Historian Scharf, quoting from memoirs of the Bordley family says, "When his foreign beers, wines, porters, ales, etc., began to diminish in his cellars, he started a brewery of his own, & planted a vineyard. He ground his own flour in his own windmills; made his own brick in his own brickyard & kiln; clothed his own servants in kersey & linsey woolsey, manufactured by his own looms from led, spun & wove his own flax; rotted & twisted hemp grown on his far in his won rope-walk; did his own carpentering & blacksmithing, & had his own private granary for the ships. When this independent Maryland farmer's beer was fermented, he put it away in casks made by his own carpenters, from timber cut down out of his own woods, & he even manufactured his own salt, from the Chesapeake Bay water, rather than be dependent upon Great Britain for anything." 

And when the Revolutionary War broke out, Bordley continued his personal fight with Great Britain. Poole's Island early became an important base for sending supplies to General Washington's army & other military units. And although he had gone to Annapolis at the beginning of the war, because of the danger of British raids on the Eastern Shore, he returned to Wye Island in 1778 to raise provisions for the American army. Shortly thereafter the British Tories & army stragglers attacked his plantation, but luckily they were driven off by the militia before much damage was done. 

In the meantime Bordley's first wife died; & in 1777, he married Mrs. John Miffin, a widow of Philadelphia. From that time on the Bordley family wintered in Philadelphia instead of Annapolis. He soon became a member of the American Philosophical Society. In, 1785 he made probably his greatest contribution to development of American agriculture by encouraging the formation of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, of which he was vice president & actively interested until his death. Although this society was not the first of its kind, (the South Carolina Agricultural Society specializing in rice culture was organized in 1784), it was by far the most influential in promoting general agriculture. The Society's voluminous Transactions presented the results of the members' experimentation in agriculture. 

Bordley himself made important contributions with his writings about agriculture. At first the results of his farming operations & studies were published on cards, then on handbills, & as essays, before coming out in book form. Some of these works are A Summary View of The Courses of Crops, In The Husbandry of England & Maryland (1784) & Sketches on Rotations of Crops & Other Rural Matters (1797). His famous book Essays & Notes on Husbandry & Rural Affairs, published in 1799, with additions in 1801, contains 566 pages describing a system of farming based on rotation of crops & deals with the several kinds of crops, fruits, & animals grown on England & Maryland farms, manures, farm buildings, dairy products, food, & even the diet for farm people. Although the style of writing is clear & practical, some of the advice would seem strange to us today - "threshing wheat by driving 24 horses in four ranks around a large threshing floor until they traveled 25 miles." 

Bordley also had the time & knowledge to write on such other subjects as yellow fever, manufacturing, national credit, money, weights & measures, the last three topics being published in 1789 with a supplement coming out in 1790. Bordley, who died in 1804 & was buried in St. Peter's Churchyard in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

19C Garden Walls by Winslow Homer (1836-1910)

Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Girl and LaurelWinslow Homer (1836-1910) Peach Blossoms by the Wall
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) Girl at a Garden Wall
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) Peach Blossoms at the Garden Wall
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) Girls on a Wall with a Lobster
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) The Garden Wall
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) On the Wall

Monday, January 25, 2021

Walls at Public Courtyards & Buildings in Early America

Reflection of the Old Courthouse Tower in Washington County, Tennessee.

 In 1706, the act of the Virginia legislature authorizing the building of the Governor's Palace allocated 635 pounds for the construction of the garden with these instructions, "that a Court-Yard, of dimensions proportionable to the said house, be laid out, leveled and encompassed with a brick wall 4 feet high with the balustrades of wood thereupon, on the said land, and that a Garden of the length of 254 foot and the breadth of 144 foot from out to out, adjoining to the said house, to be laid out and leveled and enclosed with a brick wall, 4 feet high, with ballsutrades of wood upon the said wall, and that handsome gates be made to the said court-yard and garden."
By 1723, Rev. Hugh Jones reported that the courtyard was "finished and with beautiful gates." But by 1776, the wooden components of the fences had begun to deteriorate, when note was made in the Virginia Council Journal that they were "Repairing Fodder Houses & paling round the Garden."

Twenty five men were appointed "to repair fences of park" in 1777. And it was recorded that "60 foot of plank, 250 nails" were purchased for the task.

Public Yard - Courthouse Yard

In 1743 Spotsylvania County, Virginia, A workman was hired to "rail in the Courthouse yard."

In 1778 Alexandria, Virginia, a valuable one half acre lot "fronting the whole Courthouse yard and market place" was offered for sale.

A yard is an enclosed division of uncultivated land usually attached to, or enclosed by a dwelling or public building or outbuildings usually defined by a fence or a wall.

Brick walls often surrounded public yards at court houses, state houses, hospitals, churches, cemeteries, prisons, and inns. Wooden fences usually surround yards at private dwellings, but some gentry homes also had brick or stone walls.  By the last quarter of the 1700s, folks referred to the enclosed area, where those incarcerated take exercise, as a prison yard.

The term court yard usually referred to a public or private entrance greeting and meeting area. Because most courtyards were built to receive carriages and horses, they usually were located on the road side of coastline houses, not on the water-facing facade.

Often colonials & early Americans would simply refer to their yards, Occasionally writers, especially visitors from England or the Continent, would leave the term yard off of a description of a court yard, simply referring to a court.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Wall Trees & Espalier in Early America

Free-standing Espaliered Trees

In the British American colonies, an espalier was a lattice-work or frame-work or wall support system, sometimes defining the boundary of a garden, upon which ornamental or bearing fruit trees were pruned & trained. 

Espaliered fruit trees were often used to create a focal point and as a form of art, as well as for the practical fruit that they produced.  Espalier, a French word derived from the Italian spalliera, which means "something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against," is the process of controlling plant growth in a flat plane, usually against a wall or fence, or along a free-standing trellis. Trees espaliered on a wall were often called wall trees or wall fruit.
Espaliered Fruit Tree also called a Wall Tree.  The term espalier also refers to the plant itself grown in this way. Originally the term espalier defined only the trellis, or frame, on which the plant was trained.
Mature Espaliered Wall Fruit Trees. The practice of espalier may go back to early Egypt, where tombs from about 1400 BC have been found with paintings of espaliered fig trees. In the Middle Ages in Europe, manuscripts depict espaliered fruit inside walled monastery gardens or castle courtyards economically bearing fruit without filling the limited open space.
Flowering Espalier. The classic European styles can be traced back to the 16th & 17th centuries, where they were developed in the marginal climates of northern France & England for more efficient fruit production.
Espaliered Fruit Trees. There are numerous espalier forms ranging from the very simple, free-flowing natural & informal designs to complicated formal patterns. The most common formal styles are candelabra, tiered, basket weave, fan, cordon, pinnate, palmate, or Belgian or double lattice or diamond motif.
Espaliered Wall Tree or Wall Fruit. The wall tree or wall fruit system was meant to protect plants from wind or weather and, hopefully, to enable espaliered trees to bear fruit earlier than stand alone trees, either natural or espaliered.
Espaliered Wall Tree or Wall Fruit. In 1736, Thomas Hancock at Boston, Massachusettes, wrote to England requesting information on the availability of young trees, "Send me a Catalogue of what Fruit you have that are Dwarf Trees and Espaliers."
Free-standing Espaliered Fruit Trees. Visiting Englishman James Birket wrote in September of 1750, about Captain Godrey Malbone's estate at Newport, Rhode Island, "The Surface of the Earth before the house is a Handsome Garden with variety of wall fruits And flowers...this house & Garden is reckond the wonder of that part of the Country."
Blooming Wall Fruit Trees. In Baltimore, Maryland in 1800, the property of Adrian Valeck was listed for sale in the Federal Gazette, "A large garden in the highest state of cultivation, laid out in numerous and convenient walks and squares bordered with espaliers, on which...the greatest variety of fruit trees, the choicest fruits from the best nurseries in this country and Europe have been attentively and successfully cultivated."
Free-Standing Espaliered Apple Trees. John Gardiner and David Hepburn advised gardeners in their 1804 The American Gardener, published in Washington, District of Columbia, that January was the month to "prune espalier trees."
Espaliered Trees. In his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar, Bernard M'Mahon of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote, "Espaliers are hedges of fruit trees, which are trained up regularly to a lattice or trellis of wood work, and are commonly arranged in a single row in borders, round the boundaries of the principal divisions of the kitchen garden; there serving a double or treble purpose...profitable, useful, and ornamental.
Pear Wall Tree. "They produce large fine fruit plentifully, without taking up much room, and being in a close range, hedge-like; they in some degree shelter the esculent crops...and also they afford shelter in winter...and shade in summer."
Free Standing Belgian Espalier. In the British American colonies & the early republic, where combining ornament with function was particularly admired, most espaliered plants were both useful & symbolic fruit trees.  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wall at Mount Vernon Deer Park

Detail 1792 Artist Edward Savage (1761-1817). East Front of Mount Vernon (with Deer.)

The Deer Park at Mount Vernon

Following aristocratic British practice, George Washington fenced off 18 acres on the slope, between the Mansion and the Potomac River, to serve as “a paddock for deer” or deer park. Originating in the Middle Ages, deer parks initially served as large hunting preserves for kings and nobles. While still a clear marker of elite status, Washington’s deer park served a more picturesque function, providing his guests with the delightful spectacle of seemingly wild deer roaming through parkland.

In artist Edward Savage's view of Mount Vernon from the east, the artist captured the short-lived “paddock of deer,” inside the picketed fence in the left foreground. The fence was not visible from the yard, creating the intended illusion that the deer roamed wild.

In August 1785, Washington wrote friends both home and abroad, seeking English deer in addition to the common American variety. The following summer, Benjamin Ogle sent six English fawns captured on his Maryland plantation, providing Washington with an initial stock of English deer. 

In addition, Washington’s old friend and neighbor, George William Fairfax, sent directly from Great Britain a “buck & doe of the best English deer.” Washington commented that the English deer are “very distinguishable by the darkness of their colour, and their horns.” When writing about his deer park, George Washington alluded to its role in allowing him “to be a participator of the tranquility and rural amusements” that he so eagerly sought after the Revolutionary War.

Washington created a deer park to inspire and amuse his family, neighbors, and guests. When Washington redesigned the landscape at Mount Vernon following the Revolutionary War, he planned the deer park to be sited between the Mansion and the river. In October of 1785, he recorded that he “Measured the ground which I intend to inclose for a Paddock, and find it to be 1600 yards.” Next, he needed deer. He planned to stock the paddock with English and native deer and he also received deer from several of his friends...Set in a natural setting the deer park was intended to inspire and renew the Washington family and their guests’ social and psychological well-being.

Although British landscape manuals advised paddock owners not to approach the deer, so that they would remain wild, at least some of Washington’s deer were tame, and even family pets. Tame deer continued to roam the estate as late as 1799, when Washington observed that “the old ones are partly wild, and partly tame.”

Washington's deer park stood below the hill on which the Mansion House stands. The park contained about one hundred acres & was surrounded by a high paling about sixteen hundred yards long. At first he had only Virginia deer, but later acquired some English fallow deer from the park of Governor Ogle of Maryland. Both varieties herded together, but never mixed blood. The deer were continually getting out & in February, 1786, one returned with a broken leg, "supposed to be by a shot." Seven years later an English buck that had broken out weeks before was killed by someone. 

Sadly, George Washington’s deer park declined while he was away serving as president. He replaced its fence with a ha-ha or walled ditch in 1792. Not pleased with its appearance, Washington drew a new course for the ha-ha, following “the natural shape of the hill.”

Jedidiah Morse wrote in his 1789 Geography of the deer at Mount Vernon, Virginia, "A small park on the margin of the river, where the English fallow-deer, and American wild-deer are seen through the thickets."

Isaac Weld also commented in 1794, of the deer park at Mount Vernon, "The ground in the rear of the house is also laid out in a lawn, and the declivity of the Mount, towards the water, in a deer park."

In 1792, when the fenced deer park was removed and a serpentine wall built in its place. That August, he wrote to Richard Chichester, “I have a dozen deer (some of which are of the common sort) which are no longer confined in the Paddock which was made for them, but range in my woods, & often pass my exterior fence.” Washington never hunted deer for his table, nor did he allow deer to be hunted on his property.

The paddock fence was neglected & ultimately the deer ran wild over the estate, but in general stayed in the wooded region surrounding the Mansion House. The gardener frequently complained of damage done by them to shrubs & plants, & Washington said he hardly knew "whether to give up the Shrubs or the Deer!" The spring before his death we find him writing to the brothers Chichesters warning them to cease hunting his deer & he hints that he may come to "the disagreeable necessity of resorting to other means..."

Research plus images & much more are directly available from the MountVernon.org website. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Deer Parks in the18C American Landscape

c. 1730-1735 Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746). De Peyster Boy with a deer.

In colonial British America, the sons of gentry occasionally were painted with deer pets, while many of their elders built reserves to protect & nurture deer & and display their wealth & power to neighbors & passers-by.  Deer parks generally belonged to wealthy landowners who had enough meat to eat but who were eager to exhibit their prominent status. 

A deer park was a large enclosed natural area of wood & field on the pleasure grounds near a dwelling. It was a refuge in which to keep & preserve natural & imported deer. Initially, deer were kept to be eaten. British landscape manuals advised deer park owners not to approach the deer, so that they would remain wild. 

Venison & buckskin became staples of the British American colonial economy with the first landings at Jamestown, & Plymouth. Deer were hunted by both the settlers & the native Americans. Once the natives learned that a venison haunch was worth a yard of fabric or a trade axe; they trapped, snared, & killed deer with impunity. By 1630, many coastal tribes had access to European firearms; and one Indian hunter with a gun could kill 5 or 6 deer in a day.

Deer declined rapidly along the Atlantic seaboard throughout the 17C. As early as 1639, authorities in Newport, Rhode Island recognized the danger of deer depletion and established the first closed season on deer hunting in the colonies. In 1646, the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, followed suit ordering a closed season on deer hunting from the first of May till the first of November; and if any shall shoot a deere within that time he shall forfeit five pounds …” The ordinance set a pattern for laws adopted by most of the colonies by 1720.

The preamble of the Connecticut law reflected concern over the future of native deer, "The killing of deer at unseasonable times of the year hath been found very much to the prediudice of the Colonie, great numbers of them having been hunted and destroyed in deep snowes when they are very poor and big with young, the flesh and skins of very little value, and the increase greatly hindered."

In 1705, the General Assembly at Newport, Rhode Island, noted that it, "hath been informed that great quantities of deer hath been destroyed in this Collony out of season … and may prove much to the damage of this Collony for the future, and … to the whole country, if not prevented." And in 1705, New York passed a law to protect deer.

Deer laws varied from colony to colony, calling for closed seasons, sometimes terms of years, to the prohibition of using hounds; killing does; export & sale of deer skins; hunting with fire at night; & hunting on Sundays. The goal of these laws was to protect the food resource represented by deer.

Laws protecting deer were loosely enforced. There were only scattered convictions; and by 1750, there were relatively few deer left to protect near towns & larger rural communities. Frontier settlers still lived off the land and killed for venison & hides, when they needed them. Along the edges of the retreating American wilderness, natives & European market hunters still combed the thickets for game in all seasons, far from the reach of any local “deer reeve” or "deer warden." (In New England, these were the mid 18th-century government officers appointed to track down poachers.)

Poachers were dealt with much less seriously in the British American colonies than they were in mother England. In fact, Pennsylvania & Vermont allowed fishing & hunting on all open lands in their colonies. The 1696 Frame of Government of Pennsylvania stated, "That the inhabitants of this province and territories thereof, shall have liberty to fish and hunt, upon the lands they hold, or all other lands therein, not inclosed, and to fish in all waters in the said lands."

Virginia Lt. Gov. William Gooch (1681-1751) describing the 1727 Governor’s Palace, Williamsburg, VA “... an handsome garden, an orchard full of fruit, & a very large Park. (He intended to turn the park) to better use I think than Deer...”
1730s Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746) Boy with a Deer - John Van Cortlandt (1718-1747) Note: The Brooklyn Museum, which owns this painting, relates that the artists (for this painting & the image above) employed a popular British mezzotint portrait print as the source for this composition & for details such as the fawn, the tree, the masonry wall, & the pilaster, as well as the curved stone step before the figure.

As economic stability increased and international & local trade and commerce began making inroads on the self-sufficient rural life, the focus of the deer park changed from keeping deer for food and the pleasure of the hunt to keeping deer nearby in a natural setting to inspire & renew the owner's family & guests' social & psychological well-being.

Early deer parks included those at the Waltham, Massachusettes estate of Theodore Lyman and at the Robinson Estate, built in 1750, opposite the present West Point Academy on the Hudson River. Deer in the landscape made the pleasure grounds surrounding these seats seem more "natural." American poet, journalist, & editor of the New York Evening Post. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) in 1821 wrote a letter to his wife, Frances F. Bryant, describing the Vale, estate of Theodore Lyman, Waltham, MA “He took me to the seat of Mr. Lyman. . . It is a perfect paradise. . . North of the house was a park, with a few American deer in it & a large herd of spotted deer-a beautiful animal imported from Bengal.”

One noted deer owner of the period was Revolutionary War veteran Dr. Benjamin Jones. Born in Virginia in 1752, Jones eventually purchased a large tract of land in Henry County, where he built a park and “kept over a hundred deer to amuse his children and grandchildren. A little bell he used on a pet deer is owned by one of his descendants.”

English immigrant Williamsburg tavern & store keeper Daniel Fisher kept a rather unhappy journal from 1750 to 1755. (Louise Pecquet du Bellet published a bit of it in her 1907, Some Prominent Virginia Families.) His May 25, 1755 diary entry of the Proprietor’s Garden, Philadelphia noted “. . . descending from the House is a neat little Park tho’ I am told there are no Deer in it.”

Peter Kalm, the Swedish-Finnish explorer and naturalist who traveled through North America from 1748-1751, published an account of his travels in a journal entitled En Resa til Norra America, which was translated into German, Dutch, French, and English.  Kalm noted that “The American deer can likewise be tamed. A farmer in New Jersey had one in his possession, which he caught when it was very young; at present, it is so tame that in the daytime it runs into the woods for its food, and towards night returns home, frequently bringing a wild deer out of the woods, giving its master an opportunity to hunt at his very door.”

Deer parks certainly existed in the New York area during this period.  English clergyman Andrew Burnaby (1732-1812), wrote in his Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North America, In the Years 1759 & 1760, which was published in 1775, describing a park & garden near the Passaic River, NJ “I went down two miles farther to the park & gardens of. . . colonel Peter Schuyler. In the gardens is a very large collection of citrons, oranges, limes, lemons, balsams of Peru, aloes, pomegranates, & other tropical plants; & in the park I saw several American & English deer, & three or four elks or moose-deer.”

About 17 miles from Annapolis, Bel-Air, the estate of Marylander Benjamin Tasker, was advertised for sale in the 1761 Pennsylvania Gazette. The 2,200 acres contained a 100 acre deer park "well inclosed and stocked with English Deer."

British Capt. Simeon Ecuyer, the Swiss-born commander of Fort Pitt, April 1764, was in the midst of fencing the fort's gardens, when he commented on the Fort in Pittsburgh, PA “. . . the deer park, the little garden, & the bowling green, I am just now making into one garden, it will be extremely pretty & very useful to this garrison, the King’s garden will be put in proper order in due time we want seeds very much and we have no potatoes at all."

In 1774, at the late John Smith estate in New Jersey, 5 miles from Burlington on the Anococus River, there was a deer park containing 375 acres in which there were 30-40 deer. The area was surrounded by 20,000 cedar rails in different fences according to the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Many gentry families did not worry about hunting meat for their tables. They simply raised their own supply. Edward Lloyd IV (1744–1796) was a planter from Talbot County, Maryland. He rebuilt the family home called Wye House in the 1780s. The house was then surrounded by 12,000 acres & tended by over 300 slaves.

English agricultural writer Richard Parkinson (1748–1815), came to America in 1798 & returned to England in 1800. Before he sailed back to England, he visited Wye House and wrote, "I then was introduced to Ed. Lloyd, Esq. at Why-House, a man of very extensive possessions...His house and gardens are what may be termed elegant: and the land appeared the best I ever saw in any one spot in America. He had a deer-park, which is a very rare thing there: I saw but two in the country; this, and another belonging to Colonel Mercer. These parks are but small—not above fifty acres each. I could scarcely tell what the deer lived on. There were only some of those small rushes growing in this park which bear the name of grass, and leaves of trees." When Lloyd died in 1796, his deer park contained 61 deer.

Parkinson was probably referring to Virginia-born John Francis Mercer (1759-1821) as the other gentleman who had a deer park. In 1785, he married Sophia Sprigg, the daughter of Richard & Margaret Sprigg of Maryland, following which he took up residence at "Cedar Park" on West River not far from Annapolis, the estate inherited by his wife from her father. He was elected Governor of Maryland in 1801, and was buried in the graveyard at the foot of the garden on his grounds. He left an estate valued at $16,978.75, including 73 slaves. Reportedly the English-style deer park was in a virgin stand of trees, including cedars, from which the estate took its name.
1745 Artist Frederick Tellschaw. Reproduction Thomas Lodge with deer.

Historian Gary S Dunbar surveyed South Carolina records for mentions of tame deer. Here are a few of his findings from newspaper advertisements from Charleston,
(1732) “Stray’d out of Mr. Saxby’s Pasture up the Path, two tame Deer about a Year old."
(1751) “Wanted, some Doe Fawns, or young Does, for breeders.”
(1760) “Jumped over from on board the Samuel & Robert, a young deer, with a piece of red cloth round his neck…three pounds reward.”
(1761) “The Owner of a strayed Deer may hear where there is one, applying to the Printer hereof, and paying for this Advertisement.”
(1767) “Two tame Deer, a Buck and a Doe, to be sold by Francis Nicholson, in King-street.”
(1768) “Josiah Smith, junior…is in immediate want of …a couple of Tame Deer.”
(1770) “Stolen or Strayed out of my Yard this Morning, a Young Deer, his Horns just coming out, and is stiff in his hind legs, by being crampt in the Waggen which brought him to Town…Charles Crouch.”
(1772) “Wanted to Purchase. Four Deer, each about Three Years old.”
(1772) “Wanted immediately…Two Tame Deer.”
(1781) A Tame Deer, Came to my garden about twelve days ago. The owner, on proving his property, and paying charges, shall have it again, by applying to Elizabeth Lamb, Near the Saluting Battery.”

Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) in his 1789 American Geography described Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, Fairfax County, VA “A small park on the margin of the river, where the English fallow-deer, & the American wild-deer are seen through the thickets, alternately with the vessels as they are sailing along, add a romantic & picturesque appearance to the whole scenery.” 

By the late 18C, it seems that deer-keeping was in decline in Charleston. A visitor remarked in 1782, that “the deer formerly ran about the streets, with collars round their necks, like dogs, but at this latter visit, I do not remember to have seen one.”

In his 1830s Recollections of John Mason (1766-1849) described 18C Gunston Hall, seat of George Mason (1725-1792), Mason Neck, VA (Gunston Hall Archives) “On this front you descended directly into an extensive Garden-touching the house... opposite to & in full view from the Garden was was a Deer park studded with Trees kept well fenced & stocked with Native Deer domesticated.”

In a description borrowing from Morse's 1789 depiction of George Washington's Mount Vernon in the Pennsylvania Gazette shortly after the President's death, his deer park was described. "A small park on the margin of the river, where the English fallow deer and the American wild deer are seen through the thickets alternately, with the vessels as they are sailing along, add a romantic and picturesque appearance to the whole scenery."
Anonymous, Hunting Scene, c 1800 at Winterthur

Maryland-born American artist Charles Willson Peale (1741-1829) noted Wye House, the estate of Col. Edward Lloyd, Talbot County, MD, “The Col. is possessed of immence property, he had 400 Ars. of land in a park to keep Deer, round which was a fence of 20 rails high, Maise were planted within for sustenance of his deer.”

In his 1799 Travels, Isaac Weld (1774-1856) wrote of Mount Vernon, plantation of George Washington, Fairfax County, VA “The ground in the rear of the house is also laid out in a lawn, & the declivity of the Mount, towards the water, in a deer park.”

The number of deer parks dwindled in the Early Republic. Many pleasure gardeners were not convinced of the romantic & picturesque aesthetic potential of deer in the new republic and became exasperated with the local destructive deer population.

Rosalie Steir Calvert (1778–1821) wrote from her home Riversdale just outside of Washington DC in Prince George's County, Maryland, "I haven’t been able to enjoy the tulips because the deer come and eat them every night. We have eleven of these beautiful animals, so tame that they come all around the house...However, they do a lot of damage to the young fruit trees, and I am afraid we shall have to kill all of them this fall."
Sophie Madeleine du Pont, Deer house at Eleutherian Mills, c. 1824. Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Del. 

I could find no portraits of people attending deer, until I saw this wonderful image. It is not American, but will have to make do.
1775 Agostino Brunias (1728 - 1796) (Italian, active in Britain (1758-1770; 1777-1780s) Servants Washing a Deer

I find few American paintings of deer with women except for the hunt scenes & there the deer are quite distant.  I do have one mid-18C needlework depicting a women & 3 deer.
Mehitable Starkey (b 1739) Embroidered in Boston c 1758 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC. The top scene shows 3 people harvesting grain; a woman at the center holds a sickle aloft, while a man at her right cuts the wheat & a man at her left bundles it. The lower scene depicts a landscape with 2 reclining deer flanking a leaping deer. 

See
Dunbar, Gary S.. “Deer-Keeping in Early South Carolina,” Agricultural History, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr., 1962)


Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Traditional White Picket Fence

In front of our house, we asked the contractor to build an old fashioned, simple, white picket fence to separate the little garden area from all the woods around us. The contractor was skeptical, "But they are so much work to maintain." That is true, but they make such a perfect, orderly, geometric backdrop for the wild, uncontrollable gifts of Nature. These photos of picket fence gardens fueled our aspirations.

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Arbors with & without Accompanying Fences

Arbor refers to an open structure formed from leafy trees, shrubs, or vines planted closely together for self-support or supported on a frame offering shade, privacy, and protection for a gathering of people or shading a garden bench for only a few people.

Larger arbors for community gatherings in 18th-century colonial America usually were constructed from the cut & bound limbs and leaves of local plants. In the British American colonies, an arbor was often referred to as a bower or shady retreat.

The term arbor was used early in England, often applied to a shaded alley or walkway. In England, Chaucer referred to arbors (herbers) around 1385.

John Parkinson mentioned arbors in his 1629 Paradisi in Sole Paradisus, "Arbours also being both gracefull and necessary, may be appointed in such convenient places, as the corners, or elsewhere, as may be most fit, to serve both as shadow and rest after walking."

In 1712, Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville (1680–1765), French courtier, natural historian, artist, & garden theorist, wrote in his Theory and Practice of Gardening that arbors were of 2 sorts, natural and artificial. Natural was fashioned from branches of trees, while artificial arbors were composed completely of lattice-work.

And Philip Miller suggested that the arbor might be out of fashion in his 1755 Dictionary, "These were formerly in great esteem with us than at present...covered seats or alcoves are everywhere at this time preferred to them."


Despite the fact that Miller saw arbors in decline among the people in the know, references to arbors appear early in the British American colonies & continue to appear throughout the 18th-century. In 1680, visitor Jasper Danckaerts reported, "We had nowhere seen so many vines together as we saw here, which had been planted for the purpose of shading the walks on the river side, in between the trees."

Peter Kalm noted in his Travels in North America in 1749, that the colonials planted wild vines in "gardens near arbours, and summer-houses...over which the vines climb with their tendrils, and cover them entirely with their foliage, so as to shelter them from the heat & the sun."

In 1754, when Dr. Alexander Garden described botanist John Bartram's garden in Philadelphia, he wrote, "He disdains to have a garden less than Pennsylvania, & every den is an Arbour, Every run of water, a Canal, & every small level Spot a Parterre."

Even the small town garden of Annapolis, Maryland, craftsman William Faris contained an arbor in 1793, when he wrote in his diary that he had "planted flowering beans...round the Arber."

Often arbors were larger, more open sheltered spaces meant to hold many people for gatherings. In 1743, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, a church meeting was held "at Clays arber." Several public celebrations were held in arbors built specifically for the special occasion.

An issue of the August, 1746, Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg reported that "The Gentlemen of Hanover County... expressing their Joy and Loyalty, on Occasion of the Defeat of the Rebels in Scotland...a great Number of Gentlemen and Ladies, inhabitants of that and the adjacent Counties, met at the House of Mr. Waters; where a handsome Dinner was provided; a long Arbour was set up, in which 50 Gentlemen and Ladies din'd."

The South-Carolina Gazette in July of 1755, described a meeting with the Cherokees in Charleston, "On Wednesday July 2d, Cannacaughte the Chief, and the other Indians , arrived from their Camp, which lay at three Miles Distance, and were received by the Governor as usual; and His Excellency and Cannacaughte being seated under an Arbour, all the Head-men and Head warriors were placed on Benches fronting them, the other Warriors and Indians sitting all around on the Ground under the Trees."

And during the Revolution in 1781, Robert Honyman reported that "There was not one Tent in the British army, all of them lying under temporary sheds or arbours, made with boughs of Trees, fence rails &c., even officers of the highest rank."

A public celebration honoring an ally during the revolutionary war was reported in the Pennsylvania Gazette in the summer of 1782. "On the 25th of June last, the birth of the Dauphin of France was celebrated by the people of Talbot county, in the State of Maryland, in pursuance of the recommendation of the Governor and Council of that State, a convenient arbour was erected on the banks of Wye river, at Mr. Baker Old Field Landing, where an elegant entertainment was provided sufficient for 200 people, at which a large number of respectable ladies and gentlemen dined."

In 1797, Frances Baylor Hill of "Hillsborough" in Virginia, reported that she "went to Dunkirk to the Barbacue...The Ladies all went to the arbour and had din'd."

1796 Charles Fraser (1782-1860) Arbor for Gatherings. Carolina Art Association. Charleston, South Carolina.

Arbors
were also a favorite in the commercial public pleasure gardens in the new republic. They offered both shelter and privacy as patrons discussed business, politics, or just opted for romance.

In 1787, Rev. Manasseh Cutler described the popular Gray's Garden near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "At every end, side, and corner, there were summer-houses, arbors covered with vines or flowers or shady bowers encircled with trees and flowering shrubs, each of which was formed in a different taste."Henry Wansey also noted the arbors in Gray's Gardens in 1794, "The ground has every advantage of hill and dale, for being laid out in great variety; and it is neatly decorated with alcoves, arbours, shady walks, etc."

Often the shade and privacy offered by an arbor was used to promote the sale or rental of property. In Charleston, South Carolina in February, 1734, a property for sale advertisement in a newspaper touted it to be, "on an island which commands an entire prospect of the Harbor...A delightful Wilderness with shady Walks and Arbours, cool in the hottest seasons."

In 1767, the Pennsylvania Gazette advertised, "To be LETT, On the Five Mile Round, about two miles south of Philadelphia, on a pleasant spot of ground. A TWO story brick house of 45 by 31 feet, four rooms on each floor, three good rooms in the garret... a garden and orchard of choice fruit trees; the ground is divided by fences in a regular uniform manner; two summer houses of each side the entrance of an avenue, at the end of which is an arbour."

An arbor was a selling point for a house in 1789, which the owners were attempting to sell in New York City, "That elegant Dwelling House, called White-conduit house, two stories and half high, having seven fire places...together with an agreeable pleasure garden, with beautiful arbours, and a stable and coach house."

Eliza Southgate, in 1802, described the gardens the Hasket Derby house in Salem, Massachusettes, "at the upper end of the garden there was a beautiful arbour formed of a mound of turf and 'twas surrounded by a thick row of poplar trees which branched out quite to the bottom and so close together that you could not see through."

Thomas Jefferson, who was always redesigning his homes & gardens, wrote of new garden plans for Monticello in 1804, "Through the whole line (of temples) from 1 to 4 have the walk covered by an arbor, to wit, locust forks set in the group crossed by poles at top & lathes on these. Grape vines principally to cover the top. The sides quite open."

These arbors are similar to that described by Juliana Margaret Conner in Salem, North Carolina in 1827, which had been planted in the 1780s, "into the garden...we saw...a curiosity...extremely beautiful. It was a large summer house formed of eight cedar trees planted in a circle, the tops whilst young were chained together in the center forming a cone. The immense branches were all cut, so that there was not a leaf, the outside is beautifully trimmed perfectly even and very thick within, were seats placed around and doors or openings were cut, through the branches, it had been planted 40 years."

The image of the open-air arbor was even used in a piece of advice reported in the Williamsburg newspaper from a gentleman to his son. The Virginia Gazette printed in January of 1752, the instructions of Lord Treasurer Burleigh to his son Robert. "Let thy Kindred and Allies be welcome at thy House and Table. Grace them with thy Countenance, and further them in all honest Actions; for by this Means thou shalt so double the Band of Nature as thou shalt find them so many Advocates to plead an Apology for thee behind thy Back: But shake of those Glow-worms, Parasites and Sycophants, who will feed and sawn upon thee in the Summer of Prosperity, but in an adverse Storm, they will shelter thee no more than an Arbour in Winter." 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

From the Fields - Flax to Homespun - Revolutionary Resistance through Homespun


Spinning Bees, local gatherings to spin yarn, became political meetings as colonial anger about "taxation without representation" grew. The amount of thread & yarn spun at spinning bees was often published in the local papers, as towns & church congregations established homespun production rivalries. Wearing homespun became a political statement. At the 1st commencement of Rhode Island College (later Brown University) in the 1760s, the president proudly wore homespun clothing while conducting the ceremony. At Harvard, the faculty & students regularly wore homespun clothing.

Made in America: Revolutionary Resistance through Homespun & the Rise of American Textile Manufacturing

By Neal T. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Associate Curator for Costume & Textiles, March 17, 2020

As tensions rose between the American Colonies & Great Britain in the late 1760s, some Virginians displayed their defiance to the Crown in their choice of garments fashioned from locally made fabrics. Homespun — or locally produced textiles — announced the political leanings of the wearer. These homespun textiles also became a necessity once trade with England ended in 1774 & Virginia & other Colonies were faced with meeting the textile demand through local production.

As early as the 17th century, Colonists began to process & weave their own fabrics, & “homespun” came to define any textiles produced domestically in a nonindustrial setting. Raw materials such as linen, cotton, wool, hemp & even silk were transformed into fabrics in North America for local consumption. Most of these homespun textiles would be used as household linens, bed curtains &, on occasion, even for clothing.

Textiles made up the single largest import from England during the 17th & 18th centuries. In theory, the American Colonies produced raw materials & exported them to England. In return, they received finished goods. A series of Navigation Acts — English laws dictating that the Colonies could receive European goods only from England — helped to codify this system.

From the fine & fancy to the plain & everyday, the English goods were better quality & could be purchased at competitive or cheaper prices. Most Colonists bought imported English textiles & used them not only within their homes but also for their clothing.

In the spring of 1769, political debates over taxation raged throughout Virginia. The recently repealed Stamp Act, which had imposed a tax on every piece of paper the Colonists used, remained fresh in many minds. The newly passed Townshend Acts placed a set of taxes on imported glass, lead, paints, paper & tea. In May of that year, Virginia’s House of Burgesses passed a resolution that directly challenged Parliament’s right to tax Virginians. In retaliation, Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, who had been appointed Virginia’s royal governor only a few months before, formally dissolved the governing body.

A day later, the burgesses met at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg & formed the Virginia Association, which called on Virginians to “promote & encourage industry & frugality, & discourage all manner of luxury & extravagance.” Starting Sept. 1, 1769, those who signed the agreement would no longer import listed goods from England, including many textiles such as linens, wools, cottons & silks above a certain price. It even suggested that sheep should not be slaughtered & instead should be kept for their wool. As other Colonies adopted associations, they shared Virginia’s logic that nonimportation & increasing domestic production would put pressure on the English economy & that British merchants & producers would beg Parliament to repeal all of the taxes on the American Colonies.

Men & women throughout Virginia worked steadily to increase domestic production & took pride in wearing homespun. Martha Jacquelin in York County, Virginia, wrote to her London agent in August 1769, “You’ll see by my invoice that I am an Associator … But believe me, our poor country never stood in more need of an Effort to save her from ruin than now, not more from taxes & want of Trayd (sic) than from our own extravagances … I expect to be dressed in Virginia cloth very soon.” Virginia cloth, another term for domestically made textiles, became a fashionable way to show frugality & prove that Virginians did not need to rely upon English imported fabrics.

In December 1769, the House of Burgesses decided to host Lord Botetourt at a ball in the Capitol, only six months after he dismissed the governing body. The day after the event, The Virginia Gazette reported that the “same patriotic spirit which gave rise to the associations of the Gentlemen … was most agreeably manifested in the dress of the ladies.” More than 100 women appeared at the Capitol wearing homespun gowns. The quality of the fabric & where they acquired the quantity needed for the gowns remains unknown. The Gazette wished “that all assemblies of American Ladies would exhibit a like example of public virtue & private economy, so amiably united.”

In the remaining years leading up to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, more associations were signed or strengthened to keep economic pressure on the English. The Eastern Seaboard continued to produce textiles at a rapid rate. The Derby Mercury in Ireland, which was a center of the linen trade, reported in 1770 that the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, maintained no less than 50 looms & 7,000 spinning wheels, producing more than 30,000 yards of linens & woolens a year.

Homespun fabric even became a political statement for Americans visiting England. Edmund Jenings, a Virginia-born lawyer who lived in London, wrote a letter to Richard Henry Lee informing him of his new clothing. He wrote, “Your brother has given me cloth made in your family I wear it on all occasions to show the politicians of this country that the sheep of America have not hair on their backs. — They can hardly believe their eyes.”

On Dec. 1, 1774, the final nonimportation agreement took effect when signed by the first Continental Congress. The Colonies would not import any goods, including textiles, from Great Britain. Virginians along with the other 12 American Colonies would need to produce all the textiles for their households & apparel, a nearly impossible task.

The outbreak of war in April 1775 would create an even larger problem: clothing & equipping an infant army & navy.

The military needed enormous amounts of textiles for clothing, tents, knapsacks, haversacks & blankets. Initially, tens of thousands of yards of fabric arrived in storehouses across the Colonies, including both pieces bought before the nonimportation agreements & homespun woven in homes, farms & plantations. These materials were quickly depleted, & more were immediately needed. With no imports coming from Great Britain & domestic production not meeting the demand, the American army faced major supply shortages.

The Continental Congress sought help to get materials, especially textiles, for its newly established military force. Emissaries traveled to Spain & Holland & gained some initial support. Dressed in a very plain manner with a pine marten fur cap, Benjamin Franklin visited the court of France. The French Court admired Franklin & his unique American dress, which they may have believed was homespun. Franklin secured the Treaty of Alliance between the newly formed United States of America & the French that allowed much needed supplies to flow into the United States.

With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 & the end of the American Revolution, American merchants quickly resumed trading with England. Once again it was cheaper to import high-quality textiles than to establish the industry in the new republic. Still, Americans continued to produce homespun fabrics to supplement the imported textiles they purchased from England. The textile industry began to slowly establish itself, especially in the New England states.

When George Washington was unanimously elected president, he began to carefully craft what he would wear at his inauguration. After seeing an advertisement in a New York newspaper for American-made broadcloths (a heavily fulled or napped wool), he contacted his friend, Gen. Henry Knox. On Jan. 29, 1789, Washington wrote, “I have ventured to trouble you with the Commission of purchasing enough [broadcloth] to make me a suit of Cloaths. As to the colour, I shall leave it altogether to your taste; only observing, that, if the dye should not appear to be well fixed, & clear, or if the cloth should not really be very fine, then (in my Judgment) some colour mixed in grain might be preferable to an indifferent [stained] dye. I shall have occasion to trouble you for nothing but the cloth & twist to make the button holes.”

On April 30, 1789, Washington became the first president of the United States. He wore a brown broadcloth three-piece suit made from fabric woven at the Hartford Woolen Manufactory, a newly established business in Connecticut. In October of that same year, Washington visited the factory & wrote in his diary, “I viewed the Woolen Manufactury at this place which seems to be going on with Spirit. There (sic) Broadcloths are not of the first quality, as yet, but they are good; as are their Coatings, Cassimers, Serges & everlastings. Of the first that is broad-cloth I ordered a suit to be sent to me at New York & of the latter a whole piece to make breeches for my servants.”

By choosing an American-produced broadcloth for his first inaugural suit, Washington supported the economic growth & industrial establishment within the newly established United States. In the 19th century, an American textile industry would blossom.

See Colonial Williamsburg here.  Neal Hurst is the Foundation’s associate curator for costume and textiles. He also spent 7 years in the Historic Area earning his journeyman status as a tailor.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Garden to Table - Home-Made Dandelion Wine

John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing, 1758.  Detail

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials & Liqueurs 1909 by Helen S. Wright

DANDELION WINE
Four quarts of dandelions. Cover with four quarts of boiling water; let stand three days. Add peel of three oranges and one lemon. Boil fifteen minutes; drain and add juice of oranges and lemon to four pounds of sugar and one cup of yeast. Keep in warm room and strain again; let stand for three weeks. It is then ready to bottle and serve.

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines is a cookbook for those who want to make their own wines & liqueurs from available ingredients, including fruits, flowers, vegetables, & shrubs from local gardens, farms, & orchards. It includes ingredients & instructions for making & fermenting spirits, from wine & ale to sherry, brandy, cordials, & even beer. 

Colonial Era Cookbooks

1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London) 
1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)
1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)
1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)
1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)

Helpful Secondary Sources

America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972
Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown   Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996 
Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown  ABC-CLIO  Westport, United States
Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver
Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.
A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.