Colonists Created the Necessities of Life

Genealogy Tips By Jeannette Holland Austin

Spinning Wheel

The spinning wheel may appeal to us asthetically, however, it’s function was to weave cloth and provide materials for the colonial family. Within the Colonial home stood the great and small wheels for wool and flax, the carding-comb and the moulds for making candles of green myrtle berry wax which were not greasy to touch, nor would melt in the hottest weather. It is interesting to read the inventories included in estate records because they reveal so much of the daily lives of our ancestors.

During 1698, the typical inventory of a Virginian household included a “feather-bed, one sett Kitterminster curtains, and Vallens bedstead, one pair white linen sheets with two do. pillow biers, 2 Rusha-leather chaires, 5 Rush-bottom chaires, a burning glass, a flesk fork, and 6 Alchemy spoones (alchemy being a mixed metal).” In addition to these articles, the list includes a brass skimer and 2 pairs of pot-hooks, and, as its crowning glory, one old silver Dram-cup. No doubt the possessor had sat with his boon companions on many a cold night, by the great chimney, plunging the hot poker into the fire nursing the loggerhead.

One of the major reasons to research the detailed inventories and sales of an estate is to locate the names of purchasers and unknown family members. Typically, the widow and close neighbors made minor purchases. The names contained in these records were persons who resided in the same neighborhood as the testator and usually had a close family connection. Also, accounting for the names of witnesses during that particular era helps the researcher understand that they have the correct ancestor. One may question this statement, however, there are multiple duplications of the same names in the records. Such as John, William, James, Joseph, etc. We simply need to keep them in the same time-frame and neighborhood.

Virginia Pioneers has a large collection of wills and estates dating back to the early 1600’s. To see a list of its holdings click here

Sumner and Wilsoon Co. TN records added