DUNBARTON - 26 July 2010: On Saturday 24 July, the Dunbarton Historical Society opened the doors to the Ye Old Waite Blacksmith Shop. GoffstownToday.com made a visit for this special occasion with our video camera team and received a glimpse back into the early 1820's era. Was life easier in the early days? From what Richard C. Wright was tending at the bellow and anvil, one may think, not very much so. Was life simple then compared to today? Imagine no cell phones or electronic gadgets attached, would be the order of the day back in the 1800's. Visitors were also treated to what a "spinner" was in the 1800's. Gina Gerhard provided us with a look back to how fabrics were made from flax. Think "hay" for a simple comparison, not sheep or lambs wool. Yes, flax was grown and then tendered through a process which was very time consuming and hard work.
Kim, who was visiting with her parents gave us her thoughts on their visit today: "While watching Gina, wearing linen clothes made in the same way as had been done for centuries I couldn't help pondering what is supposed to be our current "easier" way of life. While it was time consuming, difficult work, was it necessarily more difficult than the lifestyle we live now? With the invention of each new gadget that is supposed to make our lives easier, we moved further and further away from relationship and sense of purpose in all we do. We lost our communication skills and our ability to survive by doing things from ...READ MORE BELOW...
scratch. We are so overburdened by NEEDING to utilize electricity, oil, computers, telephones, cell phones and televisions, how would we survive without knowing something as simple as how to cloth ourselves if God forbid something should happen in the world and all technology was gone? I decided that, for me at least, this was a view at simpler, healthier times in human history".
As Richard worked his metal fork in the head of the fire while pumping the handle of the bellow creating an extremely hot temperature, he was talking about how he was not entirely satisfied with the fork where the tines separated and that was his focus on the next anvil adjustment. With hammer in hand and working the red hot iron, he focused on making it exactly the way he would really like to see it. There is more to just making a piece in this fashion back then because once it was completed in the blacksmith's shop, another person would often be involved to finish it off, smoothing the steel to a shiny finish, so when completed would not only be serviceable, yet very good looking as well. The Historical Society maintains a Museum and the Ye Old Waite Blacksmith Shop, which is located on Stark Highway just north of St John’s Episcopal Church. Informational meetings are held monthly September through June.
About Richard C. Wright: He has had a lifelong interest in blacksmithing. His first exposure to the craft was back in 1965 at his agricultural high school in
Gina Gerhard talked about the Colonial era and why growing and processing flax became a necessity. Early settlers in Colonial America considered themselves to be subjects of Great Britain. They made the long dangerous ocean voyage in hopes of finding a better life. In the colony there was the promise of prosperity and, for some freedom from religious persecution. When colonist first settled in America most of their material were supplied by the mother country who looked on the colonies as a market for British goods. The colonists considered English goods to be the highest quality and were much preferred to colonial made goods. To ensure continuation of trade with the colonies, England tried to discourage colonial cloth manufacture and high tariffs were levied on looms and spinning wheels. The British also passed acts forbidding the export and the sale of cloth woven in the colonies. These acts, as well as an increasing number of others, developed a strong spirit of independence among the colonists. As the desire for independence grew so did the price of imported European cloth. It soon became not only practical, but a sign of patriotism as well to spin and weave one's own cloth. The first sound of revolution was the rhythmic "thwack" of the beater against the web of colonial looms. Cloth production in colonial America eventually became necessary as ties were severed with Great Britain. Cabinet makers began turning out spinning wheels, looms and other textile tools. Most families began growing flax in their gardens and raising sheep to provide fiber for spinning yarn.
You may view 18 images here. (top right photo, Lillie processing flax; Bill Wynne photo's)