A man with a hoe stands atop a huge smoldering heap of dirt, while smoke emerges from a second pile nearby. What’s going on here? What lies beneath the dirt, and what exactly is this man doing? The production of charcoal began in ancient times, and the methods used for small-scale charcoal production changed very little over the years. A pile of logs was covered with dirt and straw and allowed to burn very slowly. If the covering was torn or cracked by the fire, additional soil had to be added to keep the pile airtight. This is apparently what the man with the hoe is doing. After about five days, the wood would be converted into charcoal. Connecticut’s iron industry used huge quantities of charcoal during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the production of charcoal during this period contributed to the deforestation of Connecticut’s western hills. Traditionally, charcoal burning was carried out in the fall, when the sap content of trees was lowest. The charcoal pits in this photograph were located in Burlington, Connecticut. The photograph was taken on October 10, 1890.
Tag Archives: Burlington
September in the Archives
We have now completed the first month of our 2010-2012 NHPRC grant-funded cataloging project. In most ways, the 2010 project has picked up where the 2008-2010 project left off. Account books, diaries, and town papers remain high priority for cataloging, but if a manuscript collection contains more than just a single sheet, it is likely on our list.
No two collections of town papers and records are alike. Often they consist of tax documents (rates, bills, etc.), school records, and property deeds. Many times the collections comprise just a few documents, pulled (some might say haphazardly) from various other manuscript collections. Occasionally they are marked with the other accession number; most often they are not. Without any idea where they originated, it is impossible for us to return them. Creation of such collections is not a practice that actively continues at CHS. However, much of it is information we want to make sure our researchers are aware exists. In September I added records to the online catalog for the following towns/areas: Bozrah, Burlington, Canton, Chaplin, Chatham, Coventry, East Hampton, Haddam, Hampton, Kensington, Killingly, Killingworth, Manchester, Milford, Newington, Portland, Preston, South Windsor, Tolland, and Woodstock. Many towns have already been cataloged, so if you do not see the one you are looking for, make sure to check the online catalog.
Among the other collections making their online catalog debut are the papers of the First Church of Windsor and the Tyler family. The earliest pieces from the Windsor church’s collection are the following from a 1681 seating chart.The two, non-contiguous sheets display the assignments made by the town’s Selectmen.
The bulk of the material in the collection dates from the late 1780s and the tenure of the church’s minister, Rev. David Rowland. It includes a letter from Rowland accepting his position, a controversy concerning some of his methods, and agreements for his son, Rev. Henry Rowland, to co-lead the church.
The Tyler family collection is mostly military orders signed by John Tyler and Samuel Tyler. The most original piece is a report of the guards at a prison in New London, Connecticut.
The report lists the prisoners’ names, regiment, name of the person who confined them, the crime, and number of nights confined. On this day there were ten men arrested for desertion and four who had been taken prisoner of war at sea. The piece also details the number of guards present at the prison and where they were stationed.
All of these collections are open and available for research. Come visit! Your admission will cover both the research center and to our galleries, particularly our newly opened Connecticut Needlework exhibit.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the CHS, our collections, and the learning opportunities we offer.