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By Wayne Franklin

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Extra resources for A Rural Carpenter's World: The Craft in a Nineteenth-Century New York Township (American Land and Life Series)

Example text

Only three Westford farmers topped this production in 1865. Secondarily, Joseph Holmes had begun to grow hops, a potentially very lucrative but always temperamental local crop. In 1864, he had a 2 1/2-acre hopfield; this had produced 1,000 pounds. During 1865, he had expanded the field to 4 acres. Five years later still, in 1870, the picture was similar. Joseph Holmes now reported owning 190 acres of improved land and 70 of woods. His production of hops had nearly doubled (to 1,800 pounds; prices in October of 1869 were about twenty cents per pound).

Such was the case with the Otsego region. Set off from the vast domain of old Montgomery County in 1791, Otsego embraced in 1860 some 1,038 square miles. It was difficult terrain, with a good deal of rich soil but few ready means for shipping out produce. Like heavy corduroy, its dominant ridges ran down from the county's top toward the Susquehanna, severely limiting travel in the pre-Civil War period and retarding railroad development here much as a similar topography did throughout the larger "southern tier" region of which Otsego is one small part.

A Rural Carpenter's World demonstrates what scholars fascinated with artifacts, and particularly with structures, have long suspected. Most buildings, and almost all rural buildings, are anonymous today only because their written records vanished long ago. And their builders, now unknown as individuals and casually dismissed as "local carpenters," lack biography because too few bequeathed to posterity any sort of documentation of their lives other than planed boards fitted together in the houses, poultry sheds, barns, and other objects still extant everywhere in the Republic.

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A Rural Carpenter's World: The Craft in a Nineteenth-Century New York Township (American Land and Life Series) by Wayne Franklin


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