MO Bicentennial Minutes: Property in John Whittenburgh’s Estate Inventory – Part 2
We continue our look at unfamiliar items in the estate of John Whittenburgh. An enslaved man probably made barrels at the farm, because a barrel auger, or drill, drawing knife, and cooper’s adz were in the estate. The latter was a short-handled tool with a sharply curved back tipped with a cutting blade and rectangular front. It was used to cut a bevel, called the chime, on the inside top of the assembled barrel staves. The short handle allowed work inside the barrel. Workers used a mattock to chop in soil or to remove roots and small trees. A grubbing hoe had similar use in chopping out small trees and their roots.
Broad axes were for squaring up logs. One face was straight, allowing cutting a straight surface between a series of perpendicular cuts in the log. An auger and gimlet drilled small holes without splitting wood, and consisted of a worm or screw on the drilling end, with a cross handle at the other end.
Farming tools included a fan and screen, used to separate grain from chaff. Harvesters used a curve-handled scythe and cradle to cut and hold wheat, flax, and other crops for binding clumps to dry. A Dutch scythe was similar, but had a straight or short handle and blade for cutting only.
A froe cleaves wood by splitting it along the grain, often to produce shingles. The Whittenburgh household likely produced corn whiskey or other distilled spirits, because a still, cap, flake stand, and brass cock were inventoried.
Finally, a yoke (or pair) of oxen were the tractors of the day. The animals and the harnessing gear were all in the estate inventory.