Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/419

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No. 136]
Early Settlements

the land in this country, was the poverty of a great proportion of the land in the lower parts of Maryland and Virginia, which after producing a few crops, became unfit for use and was thrown out into commons.

In their unfavorable opinion of the nature of the soil of our country, our forefathers were utterly mistaken. The native weeds were scarcely destroyed, before the white clover, and different kinds of grass made their appearance. — These soon covered the ground, so as to afford pasture for the cattle, by the time the wood range was eaten out, as well as protect the soil from being washed away by drenching rains, so often injurious in hilly countries. . . .

The furniture for the table, for several years after the settlement of this country, consisted of a few pewter dishes, plates, and spoons ; but mostly of wooden bowls, trenchers and noggins. If these last were scarce, gourds and hard shelled squashes made up the deficiency.

The iron pots, knives, and forks were brought from the east side of the mountains along with the salt, and iron on pack horses.

These articles of furniture, corresponded very well with the articles of diet, on which they were employed. "Hog and hominy" were proverbial for the dish of which they were the component parts. Jonny cake and pone were at the outset of the settlements of the country, the only forms of bread in use for breakfast and dinner. At supper, milk and mush were the standard dish. When milk was not plenty, which was often the case, owing to the scarcity of cattle, or the want of proper pasture for them, the substantial dish of hominy had to supply the place of them ; mush was frequently eaten with sweetened water, molasses, bears oil, or the gravey of fried meat. . . .

The introduction of delft ware was considered by many of the backwoods people as a culpable innovation. It was too easily broken, and the plates of that ware dulled their scalping and clasp knives ; tea ware was too small for men ; they might do for women and children. Tea and coffee were only slops, which in the adage of the day "did not stick by the ribs." The idea was that they were designed only for people of quality, who do not labor, or the sick. A genuine backwoods man would have thought himself disgraced by showing a fondness for those slops. Indeed, many of them have to this day, very little respect for them.

Jos[eph] Doddridge, Notes, on the Settlement and Indian Wars, of the Western Parts of Virginia & Pennsylvania (Wellsburgh, Virginia, 1824), 99-112 passim.