Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: Y is for Yowell


My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Yowell.  Albert G. Yowell.

Mr. Yowell was one of the many customers at the Price-Hill Dry Goods Store in Stanardsville, Virginia in 1855, maybe even before then and probably even later.  How do I know?  Because I indexed the day book that was recently discovered in an attic and then donated to the Greene County Historical Society.  I recently wrote about other customers – Richard Dawson and Rufus K. Fitzhugh

Albert didn’t shop quite as often as some of the others.  Usually his purchases were rather mundane, staples like tea, salt, coffee and sugar.  His wife Lucy probably sent him for that red flannel, the candles, and a gross of buttons.

John Silvey, the local cooper (a maker of barrels), might have called out, “Hey Al, can you pick me up some tobacco?”  Albert obliged.


This is an ad that appeared in the Richmond Whig July 1860
from Genealogybank.com accessed 24 Apr 2014

But two purchases stand out as a mirror of the times.  On October 15, 1855, Albert purchased “2 Negro blankets.”  Yes.  “Negro cloth” was coarse and unbleached, typically brown.  Such unrefined fabric was used for slave and prison clothing.  So most likely he was purchasing inferior blankets for some slaves or the term was generic for any less-expensive or low-quality blanket.



The other purchase just makes me giggle (I can be immature).  Because someone found the Price-Hill Day Book, everybody will know that on June 20, 1855 Albert G. Yowell purchased a chamber pot.  I wonder if his was plain white stoneware or a fancier model.

from Wikimedia Commons





from Flickr Commons








Yippee!  There will be no yawning over the yarns yielded by yuppies, youngsters, yokels, and yodelers over yonder at the A to Z April Challenge.




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

16 comments:

  1. Wow--I can't believe things, sometimes. You know what I mean!
    Here is an interesting addition to your chamber pot collection of facts. When I was a kid we went to a place in Canada, for fishing in birch bark canoes. The place was very rustic. We had chamber pots, although I used the outhouse at night instead! This was the 1950's. jean :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that visual, Jean! HA HA HA

      Delete
  2. You just happen to be at the right place at the right time, especially for this blog! I didn't know about "negro blankets" or that type of cloth. Little things like this make a picture in history for me. I can imagine the store, the owner and Mr. Yowell talking over the morning or the weather. This is such a great idea for a blog. Maybe, one day when I have "time" I'll do one too! Thanks for commenting on my blog, again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The list of who came in the store, what they bought, what they paid is so interesting. You can tell when people were sick. You can tell there was a special event coming up -- lots of lace and tulle on the shopping list. There are sweet entries like the man making the last payment on some gold earrings. And then there are chamber pots, bordering on "Too Much Information."

      Delete
  3. Wendy, your research skills leave me open mouthed. I had not heard of negro cloth/blankets at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't either when I indexed the day book. It hit me hard to be forced to think about the treatment of slaves. To have their own designated fabric and blankets -- sheesh!

      Delete
  4. I hadn't heard of negro cloth either and the chamber pot purchase is priceless. I wonder why they needed a new one?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered the same thing. Did they drop the old one? I guess there was one per bedroom, but maybe not. If so, maybe a child was finally old enough to have their own. I don't know -- I probably need to Google "chamber pot etiquette."

      Delete
  5. Maybe that was like putting in a second bathroom, hahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very interesting about the Negro Blankets/cloth and the Ad. In the deep south, those goods were imported from the North's Mills even though the raw cotton was grown, picked and often spun/woven right there on the plantations by slaves...a full circle of unfortunate history...still it happened. Lucky Mr. Yowell...at least he had a Pot .......
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true about the mills in the North. In the same newspaper was an article all excited about a mill opening up in the South, maybe in Virginia too but I can't remember.

      Delete
  7. I assume a chamber pot was a rather essential item for any household. What happened to the previous one? Did it break? Oh, there's a story there, I'm sure.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The chamber pot was certainly a convenience in the middle of the night. I don't know why he bought one -- maybe replacing the original or adding to the family inventory.

      Delete
  8. Interesting purchase and quite the amazing story. Tells a lot about the times, I guess, although it's difficult to imagine the particular household in our days. I'm glad I found your blog before the end and got to read this.
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you stumbled upon my blog too. Thanks for the visit!

      Delete