SPINNING

After the cotton gin came into the Fork, farmers "began to cultivate cotton for market. The progress of cotton culture from 1830 down to this date [1891] is well known and belongs to 'the present.' I conclude with some account of the large spinning 'wheel,' one of which was exhibited at the Atlanta Exposition [of 1881] as an implement belonging to the past. It needs no particular description from me, as hundreds of them are to be found in the Dutch Fork, at this day. Some of my most delightful reminiscences are connected with the modern spinning-wheel. My mother reappears in living shape and feature as I recall her spinning-wheel. I can see her walking to and fro before the spindle giving to the wheel a revolution of such rapidity, that, for a moment, nothing could be seen but the hub and the rim. I have seen with boyish admiration many a young woman engaged at this kind of work. No other occupation displays the God-given graces of woman so admirably as when she walks over a sanded floor, with her waist untrammeled by the accursed corset, and her teeth gleaming through noble smiles—her spinning-wheel all the while with whizzing acclamation testifying to her strength and willingness to labor for the comfort other home." Thus Mayer in 1891 shows that he is of the good old stock, with the old blood of the Fork asserting itself.

Catherine Monts stated that she learned to spin in 1848, at the age of ten and by fourteen had learned to weave. "The children in every family in our community had to help with the spinning," she declared. "In that way we kept the weavers supplied with thread. Four cuts made a hank and usually a mother set one hank as each girl's task. When that was finished she could run out and play. We used a sleigh and harness to weave. A good weaver could make five yards of fine cloth or six yards of coarse cloth, per day. 400 sleigh made coarse cloth, 500 a little finer, and 600 was generally used for the cloth we made into dresses. Each color had to have its own shuttle. I have woven with 700 sleigh carrying a number of shuttles to make checks and stripes. We also colored the threads before we started to weave. (Kibler, 1988, 75)