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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Colonials were Persons of Letters #virginiapioneersnet #genealogy

Colonials were Persons of Letters

colonial lady writingIn colonial days people kept in touch by writing letters. Dating back to the lessons taught in field schools and foreign universities, people were encouraged to "keep up your letters". It was a practive chereby one continued to increase vocabulary as well as a perfect conveyance of the alphabet written in beautiful cursive letters. We see the old colonial writing in Latin, German and English. After the field schools, the average planter in Georgia sent his sons to England to finish the education which he would require the management of his affairs. English schools taught English grammar; spelling, reading with proper emphasis and modulation, speaking properly and gracefully, composition, penmanship, ethics, history, geography, use of maps and gloves, prose and verse, logic, rheteric, moral and natural philosophy (Tillotson, Milton, Locke). The planter generally had a room inside his home which was used as an office, where he kept extensive records of every financial aspect of the plantation. He was his own banker, loaning and borrowing from neighbors. This fact is evidenced again and again by the large inventories of estates. When the first planters of Savannah died, an average estate record consisted of 50 pages. The reason is that everything item of inventory necessary to a farm culture was listed and valued. Plank boards were accumulated and every nail counted! The value is not to be disputed. For instance, the early planters paid a premium price to export nails into the country from England. There was no hardware store on the corner, therefore, all the more reason to maintain meticulous records. The larger the plantation, the longer the inventories found in the estate. This process changed somewhat as smaller farms entered the scene after the Revolutionary War when the American colonies were free to actively trade with other European merchantmen sailing the seas to the West Indies and back. In addition to the letters, news of events spread throughout the colonies. Virginians were known to periodically send someone to watch the road in the event a traveler was passing. If so, he was invited to sleep in a room off the porch meant for strangers and were entertained by a proper meal. Such guests provided news of the day, and gossip. If one is researching colonial ancestors, the letters written by political figures should be perused. The reason is that the names of those persons appointed as jurors, commissioners , etc. were listed. The local parish registers are similarly of interest. Most people were engaged one way or the other in local politics and church affairs. One of the most infamous Royal Governors of colonial days was Governor Yeardley. He was actively engaged with a number of planters concerning Indian attacks. They eventually rebelled against him and took charge of the situation. This governor was thereafter returned to England. Since the earliest records were burned during this rebellion. Today we refer to this process as dry shampoo. Since the earliest records were lost in this rebellion, anything which he wrote concerning the first settlers around Jamestown and Henrico, would be informative.

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