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Cloth scraps and worn-out clothing found new life in quilts and coverlets. Such root crops as turnips, parsnips, and carrots kept well in a root cellar, usually a below-ground dugout that kept them cold but not freezing.Finer stuff went into quilted petticoats to keep a lady warm. Apples gained longevity when pressed into cider or cooked into applesauce or apple butter. Seeds were plucked from autumn’s bounty and carefully stowed for spring planting.At Colonial Williamsburg, tradespeople shape wet clay into bricks for drying during summer, and firing for five days and nights in the chill of October.To Jefferson’s chagrin, “The unhappy prejudice prevails that houses of brick or stone are less wholesome than those of wood.” True, in winter, moisture condensed on masonry’s cold interior walls, but if you kept a small fire crackling in the room, the problem went up in smoke.The Virginia winter of 1609–10 was their “starveing Tyme.” By the 1700s, proper houses had replaced the rude huts and cabins of earlier days.Dwellings of the well-to-do merchant and planter would have fireplaces, sometimes in every room, served by one or two chimneys at each end of the house or by a single great stack in the center.“We are credibly informed,” said a January 22, 1780, item in the Virginia Gazette, “that six loaded waggons went over James river, on the Ice.” On February 5: “Several persons have gone from Annapolis, to . No Post has come from the Northward these 6 weeks; and we may reasonably conclude, that as the Weather is so severe here, it is worse there.” No doubt it was.Ice-hardened roads served George Washington well as he repositioned his artillery by the Delaware River.
Short stacks could be cleaned out with a brush; for taller ones, you could drop a couple of chickens down the flue and let their frantic flapping do the job.Wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1805: “The Canadian glows with delight in his sleigh and snow; the very idea of which gives me the shivers.” Was the president recalling that January night in 1772 when he spirited his pretty bride, Martha, away from two weeks of wedding revelry at her family’s estate—and out into a blinding snowstorm?When their cozy phaeton bogged down, they shivered the last eight miles to Monticello on horseback, scrambling up his “little mountain” through two-foot drifts in the dark.“Mr Carter has a Cart & three pair of Oxen which every Day bring in four Loads of Wood, Sundays excepted,” Fithian wrote. ” Simpler houses, and the detached kitchens of the great plantations, had but one fireplace, a huge bay of brick or stone a person could walk into.“And indeed I do not wonder, for in the Great House, School, House, Kitchen, &c. The kitchen of Stratford Hall, the Lee mansion on the Potomac, has a fireplace twelve feet wide; you could roast an ox whole in it.