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“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.“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.
Rivers and bays were the real highways of the colonies, bearing boats in summer—and sometimes wagons in winter. Baltimore town, on the ice, and are crossing to and from Kent island every day, which has not been known . “The Weather has been so excessive bad, for some Time past, that there has been scarce any passing the Rivers, for Ice, or travelling for Snow.” It told of “Persons being frozen to Death, and others drowned, by attempting to cross the Rivers.
City folk turned out with shovels in mittened hands to level the snowdrifts for sleighs—and for customers to reach your door if you were a shopkeeper.
Country folk hitched oxen to a plow to “break out” the long country roads.
Corncobs were saved for smaller fires, or for an extra touch of flavor in hams and bacon smoked over them.
If the fire went out, flint and steel could spark a new one, or a child could scamper to a neighbor and bring home a hot coal in a cook pot or a tray of green bark.