Regular readers of my various blogs know I am a proud New Jerseyan. I even have a blog about how much I love New Jersey. Well, yesterday I had a great opportunity to head to Jockey Hollow in Morristown for a yarn spinning demonstration at the Wick House.
For those of you who are not familiar, Morristown played a key role
in America’s fight for independence. There are multiple sites within Morristown that are part of the National Park Service. Known as “Where America Survived,” Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.
When you head into Jockey Hollow, you quickly leave modern day behind. You see the expansive acreage that made Henry Wick the largest land owner in Morristown. The trees on Wick’s property attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking.
After a short walk to the Wick House, I found a wonderful spinner happily explaining the importance of spinning during the American Revolution and dispelling a number of the myths associated with Revolutionary living.
My first surprise is that prior to the American Revolution, a number of products were still imported from England; including fabric. The restrictions on sheep raising and wool manufacturing, along with other limitations, such as the Stamp Act and other taxes, contributed to the Revolutionary War.
The colonists fought back in their own protest and boycotted the use of fabrics from England and went back to spinning yarn to make fabric. Women would meet as a group, spin together, discuss the happenings of the day, mostly politics, and became known as the Daughters of Liberty. As a result, spinning and weaving were considered patriotic acts. It eventually became popular to wear hand-spun and woven clothing from America. You may even consider this the first “made in America” movement!
I also learned that when the men went off to war, some of the women followed and assisted the soldiers as they moved from battle to battle with duties such as nursing, darning socks, laundry, and yes, spinning yarn for later weaving into fabric.
I certainly learned a lot during this very informative demonstration. I also enjoyed spending some time at Jockey Hollow again as it has been quite a while since my last visit.
If you are in the area and want to learn more about Morristown’s role in the American Revolution, I hope you check out all the great historical locations throughout the area; and maybe learn how to make yarn while you are there!
In July, another fiber-related even is taking place at the Wick House – Clothing an Army – which will discuss the role of weaving played during the Revolutionary War and why the colonies needed France to contribute to their uniform needs. I hope to check it out!