Have I Got a Deal for YOU!

Dry goods store sales card from Wheelock, Texas town in 1841.

Dry goods store sales card from a small Texas town in 1841.

Papa, get the wagon; we’re going to town!

This morning, I received a windfall of sorts from a Cavitt/Mitchell-side-of-the-family cousin who is moving.  He found a leather satchel full of papers relating to the Robertson County Cavitts and their kin.  That’s us!  (But, we don’t live in Robertson County now.)

A cursory examination of the contents of the satchel reveals them to be the makings of a book of Cavitt family history that starts in the 1700′s, but was likely being compiled in the early 20th Century.  I’ll keep you posted on this.

Anyway, I found this little treasure I wanted to share with you- a sales card from a store in Wheelock, one-time contender for the capital city of Texas.  I must admit that I couldn’t identify every item that Mr. Kellogg had just brought from the port city of Galveston, and I’ll bet you can’t, either, so I’ll help you out.

‘Casimirs’, as I found from the book, English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century by Cecil Willett Cumington, means thin, twilled woolen fabric.  For those who don’t know textiles, twill is the weaving technique that gives us denim.  Look at your jeans and see how they look like lots of parallel diagonal ridges?  That is a kind of twill.  I was a hand-weaver in my ancient past, so if you want to know more, just ask.

Now that I’ve mentioned your jeans, I had better explain the two types of ‘jeans’ seen in this advertisement.  Blue jeans, as we know them, were not invented until after the Civil War.  BUT, fabric called ‘jean’ or ‘jene’ came from the British Isles well before that time.  It is a type of…. twill!  So, I must assume that the Kentucky jeans and the Glasgow jeans in the ad refer to a type of twill fabric that had been made in Kentucky and in Glasgow, respectively.

You can guess that ‘trimming articles’ would be laces and braids for the home sewer to spiff up her wardrobe. ‘Prints’ refers to cotton fabric you might make into a dress.  Sheetings could be made into…. sheets and serviceable curtains,  although some of them would be natural in color, rather than white.  And shirtings would be the sort of weaves and weight and stripes that you would make into shirts.  Please remember that people had to make their own undergarments, night-clothes, table-linens, and towels, too.

I think that you and I can identify everything else on the list, except maybe ‘Queensware’.  A quick survey of Google showed me that this was cream-colored pottery made by Wedgwood in England, the clay body of which had been developed by Josiah Wedgwood himself in the mid-1700′s.  It came in all manner of styles and decorations and was terribly popular.

It appears that in 1840′s central-east Texas, if you had applied yourself to hunting and trapping and collecting, and had made best use of the body parts and animal products that you managed to snag, you could trade these hard-earned treasures for bounty brought through Galveston from merry old England.  Now isn’t that grand?

When was the last time you trapped a bear or a buffalo, dried the skin, and made ham, too?