Paid Workers (Miller and Overseer)
How did the American Revolution affect the role of the paid workers at the Hampton Estate?
- Greet students and ask them to sit on the Farm House steps. Explain the rules of the historic site: Inside the houses there can be no drinking, no eating, and no touching the furnishings.
- Ask the focus question:
“What impact did the American Revolution have on the lives of people at Hampton?”
- Ask students what they think an overseer did? (managed workforce, lived in this house, reported to Ridgelys, managed businesses)
- Have students look at the fields and hold up farm tools, artifacts, and burlap bags. Ask what they thought was planted here? (corn, wheat)
- Ask what could be made with corn and wheat? (bread) How could baking vast amounts of bread be profitable during the American Revolution? (soldiers needed to be fed, Ridgleys sold flour to Continental Army).
- Show image on station poster of a miller at work. Explain that inside the gristmill the waterwheels would press the corn and wheat into flour. (corn flour is called corn meal)
- Explain that slaves and indentured servants would plant and harvest the crops and then transport them to the mill. During the American Revolution, British prisoners worked alongside of slaves and indentured servants.
- How often do you think that the miller got paid? (Once a year! But it was enough to keep him comfortable and the Ridgelys provided him with a small house near the mill.)
- Have students go inside Farm House.
- Show students natural resources found on Ridgely’s property that are in the house. Show coal, iron ore fragment, limestone piece and charcoal from wood.
- Ask students: "What could these materials produce?" Pig iron! The coal or wood would heat the furnace. The furnace would melt the iron ore into pig iron, while the heated limestone (and later marble) would remove the impurities from the iron ore. The Ridgelys first cut the surrounding trees to make charcoal and later used coal imported from regional mines. The pig iron would be shaped at the forge into everyday materials.
- What types of iron materials would the Ridgelys produce? (Show cannonball, slave chains, slave collars and shackles in the house.) Ask how each would have a local market. (Cannonballs for Continental Army, slave objects bought by other slave owners)
Have students write in their flip books and return to front steps for discussion questions.