Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“The Yadkin” by T.C. Albert

           Next in the Historic Rivers of the Frontier pouch series is “The Yadkin”. The “Shallow Ford Crossings” of the Yadkin is located about 15 miles west of Winston Salem. It was here, as early as 1748 that the Bryant settlement was established, to be followed within five years by the Moravians who began settling the Wachovia tract with the towns of Bethabara, Bethania, and Salem. Some scholars believe that the “Great Wagon Road” itself crossed the Yadkin at Shallow Ford, and by the early 1770’s roads were being cut to connect it to the Wilderness Trail and elsewhere.

           The Moravians were missionaries first, and all efforts went primarily to supporting missionaries in the field, and then the members of the settlements, but after those needs were met, any surplus goods or work was traded and sold to their neighbors on market days or to travelers as they passed through. With classically trained European master craftsmen in their community, they boasted some the most progressive and finest craftsmanship on the frontier and influenced the regions local traditions from a very early date.

           Though not a direct copy of any surviving set, the “Yadkin” is inspired by these influences, which are both progressive and traditional while also being southern and Germanic in their origins. Operating two tanneries and having a professional leather worker as a member of the Salem community, I would expect leather work coming from that community to be made to a high standard from fine grade leathers. Though not patterned on the traditional Germanic “dew claw” hunting bags, the “Yadkin” is constructed in a unique flat sewn double style which I believe may have early Pennsylvania origins where it evolved to serve the American riflemen rather than German huntsmen. The flap is painted in a Pennsylvania Dutch style that while not strictly Moravian in influence, is a style that would be expected to be found decorating many of the items seen often along the “Great Wagon Road”.

          Keeping with the Germanic tradition of not attaching a horn directly to their dew claw bags, the horn that serves the “Yadkin” hangs on its own strap separate from the bag. The large horn is made with a simple lathe turned antler tip and common bee hived walnut plug, further reflecting its humble Carolina inspired origins, even as it sports an early European style, rather fancy cast brass buckle.

           The set is also served by a traditionally carved deer antler powder measure suspended from braided loom wool, a forged iron vent pick, and a large knife made from a simple hand forged blade mounted to a fancy salvaged antique bone handle, and is carried in a sheath attached across the back of the pouch as many larger knives were traditionally carried. The improvised ferrule is made from an antique thimble.

    The “Yadkin” seeks to fuse a backwoods frontier way of life with examples of the high standard of traditional Moravian craftsmanship found and developed in the area near The Shallow Ford Crossings as it embraced and improved upon many of the new ideas that were constantly surrounding them as an entire culture grew around and traveled down the many famous roads that met and crossed here at “The Yadkin”.

Copy and photos supplied by T. C. Albert.

1 comment:

  1. Three points here:
    Wachovia was not established to support missionary work, or extend missionary work to the Indians of the SE. The directives sent from Bethlehem strickly forbid anything of that nature. Wachovia was established as a plantation to support Bethlehem as they were experiencing severe financial and legal troubles in the 1740's and 50's. Read Thorp's book.
    2. The Great Wagon Road DID pass through the Bryant Settlement. Bryant is credited with cutting the road from VA to the Yadkin. The Wagon Road is marked as such on the 1756, 1758, 1759 (and so on...) maps of the area. If folks were calling it the Great Wagon Road in 1756, it certainly is the Great Wagon Road.
    3. There is at least 1 surviving pouch from the 3rd quarter of the 18th century preserved at Old Salem with a possible Moravian attribution. A copy can be seen easily in the leather shop in the Single Brother's house. The original is incredibly simple and looks no where near as fancy as this piece presented here.