March 21, 2011

At the Auction

Auction Day

When my great-great-great grandfather, J. George Delp’s auction was held in November 1851, a list of all auction items was generated with the buyer’s name and the price paid.  Again, it was a real insight into the meager holdings of this man as compared to today’s farmers, the value of things like ladles and plates, and the simple tools that were used to farm the land.
I’m not going to reproduce the entirety of that auction list here, but I did want to mention some things that were sold on that day.  These are items that I had to research because I wasn’t exactly sure what they were and what their use was. The auction clerk spelled the words phonetically, so some of the items are still unknown to me. 

4 barrels and some cheat – 37 ½ cents
Even though I was a farm girl, I had never heard the word cheat used as an object, but a quick research foray explained it all.  Cheat refers to cheat seed, weed seed that develops in the wheat and is harvested with it.  It would be removed from the wheat before the wheat is used.  We would call it rye grass or brome grass seed or similar.

Here I have to assume laythe = lathe, a machine for turning wood and shaping it.  I'm not sure what the hanging refers to, but maybe someone can help me on that?  I also thought about the type of lathe that would be used in a house...?

threshflails – 6 ¼ cents
This is a handheld threshing tool used to thresh grain.  In the 1850’s, it would have been two sticks, one longer than the other, usually connected by a chain.  One would hold the longer stick and swing it, forcing the smaller to hit the grain and knock off the husks, thence separating the grain from the chaff.
shakenfork & 2 rakes – 12 cents
A shakenfork was like a wide pitchfork, used to clean out the animal stalls of manure.  It would look like this.

iron wetch -37 ½ cents
Probably referring to a winch, just a spool and a handcrank used with a rope to lift up or let something down, like this.  

1 gimlet & 3 chisels- 37 cents   A gimlet is a hand tool, like this, for drilling small holes. 

1 drawnife – 25 cents
A drawknife is a woodworking hand tool used to shape wood.  It has a blade with a handle at each end and the user would draw the knife on the wood towards himself.  Here it is.

cowchains – 75 cents
This type of chain was used to around the neck of a cow and then was attached to a stall.

flaxbrake & oxyoke – 12 cents
Handfuls of flax were placed in a flax brake which has an upper and lower arm.  The upper piece was lowered, crunching the flax in between.  This process broke up the woody stalks. 

1 fanning mill - $1
 Used to clean corn or perhaps other grains, the fan would turn and blow the dust, small stones and other debris off.
You can view one here:  

1 grain cradle – 12 cents
This was a frame of wood with long curved teeth projecting above and parallel to a scythe for laying grain in bunches as it’s cut, like this.

Of course, the animals and crops were some of the more expensive things sold, but you might be surprised at what else brought in the most money. 
Just as in the old country, bedsteads were highly prized and valuable investments, often handed down to the next generation.  George Delph had four bedsteads, that being the framework of the bed, usually during this time period strung with ropes that would hold a feather mattress or a mattress stuffed with husks or other material in poorer families.  His bedsteads sold for $4, $2, and $5, with a “trunnel” (trundle) bed going for $2.   One clothes “cobert” (cupboard) went for $8.  As for other household furnishings, there was not much beyond dishes, knives and forks, “cittles” (kettles), crocks and pots.
Two blue coats sold for $5 each, while a brown coat sold for $3.  I had to smile when I read that two pair of “pantaloons” sold for $2.   In the 1850’s, pantaloons provided modesty for women who wore hooped skirts as the pantaloons covered the legs.  I would assume these once belonged to Christiana, Georg’s wife.

I noticed that a John Delp attended the auction and purchased these items – 2 old axes, some broomcorn, 1 sled, 1 bag of beens (beans), 1 lot of Redbeats (red beets), 1 red heifer, 2 barrels,  1 meatvessel (meat vessel), a lot of tinware and one box.  Joh. Delp appeared on the same immigration list as George Delp and was from the same village in Germany.  Were these men brothers?
Philip Heckler, the man who took in the orphaned Philip Delp and raised him, was also at the auction and purchased one blue coat, 1 vest (or chest – unreadable), and one lot of crocks.  Philip’s father was there, too, as were many other neighbors, I’m sure.

The total monies taken in at the auction was $466.09 ¼  with the summary dated 16 December 1851. 
This document truly gave insight into the daily life of this immigrant ancestor.

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