A necessary part of frontier life involved the care of horses. For the horse’s protection, metal horseshoes are nailed to horses’ hooves. In colonial times, a blacksmith would have made the horseshoes, and either he or a farrier would have “set” them. A farrier then as well as now traveled from farm to farm to shoe horses.
Records show that in 1637, one blacksmith made 40 cents a day shoeing horses. In 1787, another blacksmith made $1.00 a day. In 2016, a farrier makes about $120.00 a day after taxes, overhead, and expenses are taken out.
Because of the equipment his job required, a blacksmith had to have his own place of business. His work required heating iron to very high temperatures in a forge. The forge, which is a brick enclosure that contains a fireplace, also has a brick platform to work on. To make the fire hot enough to heat iron, the blacksmith also needed a bellows to apply air to the fire. A large block of iron called an anvil served as a place for pounding metal into the desired shape with a hammer or mallet.
The blacksmith used an iron bar heated in the forge to make a horseshoe. After it grew hot enough to be pliable, the blacksmith placed the iron bar on the anvil and pounded the heated metal into a flat U-shape with the same thickness at all points. Besides horseshoes, blacksmiths made tools for farmers, kitchen utensils, gun parts, and other metal objects.
Dyer, M.H. “The Life of a Colonial Blacksmith,” People of Our Everyday Life. 2016.
Stewart, Estelle May and Jesse Chester Bowen.“History of Wages in the United States from Colonial Times to 1928.” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934. Google Books.