Friday, June 23, 2017


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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


In colonial days, people sought help for their illnesses from a man called an apothecary who did some of the same things as the colonial doctor did. Just as people of today respect and listen to a doctor’s advice, colonial people thought highly of apothecaries.

To decide what to do, an apothecary Read More 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Early Craftsmen and Craftswomen

Furniture Makers*

As towns grew, hardworking people continued to seize opportunities to start their own businesses. Although still dependent on England for some supplies, these townspeople made things like guns, shoes, clocks, clothing, furniture, silverware, and horseshoes from beginning to end right in their own shops. Specialized businesses produced all the wares during the 1700s.

In the small towns, people often worked several jobs. For example, a clock maker Read More

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lumber, Grist, and Paper Mills

In the preceding blog the first definition of industry given in Merriam-Webster had been “the habit of working hard and steadily.” The second definition of industry in the same resource is “a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service.” The early industries in Pennsylvania fit this category. As towns sprang up, Read More

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Early Agriculture

The early Pennsylvania colonist farmed. After he arrived in this country, he chose his land, built a rough shelter, cleared land by chopping down trees, and planted his crops so he would have food for winter. The settler deposed of the fallen trees by burning them and then sold the ashes or used them to make soap. Neighbors helped chop up or pull out tree stumps using sturdy horses, mules, or oxen.
Only after preparing his field, did the settler Read More

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hunters, Trappers, and Traders

Pennsylvania had many kinds of industries over the years. The simplest definition of industry is “the habit of working hard and steadily.”[1]  From beginning times, Pennsylvania people labored to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.
Woods covered most of Pennsylvania before explorers came to the New World. Native Americans Read More

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Industry in Pennsylvania

I have begun the daunting task of adding to my series of educational workbooks, a book on the history of industry in Pennsylvania. Does everyone know the three biggies? Read More