Groceries, Shoes, Clothing, etc.
Groceries were not as well prepared then as now, and were held at higher prices. At Laurel, Louder Moore opened a 'cheap store' more then sixty years ago and advertised wet brown sugar for 6-1/4 cents per pound, and, calico at he same price per yard, which drew many Seaford citizens and area farmers. There was no refined or granular sugar at that time and sugar came in a cone shape loaf, wrapped in strong blue paper. This generally sold for 20 cents per pound. The buying and selling methods were different then, no traveling salesmen or delivery men, the merchant made two trips, spring and fall, to the cities to buy goods which were shipped by boat to the nearest port city.
A credit system prevailed over all the country which was very detrimental to the poorer class. Farmers who would go through the year buying freely, expecting that their crop would meet their liabilities, which would often fail, the consequence was a constables sale of all their goods. One of the benefits of the 1860's war was a change of this system.
Prior to the building of the Delaware Railroad to Seaford, Sussex county land was very poor and most people had to live very economic by necessity. todays young people have no idea of the privitions and hardships endured at home, school and church, in food and travel, as there was a great lack of comfortable accommodations. Many a little boy or girl would sit shiavering in the school house until it was their turn to move closer to the stove or fire in a fireplace.
There were few carriages at that time as they cost a good round of money. Some were able to ride horseback, sometimes two or three to a horse if they were small enough .
One hundred years or so ago there were few carpeted floors. What we call parlors now, were called 'halls', and a hall floor, bright and clean, would be sprinkled with clean white sand. Stoves were a great rarity. Perhaps the first stove put on the market was called a 'ten plate', bottom, middle and top plates make 3, a fire door, and two 'overdoors' make 6, a front and back plate make 8, yet they were always known as a 10 plate stove. Such stoves were used several years in the sitting rooms, office, shop and store and also for cooking. When the first cook stoves were built and put on the market, they were hailed with much delight. They would look very clumsy now.
Tradesmen of the era monopolized in their line. In Seaford there were five or six men and boys employed to fit and make suits for the young men, mothers and sisters would make the plain clothing. The tailors had no competition in clothing stores. Carriage makers, harness and saddle makers monopolized their trade. The blacksmiths had to make all the bolts and taps, horseshoes and horseshoe nails, hinges, hooks and door latches. The novelties and notions of today were not known then. The match for striking fire was in its infancy, the old blue 'locofoco' was just then invented and farm families kept flint and tinder to make fire. In town, fire was borrowed from neighbors, just like coffee and other forgetful items. Lighting was a nuisance, fish oil was used, as was a tallow dip but these were inferior to a good pine knot. Candal molds were a necessary part of the household as was the coffee pot. Many towns had a 'dipping day', usually in the fall, where a large block of tallow and a ball of 'wick' was turned into a supply of candles.
Shoes were made at home. Shoe pegs had not yet been invented and all shoes were hand stitched and shoemakers were as many as tailors who would take their kits and go house to house.
We had no parlor organs to make inspiring music, but a few wealthy had a forte piano. There were maybe three in the town of Seaford but the people would exercise their vocal powers which would awake the echoes far distant.
In the early times, Seaford had but onr mail a week which was carried on horse back. Later on, at ren years old in 1834, I drove for Rhodes Hazzard, a contractor, from Seaford to Milford on Friday afternoon and returned Saturday forenoon. . This mail had two stops on route, at Bridgeville and St. Johnstown, On Tuesdays and Wednesdays mail was sent to Easton, Maryland with stops at Cannon Ferry, Federalsburg, and Upper Hunting Creek near Linchester. It tooks two weeks to send a letter to Indiana and cost 25 cents. There were no envelops or stamps. One folded the paper and sealed with wax wafers. Foolscrap paper, quill pens , wax wafers and ink were the requisites for writing.
These accounts were written to show the lifestyle of our great grandparents against ours today, so that modern inventions may be more appreciated.
Notice: This is the end of chapter V. There is no chapter VI, so next we will have chapter VII