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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Nail-Making

 
 
Nail-Making Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, February 8, 2015
1. Nail-Making Marker
Inscription. Jefferson set up a nail-making operation in 1794 to provide income until he could “put my farms into a course of yielding profit.” He calculated the nailers’ daily output, the waste of nailrod, and profits. In its first years, the “nailery” was a financial success and Jefferson expanded it. Using nailrod shipped from Philadelphia, the enslaved nailers produced thousands of pounds of nails sold in local stores and to neighbors. Profits dwindled over the years because of management problems and competition from cheaper imported nails. Nail-making continued until the War of 1812 impeded the shipment of nailrod from Britain. Small-scale nail production resumed on Mulberry Row in 1815 after the war ended.

The Nail-Makers
In 1794, nine enslaved boys aged 10 to 15 worked at forges, making as many as 10,000 nails a day. From dawn to dusk, Ben Hix, David and Moses Hern, Burwell Colbert, Barnaby Gillette, James Hubbard, Sheperd, Wormley Hughes, and Joseph Fossett, hammered iron nailrod into nails of four sizes on their anvils. Head blacksmith George Granger, Jr. supervised their work and received a small percentage of the profits. Jefferson weighed the nailrod and nails daily to assess the efficiency of his workers. Moses Hern (15) was the most efficient, while James Hubbard (11) “wasted”
Wide view of the Nail-Making Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, February 8, 2015
2. Wide view of the Nail-Making Marker
The marker is the farthest marker seen here on the left of Mulberry Row.
the most iron.

I am engaged in a nail manufactory, which I carry on altogether with my own boys. Thomas Jefferson, 1795.

Treatment of Slaves
“My first wish”, Jefferson wrote to his son-in-law in 1792, “is that labourers may be well treated.” He struggled to balance humane treatment of slaves with the need for profit at Monticello. Jefferson tried to mitigate the coercion and violence from slavery; he asked his manager to refrain from whipping the boys in the nailery except “in extremities.” Jefferson’s instructions lessened, but did not eliminate, severe punishment. On occasion, he ordered a whipping for repeated misbehavior as an example to other slaves.

Captions:
(left to right): Buildings on Mulberry Row during Jefferson’s era.

“Estimate on the actual work of the autumn of 1794.” Jefferson’s Farm Book. Massachusetts Historical Society

Horseshoe nail, iron. Cut nail, iron. Scupper nail, iron. Wrought iron nail. Anvil hardy, iron. Anvil waster, iron. Probable tinsmithing hammer head, iron. Nailrod binder and nailrod fragments, iron. This piece is missing from the marker.

“Storehouse for iron” digital model. At various times nails were made in the “smith’s shop”, “nailery”, and the “storehouse
The reconstructed "storehouse for iron" at Monticello on Mulberry Row. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, February 8, 2015
3. The reconstructed "storehouse for iron" at Monticello on Mulberry Row.
for iron.”

Isaac (Granger) Jefferson. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

Tinsmithing. For a brief period in the 1790s, the “storehouse for iron” was the site of a tinsmithing operation. George Grainger, Jr.'s brother Isaac, trained by a Philadelphia tinsmith, recalled that he “carried on the tin business two years” before it failed. Archaeological excavations uncovered tin scraps and a tin cup.

Tin cup. Thomas Jefferson Foundation
 
Location. 38° 0.554′ N, 78° 27.195′ W. Marker is near Charlottesville, Virginia, in Albemarle County. Marker can be reached from Monticello Loop north of Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Virginia Route 53), on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Charlottesville VA 22902, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wood Trades (within shouting distance of this marker); Discovering Mulberry Row (within shouting distance of this marker); Nursery (within shouting distance of this marker); The Levy Legacy (within shouting distance of this marker); Smokehouse/Dairy (within shouting distance of this marker); Mulberry Row (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Charcoal (about 400 feet away); Textiles (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Charlottesville.
 
Categories. African AmericansColonial EraIndustry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on November 22, 2016.
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