Near Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
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
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.
(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
“Storehouse for iron” digital model. At various times nails were made in the “smith’s shop”, “nailery”, and the “storehouse 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. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Charlottesville VA 22902, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charlottesville.
Categories. • African Americans • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce •
More. Search the internet for Nail-Making.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 15, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 313 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 15, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.