Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I mentioned earlier in my series of posts on Nathaniel Barker's War of 1812
pension and bounty land grants that three of his adult sons had already left
the farm before Nathaniel applied for the land grants. The youngest of the
three, Alexander, moved to Massachusetts where he eventually became a
supervisor of groundskeepers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. The other two
brothers worked as blacksmiths, and I discovered some interesting
information about their work over on

Tilson Barker, the eldest son of Nathaniel married Catherine Howe on 9Apr
1848 at Marlborough, Ma and is enumerated there on the 1850 Federal Census.
But by 1860 his young family had moved to Berlin, Ma. I found him on both the
1860  Federal Census and on the Non-Population Manufacturing Schedule for
the same year. Now when we think of blacksmiths nowadays we tend to think
of someone who shod horses, but the details of Tilson's business shows there
was more to operating a smithy than shaping horseshoes:

Here's a summary of what it says:

Capital Invested, in real and personal estate, in the Business   $500
Raw Material Used, Including Fuel.                            Kind of Motor Power,
Quanitities                      Kinds                        Value        Machinery, etc
2 tons                           Iron & Steel               $120                None
6 sets                           Carriage Works          $175               2 forges
3 tons                           B Coal                         $50                 None

Average Number of Hands Employed - 1 male

Average Monthly Cost of Male Labor- $40

 He produced 6 carriages worth a total of $320 and other work worth
 So along with what we think of as the typical job of a blacksmith, Tilson
was manufacturing horse carriages for his customers to drive and ride in.

His younger brother Daniel moved north instead of south and ended up in
Aroostook County Maine at the town of Weston.

Capital Invested, in real and personal estate, in the Business   $600
Raw Material Used, Including Fuel.                            Kind of Motor Power,
Quantities                      Kinds                        Value          Machinery,etc
6 tons                              Iron                             $450              Hand
1000 lbs                         Steel                            $110
500 bushels                   Ch. Coal                      $60        
2 tons                               B. Coal                      $50

Average Number of Hands Employed - 2 males

Average Monthly Cost of Male Labor- $25

With those materials and two workers, Daniel produced 800 pounds of
horseshoes worth $200, 100 axes worth $150,  and other articles worth
$1000. Notice that he had coal and charcoal which with the iron could be
used to forge his own steel.

Daniel didn't just depend on his blacksmith business. He also had a retail liquor
sale business which I found on in the U.S. IRS Tax Assessment
Lists 1862-1918 starting in 1863 up to 1866. But by 1870 he was out of both
businesses and owned a farm instead. 

Looking at the materials listed on both brothers' schedules gives us a better
idea of what they needed to run their businesses. They didn't have crates
of horseshoes shipped to their forges; they had to manufacture them

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