Revisited Myth # 60: Women ate arsenic to lighten their complexions.

October 3, 2015



This isn’t a myth, but it is probably exaggerated.

Unlike today when everyone wants a tan, women in previous centuries thought pale was prettier. Pale skin was a status symbol, since it showed that the woman did not have to labor outside in the fields like the peasants. There is some evidence that women ate arsenic to lighten their skin, or at least to minimize blemishes. But according to 18th-century apothecary specialist Robin Kipps, arsenic actually darkens the skin, so anyone trying this should have noticed that and abandoned the effort.

Evidence comes in the form of the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalogue that offered arsenic wafers for men and women. It was more for clearing up skin than for whitening, but I mention it nonetheless.  arsenic_wafers

Every lady a possible buyer of this celebrated complexion preparation and beautifier. Regular size, also large size boxes, can be sold constantly at a very good profit.

PERFECTLY HARMLESS when used in accordance with our directions, it possesses the “Wizard’s Touch” in producing, preserving and enhancing beauty of form and person in male and female by surely developing a transparency and pellucid clearness of complexion, shapely contour of form, brilliant eyes, soft and smooth skin, where by nature the reverse exists.
THE GREAT TROUBLE HITHERTO has been how to make this beautifying principle safely available and at the same time avoid what is detrimental and injurious. Arsenical solutions have utterly failed, and until a recent discovery by a French physician and chemist, the internal administration of arsenic has been attended with more or less danger as well as disappointing results. In the direction for which they are intended their effect is simply magical, the most astounding transformation in personal appearance being brought about by their daily use. Even the coarsest and most repulsive skin and complexion, marred by freckles and other disfigurements, slowly changes into an unrivaled purity of texture, free from any spot or blemish whatever; the pinched features become agreeable, the form angular gradually transforms itself into the perfection of womanly grace and beauty. Used by men the favorable results are the same. All danger is averted in these complexion wafers, prepared by our experienced chemist, and the remedy taken in the manner directed on each box is absolutely innocuous, while the peculiar virtues of the remedy remain unimpaired and intact. Taken as directed the wafers will be found a positive, safe and magical specific for all sorts of skin troubles, unsightliness and imperfections, being in reality the only beautifier of the complexion, skin and form known. Guaranteed a sure cure for freckles, moth, blackheads, pimples, vulgar redness, rough, yellow or muddy skin, and other facial disfigurements are permanently removed and a deliciously clear complexion and round up of angular forms assured.

LADIES, YOU CAN BE BEAUTIFUL. No matter who you are, what your disfigurements may be, you can make yourself as handsome as any lady in the land by the use of our French Arsenic Wafers. We recommend ordering one dozen large boxes and then carefully follow our directions.

No. 8R99 Our price, per dozen boxes, $3.30; per box of 50 treatments… 35¢
No. 8R100 Our price, per dozen boxes, $6.00; per box of 100 treatments, 67¢
If by mail, postage extra, per box, small, 3 cents; large, 3 cents.

Some women did something else that was just as bad as arsenic. Since the early 1500s, some upper class European women (think Queen Elizabeth I and her ladies-in-waiting) used a skin lightener called ceruse. Made with white lead, ceruse was also used in making paint. This probably caused damage, perhaps even death, if the woman applied it to her face often enough. It was still available in France in the middle 1700s, but I’ve seen no evidence that American women used it. 


Revisited Myth # 59: Women had very tiny waists during the “olden days.”

September 27, 2015


What makes waists appear smaller in paintings and photos is the illusion created by the dress styles, which in the 17th-18th centuries involved farthingales or panniers (above), in the 19th century involved wide crinolines or bustles (below), and in the 1940s involved padded shoulders (below).Unknown


Long gowns with wide panniers or full skirts make the waist seem smaller in comparison, as does the triangular stomacher that narrows to a point just below the waist, like this one:


Studies of costumes at the Smithsonian, Colonial Williamsburg, and other museums provide the evidence. Curator Linda Baumgarten’s measurements of 18th-century stays and gowns show waist sizes ranging from about twenty-one to thirty-six inches. Author Juanita Leisch’s personal collection of garments from the Civil War era shows a median waist of around 23-25 inches. Scarlett O’Hara and her 18” waist aside, few women except teenagers (like Scarlett, who is 16 when the novel opens) had unusually small waist measurements.


Revisited Myth # 58: Niches called ‘coffin corners’ were built into staircases to allow people to carry a casket downstairs and turn the corner.

September 20, 2015
Quarters #1, Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA

Quarters #1, Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA

I must admit, this is one of my favorite myths. You’ll hear it in some Victorian-era houses that have architectural niches built into the wall of the staircase landing, as on the left above. The story goes that these niches were called coffin corners. Someone might explain that, because most people died at home in their beds and because most bedrooms were upstairs, it was difficult to get the casket up and down the stairs when the staircase turned a corner. So at the landing, Victorian architects would cut a niche into the wall. The pallbearers would insert one corner of the coffin into the niche and make the turn at the landing.

Part of this is true: people did tend to die at home and the bedrooms of larger homes did tend to be located on the second or third floors. And many Victorian homes do have niches built into the wall of the staircase. But these were for decorative purposes: to display a statue, perhaps a bust, or a vase, or maybe flowers. Why would anyone carry a coffin upstairs to the corpse rather than carry the corpse downstairs to the coffin? Most books about Victorian architecture debunk this myth. For example, John Maass calls it a hoax in The Victorian Home in America (1972).

Revisited Myth # 57: Venetian blinds were invented in Venice. (Or Marco Polo brought Venetian blinds to Venice from China).

September 7, 2015


I was one of many docents who used to repeat this tale at Colonial Williamsburg in the 1970s. Mea culpa. 

Window blinds with slats existed in ancient Egypt and Pompeii long before the city of Venice was founded in AD 452. Those slats were fixed, however. In 1757, a French craftsman advertised blinds with adjustable slats, probably not his own invention but definitely a new idea.

By the end of the 1700s they were common in wealthier houses, shops, churches, and public buildings in England and the English colonies. In 1767 a Philadelphia craftsman advertised, “newest invented Venetian sun blinds for windows . . . stained to any colour, moves to any position.” In 1769, Diderot’s French encyclopaedia illustrated them (above). When Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson moved the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond, the list of packages sent included “Venen Blinds.” Thrifty George Washington had one Venetian blind made to fit a dining room window at Mount Vernon so that “others may be made by it, at home.”

Only the English called them Venetian blinds. In Italy, they were persiana; in France, jalousie a la persienne. This suggests that they originated in the East, perhaps in the Persian Empire or beyond, in China or India. They probably got the name Venetian Blinds courtesy of having come via Venice, a city that dominated trade with the East.

And whenever anyone says “the Venice trade with the East,” they inevitably think of Marco Polo, an association that probably gave rise to the legend that Marco Polo brought them back from China. But on reflection, it appears highly unlikely. First of all, Marco Polo doesn’t mention blinds in his journals, and frankly, it seems like an inexplicably long delay between his travels in the late 1200s and the European debut of the blinds in the 1750s.

Revisited Myth # 56: Quilters put a mistake in each quilt to show their humility.

August 29, 2015


While we’re on the subject of quilts (last week’s post), how about the claim above? Or this one: The Amish made mistakes in their quilts on purpose because “only God is perfect.” Never mind that Amish quilters have strongly denied this custom.

Quilt historians are a careful bunch, and they take unproven claims very seriously. One went looking for the origins of this “humility block” legend and found the earliest reference dated to 1949. No sources from the 1800s like diaries or letters or published materials mention a practice like this, and no oral tradition could be traced. Perhaps the idea got started when people noticed an odd placement of a piece of fabric or a change in color and wondered whether it was done on purpose. For more information from quilt historians, see and scroll down a bit until you reach “humility” blocks. 

There is a similar myth that goes with Persian rugs. Supposedly the weaver makes a mistake on purpose so as not to offend Allah. And see below for another that involves Native Americans and the Great Spirit.

Ask any quilter, Amish or not, and they’ll tell you that they make plenty of mistakes without even trying!


Previous comments:

Mark M
Submitted on 2014/01/11 at 10:41 pm
I heard a similar story decades ago from Native American beadworkers who frequented the bead store I worked at. Basically, that nothing in the world created by the Great Spirit was perfect, and that in humility, no one should attempt to outdo the Great Spirit. Therefore, if one’s creation came out flawlessly, a tiny flaw should be deliberately introduced at the very end.

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Brian Stanley
Submitted on 2011/10/11 at 4:10 pm
Navajo rug makers deliberately leave an opening in closed rectangle patterns to avoid trapping evil spirits / energies in the rug.

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Alden O’Brien
Submitted on 2011/07/13 at 11:51 am | In reply to marymiley.
oh my! So much for my staying under the radar. So glad you enjoyed our exhibit. Do you know all our quilts are visible online at Great site. Also we have a book out this month of a selection of some of our “greatest hits” of the quilt collection published by Martha Pullen Co, available on her website or in our museum shop (am working on wider distribution to other shops, but it’ll never be on Amazon….)meanwhile I’m subscribing to you. I consider one of my vocational duties is myth-busting!–A

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Submitted on 2011/07/13 at 11:47 am | In reply to Alden O’Brien.
Thanks should also go to you, Alden. You’re the one(s) who inspired me, with the DAR’s marvelous exhibit back in 2006.

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Alden O’Brien
Submitted on 2011/07/13 at 11:39 am
thanks for tackling this and other quilt myths!
Alden O’Brien, a curator

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Lisa Sansone
Submitted on 2011/07/12 at 9:58 am
That is excellent. I do counted cross stitch, among other things, and I have to tell you that it’s not hard to make a mistake. Sometimes, you can’t find the mistake in backtracking, so you’re stuck working around it. I’m sure that the Amish feel the same way. Or, if there is a different piece of fabric, it could be possible, in a cruel world, that the lady ran out of the matching fabric, and had to weasel in another!

Revisited Myth #55: African-American quilts were really secret codes meant to guide escaping slaves through the Underground Railroad.

August 21, 2015


Few history myths have origins so recent or so clear as the quilt code myth. We know who started it, who publicized it, and who is profiting from it. We also know the overwhelming body of evidence against it. This myth caught on quickly, thanks in part to teachers and librarians looking for an imaginative way to teach children about slavery, especially during February (Black History Month).

If you haven’t heard this humdinger, it focuses on quilt patterns that supposedly contained secret messages that would guide slaves along the Underground Railroad route. For instance, the Monkey Wrench pattern, when displayed on a line in the slave quarters, supposedly meant “Gather up tools and prepare to flee.” Quilt experts, academic historians, and museum curators all over the country have exposed this myth as a hoax. None of the various claims have been substantiated, and all are contradicted by facts, for instance, several of the quilt patterns that are supposed to have had hidden meanings didn’t even exist before the Civil War. (The Dresden Plate design is late 19th century; the Wedding Ring, pictured above, dates from 1920.) The examples of slave-made quilts with the secret code are all recently made; no independently-documented example has ever been found. Firsthand accounts from people like Harriet Tubman and other slaves (some of which were collected in the 1930s by WPA writers), do not mention anything about this quilt code, even when referencing quilts, as Tubman did.

Kate Clifford Larson, a historian and expert on Harriet Tubman, the former slave who returned to Maryland again and again to help friends and relatives escape, wrote, “She (Tubman) never used the quilt code. The quilt code is another myth created in the last 20 years. It is not true and everyone should know that. The truth is people who ran away used their great intelligence and took great risks to flee, and they used networks of people who were willing to help. Some people did not get any help; they just ran away and got to freedom on their own.”

This persistent fairy tale is too profitable to kill off. It has spawned several children’s books, a money-making lecture circuit, sales of quilt-code designs to quilt makers, and sales of quilts to tourists. It is even—horror of horrors—morphing into other cultures. Someone has claimed that Native Americans made coded quilts, another that German Jews made coded quilts to warn others about Nazis. All such stories have been debunked by reputable experts who have, on occasion, been accused of racism when they dared to point out the fallacies. 

There is a lesson here—If you want to start a history myth, be sure to include the word “code” or “secret” in it. This is guaranteed to get you lots of attention, as we are all suckers for secret messages, conspiracies, codes, and plots.

Over the years, Leigh Fellner has researched and written an exhaustive, impressive rebuttal of the quilt code myths that you can read in its very interesting entirety at

Revisited Myth # 54: Many houses and roads in America were built with bricks and stones carried here as ballast in the holds of ships.

August 14, 2015


(Thanks to Eric P. Olsen of Morristown National Historical Park for suggesting this one.)

The nature of the North American tobacco trade meant that many incoming ships had to carry ballast to America. There was more cargo going east across the Atlantic from tobacco-producing colonies than coming west. Tobacco was a huge export that filled many ships to England; incoming ships were sometimes only partially loaded with imports. Ballast, carried near the keel, was necessary to keep the ship upright.

Because of very sensible laws against dumping ballast in a river or at a port, ship captains knew to take ballast that they could unload and sell, even for a small amount of money. Records show that bricks were sometimes used, as was slate, coal, and flagstones, even though such things were available in the colonies.

However, the quantities imported were relatively small (for instance, 1757 records mention “ten thousand bricks” or “100 feet of flagstone”) making it unlikely any house or building could be built entirely from ballast. Here’s what I was able to turn up talking/writing to historians in the following cities and states.

As far as paving roads, no evidence for that exists in colonial Virginia. Williamsburg, Virginia, had no paved roads until the early 20th century. In Annapolis, Maryland, photographs of the city shows streets there were still unpaved in the 1860s, and bordered with curbs and sidewalks (but no paving) in the 1880s. Clearly, the tale that these streets were paved with ballast is untrue. In Charleston, S.C., streets were similarly unpaved: in 1791 Washington noted “streets of sand,” and any ballast paving could not have occurred before independence. In Nantucket, this myth is “island lore” without any concrete evidence. In a 1961 study, historians were “able to turn up no evidence that any whaling ship ever sailed into Nantucket harbor without a cargo so that ballast was necessary to keep the vessel low in the water.” Some evidence exists that Nantucket purchased paving stones in 1837, probably from Gloucester, MA. In Savannah, this claim is made for the streets that go to the river; but paved streets didn’t appear until 1883, a date after which little ballast entered the port. Ballast stones were, however, used as foundations of buildings of riverfront warehouses and some retaining walls (Factors Walk Retaining Wall) built in the mid-1800s. After 1882, the use of ballast declined to the point that the city was obliged to purchase stones. If anyone knows about other colonies, please chime in!

Kathy Nichols, Executive Director of the Heritage Society of New Braunfels in Texas writes about a related myth. “My docents are saying that English ironstone was made for ship’s ballast. Yep, they are telling people that’s why ironstone was made. It is even printed in the book offered by my site…so you can understand that they are loathe to put their trust in a new director about such a catchy myth. I’ve actually heard this story at a number of other sites but am not able to uncover articles similar to yours about this topic yet. If you know of anything, please send me in that direction.”

Ironstone, or stoneware dishes, was legitimate cargo, much desired in the American colonies. Josiah Wedgwood and other manufacturers made such pottery by the boatload and shipped it all over the world. It was heavy, yes, but not ballast. Keep telling them, Kathy.

21 Responses to MYTH # 54: Many houses and roads in America were built with bricks and stones carried here as ballast in the holds of ships.

Crispinius says:
June 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm (Edit)
Boy,…making ironstone crockery for the express purpose of ships’ ballast makes about as much sense as saying that making shot and cannonballs was for the same purpose aboard a man-of-war.

Yes,…heavy things are certainly loaded lowest in a ship’s hold, just like any good truck driver knows to load the heaviest pallets in the bottom of his trailer, and lighter things above. But to jump from that to saying that it was made for that purpose?,…well, I would put the burthen of proof on the person saying it. “Show me the primary documentation for it (viz. – not your site’s book, which is, of course, secondary documentation).”

As far as paving with ballast stones or bricks,…I know that Stone Street, (or Duke Street as it was officially known for decades) is a street in Manhattan, NY that apparently got its colloquial name in 1656 from being paved. [BTW – The Belgian blocks on Stone Street now are new construction.] That is the earliest I have heard of street paving in the American colonies. Philadelphia began paving some streets (ostensibly at Mr. Franklin’s suggestion) in the 1760’s.

Beyond that, though, I don’t know of many paved streets. Williamsburg, formerly the capital of the most populous of His Majesty’s 32 North American colonies, apparently had no street paving until the 1920’s. During the 18th-Century, when these ships were bringing ballast over, it was described as “a filthy town” and visitors from England weren’t too impressed with its streets.

There was a town on the south side of the James River, near Grays Creek, called “Cobham,” which was apparently a vibrant little community. Today it is primarily farmland. I found it interesting in doing research on the place that Grays Creek became unnavigable because of ballast dumped at its mouth. Some of that ballast was carried off (for building projects, perhaps?), but apparently a bunch of it is still there. I guess not everybody was so prudent about where the ballast went.

I would love to read others’ take on these things, as my research on this topic, although extensive, is not exhaustive. For now, though, I think I’ll go have a pint of ale in my ironstone mug…

Brett Walker, Shoemaker-Historian

Mara says:
June 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm (Edit)
Ha! I don’t think there were many roads and, especially, houses made from ballast (the bricks of which were called bastard bricks because none of them matched and would be difficult to lay them in a masonry fashion because they were uneven), however, there are some that still do exist. One such place is Fell’s Point in Baltimore, Maryland. There are still sections of the streets that are paved with blond Belgium block used as ballast from the European ships. And there is a house in Fell’s Point, 1611 Lancaster Street, where one can still see the bastard bricks that the side and back of the house are made of. Also, in Lisbon, Portugal, the streets and some sidewalks are paved with the ballast from ships as well. I almost broke an ankle walking them in heels when I was there! Interestingly enough, there is also something called a ballast hopper which is a railroad car that carries the “ballast” that lays between the rails of the railroad. Now, I do not know if these cars actually carried true ballast from ships to use in the railroad or if this is just a holdover of the terminology…a surprising amount of acquatic terminology is used in the railway.

marymiley says:
June 27, 2011 at 9:55 am (Edit)
Thanks Mara. That’s very interesting!

marymiley says:
June 27, 2011 at 10:05 am (Edit)
Mara, one thing . . . could you clarify that address in Fell’s Point? I looked on Google Maps to see the house at 1611 Lancaster, but there is no visible side of the the house. It is a row house and you can’t see the sides at all.

Mara says:
June 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm (Edit)
Sure! My family has lived in Baltimore for several generations (the Canton section) & most of my family still lives there, too. I had visited the house in Lancaster Street and had seen the bricks myself….they are only visible inside the house because the “bastard” bricks are not used for any facing. One must go inside to the third floor to see them. I have actually found a reference to it (including pictures of the bricks!) here….

Hopefully, the link will work. Robert Eney, who is mentioned in the reference, is apart of the preservation socicety in Baltimore. He was the one who had shown me this house. You can see some video of him discussing some of the houses in Fell’s Point here…

marymiley says:
June 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm (Edit)
Many thanks!!

marymiley says:
August 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm (Edit)
I just heard from the world’s expert in ballast (that’s my own title for Dr. Nic Butler, Manager of the Charleston Archive at the Charleston Public Library) who told me he’s spent the past five years reading every existing record of the South Carolina colonial legislature. He writes:
“Charleston’s streets were unpaved, sandy thoroughfares for the entire colonial period. Sidewalks were paved with crushed oyster shells and bricks as early as 1698, but there is no record of any street paving until after the incorporation of the city in 1783. In fact, in 1734 South Carolina’s provincial legislature passed a law requiring ship captains to discharge their unwanted ballast to the commissioners of the fortifications, who caused the stones to be piled in an around the town’s waterfront fortifications. For nearly five decades, the commissioners of the fortifications employed a “yeoman” (and his slaves) with a “lighter” or flat barge to transport the stones from ship to shore. This law was rendered void by the legislature’s decision in March 1784 to dismantle the fortifications. Only after that time, therefore, were ballast stones available to the newly-incorporated City Council of Charleston for use in paving public streets. Contrary to what tour guides say, Charleston’s cobblestone (ballast stone) streets date from either the late 18th or early 19th centuries.”

This is the first hard evidence I’ve seen for paving streets with ballast. Thanks so much, Nic! Now we know it definitely occurred, at least in Charleston and Maryland (see comment above), I think it is safe to say that this is only a myth in that it exaggerates the practice. Not every paving-stone street was made from imported ballast.

JJ Cummings says:
October 5, 2011 at 1:06 am (Edit)
Old town Alexandria, Virginia was said to be built with bricks and stones from Balast. There are many stone roads in this location still in existance and many of these roads were paved over.

marymiley says:
October 5, 2011 at 8:15 am (Edit)
Yes, that’s what their tour guides say. I heard it myself last month on a tour. But is there any documentation for the statement? I didn’t ask, but in the past, when I have asked (and gone to a particular state’s reference librarians, historical society historians, and university history departments), there is no proof, just repeated hearsay. In some few cases, there actually is documentation, such as with Charleston, which I mentioned earlier. I suspect that in many towns, the paving stones were purchased locally and did not come from ballast.

marymiley says:
December 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm (Edit)
I recently came across a reference in Antiques Roadshow Primer (1999) that talks about Canton export porcelain. Author Carol Prisant writes, “But Canton was affordable–so inexpensive in fact, that the merchant ships carrying it from the Orient to America and England used it as ballast.” She is not any more specific than that, and I have seen no hard evidence.

Eric Gardner says:
April 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm (Edit)
I recently lived in Savannah GA for some time, and the same story was used there in reference to River Street. Paved with ballast. It seems plausible though, but I need to do more research.

Robert says:
July 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm (Edit)
Interesting… I’m a geologist and just received a granite belgian block recovered from Fells Point. I was asked if I could determine it’s source. I’m just starting to look into the issue, but cursory search of available info points to the host of granite quarries in Baltimore County as the source (rather than a european origin). I’m going to see if I can dig up published geochemical data to compare…

marymiley says:
July 24, 2012 at 8:32 am (Edit)
I’d love to hear the results of your investigation. Please come back when you’ve finished!

Sue Orsak says:
October 16, 2014 at 12:43 am (Edit)
I’m also interested in this also Robert. We have some of these that came from streets in Seattle,Wa.

Joe Greeley says:
July 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm (Edit)
It’s complete myth. Bricks and cobblestones have something in common with each other that they do not have in common with ballast. They cost money to produce-ballast is free. When a ship needed ballast they sent the sailors and the ships boat over to the shore and started digging. I can’t say with absolute certainty that cobble rock (round smooth rocks found on beaches) was NEVER loaded as ballast and then dumped on a street, but it doesn’t make good paving material. If you want a good road surface, the stone must be cut and fitted closely-again requiring that somebody be paid to do so which eliminates it from the ballast category.
Bricks and cobblestones might get a cheaper shipping rate if the main cargo wasn’t heavy enough, but they were still cargo, NOT ballast.

Mary Miley says:
July 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm (Edit)
I’m convinced . . . but do you have any documentation for this?

Joe Ballard says:
May 25, 2015 at 7:43 pm (Edit)
Speaking of myths, it is a myth Mr. Greeley to suggest that ballast was free. I have an 1870 “ballast wanted” advertisement by the owners of a newly built ship looking for 250 tons of stone ballast and offering to pay 50 cents per ton. I am very interested in this “building stone ballast myth” and have been looking for information to debunk or confirm it for some time. I am pleased to find this discussion. Thanks!

Mary Miley says:
May 25, 2015 at 8:12 pm (Edit)
Cool! I wonder if the cost was for the ballast, per se, or if it was for the labor involved in carting it to the dock and loading it on the ship. Maybe the ballast was “free” but no one could expect it delivered for free. Any ideas?

Joe Ballard says:
May 25, 2015 at 8:28 pm (Edit)
It is interesting that the ship owners in the ad I refer to did not specify a particular type of stone wanted. They leave that to the convenience of those who are to locate it and move it. It would appear (in this case) that the stone had no value beyond its use as ballast; and, as you suggest the bulk of the cost was likely in the transportation of it.

Bill the History Geek says:
November 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm (Edit)
I hear a variation of this myth at many of the colonial houses here in Tidewater Virginia. The tour guide will say that their bricks were imported from England. One church makes this claim even though their own vestry records say otherwise. “Ordered that Col: Anthony Walke Capt: Francis Land & Capt: Francis Moseley & Capt: Jacob Ellegood or any two of them agree with Some person to make Sixty thousand bricks or more this fall towards building the new Church ” Needless to say, I am no longer welcome there. I have heard that oyster shells will glow under a black light. I have seen bits of shell in the bricks of most of these places. If a brick were imported, would it contain oyster shells. Not bloody likely.

Mary Miley says:
December 1, 2014 at 8:28 am (Edit)
As you say, colonial American bricks were locally made. So locally, in fact, that they were often made very near the building site because transporting them was such a problem–and an expense.



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