North Carolina-Edenton Ropewalk-November 7


 

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-November 7

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

One of the first rope manufacturing establishments in North America was located in Edenton NC. The business was called the Edenton Ropewalk. Ropewalks are long covered walks, buildings, or rooms where ropes are manufactured. Hemp fiber is converted into yarn, which is then used to make rope, twine, and cord.

Edenton Ropewalk was originally established and owned by Declaration of Independence signer Joseph Hewes in 1777. He later sold it to Josiah Collins Sr. and Samuel Johnson in 1783.

hewes

During production at a ropewalk, an artisan, called a spinner, slowly walks backwards while feeding yarn into a large turning wheel.  The turning wheel tightly twists and spins the yarn into rope. Photo of a spinner at work is shown below.

spinner

The Edenton Ropewalk covered a massive 131-acre plot of land and produced a variety of rope, twine, cordage, and cables. Skilled slaves performed most of the labor, and a record from 1838 shows that 22 slaves worked at the ropewalk. The slaves included male and female workers ranging from 10 to 79 years old.

The Edenton Ropewalk became one of the leading suppliers of superior rope and cordage to the ship builders and Edenton’s thriving shipping industry during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries.

 

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