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Life in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the 1700's  

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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General Day to Day life in the Americas in the 1700's

The sites below aren't specifically about the Piedmont region, but about life in the colonies in the 1700's.


Excerpts from The Natural History of North Carolina by John Brickell (1737)

Below is an example of a primary source.  You can tell it was written in 1737 by the way the some words are spelled, lots of capital letters within the sentences and the flow of the language.  Read on to see how someone from Ireland described the colony of North Carolina in the 1700's!

Their Houses are built after two different Ways; viz. the most substantial Planters generally use Brick, and Lime, which is made of Oyster-shells, for there are no Stones to be found proper for that purpose, but near the Mountains; the meaner Sort erect with Timber, the outside with Clap-Boards, the Roofs of both Sorts of Houses are made with Shingles, and they generally have Sash Windows, and affect large and decent Rooms with good Closets, as they do a most beautiful Prospect by some noble River or Creek.

Their Furniture, as with us, consists of Pewter, Brass, Tables, Chairs, which are imported here commonly from England: The better sort have tollerable Quantities of Plate, with other convenient, ornamental, and valuable Furniture.

The Cloathings used by the Men are English Cloaths, Druggets, Durois, Green Linnen,&c. The Women have their Silks, Calicoes, Stamp-Linen, Calimanchoes and all kind of Stuffs, some whereof are Manufactured in the Province. They make few Hats, tho’ they have the best Furrs in plenty, but with this Article, they are commonly supplied from New-England, and sometimes from Europe.

Their Diet consists chiefly of Beef, Mutton, Pork, Venison in Abundance, Wild and Tame Fowl, Fish of several delicate Sorts; Roots, Fruit, several kinds of Sallads, good Bread, Butter, Milk, Cheese, Rice, Indian Corn, both which they concoct like a Hasty-Pudding.

The Fireing they use is Wood, and especially Hickery, though we discovered Pit-Coal in our Journies towards the Mountains, yet it is not worth their while to be at the expence of bringing it, Timber being so plenty.

The chiefest Diversions here are Fishing, Fowling; and Hunting, Wild Beasts, such as Deer, Bears, Racoons, Hares, Wild Turkies, with several other sorts, needless to treat of here, ’till we come to describe each particular Specie.

Horse-Racing they are fond of, for which they have Race-Paths, near each Town, and in many parts of the Country. Those Paths, seldom exceed a Quarter of a Mile in length, and only two Horses start at a time, each Horse has his peculiar Path, which if he quits, and runs into the other, looses the Race. This is agreed on to avoid Jockying. These Courses being so very short, they use no manner of Art, but push on with all the speed imaginable; many of these Horses are very fleet.

It is common for People to come and go from this Province to Virginia, to these publick Diversions.

They are much addicted to Gaming, especially at Cards and Dice, Hazard and All-fours, being the common Games they use; at which they play very high, nay to such a pitch, that I have seen several hundred Pounds won and lost in a short time.

Cock-Fighting they greatly admire, which Birds they endeavor to procure from Englandand Ireland, and to that intent, employ Masters of Ships, and other Trading Persons to supply them.

Wrestling, Leaping, and such Activities are much used by them; yet I never observed any Foot Races.

Dancing they are all fond of, especially when they can get a Fiddle, or Bag-pipe; at this they will continue Hours together, nay, so attach’d are they to this darling Amusement, that if they can’t procure Musick, they will sing for themselves. Musick, and Musical Instruments being very scarce in Carolina.

This entire book is available online from the North Carolina Office of Archives and History at

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Janna Miller

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