1860s farm structure--can you identify?

mtnesterDecember 7, 2012

I'm trying to identify the structure shown in the background of this engraving by Frank Leslie. I'm guessing that it might be a large water well or maybe a kind of hay press, but I can't find any photos of similar structures online, except in other drawings of farmyards. It must have been a common sight in the 1860s.

(In case you're interested, the drawing shows foragers ("Sherman's bummers") looting the property of a southern farm during Sherman's march to the sea.)

Sue

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
calliope

My guess is a horse/mule or ox driven mill wheel. I've seen them in use in rural Spain, and those types of set-ups were pretty common.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sombreuil_mongrel

It's a cotton compress, used to make bales of raw cotton, some of which you can see beside it, apparently smoldering.
Casey

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mtnester

That makes so much sense, since this picture is supposedly showing an actual plantation in the South.

Thanks so much, both of you, for your help!

Sue

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 4:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lazy_gardens

And with the soldiers - Union soldiers burning the cotton to keep it from being sold? Ransacking the house and digging up the family's buried silver?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 5:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
calliope

Well, that certainly makes sense. I picked up those were bales of cotton, but had no idea what they used to bale them. The thing however, is to keep in mind when you see other structures like that in old renderings, that everything from lumber saws, to sorghum presses were at one time animal driven, and they simply walk around in circles endlessly to turn the wheels and gears levers and pulleys tethered up to overhead or breast-high booms. Yeah, I am sure the soldiers looted along the way, have read diaries of soldiers during the civil war and rations weren't always forthcoming and they scrounged often, and advantaged spoils.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 5:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mtnester

Now, with your lead, I've finally found some confirmatory pictures. When I googled "cotton compress," I found large machinery (usually inside a warehouse or factory-type building) that could compress cotton for an entire town. But when I searched for "cotton press," I found photos and descriptions of smaller machines, the kind that might be used on an individual farm or plantation.

Here's a cotton press from South Carolina that is now on the National Register (the description says that it was built in 1798, and mules were used to power it):

Also, see the illustration at top left in the link (I've linked it because it's easier to see details when you magnify the image).

To a Northerner, all this is very interesting!

Sue

Here is a link that might be useful: Cotton press at upper left

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jemdandy

I suspect that with the amount of leverage supplied, it could also be human powered. A draft animal could possibly wreck the screw if unchecked. The use of a draft animal would have been for convenience only. Very likely, it was slave powered.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lazy_gardens

Interesting picture. You can see the mules hooked to the long arms, and someone riding one of the mules to act as the on-off switch.

jemdandy - it's fairly simple mechanical engineering to make a pressure-limited screw in case the mules stampede.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 10:08AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Ideas about this vase/bottle?
Hello! I recently discovered this great forum and am...
party_music50
Need help identifying blue bowl
Does anyone recognize this maker's mark? It is on the...
SFQ54
Help Glassware/Stemware Experts
Please help....do any glassware experts out there know...
lbachara11
Name on artwork
I just got this photo today, have you ever hear of...
Dones
Age of this brass "hog scraper" candle holder?
Any idea on the age of this brass "hog scraper"...
bradleyd_svh
Sponsored Products
Banksy 'Girl With A Balloon' Canvas Print Wall Art
Overstock.com
Orange Seashell Dish
$139.00 | FRONTGATE
KOHLER Jetted Bathtubs Tea-for-Two 5.5 ft. Air Bath Tub in White K-856-GCBN-0
Home Depot
Besa 8192CH-SN Cherry Torre Wall Light - 8192CH-SN
$144.00 | Hayneedle
Constant Coral Giclee Shade 8/17x8/17x10 (Spider)
$89.99 | Lamps Plus
Y-Grinder Salt & Pepper Mill - Joseph Joseph
$40.00 | HORNE
Domi Bronze Four-Light Bath Fixture with Solare Glass
$445.50 | Bellacor
Parchment Check Cheese Knife
$22.90 | Horchow
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™