Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Artisans played an important role in the social and economic life of Rowan County, North Carolina beginning with its creation in 1753. Whether they came individually with their families to obtain land and establish new lives, or they were chosen by the Moravian Church to settle the 100,000 acre Wachovia Tract, all of these artisans were part of the huge wave of immigration to the backcountry of North Carolina which occurred during the third quarter of the eighteenth century.;The development of the artisan population paralleled the growth of Rowan County. In the early 1750s a handful of artisans produced objects that the small groups of settlers needed to survive and create new lives in the backcountry. Blacksmiths, weavers, tailors, tanners, and saddlers made clothes, shoes, saddles, and ironware for backcountry inhabitants; and millwrights and carpenters built structures which helped Rowan County develop.;As more people poured into the county (which consisted of the northwest quadrant of the colony) so did more artisans. Hatters, joiners, masons, coopers, turners, wheelwrights, wagonmakers, potters and gunsmiths joined the expanding community of craftspeople. Simultaneously, improvements and growth in the road and ferry system increased the range of local trade networks all the way to the coast, and across the Atlantic Ocean. While backcountry residents once looked to Cross Creek, Charles Town, or London, to fill their desire for conspicuous consumption, local silversmiths, cabinetmakers, gunstockers, and watchmakers came to fill their needs. Public and private accounts record artisans making raised paneled room interiors, silver shoe buckles, fancy beaver hats, walnut tables and chests of drawers, and fancy riding chairs for a demanding clientele.;No other studies of Rowan County or the North Carolina backcountry have focused on the artisans of that region. Research in the county's court records, apprentice bonds, deeds, and wills, as well as extant invoices and account books, indicates that artisans played a significant role in increasing the quality of life in backcountry North Carolina. The presence of artisans and the availability of their products in Rowan County shows that inhabitants of the backcountry did not always live "in the most slovenly manner" described by many historians.



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