Frank Overton, M.D.
Long Island Forum
March 1944

A sketch by William O. Stevens from his book "Discovering Long Island".

The Colonial Blacksmith

The word blacksmith means a worker in the black metal,- that is, iron. During Colonial days he ranked next to the minister of the Gospel as the most essential member of the community, and in Brookhaven Town a special grant of land was offered to a blacksmith who would settle in Setauket. He had to be a man of great ingenuity and skill in order to make and repair the iron utensils which were in common use.

My great-great grandfather Isaac Overton was a blacksmith in Coram, and his ledger of 200 pages, posted between the years 1767 and 1774, reveals the scope of the services which he rendered to the people as a skilled maker and repairer of their house-hold utensils and farming implements.

The first twenty pages of the ledger indicate that he recorded 388 charges for his skilled services, and doubtless he did two or three times as many items of work for which he received cash. I therefore made a record of them.

The population of Brookhaven Town during the period covered by the ledger was slightly over 2000, and it is probable that Isaac Overton served half the people. The special importance of the record of his jobs is that it reveals the kind of work for which the people depended on the blacksmith. Nearly one quarter of the items were for shoeing horses, and one half were for shoeing or "ironing" wooden plows.

The 388 items listed in his ledger from 1767 to 1774 were made up of mending adz, and irons, augers, making ox upsets, mending base irons, auger bits, making bail for parts, bolts, burning irons, cart irons, repairing chains, making chimney irons, chopping knives, fixing chisels, making bell clapper, eel spears, fire plates, hay forks, gridirons, hinges, hog rings, mending scythes, spades, making spikes, spindles, staples and hoops, mending all sorts of kitchen utensils, farm implements, tools, 87 horse shoeing jobs and 198 plow iron jobs.

Information edited by
Dusty Drago

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