Kid’s Corner

Life in 1770s Connecticut

In colonial days, West Hartford was the West Division of Hartford. By the 1770s, the town was 100 years old. The town had blacksmiths, schoolmasters, doctors, weavers, shoemakers, a minister, farmers, cabinetmakers, millers, servants and merchants. Some of the African-Americans who lived in town were slaves (called servants) and some were free. Most were farmers and some practiced trades.

Boys learned by helping men with chores on the farm. They cleared land, built fences, butchered animals and split wood. They also planted, cared for and harvested crops. Most boys grew up to farm land and work at skills like weaving and shoe making. Some, like Noah, went to college to study law or the ministry. Others became merchants who ran shops. Some became apprentices who learned trades like blacksmithing and printing.

Women trained girls to be wives and mothers by having them help around the house. Girls helped with cooking, preserving food, caring for children, cleaning the house, washing clothes and gardening. They milked cows, churned butter and made cheese.

After the men and boys grew flax and sheared sheep, girls and single women did the spinning, knitting, sewing and sometimes weaving. Girls spun wool and flax so that it could be woven or knitted. They usually brought yarn to weavers to have cloth woven, and then used the cloth to make clothing and sacks. Girls sewed by hand with strong, tiny stitches that would hold clothes together during washings and years of wear.

Most girls became wives and mothers who worked on the farm and in the house. Some became midwives, servants, tavern keepers or schoolmistresses. Girls could not go to college.

Just like us, colonists played and worked hard and counted on others to get goods and services needed to live comfortably.