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18th Century Betty Lamp From the Virginia Frontier

My metal detecting buddy Bill Burns found this scrap of iron near the cave spring at Byrnside’s Fort. After finding it, he set it on top of a fence post, believing it to be farm junk. After noticing it on top of the fence about a year later, I immediately suspected this to be an early “Betty Lamp,” a type of grease-based lighting device. Basically an iron lamp with a bowl for some type of grease for fuel, a lid of some sort, and a spot for a wick. The shape is right. You can see that there was a hollow reservoir at some point, with a hinged lid. You can see the remnants of the curved upright handle, which would hang on an iron hanger of some sort. This would have been forged out of wrought iron by a blacksmith, and would be consistent with the lighting options available at Byrnside’s Fort during the fort occupation of the site, circa 1770-1782. It also could have been early 19th century. But it’s primitive construction suggests earlier, to me.

Locating James Byrnside’s 1774 survey: Tracing Virginia’s Nutty Real Estate History and Translating Handwritten Land Documents

We can trace history through the documentation left by our forefathers in the courthouse land books. When it came to real estate, they spared no ink. I found a circa 1774 survey of the Byrnside’s Fort property from a 1780 land grant by Thomas Jefferson. You’d think it would be easy to use that to …

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18th century pack saddles, 2 found in Greenbrier County

These are 3 original pack saddles in the 18th century style, 2 of which were found in Greenbrier County, WV. These were used by the early long hunters on the frontier to transport their belongings, which most importantly included their furs, hides, meat, etc. They were also used by the early settlers to bring their …

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18th century shark skin razor case “left” in America by a Scottish Lord in 1772.

This unusual case was found at an antique show in Florida, and when found, had an old historical society sticker on the bottom. like 19th century old. The sticker reads, “Presented to the Fairfield County Historical Society of Connecticut by Misses Peck of Stratford, CT, 188?, Left by John Sterling in 177?”. I originally believed …

Read more18th century shark skin razor case “left” in America by a Scottish Lord in 1772.