Thursday, June 03, 2010

Old Fabric Finds

When we bought our place, the house was cleared out but the outbuildings weren't. Dan wanted to use one as a workshop, but it had to be cleared out first. It was loaded with the previous owner's junk, plus a little of our own. As he toted stuff out, he found an old suitcase. In it, was a pile of old cotton flour and sugar sacks. We were pretty busy at the time so the suitcase was set aside and forgotten. Somehow we got to talking about that the other day, and he pulled it out so I could take a look.

Most of the sacks were worn, torn, and stained. Many had been cut open to use for other things. All were cotton. A few still had their original stamped labels, faded, but legible nonetheless.

Many of them were sugar sacks, like this ten pound Dixie Crystals sack.



According to an article on Wikipedia, the original Dixie Crystals sugar refinery was built in 1916-1917 in Port Wentworth, Georgia. The refinery was sold in 1997 to Imperial Sugar, which continues to sell the Dixie Crystals brand today.

This ten pound sack once contained Hershey's granulated sugar. Hershey's of course, is the famous chocolate maker located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, though they no longer sell sugar.

There were several of these larger 100 pound sugar sacks. Notice where it was made, Central Hershey, Cuba. This gives a clue as to how old the sacks might be. According to this website, the Hershey Company built Central Hershey, a sugar mill and mill town, in Cuba in 1916.

This was at the time of World War I, when sugar was being rationed. Milton Hershey wanted to ensure a supply of sugar for his chocolate manufacturing, and what better way than to produce it himself. He sold the sugar mill in 1946, to the Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company.

Also in the suitcase was at least one flour sack.

I couldn't find much information about Sunkist Flour on the internet, other than two tidbits. First, an excerpt from "Reports of cases determined in the Appellate Courts of Illinois, Volume 186", which referred to a legal case in 1910. Sunkist flour was evidently milled by the Maney Milling Company in Omaha, Nebraska. The plaintiff had an order for 4,000 barrels of flour (at $5 per barrel), of which only 155 were delivered before the mill burnt down.

The other tidbit was on the website of the Douglas County Historical Society of Omaha as a list of miscellany. It mentions a Sunkist Flour ink blotter, circa 1940.

Notice that it is self-rising flour. I didn't know this, but self-rising flour was invented in 1845 in Bristol, England.

This one is partially too faded to read, but as you can see, it is hen feed. Of course, we already knew that previous occupants of our house had chickens. I reckon today we would call this layer ration.

It appears to be stamped "Green (something or other) Hen Feed." I can't make out that "something or other" so I have no way to research it. Still, it was an interesting find.

Most of the other sacks have been washed so many times that the inks are completely faded. Though worn and stained, the cotton fabric is usable, for sacks or for something else. Maybe a quilt? Nothing is anywhere near "mint" condition, so not of much value. Still, these are little glimpses into the history of our old house.

Old Fabric Finds © June 2010