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The Hemp Report

An online trade journal covering the North America hemp industry: agriculture, processing, marketing, research, business and regulatory news, and updates. Strong focus on hemp farming and developments in Canada.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Hempstone Heritage I 

Hempstone Heritage

     Last week I was reading some hemp news clippings and I came upon this gem "Cook wrote the book on local hemp fields" in the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. I emailed Les Stark, the author of the new hemp history series Hempstone Heritage and asked him if I could plug his book here on The Hemp Report. He emailed me this noce cover shot and a press release that was sent out to local libraries. I hope that you all take the time to order Les' new book at the Hempstone Heritage web site. All too much hemp history in North America has been lost and only efforts like this will help restore hemp's place in the history books.


Hempstone Heritage

New Book by Pennsylvania Author Reveals Previously Unknown History of Early Pennsylvania Hemp Insustry. Important Discoveries Made.

     My name is Les Stark and I am from Ephrata, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I would like to tell you a bit about my book, Hempstone Heritage I: In Accordance with Their Wills; "All the Heckled Hemp She Can Spin"- A Study of the Early American Homespun Hemp Industry as Revealed by the Wills of Old Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: 1729-1845.

     The book is the first book in a series that will explore the old Pennsylvania hemp industry. Hemp was a big industry in early Pennsylvania but for some reason the story has never before been told. Although the growing of hemp for fiber was grown in all parts of Pennsylvania, larger scale commercial production of hemp was primarily centered in Lancaster and York Counties.

     Between the years 1720-1870 there were over 100 water- powered hemp mills for processing hemp fiber in Lancaster County alone and there were dozens more in York County plus many more in the surrounding region. Before the invention of the Cotton Gin and for decades after, hemp was the number one fiber for use in homespun clothing.

     Hemp fiber was used for everything from course cloth to fine linen and all shades in-between. The Conestoga wagons were covered in hemp canvass. In fact the word canvass is the Dutch pronunciation of the Latin word Cannabis. Hemp was also used for grain bags, rugs, curtains, tablecloths, napkins, handkerchiefs, towels, pillow cases, sheets, tough, durable work clothes and even fine linen.

     Hemp fiber was often blended with wool, flax, silk or cotton. The tow fibers were carded like wool and made very soft. The fabric was often dyed and made into a variety of fashions.

     There were almost as many mills for processing hempseed oil as well as flaxseed oil. The oil was used in paints, varnishes, laquers, lubricants, printers' ink and as lamp oil. The remaining seed cake was fed to the livestock. Seed was also saved for the next years crop, sold to other hemp farmers, used as poultry feed and for many years was a leading ingredient in birdseed mixes.

     In 1999 and again in 2000, the Lancaster Farm Bureau passed resolutions in favor of re-introducing hemp to Lancaster County.( Lancaster County's East and West Hempfield Twps. were named for the vast amounts of hemp raised there.)

     In November of 2000, the Lancaster Farm Bureau advanced the issue at the Pa. State Farm Bureau meeting and every Farm Bureau representitive from every farm district in Pa. voted in favor of the resolution supporting the re-introduction of hemp to Pennsylvania. At the recent state session for the Pennsylvania State Grange, the standing committees voted in favor of a resolution to "support developement of industrial hemp research and education on its use." The Pennsylvania Farmers Union also supports growing hemp.

     Philadelphia was a major manufacturer of sailing ships. Wherever there was a major ship building center there was always a major hemp growing region right next door. Every ship took up to 60 tons of hemp fiber for the anchor cables, rope rigging and canvass sails. All that fiber had to be replaced every couple of years, thus ensuring an insatiable demand for hemp from the interior of Pennsylvania.

     Hempstone Heritage I contains important information that Pennsylvanians need to know. Ordering information can be found at Hempstone Heritage.

posted by Tom  # 10:03 AM
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