This history of early life in Logan County, West Virginia, was written by Howard and Daisy Adams. Howard (1906-1976) and Daisy (b.1915) were children of Major and Belle Dora Adams of Trace Fork of Harts Creek. Titled “The life of pioneers during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 19th century” and written in the late 1960s or early 1970s, their history marks the only known attempt by local people to reconstruct the story of pioneer life. This part of the history includes information regarding hogs and the smoke house.
The hogs furnished the main meat supply. Most farmers let their hogs run loose out on the mast as they called it till late fall. Nuts were plentiful in those days. Around the last of November some of the largest hogs were called in and put up in a floored pen with a big trough placed inside the pen so the hogs could be watered and fed often. They were fed plenty of corn till around Christmas. Then they were butchered or killed for meat.
Hog killing time was a lot of fun and good eating. It began with the hogs being well fattened as they called it. Some big kettles were set in a furnace and filled with water, then a fire was built around the kettles to heat the water. Firewood was plentiful and they sure used a lot of it. A large barrel was set down in the ground about 2 feet. The barrel was tilted over to about a 45 degree angle. Next a board platform was made around 6 feet square. It was moved up till it touched the barrel. Now a hog was either shot or hit in the head with a hammer. Either way it was killed neat. A butcher knife was plunged in the hog’s neck, the point of the knife touching the heart. Now after the hog had bled most all of the blood out of it they dragged him up on the platform before the barrel. Now the hot water from the kettles was poured in the scalding barrel, then the hog would be pushed into the barrel by men and rolled over a time or two. Now they changed ends, with the hog scalding the whole hog. Well, the hair was scraped off with big knives. Now he was hanged up about 6 feet on some object. A stick called a gammor stick, which was about 2 feet long and 2 inches in diameter sharp on both ends, it was struck through the _____ of the hind legs of hog. This held him up while the intestines were removed by splitting the hog down his belly. Now some folks come from a long way just to roast the kidneys and _____. Next Mr. Hog was carried to the smoke house, laid on a heavy table and cut up as they called it.
First after the hog was laid on the cutting table its feet and head were cut off neat all the lean meat was cut out for making sausage. A lot of the fat was cut out for rendering lard. Now the 2 hams and 2 shoulders were cut off, leaving 2 big middlings. Now the pieces were carried in the smoke house, salted, and stacked in a big trough that had been made from a large log being chopped or dug out with a tool called a foot adz and axe. This trough was made to hold the pork. Now the meat had to be hung and smoked so a lot of hickory limbs about the size of your big finger and 3 feet long with a fork on the big end, these were tied to form a loop. These loops were slipped over poles laid on the joist in the smoke house. Now the meat had holes cut in it and the meat was hooked to the loop on the joist. Now for smoking: A fire made from green hickory wood was built on the ground under the meat so the smoke filtered up through the meat and it got smoked in the process. After it had been smoked several weeks it was taken down and sprinkled and covered with a mixture of black pepper, sugar, ashes, saltpeter, etc. Now it was again stacked in the big trough and covered up to keep out rats, mice, etc. Boy it was good eatin’.
The smoke house was also used to keep meat, a barrel of flour, a barrel of salt, a can of lard, and I remember we always kept a pair of old scales to weight farm products on. Also the family weighed each other to see who was the heaviest. Boy, this smoke house took a lot of paper and time but it played an important part in the lives of the pioneers.