An Ordinary Life |Tales through
Letters | A War Veteran
Family Violence |
| Divorce and Remarriage
Independence | Property
Rights | The Invisible Economy
The Unfortunate Mary Webley
| Family or Freedom
That Properly Belongs
to Every Christian Man, 1708 |
Virginia Indian Women
Testimony taken during the investigation
and trials following the murder of Lucy Pollard in Lunenburg County
in 1895 disclosed fascinating details about how women in rural
Virginia provided for their families and engaged in exchanges of
goods and services. When describing where they were when they first
learned about Pollard's death, Pokey Barnes told how she and her
mother, Mary Barnes, had walked to Ellen Gayle's house and
negotiated an exchange of a chicken for some cornmeal and a child's
"We started to walk off and Mamma said, 'Donít
go, I want to get two chickens,' and asked Ellen what she asked
for them. Ellen said they were thirty cents a pound in Richmond.
Mamma told her she wouldn't give her thirty cents a pound."
Ellen Gayles settled for twenty-five cents for two chickens then
decided that she would rather be paid in meat instead of in
money. "She told Mamma to get her a quarter's worth of beef from
Mrs. Lucy Pollard, and Mamma told her she would do it. Then me
and Ellen started back to my house."
In her book on the Lucy Pollard mystery, the historian Suzanne
Lebsock wrote, "This was the hidden economy of the poor, a ceaseless
exchange among women who struck deals in person and moved goods, one
house to another, on bare feet."
Mary Barnes. 1895. Published
in the Richmond Planet, 3 August 1895 Photograph. The Library of
Pokey Barnes. 1896.
Published in the Richmond Planet, 27 June 1896. Photograph. The
Library of Virginia
Murder in Virginia. Southern
Justice on Trial. Suzanne Lebsock. New York: W. W. Norton & Company,
2003. Bound volume. The Library of Virginia