A history of hog farming in North Carolina
This excerpt addresses farming history in 19th-Century North Carolina. Shute describes the evolution of hog farming in the state. It developed naturally, Shute thinks, as an outcropping of the farm economy as it was pushed into rural areas by city sanitation laws.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- WAYNE DURRILL:
I know there were a lot of hogs that were running the woods, especially
in the northern townships and part of southern Cabarrus County and
Stanly County. I know in a lot of places they'd have hog
drives. I'm wondering if this wagon train had anything to do
with that hog economy or whether it was completely separate and tied...
JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, Jr.:
No, I don't think so. I think the development of the swine
business was more or less a natural evolution of the average farm. This
county was not a large slaveowning county. As a matter of fact, this
county, from its inception in 1842 until after World War I, was a pauper
county. We received more aid from the state and federal government than
we paid back to those two agencies in taxes.
Consequently, our farms were operated by the families that lived there
and not by slaves. The larger each farm grew, the more people it took to
operate them, and that's one of the reasons we had such large
families. The other one was biological. But these farms were
self-contained. They raised their own corn and wheat for their flour and
meal. They raised their swine and their chickens for their meat. As soon
as the first frost came, that was the time to slaughter pigs and hogs.
They would render their own lard; they'd make their own soap;
they'd make their own sausage; they'd cure their
own hams. Every house had a smokehouse. They'd burn hickory
logs to cure the ham, and that ham was salted down along with the other.
The sausage was put up in corn shucks. And you talk about something good
to eat. Now you take sausage out of a corn shuck six months later with
fresh eggs, and you've really got a breakfast. But as towns
developed, they usually enacted ordinances prohibiting the raising of
hogs or swine within the city limits. They had to permit cows, because
they had to have their milk and butter. Almost every house had to have a
cow. But the swine they outlawed because of sanitary reasons and other
reasons, too. Consequently, you can see how it would develop as a
separate industry located out where it was not offensive to anyone. You
had what later became known, oddly enough, as "pig
parlors." That's where they raised them and would
slaughter them and cure them and everything. So that developed the swine
business as really a separate industry from ordinary farming. But even
so, every farm still had swine. And oddly enough, we didn't
raise any beef cattle to speak of back then. We could graze our cattle
twelve months a year, and the land was cheap; it
would have been an ideal industry for us to have gone into, but we never
did for some reason. And our proximity to Charlotte. I never could
understand why we didn't build up a great dairying business
in this county. But we didn't. Everybody, though, had a