The manufacture of "salts" was then, and, in fact, during the whole early history of the town,
an important branch of business. Almost every one engaged in it more or less extensively.
"Salts" were made by boiling the ley of hardwood ashes to such a consistency that when cold
it might be carried in a basket. In this condition they were sold to the manufacturers of
pearlash. Barton was the nearest market fir them. To this place they were carried sometimes
on sleds, but as sleds were rare, a less expensive vehicle was usually employed. A forked
"straddle" was cut down, the body of which was used as a tongue to enter the ring of an ox-yoke,
and across the forked part, which was somewhat bent so g$ to be easily dragged over the ground,
a few slats were nailed,. and on these was deposited the box or basket of salts. If a horse
was to be used, a pair of thills was made of poles, turned up at the hinder end like a sled-
runner, and connec- ted by strips of board. One of these vehicles seldom performed more than
a single journey, the owner choosing to leave it on the wood pile near the ashery rather than
to drag it home. A yet ruder mode of conveyance than either of these was sometimes adopted.
A log, longer or shorter according t9, the quantity to be carried, was hollowed out like a
trough, rounded up at the end which was to go forward, and dragged by a chain and horse.
To prevent the log from Trolling over and spilling its contents, a stick was inserted in
the hinder end and held constantly by the driver, as one would hold a plowtail. The market
value of salts was very variable, ranging from $3 to $5 1-2 per hundred pounds, but they
could always be sold at a fair price and for cash. Leather, salt, flour, and other staple
articles which were held for-cash were freely given in exchange for salts. Sometimes they
would buy what money could not. During this season of famine they were the main -reliance
of the people of Coventry, and had -the demand for salts ceased -many a family would have
been brought to actual starvation.
- History of Coventry, Pliny White 1858, Irasburg, VT