[May 1739] Mond 14 fair. I was at home all Day plowing & helping plant & drawing Some Stones. Tuesd 15th fair. I was at home al Day writing &c. Wednsd 16thfair. I was at home al Day Diging & drawing Stones. Thursd . 17. fair & hot. I was at home foren Diging & Drawing Stones. aftern I went to Stonington & Josh & Lodged at Son minors.

Stones, stones, stones. Time of the year to plow and plant, yet it seems the greatest harvest in New England was one of stones. stone_wall One can visualize this work, a man and boy walking beside a team of oxen pulling the simplest of tools, a chain attached from the yoke to a stone boat. A stone boat being something akin to a large door-sized set of planks with a piece of iron at the front holding the planks together and with a hole for attaching the chain. Depending on how well trained the oxen are, there would be a third person, perhaps Adam Jackson, Hempstead’s slave. The team drags the boat round and round the field, the driver keeping abreast of the beasts, the two others rolling stones on to the planks. I imagine Hempstead being the driver as his age is just over 60 at this time. When the load gets close to the edge the rocks are off-loaded either on to a heap or onto a line established to become a wall. The size of the field thus becomes determined by how far the farmer is willing to push his critters to drag the stoneboat. It’s likely that they couldn’t realize that it was the clearing of the fields and the seasonal plowing that allowed the sun to heat the land and that freezing and thawing action was what was bringing those stones to the surface.

The labors of Hercules. After a day of moving stones, Hempstead spends a day writing; and after another day and a half he travels to Stonington in the afternoon — you can visualize his wanting to get away from those labors.

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