Turpentine Industry

History of the Quilt


Project Description

Evaluations of Accomplishments

Future Plans for the Project

Proposal Letter

Request to Commissioners

Biographies by Homemakers Clubs

Biographies by Friends of the Library



The pine tree influenced much of the early history of the area that later became Angier.

In the 1800's much of the area around Angier was covered with large short-leaf and long-leaf pines.

Many people derived a livelihood from the turpentine industry. Every spring when the days became balmy, workers would go out and box the pines to get the turpentine. A gash was made about 18 inches from the ground with a special ax and the tree hollowed out underneath to form a "box" for collecting turpentine.

Once a week the workers would return to continue the drainage. Turpentine derived from the pine the first year was nearly colorless, and about the thickness of heavy syrup. This liquid was dipped out with a dipper, placed in wooden barrels and sold to the distillery, which converted the liquid to medicinal spirits of turpentine. The distillery operated much like a liquor still. The amber residue known as resin, was sold to waterproof ropes, or coat violin stings. Turpentine was also used in the cement and paint industries.

The second year workers returned to the tree and slashed the tree higher up and bled the tree again. This was called a "yellow dip" because of its yellow color. It was not as valuable as the colorless sap drained from the first cut. A pine could be bled for turpentine for five or six years.

The last turpentine derived from the tree was called "scape". When the worker scraped the whole inside of a tree he got the remaining turpentine that had oozed out. This was the least valuable of all.

Tar and pitch extracted from kilns was also a part of the turpentine industry, which is officially known as "naval stores." Tar was once heavily used to coat leaks in sailing ships.

"In the late 1800's Mr. Jacob C. Williams of Angier, through whose farm the Durham and Southern Railroad ran, owned a turpentine distillery on the corner of Broad and Lillington Street. Mr. Kit Moore, father of the late Nan Moore, and of Mrs. Corneila Wimberly, was the distiller. The distillery operated much in the same manner as a whiskey still. It had a large hopper with cover. The raw turpentine was placed inside and underneath the hopper a fire was built. This created steam and sweated out the spirits of turpentine. The resin was not very valuable and often was disposed of as waste. However, it was useful in starting fires in the fire places.

Farmers hauled their turpentine to Angier in barrels weighing from two hundred eight to three hundred pounds and were paid about $2 to $3 per barrel for their efforts. Mr. Williams, after the distilling process was completed, would have the spirits of turpentine hauled to Raleigh to market. He often swapped this for goods to sell in his country store. Turpentine was used for medicinal purposes and also was used in paints."

Once the ridge of pines from the Cape Fear to the Neuse rivers had been slashed, a newly invented power saw provided a means to cut the pines for lumber. This new industry brought the railroad to Angier to haul out the logs and increased the profits for all concerned.

The Ambassador Extension Homemakers Club, Angier made the square that depicts turpentine workers.

Compiled by Lois Byrd from: The Voice of Yesteryear, a history of Angier, North Carolina, 1969 Quilt Square 10, Row 2

Embroidery and applique by: Lois Hughes and Avis Hall, members of the Ambassador Extension Homemakers Club