Hogshead? not the farm animal…

 “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me… I got into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

A hogshead is a  dugout Gum or a Sycamore tree.  In America any type barrel  could have been called a Hogshead.  They were used for storing sugar or grain or what ever . I have heard they were a staple  when leaching lye from wood ashes for making soap and candles.  .   

Eric Sloane, Tunis , Huckfinn, Mark Twain, primitive Americana, antqiues

If you can't split it for firewood chances are it would make a good hogshead!


The name was derived from the English hogshead a barrel  or a measure used for beer. I read an article showing  early Virginians used a type of hogshead for packing tobacco leaves . They were sometimes as much as 5 feet in diameter but they were a large stave type barrels. 

In my inventory I have two hogshead one is  30″ diameter  and a larger one closer to 40″. They are both  made from Sycamore   .  When I found them they were on the back of a farmer’s pickup.  I was thrilled but held back my enthusiasm.  The owner was trying to talk me into the sale he had to mention that the big one was “wind whooped” .  He pointed at the severe twist in the grain of  what was a huge tree  in the 1800’s.  It  probably encountered high winds or a tornado.   

(This image came from a book titled  Frontier  Living by Edwin Tunis)


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