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. .
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)