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  • Iron and the American Revolution

    During the American Revolution, the ironworks supplied the Patriot cause with camp kettles, guns, shot, and cannons. Guns from the works were judged at the time "to be the equal in quality of any yet made on the continent."

    Many indentured servants escaped during this time or joined the Continental Army as a way of legally canceling their contracts. British prisoners of war were then added to the ranks of Hampton's indentured servants. Throughout the second half of the 18th century, local indentured servants, paid laborers, artisans, and enslaved persons all worked side by side with European indentured servants.

    After the Revolutionary War, the Ridgelys no longer contracted for indentured workers, relying instead on the labor of enslaved persons. Despite harsh conditions, many indentured servants chose to stay at the iron works or farms owned by the Ridgelys once their indenture terms were over, transitioning into paid roles or becoming tenants (farming assigned parcels of land and paying rent back to the Ridgelys).

    Read about John and Sarah to learn about a man and his family taking this journey from indenture to tenancy.