NPS Hampton NHS
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  • Stop 11: Mule Barn

    The Mule Barn was part of John and Eliza Ridgely's transformation of the farm side to the Ferme Ornee style. It was built in about 1851 to replace an earlier Mule Stable destroyed by fire. The two-story building housed the primary work animals of the farm.

    Introduced by George Washington in the late 1700s, mules (a cross between a male donkey and a female horse) became the primary draft animals below the Mason-Dixon Line. They possessed great strength, were hardy, required less feed, lived longer and were more resistant to disease than horses or oxen.

    Mules pulled plows, ice rakes, hay wagons, and other farm equipment. John Ridgely III, the son of the last owner of Hampton, recalls teams of six mules hitched together with fancy plum harnesses bearing the family crest and with polished hooves pulling farm wagons into town or participating in parades and fair competitions, some of which were held here at Hampton.