Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lightening Rod Revisited

Way back in October 2007 we posted a blog about a glass insulator that was part of a lightening rod patented in 1851. In that post Jim asked a question related to it and what caused it to be , "Were there catastrophic fires ignited by lightning strikes elsewhere in the community, or was this merely a prudent installation replicated on scores of buildings in the area?"

I bring this up because I saw an entry in the Port Tobacco Times abstracts from May 1, 1885 that tells of the weathervane and projecting portion of lightening rod was blown off the Court House by high winds. Since the glass insulator that we found is part of the anchoring system, it is unlikely that it is part of the one that blew off the Court House. However, might we find more of these in town? How many buildings in town used them? Did any of the merchants in town sell them?

A look into probate inventories and merchant's ledgers might give us some insight to the last question. As we start to compile biographies of town residents we will certainly be looking at probate inventories and there are several merchants ledgers in the Court House that we will be looking at in the future and adding to our research data.

- Peter

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