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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A history of hog farming in North Carolina

This excerpt addresses farming history in 19th-Century North Carolina. Shute describes the evolution of hog farming in the state. It developed naturally, Shute thinks, as an outcropping of the farm economy as it was pushed into rural areas by city sanitation laws.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I know there were a lot of hogs that were running the woods, especially in the northern townships and part of southern Cabarrus County and Stanly County. I know in a lot of places they'd have hog drives. I'm wondering if this wagon train had anything to do with that hog economy or whether it was completely separate and tied... JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, Jr.: No, I don't think so. I think the development of the swine business was more or less a natural evolution of the average farm. This county was not a large slaveowning county. As a matter of fact, this county, from its inception in 1842 until after World War I, was a pauper county. We received more aid from the state and federal government than we paid back to those two agencies in taxes. Consequently, our farms were operated by the families that lived there and not by slaves. The larger each farm grew, the more people it took to operate them, and that's one of the reasons we had such large families. The other one was biological. But these farms were self-contained. They raised their own corn and wheat for their flour and meal. They raised their swine and their chickens for their meat. As soon as the first frost came, that was the time to slaughter pigs and hogs. They would render their own lard; they'd make their own soap; they'd make their own sausage; they'd cure their own hams. Every house had a smokehouse. They'd burn hickory logs to cure the ham, and that ham was salted down along with the other. The sausage was put up in corn shucks. And you talk about something good to eat. Now you take sausage out of a corn shuck six months later with fresh eggs, and you've really got a breakfast. But as towns developed, they usually enacted ordinances prohibiting the raising of hogs or swine within the city limits. They had to permit cows, because they had to have their milk and butter. Almost every house had to have a cow. But the swine they outlawed because of sanitary reasons and other reasons, too. Consequently, you can see how it would develop as a separate industry located out where it was not offensive to anyone. You had what later became known, oddly enough, as "pig parlors." That's where they raised them and would slaughter them and cure them and everything. So that developed the swine business as really a separate industry from ordinary farming. But even so, every farm still had swine. And oddly enough, we didn't raise any beef cattle to speak of back then. We could graze our cattle twelve months a year, and the land was cheap; it would have been an ideal industry for us to have gone into, but we never did for some reason. And our proximity to Charlotte. I never could understand why we didn't build up a great dairying business in this county. But we didn't. Everybody, though, had a cow.