Although most visitors to the Chancellorsville Battlefield know Catharine Furnace as an important reference point for military history, few know the story of John Spotswood Wellford’s vision of an industrial community in the middle of rural Spotsylvania County and the lengths to which he went to realize it. This presentation talks about the significance of the site and tries to reconstruct the story of an ironmaking network encompassing aspiring entrepreneurs, hard-driving (and drinking) iron molders, and enslaved charcoalers. In doing so, it recovers a lost aspect of Virginia’s industrial history.
About the presenter:
Sean Adams is the Hyatt and Cici Brown Professor of History at the University of Florida, where he teaches classes in American history and the global history of energy, as well as running the Inquire Capitalism program. He grew up in West Virginia, attended college at Purdue University, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He came to the history of Catharine Furnace while writing a historic resource study commissioned by the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians.