David Durfee Sherman in Civil War Uniform

One of the special treasures of the Portsmouth Historical Society is the Diary of David Durfee Shearman. Shearman was a “jack of all trades” and one trade he had was building with stone. In September of 1858 he briefly describes how he built a wall in the Bristol Ferry area.

Monday 13 – Went down and built wall for Robert Hicks. I laid the rock as fast as he dragged them, making it hard for me.

Tuesday 14: I built wall- laying out bottom; about 10 rods laid out. Robert had Christopher Dyre to help him had the rocks onto the drag and I placed them as fast as they got them along.

Rock drag

Wed 15: Built wall all day along. I build about three rods a day incline the laying of the bottom.

Saturday 18: I worked for Burrington Hicks, digging out and laying some stones for a foundation to a building banked up around the cellar.

Monday 20th : Buiilt wall for Robert Hicks, fine weather to work.

Tuesday 21: I helped Robert get some rocks for bottom part of the wall. Built wall remainder of the day.

Thursday 23: Went down and helped Robert Hicks dig rocks all day. Had two pairs of oxen-drawing some large ones. They help build the wall up first rate.

Friday 24: Rode father’s mare down and built wall till noon.

Saturday 25: Done a hard days work – finished building the piece of wall building 20 rods in less than six and a half days. I get five shillings a rod for building it. ..Going down to ferry to look at a piece of wall and set a price that I would rebuilt it for. I was pretty tired when I got home – walked nearly 8 miles.

Robert Hicks property

Note: 20 rods is 330 feet!

One estimation is that a shilling at that time was worth 40 cents.  If that is true, Shearman would have made $40 for his almost 7 days work.