Perches & Pizza

I am up to 230 letters or other documents transcribed, and have had an interesting time with the transcription. I wrote previously about the crossed lines and the bad handwriting, making it difficult to decipher some letters, but I’ve run across another difficulty. Horton Howard also appears to have been a well educated man, with an extensive vocabulary – including words that have changed in meaning or are no longer commonly used.

On February 18, 1827 he wrote about visiting a property that his son-in-law either had purchased or was considering for purchase. In his words,”there are two large rooms and 2 of good size with a passage, each room a good fireplace & a handsome Pizza.” This is most certainly not the Pizza that we know today, yet his handwriting is very clear in this phrase. Could he have meant piazza?

Another puzzle appeared in describing this property in a phrase that was less clearly penned, so that I wasn’t sure if he wrote about perches or finches, and couldn’t figure out what a fish or a bird could have to do with measuring distance when he wrote” also there appeared at a distance say of 25 perches is a tolerable Barn stabling etc.”

A little research on units of measure solved that one! It was indeed perches which turns out to be another word for the distance also known as a rod or pole. This measure is equal to 5 ½ yards, 16 ½ feet or 1/320th of a mile.


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