Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Finds-When Salt Was Money

Today I came across a news article that gives us a peek into the lives of our Gulf Coast ancestors during the Civil War. This excerpt is from an article written for the Bay St. Louis Centennial in 1958.

When Salt Was Money
Long centuries ago the Roman soldiers received a daily portion of salt as part of their pay and when after a time this was changed to money, the amount was called salarium, or salt money- the Latin term from which originated our word salary -and the term
from which we get our common expression "worth his salt."
During the War Between the States when the Federal fleet had the Gulf Coast effectively blockaded and food was very scarce, the people again discovered that salt in their day was as good as, or even better than money. All along the shoreline of Bay St. Louis the citizens boiled the Gulf water in huge kettles to secure the salt and trade it to farmers in the back country for fresh meat and vegetables. In fact salt making became almost a wartime industry. In the records of J. F. H. Claiborne, the Mississippi historian whose plantation Laurel Wood was near Bay St. Louis, there is the recountal that Governor Pettus, the wartime governor of Mississippi, had contracted for 100,000 bushels of this Gulf boiled salt at $35 a bushel for the Confederacy. Another account records that the Coast people were producing 500 bushels of salt a day and that twenty wagon loads had been shipped to General Joseph E. Johnson's army.
From the Daily Herald, July 29, 1958
This just shows to me that the people of the Coast have always been resilient and found the means to survive against odds, whether it be war, or natural disaster. 


  1. Hi Michelle! I'm enjoying your blog posts. May I suggest that you post your definition of langniappe from this page ( on the blog? That way anybody who visits your blog can find out right away what a lagniappe is. Just a thought. A bientot!

  2. Niall, Thank you so much for the comment and suggestion! I added a tab on my page to tell what Lagniappe is per your suggestion.