Monday, September 5, 2016

Oella - the Maryland mill town and the Incas of Peru

The Union Manufacturing Company started buying land in 1808 for cotton mills, and in 1811 patented their holdings as Oella "in commemoration of the first woman who applied herself to the spinning of Cotton on the Continent of America."  Mama Oella (Ocllo and other spellings) and her husband/brother Manco Capac were the legendary founders of the Inca empire.  They were included in the then-popular epic poem by Joel Barlow on Columbus published in 1787 and expanded as The Columbiad in 1807.

Oella and Capac (as Barlow referred to them) arrived at an island in lake Titiaca and founded Cuzco, which became the capitol of Peru.  She supposedly taught the women how to spin and weave.

Excerpts from the 1807 Barlow book -

And her white raiment mocks the light of morn.
Her busy hand sustains a bending bough,
Where cotton clusters spread their robes of snow,
From opening pods unbinds the fleecy store,
And culls her labors for the evening bower.

For she, the first in all Hesperia, fed
The turning spindle with the twisting thread;
The woof, the shuttle follow'd her command,
Till various garments grew beneath her hand.

They form to different arts the hand of toil,
To whirl the spindle and to spade the soil,
How the white cotton tree's expanding lobes
File into threads, and swell to fleecy robes;

Barlow, Joel.  The Vision of Columbus: a poem in nine books, 1787 then expanded in 1807 to The Columbiad.
A sketch by Maximilian Godefory c1815 of Oella cotton mill and buildings (now at the Maryland Historical Society) may be viewed HERE
HABS report BA-150  Oella Historic District 

©2016 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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