Tonight was the last time that a full moon will occur on Friday 13 until August 13, 2049. 200 years ago, May 13, 1814 was the only Friday the Thirteenth of the year. The dates of the appearance of a full moon in 1814 were: January 6; February 4; March 6; April 4; May 4; June 3; July 2 ; August 1; August 30; September 29; October 29 ; November 27; and December 26.
Many of the settlers in Washington County, Indiana Territory used moon signs to guide their planting and their daily activities. This practice was part of their heritage both from the rural areas of the British Isles and Germany from which they or their ancestors came and from their time in the inland of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. There was a general belief that the aspects of the moon had an effect on ambient moisture.
Crops and trees that produced above ground fruit and grain were planted during the waxing phase of the moon [between new moon and full moon]. Crops that grew below ground produce were to be planted during the waning phase of the moon [between full moon and new moon]. Harvesting, weeding, tree cutting, and soil preparing were to be done during the waning moon. All gardening was avoided upon the day of the full moon, the days of the quarter moon, and of course, on the new moon.
Other farm and domestic activities were also governed by moon sings. Rail fences cut during the dry, waning Moon would stay straighter. Wooden shingles and shakes would lie flatter if cut during the dark of the Moon. The weaning of young livestock wasn’t to begin when the Moon was waning. The castration and dehorning of animals was to be performed when the Moon was waning for less bleeding. The slaughter of livestock was to be done when the Moon was waxing for juicier meat.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac was a resource often used by pioneers in guiding their conduct according to the phases of the moon. One can imagine what our Washington County forebearers were doing on particular dates 200 years ago in 1814 by referring to the dates of the full moon listed at the start of this post.