Rundlet-May House

Builders at Rundlet House


The Rundlet’s house could not have been completed without the work of many craftsmen and tradesmen, shedding light on the socio-economic class structure that comprised Portsmouth’s waterfront area and its surrounding communities. There was an emerging environment of many craftsmen of this period that benefited from the building of Portsmouth. Many artisans lived on Cotter’s Lane, though there were an increasing number in the West End and closer to where the Rundlet family built their home. On average, laborers made between $.75 and 1.00 per day; whereas two black men employed as laborers received between $.50 and $.67 per day. The labor required for some of the duties was not considered specialized, but surely required a lot of strength and stamina, such as digging the cellar and the well for the house. Caesar Whidden was identified in James Rundlet’s account ledgers as a truckman. In the 1830 federal census his household was made up of two free black persons, one male age 55-100, and one female age 10-24. Five men by the name of Clark were noted in the ledger as working on the cellar in 1807.