Peyton Adams Eubank
Missionary - Africa 1882 - 1892

Memories of a Missionary Tour of Duty in Africa: 1882 - 1892
by Laura Boardman Houchens Eubank
Wife of Rev. Peyton Adams Eubank
Missionaries To Nigeria 1882
Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, VA.

African - English Money

We rested awhile in Oyo (Map)then went on - a two days further journey to Ogbornoso. On this journey we could not use English money as we did near the coast for it was not known in the interior. Nor could we use the native currency to any large extent for it was burdensome to carry. This consisted of the small cowry shells mentioned before which it was said came from the East coast and were carried in large bags. Cowrie Shell

A bushel bag of cowries Was perhaps worth five dollars so, naturally, we could not carry large sums. My husband once bought a horse from an old chief. The cost was perhaps $25.00 and it required five men to carry five bags of cowries. When my husband offered him in pay five pounds in gold (English) which he could hold in his hand, he was blank with astonishment. Still since they could not accept English money and we could not carry loads of their money we compromised by taking loads of English goods, cloth, beads, knives, mirrors and all sorts of things that would appeal to them and exchanging these for cowries on the way or giving these things in pay for services. At a toll gate we would give the gate man a knife, a or some small thing as our toll. For a chief of a village or some big man, a few yards of cloth. If a very big man,. the Governor or some such, whom we had to recognize, perhaps a bolt or half bolt of bright colored velvet. They were very fond of wearing these bright rich colors. It gave them distinction. I remember at one city where my husband called on. the chief man and gave him a present, he was very cordial in his thanks. He hoped the Lord would bless him - that he would bless him so much that next time he would be able to give him a better present. (Page 38)

After reaching Ogbornoso we still had to give goods in exchange for cowries to pay our regular expenses. When getting a number of bags of cowries which we kept in a storeroom, we employed women who were very skillful in counting them.


August 2000 - Notes - WRE Jr.

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