The Complete Story of the American Gooch
From their Discovery by Early Jamestown Settlers
Through their tragic disappearance.
To today’s battle over whether they should be cloned from fossil remains.
The Gooch & Goochland's First Settlers
They were wild, to be certain, but using techniques learned from Native Americans, early settlers struck up a mutually beneficial relationship through which both Settler and Animal prospered.
These tame and friendly beasts had a most unusual capacity to transform grazing grasses into solid fuel, with a greater thermal output than hardwood of equal weight. It was a natural bi-product of their digestion process.
The only parallel which can be drawn today would be the Civet, some varieties of which are able to produce Kopi Luwak, the finest tasting, most expensive coffee in the world, merely by eating coffee beans.
In 1608 when the Gooch was first discovered by european settlers, the need for combustible fuel was limited. The first steam Engine for practical use would not exist for another 80 years. Heating homes against the winter’s chill was one of it’s few uses, and abundant hardwood supplies made Gooch feces called Yinga or Yanga by Native Americans little more than a convenience to avoid cutting, curing and hauling firewood.
Yanga offered significant benefit in Wigwams and Wickiups because it smoked far less than wood and gave off more heat for its weight and volume. But to the settlers whose homes were built with fireplaces, there was little advantage.
In fact one of the very few endeavors for which Yanga was prized was that of the Farrier.
The super hot temperatures required in the Farrier’s forge were more easily achieved by using Yanga than hardwood, though coal and Yanga were nearly interchageable as to temperature.
Coal was not the favorite of the busy farrier, however, because it caused headaches, which with the help of modern chemistry, we now know to have been caused by Carbon Monoxide. Yanga, it is hypothesized, was an aerated solid which tended to combust more completely, giving off more heat and less CO.
The relationship between those who saw an opportunity in tending flocks of wild Gooch, and the Gooch themselves was symbiotic. Thriving Gooch produce more Yanga and Yanga was far more useful than their hides, meat or wool, which was vastly inferior to that of sheep.
The result was small flocks of very happy Gooch roaming free, and some few settlers living in an idyllic setting along the James River collecting, the Yanga.
Transporting Yanga Along the James, Jamestown & the World Beyond
Soon a small River Transport business started near what today is considered the best fishing spot in the area, the Barge Pits.
to be continued…