What are firedogs?

I was searching through the Rowan County, North Carolina probate1 records this morning for any mention of the surname Church.

I came across a word that I had never heard of…firedogs.

The following is the portion of the Will where I found the term firedogs2:

“…oven, one skillet, one iron pot rack, one pair of fire dogs, one…”

I thought what in the world is a pair of firedogs?

So, I looked in an online dictionary.

An andiron or firedog, fire-dog or fire dog is a bracket support, normally found in pairs, on which logs are laid for burning in an open fireplace, so that air may circulate under the firewood, allowing better burning and less smoke. They generally consist of a tall vertical element at the front, with at least two legs. This stops the logs from rolling out into the room, and may be highly decorative.”

Andiron or firedogs in use3.

Andirons and fire dogs are devices made of metal and (rarely) ceramic which support the firewood. They normally stand upon short legs and are usually connected with an upright guard. The guard keeps the logs in the fireplace as they burn and settle. This guard, which may be of iron, steel, copper, bronze, or silver, may be simple, or elaborately ornamented (often with patterns or heraldic ornaments, such as the fleur-de-lis, with sphinxes, grotesque animals, mythological statuettes, or caryatides supporting heroic figures or emblems).[6] A common decoration in the form of a canine plays on the dual meanings of the word dog (canine and inanimate holder or blocker).”

Now, the funny part…I have firedogs in my fireplace. But I have never called them firedogs. The term I use is “rack” or “wood rack.”

I asked my husband if he had ever heard of firedogs. He had not. That made me feel better about myself!

I can almost bet that my father will know what firedogs are. He’s my next phone call.

Examples of other types of firedogs4:

1North Carolina, Wills, 1795-1807, Vol. F, Elijah Philip, page 20, image 22 of 74; digital image, FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 November 2019); citing original records at Rowan County, North Carolina courthouse.

2“firedogs,” Wikipedia.org, 2019 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andiron : accessed 17 November 2019)

3“A drawing of andirons in use,” Wikipedia.org, 2019 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andiron : accessed 17 November 2019)

4“American iron firedogs, 1770-1800,” Wikipedia.org, 2019 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andiron : accessed 17 November 2019)

Copyright (c) 2019, Darlene Anderson