Benjamin Franklin is said to have found a broomcorn seed on a broom a friend brought him from France for dusting his beaver hat. He obtained broomcorn seeds in Hungary, which he planted and which grew into tall corn-like plants with a flowering brush of stiff fibers.
The first recorded broom in America, comprised of sorghum fibers, was made in 1797 by a man in Massachusetts, Levi Dickenson. Brooms came in many sizes and for various purposes--floor brooms, outdoor brooms, whisk brooms, brushes, and pot brooms used in the kitchens to clean away dust, debris, and ashes from fireplaces.
Sample instructions: To make a hearth broom, 28 heads of broomcorn are used for the inside layers of bristles and 17 heads for the outside layer. Each head is measured with a cubit (the distance between your elbow to your longest finger). Put the knuckle of the corn, the place where the head meets the stalk, at your elbow. If the bristles, or brush, are past the tip of your fingers, that stalk is a keeper. If the material is too short, it will be used for a whisk broom later.
If you want to make your own broomcorn broom, there’s a great supplier: R.E. Caddy Co. in Greensboro, NC, that sells broomcorn for crafters, a 10-pound box is around $35. http://www.recaddy.com/ec/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=3e296863797aa55eabcf601caaef3774
A good resource for mixed colors broomcorn seeds is https://www.lehmans.com/p-4588-mixed-colors-broomcorn-seeds.aspx
Susan F. Craft is the author of The Chamomile, an inspirational Revolutionary War romantic suspense set in South Carolina.