Common-place.org has a very good article about the history and production of American ham. It is a good and informative read. Click here to read it.
I've always wanted to try my hand at raising a few hogs, and then home-processing the meat. Maybe one of these years I'll have a chance to do so. They are a wonderful homestead animal, especially for those who are creating a homestead in the woods, because they will "till" the land, digging up roots and grubs, making the land arable while fertilizing it for future vegetable production. Chickens and goats help the process, too. Not to wax political or alienate any of my readers, but that is one of the things I think vegans are missing: the symbiotic relationship between homestead vegetables and animals. Without the hogs, chickens and goats, one must use internal combustion engines to efficiently raise vegetables.
Another use of hogs I have heard about since I was young, is fencing them into a newly-dug pond for a year so they will pack the ground and thus cause the new pond to become watertight. Otherwise one has to use, you guessed it, a petroleum-based product.
Oh, and one last thing: if you have hogs and goats, you are not likely to have problems with rattlesnakes, copperheads, and the like.