How Our Ancestors Lived
|One Room Schools||Birthing Babies at Home|
|Mail Service||Cooking and Canning|
|The Family Farm||Canning in Cans and the Tomato Comes of Age|
|From the Commode to the Privy to Indoors!||Grocery Shopping|
|The Telephone||Medicine & the Healing Arts|
|The Automobile||Toys and Games|
|The IceBox - and the IceMan||Money|
|The WCTU||Other Pioneer Pages - Related Links|
I am only personally familiar with the small, 3'x3' one-holer of my grandfather, but I do remember being in awe while inside a neighbor's 3-holer once. But, of course, one only heard about the grand and glorious, roomy, bricked, 5-holers, with a STOVE no less! And in the mountains, of course, two story privy's. This was so the folks would have a privy when the snow got too high and blocked the door on the lower level! I vividly remember running as fast as I could in the middle of the night so the "boogie" man wouldn't get me.
In order for the toilet to come indoors, three things had to happen: 1) a means devised to bring water into the home, i.e., water supply and indoor plumbing 2) the device itself, and 3) a means of disposal.
As for the commode (flushable toilet) itself, there were various patents filed beginning about 1850 for various versions of an indoor commode. Some folks would have us to believe that one Mr. Thomas Crapper was the inventor of the flush toilet, others disagree. For another page on Tom, see Tom Crapper - A Man, A Plan, A Commode! Actually, the toilet, as we know it today, wasn't invented in one stroke of genius. It took the contributions of many people to finally make it happen. For a less tongue-in-cheek, and possibly more accurate, history of the various changes in the design of the toilet, visit The Men that Made the Water Closet.
As far as getting rid of the material placed in the "toilette", the web site The History of Plumbing in America tells us: "Engineer Julius W. Adams provided the framework upon which modem sewerage is based. In 1857, Adams was commissioned to sewer the city of Brooklyn, which then covered 20 square miles. There was no data available in proportioning sewers for the needs of the people. Yet, working from scratch, Adams developed guidelines and designs that made modern sanitary engineering possible. More importantly, he published the results. By the end of the century, how-to textbooks would be available for towns and cities to use all across the country."
Of course, our pioneering ancestors on the farm had no access to such modern conveniences, and had to wait for the coming of the septic tank for their means of disposal.
The History of Plumbing in America goes on to tell us: "In the early 19th century, U.S. production of the closet was inferior to the English, and most closets were imported. By 1873, 43 British firms, including Twyford, Doulton, and Shanks were exporting high quality closets to the U.S. By century’s end, U.S. manufacturers caught up with the Europeans, and American products began to swamp this market. The American sanitary industry was said to have been born when pottery maker and decorator Thomas Maddock teamed up with his friend William Leigh. The timing was none to soon, because importing English materials was a very costly endeavor."
For a very complete rundown on the history of indoor plumbing, the commode, the indoor bath and such related matters, check out: The History of Plumbing in America, an excellent addition to your bathroom reading! (Actually, it is more interesting than the title might suggest.)
For more on your commodal history, check out these sites:Return to Top of Page
Even until, and through, the 1950's, my grandparent's had one of those phones that hung on the wall, with the mouthpiece at the end of a cord and the receiver in the wall. It was a party line, with neighbors sharing lines (and sometimes "spying" on neighbors to everyone's dislike). Neighbors on a party line knew if an incoming call was for them by whether it rang two shorts and a long and similar codes of ringing.
The Telephone History Web Site has "everything you ever wanted to know" about telephone history.
When folks think of the automobile and history, they often think of the car. But, another effect of the automobile invention was trucking and the ability to bring goods and food to rural America, which greatly expanded things to be purchased that our pioneers never had. And not to mention the impact on other areas of their lives, such as delivery of mail and even news to the farm, rather than having to pick mail up in town once a week or once a month.
I recall, in my interview with Marjorie (McBride) Weaver of over
20 years ago, how she related we take so many things for granted, for example,
oranges. She remembered what a rarity, a treat, it was to get oranges once
or twice a year.
See History of the Automobile - A Colorful Past. The Duryea brothers produced the first automobile from a "factory" (as opposed to a one-of-kind model) in 1896.
See The Early Years of the Gasoline Powered Automobile, which is a part of the Auto Museum website.
Marybeth (Lantow) Mays writes to us:
Of course the ice melted. The tin-lined area that held the ice had a rubber tube that was attached to the bottom at a drain hole to relay the water to a pan under the icebox. There was always a puddle of water on the floor to remind us that it needed emptied. My Dad got tired of the mess and drilled a hole in the floor and added a length of tube to extend it to lead to a drain in the basement floor. I'm sure other households did something similar, but at the time, Dad gained even more stature in my mind because I thought he was so very clever."
That memory is of small town Defiance, Defiance County, Ohio abt 1946-7.
This remembrance is contributed by Wayne Grindol, who delivered ice in Kansas from the 1920's to the 1940's.
We also had cards customers to put into the windows to advise us how much they wanted. Generally, our customers wanted their box filled as full as possible, as they territory was split in half so that each customer received ice every other day. We delivered ice 7 days a week, rain or shine. Sometimes we had to skip customers due to the road conditions to their house. We had a few gravel roads and many dirt roads.
One of the more interesting parts of our ice delivery was delivering
ice to railroad repair crews. In the summer the Union Pacific and
Rock Island railroads repaired their rail lines. They would have
50 to 100
man crews who worked and they slept and ate in the rail cars. When the crews would start to repair the lines from Lawrence, Kansas to Topeka, Kansas, We would deliver up to 5,000 pounds of to the work trains
several times. The railroad cook car had a complete kitchen and huge cooler for food. The work crews were well fed.
All this came to an end as electricity became more available to our rural areas. My last year of delivering ice was in 1946 the summer I returned from service in World War 2.
I might add that we used coupon books for payment. The books
had either 500# or 1000# and sold for $2.50 and $5.00. Not much for
ice delivered and put in the ice boxes. Even at those prices, we
were able to show a
little profit. Remember this was from the middle 1920's to the latter part of the 1940's. Those times were tough.
The lady's comments of the iceman were interesting and I thought you might enjoy some comments from one who had actually delivered ice."
The House of Church History is a very interesting collections of histories of various religions and religious figures, with links, links, and more links: . This site includes:
The Reformers - A page explaining the basic tenet of Luther and then links to more about Luther, Hooker and other leaders of the Reformation.
And many other pages on different aspects of religious history with many links.
Here is Yahoo's categories of churches by sect, many of which have histories.
An index of religious web links from the University of Birmingham will get you surfin' in style.
The WCTU played a pivotal role on the influence of the day that eventually led to prohibition. See the WCTU Home Page, which is still an active organization. One of the leading, and controversial (and extreme) leaders of this movement was Carrie Nation. and here also. Here is a complete history of the temperance movement, from 1650 through to today, including the heydays in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Thinking of becoming a clown? Here's the web page for A Clown's Clown School.
See this page on the advance of medicine in the nineteenth century: From Quackery to Bacteriology. - The Emergence of Modern Medicine in 19th Century America. This page covers such wide-ranging topics as patent medicine, quackery, the effect of the Civil War on the treatment of both diseases and injuries, the advancement of public health and nursing and other topics.
For an exhaustive time-line history of medicine and the biological sciences, visit A Chronology of Significant Historical Developments in the Biological Sciences.
Smallpox was a dreaded disease of our ancestors. Although "vaccination" against it had been somewhat "known" by the ancient Chinese, Edward Jenner, in 1796, first conceived of vaccinating a person with cowpox cells, after noting that folks that had cowpox didn't get smallpox. Smallpox vaccination was common by the 1830's. By 1900, vaccination against smallpox was a widely accepted practice in many parts of the world, but it took until only the last decade or so before the United Nations pronounced it eradicated world-wide. See this tutorial on Smallpox Vaccination - Follow the links at the bottom of each screen, which are in a question format, as a tutorial about the history of smallpox vaccine up to today.
See also:the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and a list of epidemics of the United States 1657-1918
Toy History site explains the origins of some games of our ancestors: jacks, the doll, the kaleidoscope.
See the Pioneer Games, Stories and Songs Page, as well.
Pioneer Games describes some pioneer games of the past.
Marbles - I can vaguely remember playing and collecting marbles as a kid. Here is a set of rules for playing marbles. I'm not sure if these were the same rules our ancestors used, but will give you an idea of the game. This page is a subset of the Marbles Collector Page.
Checkers was a big game for our pioneer ancestors.
The Story of the Teddy Bear. In 1902, two different people, one in America and one in Germany, independently conceived of the idea of a "Bear Doll". The one in America, who's trade name eventually won out in popular acceptance, was designed after seeing a cartoon of Teddy Roosevelt with a bear cub that had been "tied" to a tree for him to shoot during one of his hunts. Teddy couldn't bring himself to shoot the cub and set him free and the resulting cartoon inspired the original American inventor. This inventor went on to found Ideal Toy Company, one of the largest toy companies in the world.
Lionel Trains: In 1906, Joshua Lionel Cowen, inventor of the flashlight, also invented Lionel trains run with batteries.
The Little Red Wagon: In 1917, Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin began making wooden wagons called the Liberty Coaster. Ten years later he adopted the steel assembly-line process of Henry Ford and began churning out Radio Flyer "little red wagons".
Bicycles. Not exactly a toy, but this seems to be the best place to put this next item. The bicycle boom really began in the 1880's and 1890's. The bicycle had many repercussions for our way of life at that time. It provided transportation beyond what walking could provide. It provided sporting events to compete with baseball. In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world." See The Bike History Page
The History of Money in North America - excellent review of money in our history and its various forms.Clothing and Shoes of the Past
History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies
Wampum was used as money by early New Englanders and later as Americans moved West to trade with Indians. Without some form of money, the economy of early America (New England and Virginia), would have been stymied. New England did not have tobacco, and was the home of some of the best wampum makers among the Indians, so it used wampum for money, in addition to other items. Wampum was a form of jewelry.
See the WampumWorks Web Site for more information on what wampum is, its history and why it was valued.
TheBeadSite - another wampum site. An interesting tidbit: "Church ministers complained that people were putting broken wampum, undrilled wampum or imitation wooden wampum into the collection plates."
Godey's Lady's Book was the one of the more popular ladies magazines of the 1800's. From it's archives, you can see comments and drawings of fashions of the day.
The Pioneer Dress Collection has photographs of fashion of the 1800's.
Shoes. Probably no more feature of our modern comforts that we take for granted are the shoes we wear. Our pioneering ancestors certainly never had the pleasure of Nike's, hiking boots, or even the concept of soles attached to uppers.
Shoes were made by hand until the mid 1800's, when the invention
of the sewing machine eventually led to mechanizing shoe-making. The heel
is a relatively modern enhancement to shoes. While made by hand, shoes
were not made separately for left and right feet.
The About Inventors Page has a neat set of links to shoe history web sites.
A time-line of shoe history with a summary of the history of seven types of shoes.
History of Footware
Medieval Shoes and how they were made.
The Pioneers Page is chock full of information about our Pioneers.
The WPA Life Histories Collection has some wonderful stories of pioneers. This is a collection of stories and diaries collected during the 1930's by the WPA, a government project during the depression, and is now a part of the Library of Congress web page. The material was gathered from senior citizens of the 1930's, who either remembered homesteading in the late 1800's, or who were first generation children of pioneers. Some really great stories and diaries here.
Explore the Frontiers of Time and Space. Excellent memoirs, biographies, and diaries of various aspects of ancestors of the webmaster.
I found the Memoirs of David Hunter Patterson to be fascinating. He recounts the area of Big Cove, in Fulton County, PA, where our McConnels (and maybe also McClellands) are from; from its early settlements through about 1920, with details of everyday life from describing roads and saddles to other vivid descriptions.
The Web Page of Useless Information has some interesting articles on the origins of everyday items, along with some humor.
The History of How Soap Is Made... is a clean enough subject... <g>
Visit the Tour of Saybrook and see drawings of different archictectural styles in the 1600's and 1700's of actual buildings still standing in Saybrook. Saybrook was founded in 1635, one of the earliest British settlements in America, just five years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony was started.
Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by Norris M. Taylor, Jr.