Monday, January 23, 2017

Keeping Flies Away

I found this tidbit while researching my Historical Writers Research of 19th Century Carriages & Wagons I ran across another use for "train oil." Train oil or Fist oil is made from whale blubber and/or codfish oil. 

From The Western Druggist Vol. 16 pg 209 ©1894 we find:
Almost any greasy substance will keep the flies away for several days. A number of experiments were tried in the field, with the result that train-oil alone, and trainoil with a little sulphur or carbolic acid added, will keep the flies away for from five to six days, while, with a small proportion of carbolic acid, it will have a healing effect upon the sores which may have formed. Train-oil should not cost more than 50 to 75 cents per gallon, and a gallon will anoint a number of animals. Common axle grease, costing 10 cents per box, will answer nearly as well, and this substance has been extensively and successfully used by Mr. William Johnson, a large stock dealer at Warrenton, Va. Tallow has also been used to a good advantage. The practice of smearing the horns with pine or coal tar s'mply repels from them these pests. Train-oil or fish-oil seems to be more lasting in its effects than any other of the substances used.

Apples & Preserving

In 1874 Haydn's dictionary of dates was printed. It is filled with all kinds of interesting tidbits. Below is what it had to say about apples.

APPLES. The Romans knew of 22 varieties of apples, according to Pliny. Ray reckons 78 kinds in his day, in England (1688). In the U. S. 200 varieties exist Apple-trees of finest quality last 80 years. Some reach the age of 200 years. Throughout the U. S. the following appear to be the favorites: For summer apples, the Early Harrett, Sveet Bough and Red Astrackim ; for autumn, the Fall Pippin, Porter andGravenslein; for winter, the Baldvin and 'Rhode Island Greening. The demand for the fruit is greatly in advance of the supply, and in London the American apple commands fabulous prices. In 1860, the yield of orchard fruit amounted to $19,000,000, the greater part of which was derived from the apple product. In 1865, the orchards in the State of New York yielded 16,275,505 bushels of apples.

In 1872 the publication "A Dictionary of Every day wants:" came out and gives two methods of storing apples for later use.

APPLES, To Dry.—The most general method adopted in drying apples is, after they are pared, to cut them in slices, and spread them on cloths, tables, or boards, and dry them out-doors. In clear and dry weather this is, perhaps, the most expeditious and best way; but in cloudy and stormy weather this way is attended with much inconvenience, and sometimes loss, in consequence of the apples rotting before they dry. To some extent they may be dried in this way in the house, though this is attended with much inconvenience. The best method that I have ever ased to dry apples is to use frames. These combine the most advantages with the least inconvenience o( any way, and can be used with equal advantage either in drying in the house or out in
the sun. In pleasant weather the frames can be set out-doors against the side of the building, or any other support, and nights, or cloudy and stormy days, they can be brought into the house, and set against the side of the room near the stove or fire-place. Frames are made in the following manner: Two strips of board, 7 feet long, 2 or 2 1/2 inches wide—two strips 3 feet long, 1 1/2 inches wide, the whole 3/4 of an inch thick—nail the short strips across the ends of the long ones, and it makes a frame 7 by 3 feet, which is a convenient sire for all purposes. On one of the long strips nails are driven 3 inches apart, extending from the top to the bottom. After the apples are pared, they are quartered and cored, and with a needle and twine, or stout thread strung into lengths long enough to reach twice across the frame; the ends of the twine are then tied together, and the strings hung on the nails across the frame. The apples will soon dry so that the strings can be doubled on the nails, and fresh ones put on or the whole of them removed, and others put in their place. As fast as the apples become sufficiently dry they can be taken from the strings, and the same strings used to dry more on. If large apples are used to dry, they can be cut in smaller pieces. Pears and quinces, and other fruits that can be strung, may be dried in this way.

APPLES, Preserving. —l. By selecting the best of fruit, and carefully enveloping each specimen separately in paper so that the air cannot pass through, the time of keeping in a sound and eatable condition can be greatly prolonged. After covering each apple with paper, select a light wooden box and cover it on the inside, or outside, with paper either before, or after putting in the fruit, as the case may be. Those persons who are desirous of preserving a small quantity of apples will be amply repaid for their trouble by trying the above experiment. The fruit should not be disturbed after packing until the box is opened at the time the fruit is to be eaten.—2. A layer of dry sawdust was sprinkled at the bottom of the box, and then a layer of apples placed in it so that they did not touch each other. Upon these were placed a little layer of sawdust, and so on until the box was filled. The boxes, after being packed in this way, were placed on the wall in the cellar, up from the ground, where they kept, perfectly retaining their freshness and flavor, until brought out.—3. Apples for keeping should be laid out on a dry floor (or three weeks. They then may be packed away in layers, with dry straw between them. Each apple should be rubbed with a dry cloth as it is
Put away. They should be kept in a cool place, ut should be sufficiently covered with straw to protect them from frost. They should be plucked on a dry day. They also keep if packed in dry sand.—4. An excellent method for preserving apples through the winter is to put them in barrels or boxes, surrounding each apple with some dry mould or gypsum (plaster of Paris)— not the calcined used for casts, models, etc.— and kept in a dry, cool outhouse.

Another method I've come across but can't find the source right now, was using the husks of the corn, wrapping the apples in the husks and put them away in a similar method as above.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wagon Builders

I stumbled on this bit of information from Law Notes: Vol. 5 Pg 147 ©1886 while researching various wagon builders. What I found interesting about this was the practice of the "financing" of the purchase of a wagon.

Throughout the kingdom are many wagon companies, so called, that never build a single wagon; in fact, were they to do so, it would actually be ultra vires. In reality, these companies are "financing" companies only; they are no more wagon companies than bodies that lend money on bills of sale of furniture are furniture companies.
A person wishing to buy wagons, but to pay for them by instalments spread over a term, say, of seven years, will go to a wagon builder and get him to build the sort of wagons he (the intending purchaser) requires. Application is then made to a "financing" wagen company, by whom the wagons are purchased from the builder at the price the intending purchaser agreed to give; the builder invoices them to the company; and then they are let by the latter to the intending purchaser on the hire and purchase system. The rent fixed by the agreement for hire is calculated on the basis that the payments made during the term shall at its expiration have recouped the company the cost of the wagons and interest at the rate agreed upon; and in the agreement is contained a license to seize and retake possession of the wagons on non-payment of the rent and in certain other events. A proviso is also inserted that the property in the wagons shall, at the expiration of the term, when all moneys due under the agreement shall have been paid, vest in the bailee for hire, or, as he is generally termed, "the tenant."

Sears & Roebuck Shipping Rates 1896

Below is a very small selection of the shipping rates for Sears & Roebuck from their 1896 Spring catalogue. Note the prices are set for a per 100 lbs. A fellow writer, from one of the writing groups I'm in, mentioned how her grandmother told stories about how items came to the farm from their orders to Sears and other places. The train simply stopped on the tracks (at the edge of their farm) and left the items on the side of the tracks then continued on their way.

Sears & Roebuck went into detail about the way to order, how to figure the shipping charges, etc. By placing a freight rate chart they not only helped their customers but saved themselves the headache of extra billing for freight.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tar For Greasing Wagons

I stumbled across this brief editorial comment made in "The American Agriculturist" in the August 1842 issue. Can't you just see your characters or ancestors mixing up a batch of axle grease for the wagons with this historical gem?

Tar for greasing wagons, we think an absurd article. In the hottest weather it soon gums up and becomes adhesive, and in cold weather is always so. Wherever iron axletrees are used, black lead mixed with grease is best:—or Flour mixed with Lard.

Wages For Farm Labors in NJ 1852

In 1852 David Walker, at $7 per month. Rent house at $25 per year; wages, at 50

cents per day. Peter McHugh, at $9 per month for four months, and seven months at $10 per month.

Average for the state was $10 per month with board for the year. $12 per summer months. $1. to $1.75 for days of harvest. And with board the average was .65 cents per day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Snow Shoes

Living in Florida we don't have any need for snowshoes. However, the temps this past week have been low enough that if there were rain we might just have snow. Which led me to this post this little tidbit about snowshows, enjoy. Below is an excerpt from "The Tribune Book of Open Air Sports" by Henry Hall ©1887

The snowshoe and toboggan might readily be called twins of the snow. The snowshoe is the only contrivance ever invented to facilitate walking on soft snow, and probably never will bo surpassed. It was formerly in universal use among the American Indians, and the Esquimaux and Laplanders still use the shoe to-day. Some of the tribes in Central Asia also employ it. Travellers have found the snowshoc all through the North of Europe and in Siberia and Tartary.
The American shoe is made of a piece of light ash, about half an inch thick, bent to a long oval, and fastened closely with cat-gut where the two ends meet. A strip of flat wood is fitted across the the frame about four inches from the large end, and other pieces about two feet from the ends, to give it spring and strength. The interior of this framework is woven with cat-gut, which allows the shoe to press on the snow without sinking. A hole about four inches square is left behind the centre of the front cross-bar for the partial protrusion of the toes in lifting the heel. The centre bears the weight of the body. The Indian shoe measures from two to six feet in length, and from thirteen to twenty inches in width ; but for club races it has been reduced to the regulation measurement of not less than ten inches in width, without limitation as to length. A short, broad shoe is preferable for the forest or long tramps on soft snow. The Indian's shoo was always broad, adapted for the chase. Some of the tribes turned up the shoe at the toe.
A member of the Montreal Snowshoe Club applied the shape of the poinied turned-up too of thei shoe used by the Sioux to that made tand used by the Iroquois; and this modification is now the shoe in general use. Moccasins are worn on the feet, and by means of an ingenious tie, also introdued by the Montreal Club, the snowshoes can be slipped on and off with greatest case.
To the accomplished snowshoer walking is a delightful pastime. He tramps over fields and buried fences unmindful of drifts or obstructions. In all Canadian cities there are numerous snowshoe clubs that take weekly tramps in costume. Baces and sports are also carried on on these shoes. In the Western parts of our own country the snowshoe is much used. It is said that the most expert runner, "Snowshoc Thompson,'' once made 1,600 feet in 22 seconds, and he is also said to have jumped into a snow-drift from a height of 180 feet.

Hop Yeast

Today we think mostly in terms of making beer. However, it wasn't the only use for this plant. Wikipedia will give you a good description of the plant and it's many uses.

Below is a recipe for Hop Yeast that comes from The Appledore Cook Book ©1872 by Maria Parloa.

Hop Yeast.
Pare and boil one dozen mealy potatoes (they will boil in thirty miuutes) ; as soon as you put the potatoes on to boil, put a handful of hops into another kettle with three quarts of cold water, cover and boil (watch it that it may not boil over). When the potatoes are boiled, drain and mash fine; then strain the hops through a fine sieve on the potatoes (be sure that the hops are boiling when they are strained on the potatoes), and stir well; then add one half a cup of sugar, one fourth of salt, and one pint of flour; mix this well and strain through a cullender; let it stand until it is milk-warm, then stir in one cup of go"od yeast, and set it to rise where it will be warm. It will rise in five hours if the yeast is good. You can tell when it is risen by the white foam, which will rise to the top. When risen, put it in a stone jug, and stop tight. It is a good plan to tie the cork down, as it sometimes flies out. Set in the ice chest or on the cellar bottom. Make one third this quantity in summer if your family be small.
• Hop Yeast, No. 2.
In the spring and the first of the summer, when potatoes are poor, it is better to make yeast without them. Boil one fourth of a cup of hops in one quart of water, and strain it upon half a pint of flour; stir this well, and add two spoonfuls of sugar and one of salt, then strain through a cullender, and let it become milk-warm, when add one cup of good yeast. You need just as much yeast for one third the quantity made without the potatoes, as you would for the whole made with potatoes. Rise and bottle the same as the preceding.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Character & Manners

One of the ways Character and Manners were taught in the 19th century was through the use of stories. The paragraphs below come from Pencil Sketches: or outlines of character and manners © 1835 by Eliza Leslie

Some there be that shadows kiss.—Shakespeare.
Selina Mansel was only sixteen when she took charge of her father's house and entered on the arduous task of doing as she pleased: provided always that she duly attended to his chief injunction, never to allow herself to incur a debt, however trifling, and to purchase nothing that she could not pay for on the spot. To the observance of this rule, which he had laid down for himself in early life, Mr. Mansel attributed all his success in business, and his ability to retire at the age of fifty with a handsome competence.
Since the death of his wife, Mr. Mansel's sister had presided over his family, and had taken much interest in instructing Selina in what she justly termed the most useful part of a woman's education, Such was Miss Eleanor Mansel's devotion to her brother and his daughter, that she had hesitated for twelve years about returning an intelligible answer to the love-letters which she received quarterly from Mr. Waitstill Wonderly, a gentleman whose dwelling-place was in the far, far east. Every two years this paragon of patience came in person: his home being at a distance of several hundred miles, and his habits by no means so itinerant as those of the generality of his countrymen.

On his sixth avatar, Miss Mansel consented to reward with her hand the constancy of her inamorato; as Selina had, within the last twelvemonth, made up two pieces of linen for her father, prepared the annual quantity of pickles and preserves, and superintended two house-cleanings, all herself—thus giving proof positive that she was fully competent to succeed her aunt Eleanor as mistress of the establishment.
Selina Mansel was a very good and a very pretty girl. Though living in a large and flourishing provincial town, which we shall denominate Somerford, she had been brought up in comparative retirement, and had scarcely yet begun to go into company, as it is called. Her understanding was naturally excellent; but she was timid, sensitive, easily disconcerted, and likely to appear to considerable disadvantage in any situation that was the least embarrassing.
You can read the rest of the story at Google books.

Soap Substitute Receipt(recipe) 1810

Substitute for Soap, easily prepared in small Quantities, by private Families in the Country.
Collect, before the time of seeding, thistles, nettles, fern, and such other weeds as usually infest the borders of high roads and hedges, and burn them in a large heap, gradually, till the whole are consumed, and carefully preserve the ashes in a dry place, ready to make the ley (lye) wanted for the purpose of making a substitute for soap.
The requisite materials and utensils should be prepared, which are but few in number. They consist, 1st, Of a small tub of white wood, nine inches in width, and as many in height. This tub should be perforated near the bottom; its use is for mixing the leys. (Were it made of oak it would colour the leys.) 2d, A small copper bason, with a round bottom, a foot in diameter, and seven or eight inches in depth; or where this cannot be procured, an iron pot, or earthen vessel, that can bear the fire, may be used. This vessel is intended for boiling the mixture. 3d, For this small manufacture are finally required a skimmer, a spatula of white wood, and two earthen pans.
The materials necessary are, 1, some good ashes; 2, lime; and 3, oil, tallow, or kitchen fat. Method of preparing the leys (lye).
Take three pounds of ashes and one pound of lime. First, moisten the lime with a small quantity of water, in order to slake it; and after it has completely crumbled down, mix with it the ashes, and put this mixture into the tub, having previously spread a piece of canvas at the bottom; carefully close the hole at the bottom of the tub ; after which pour upon the materials a quantity of water sufficient to soak it well through, and rise above it in the vessel, to the height of about three finger breadths. Then stir it well with a slick, and suffer it to stand for some hours; then open the hole, in order to let the ley run off, which is collected and kept by itself. This is the first ley (lye); then again put fresh water in the tub, stir the materials with a stick, let them stand for some hours, and then draw off the second ley (lye), which is also kept separate ; the third ley (lye) is obtained in the same manner, by pouring fresh water upon the remainder of the ashes, which will now have been sufficiently exhausted of its saline particles.
Take equal quantities of the first ley (lye), and of kitchen fat, tallow, or oil, and melt them together in your copper bason, over a gentle fire, till they are well incorporated, by constantly agitating them with your wooden spatula. When the ley (lye) and grease are well united, you may add more ley (lye) of the second quality, and digest them for some time with a gentle heat, till the mixture is completed, taking care to stir it well all the time; then pour it into your earthen pans to cool and preserve for use. A few trials will enable you to make it in a perfect manner; and a little of this composition will be found to answer all the purposes of soap for family use. The surplus ley of the stronger kinds may be preserved for future use, and the weaker ley will serve to put upon fresh ashes on a future occasion, or a little of any of these leys (lye) will form a useful steep, with a considerable quantity of warm water, for the dirty plain linen intended to be washed, but will be too strong for printed calicoes or dyed articles.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Preparing Writing Quills

For those of you who are writers you might find this tidbit of interest. This information comes from The New Family Receipt Book: Containing Seven Hundred truly Valuable Receipts ©1810. This book sold for seven shillings and Sixpence when it first came out in London.

Dutch Method of preparing Goose Quills for Writing.
The process consists in immersing the quill, when plucked from the wing of the bird, into water almost boiling; to leave it there till it becomes sufficiently soft to compress it, turning it on its axis with the back of the blade of the knife. This kind of friction, as well as the immersions in water, being continued till the barrel of the quill be transparent, and the membrane, as well as the greasy kind of covering, be entirely removed, it is immersed a last time to render it perfectly cylindrical, which is performed with the index finger and the rhumb; it is then dried in a gentle temperature.

Telephone Timeline for 19th Century

March 10, 1876 Alexander Graham Bell yelled those now famous words "Come here Mr. Watson, I want to see you!" We all accept that to be the first monumental moment of the invention that would change our lives for ever. Below are a few other dates surrounding the history of the telephone during the 19th century.

1877 July The Bell Telephone Company was formed by Gardiner Hubbard. Watson oversaw the production of the first telephones in The Charles Williams Shop. Bell left for England opting out of the day to day operations of the company.

By the end of 1877 three thousand telephones were in service.

mid 1878 10,000 phones in service. Hubbard named Theodore Vail as the new general manager of the Bell Company.

1878 manuel switchboard was invented.

1879 Telephone subscribers begin to have designated telephone numbers

1880 Long distance service was established

1880's first "metallic" circuits were installed. Changing from one wire to two wire to reduce the extreme static noise from one wire.

1885 The American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) is formed.

1891 Almon Strowger invented an "automatic" telephone allowing him to dial a number without waiting for an operator. The first one Strowger switch goes into operation in 1892

1899 Bell company had 800,000 phones in service.
Rural independent territories had 600,000

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Bronx Zoo

On Nov. 8, 1899 the Bronx Zoo opened as the New York Zoological Park. In 1899 there were 261 acres. New York purchased the property for a mere thousand dollars from Fordham University with the condition that the area be used for parks and no further building (for private homes, businesses, etc) of the area.

Google Books has a copy of the second addition of the Popular official guide to the New York Zoological Park ©1900 the following year of the Parks opening. Below is the preface. Here is a link to the entire guide book.

The opening of the Zoological Park marks another great step toward the education of the people of the City of New York. It will bring the beauties and wonders of living Nature within reach of hundreds and thousands who are unable to travel. Like its predecessors in this field of popular education, the Park is maintained by the City, while its collections of animals and all of its present buildings are due to the generosity of citizens of New York. "We look to the continued and increasing support of all classes of people for whose education and amusement the Park is designed, rather than for the exclusive interests of science.
Although the Park is only one-third of the way toward completion, the Zoological Society believes that visitors will welcome a popular and reliable guide to what has already been accomplished. One year ago we began active work, and after two years of planning and organization ceased to speak publicly of our plans for the future. This handbook describes and pictures only what has actually been accomplished up to the day of going to press.
We bespeak for the Director and his colleagues on the Zoological Park staff, as well as for the Architects, indulgence for such shortcomings as are inseparable from such a difficult undertaking as this, during its first year. As rapidly as possible the incomplete parts of the Park will be taken in hand and brought to a finish. It has been no trifling matter to provide plans and surveys, building materials and workmen for our twenty-two installations, proceeding simultaneously with the construction by the City of miles of walks, roads, sewers and water-lines ; to finish-Bonds and entrances, trim the forests, establish a nursery, grade and plant miles of walk - borders, and build retaining walls ; to select a staff of assistants, collect animals, write labels, disburse $170,000 in small sums, without loss or dispute, and finally, during the last few weeks to improve Lake Agassiz sufficiently to make it a full and wholesome body of water.
That all the above has actually been accomplished in one year's time, without costly mistakes, or losses on account of changes in plans, and with no friction whatever, is certainly a cause for congratulation. We have enjoyed the constant and capable co-operation of the Park Department for the Borough of the Bronx and its engineers, as well as the generous support of the Mayor and other City authorities.
Executive Committee
Of The Zoological Society

The Bronx 1874

The Bronx is as familiar to us today as New York City. However, it wasn't until 1874 that the Bronx was annexed into it's own county. Below you'll find a brief history of the Bronx and the last paragraph points out the dates significant to the 19th century. The excerpt comes from Historical guide to the city of New York ©1909 pg.179

The Borough of the Bronx derives its name from the first white settler, Jonas Bronck, who settled near theBronx Kills in 1639 and called his home Emmaus. An adjacent river became known as Bronck's (shortened later to Bronx) River and in recent times the same name was applied to the whole borough. Many Indians of the Moh1can nation, Suwanoy tribe and Weckquaeskeeks local tribe, branches of the Algonquin race, made this borough their home, dwelling on the shores of the Hudson, the Sound and the Bronx River. They left various Indian names behind them, such as Acquehaunck, Mannepies, Quinnahoung Kekeshick, Laap-hawach-king, Mosholu. Many of the old titledeeds date back to early purchases from Indian sachems.
The earliest Dutch settlement was probably in 1654 at Westchester. The English soon followed, some of the first titles being granted by Governor Nicolls.
Many Revolutionary scenes were enacted in this borough and a full quota of its citizens went forth to serve and die in defence of their rights. The dreaded Neutral Ground extended from the Harlem to the northern limits of the present borough. Pelham saw the " Battle of Pelham Neck," while Westchester may well boast of its Battle of Westchester Creek (see Section V). Other sections could tell of individual engagements with the King's forces.
The early and middle parts of the Nineteenth Century brought great changes. Extensive farm lands were made to bring forth the fruits of the earth; then came the successful business men, who located here their country , estates and elegant mansions, many examples of which are yet to be found, in spite of the advance of the city.
The year 1874 brought annexation to the city of New York of 13,000 acres of the western part of the Bronx,followed in 1895 by the remaining 20,000 acres. And now these 33,000 acres of hill and plain are fast merging 1nto that wonderful city that is proud to style itself " America's Metropolis."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Milling Wheat

For the past year I've been buying organic whole wheat grain and grinding the wheat to make bread. The process is quite easy and the entire grain is reduced to a very fine flour that can be used in making cakes. All of that is to say, it made me wonder, how did our ancestors grind their wheat? Now, I've known about grist mills and have even visited a few but the flour from their was often course.

Here is an excerpt from The Book of Wheat written in 1908 by Peter Tracy Dondlinger. It helps to explain some of the history of the 19th century and the development of grain milling process. He goes on to explain other types of milling processes, high milling, and roller milling.

"Low" Milling.—Before 1850, the millstones in the United States were run at a comparatively low speed, and the grinding was slow. By this date the milling industry had assumed such commercial importance that it was necessary to increase the speed of the stones in order to get the work done. From 1850 to 1875, hard, low grinding was the rule, and the prime object was to make the largest possible percentage of flour at the first grinding. The change in process, due to greater speed, increased the output and improved its quality, "the outcome being a white, soft flour that met with favor in all he leading markets of the world where American winter wheat flours were handled." By this process, however, it was impossible to get the • flour entirely free from contamination, and some of the bran always remained. There were two parts to this old process, reducing the wheat to flour by passing it through a run of stones, and bolting the resulting material in order to separate the flour from the bran and other undesirable parts of the kernei. The percentage of flour obtained by this single grinding depended on four things: (1) The dress of the millstone; (2) the face of grinding surface; (3) the balancing of upper or runner stones; and (4) the speed of the runner. As there was but one grinding, the making of middlings was avoided as much as possible. By this method of milling, some of the bran was pulverized so that it could not be separated from the flour. This gave the flour a darker color, and caused it to gather more moisture, which injured its keeping qualities, especially in moist or hot climates.