Friday, April 28, 2017

Hot Air Balloons

I've mentioned hot air balloons before on this blog but today I'm sharing the beginning of an excerpt that came out in 1822. The reason I'm posting this blog because of the science involved and the date of this publication. The 19th century is filled with science, which was built upon in the next century. The source of this excerpt is Elements of science and art: being a familiar introduction to...Vol. 1 pg 162. You can finish reading the excerpt here.

The air-balloon is a machine, consisting of a bag i filled with air, so light, that it, together with the bag, forms a mass which is specifically lighter than the common air of the atmosphere. A cubic foot of common air is found to weigh above 554> grains, and to be expanded by every degree of heat marked on Fahrenheit's thermometers, about l-50th part of the whole. By heating a quantity of air, therefore, to 200 degrees Fahr., you will just double its bulk, when the thermometer stands at 54 in the open air, and in the same proportion you will diminish its weight; and if such a quantity of this hot air be inclosed in a bag, that the excess of the weight of an equal bulk of common air, weighs more than the bag with the air contained in it, both the bag and the air will rise into the atmosphere, and continue to do so till they arrive at a place where the external air is naturally so much rarefied, that the weight becomes equal, and here the whole will float.

The power by which hot air is impelled upwards, may be shown by the following experiment. RolL up a sheet of paper in a conical form, and by thrusting a pin into it near the apex, prevent it from ur rolling. Fasten it then by its apex, under one of the scales of a balance, by means of a thread; and having properly counterpoised it by weights put into the opposite scale, apply the flame of a candle underneath, and you will instantly see the cone rise; and it will not be brought into equilibrium with the other, but by a much greater weight than those who have never seen the experiment would believe.

If the magnitude of a balloon be increased, its power of ascension, or the difference between the weight of the included air and an equal bulk of common air, will be augmented in the same proportion. For its thickness being supposed the same, it is as the surface it covers, or only as the square of the diameter. This is the reason why balloons cannot be made to ascend, if under a given magnitude, when composed of cloth, or materials of the same thickness.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rapeseed Oil

In yesterday's post about pumpkin seeds the excerpt mentioned rapeseed oil so I did a little research on rapeseed. In the 19th century it wasn't used for food because it had a bitter taste. However it was useful as a lubricant for steam engines and other machinery. I found several sources that rave about the use of rapeseed oil to keep the machinery parts from breaking down. Today the Canola Oil is rapeseed oil that has been bred to a more pleasing taste for food consumption.

After pressing the rapeseed and removing the oil what is left is a cake, these were often feed to cattle.

Another use for rapeseed oil was in the production of soap.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pumpkin Seed Oil

With all the discussion and interest in Essential Oils these days, I thought this article in the American Farmer ©1828 at first they were discussing how pumpkin seeds affect horses then they went on to explain pumpkin seed oil and it's possible uses. Personally, I love the roasted pumpkin seeds we would have as kids after we cut out the Jack-o-lantern, it was part of the holiday. But one pumpkin for a family at Halloween wouldn't deal with the rich harvest of pumpkins and their seeds to the average farmer. Below is the excerpt:

On The Oil Op Pumpkin Seeds. To Dr. C. L. Setger, Northampton, [Mass.)
Your inquiries respecting pumpkins, which have lately reached me, I hasten to answer to the best of my knowledge.
I understood that pumpkin seeds were pressed like rape seed, and of course cold: when I added "or like flax seed," it was because I had never seen flax seed or linseed pressed warm after roasting, as you say it is done with you.
Pumpkin seeds, being very oily, and containing thin oil, require no heat to help the effect of the press. They will yield their oil to the press as easily as almonds, walnuts, and seeds of the melon tribe.
The Harmonists press this oil in the press used for rape seed oil.
I do not think that the pumpkin seed oil can be employed, like linseed oil, for painting. It is too thin and fluid, but it will answer in the instances where walnut oil is employed, being similar to it in that respect, although otherwise much sweeter and less desecative.
Pumpkin bread and cakes are much used in the interior of the state of Kentucky, as pumpkin pies in New England. The bread is made either by itself or mixed with corn meal, by kneading pumpkins either raw or boiled, and baking them immediately afterwards, without any addition of yeast It has, therefore, a great similarity to corn bread, and is eaten either warm or cold. It is very sweet and of a reddish colour: I cannot say it is very palatable to me, but those that are used to it like it well. You know that corn bread is not liked at first by many persons. I think that the best pumpkin bread is that made by uniting equal parts of corn meal and boiled pumpkins.
Respecting the cultivation of pumpkins, I can hardly give you any additional information. Their culture is well understood all over the country, and all the farmers know how to avail themselves of the facility which they have of growing among corn, without injury to either crop. I do not conceive that any positive advantage might result from their separate cultivation. But manures might be highly beneficial in either instance, and would increase the crops.
I remember the following additional uses which may be made of pumpkins:
1. The cakes, remaining after the oil is pressed from the seeds, are eaten greedily by cattle and hogs.
2. In Europe, they make good preserves of pumpkins, by cutting them in slices and boiling them for a long time in strong syrup of sugar.
S. In the south of Europe, a very good soup is made by mashed or diluted pumpkins with oil, butter, or broth. This dish is called Furlata in Tuscany. Rice is often added to it.
4. The hard skin of pumpkins, if uninjured, may be used for pails, buckets, baskets, &c. The pumpkins may be made to assume almost any shape, by being confined while young, in wooden or hard vessels, which they will fill gradually, moulding themselves to their shapes.
I remain, respectfully, yours, &c.
C S. RAFINESQUE, Professor of Botany and JYat. History. Transylvania University, Sept. 10, 1819.

Another use for pumpkin seeds was written up in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences Vol. 25 ©1854 Fresh seeds rubbed up with sugar and water were administered once an hour in four doses. The patient had been prepared with a light breakfast and dinner then fasted for the evening. The seeds were prepared and administered as mentioned above and within half an hour the patent passed a tape-worm measuring about three yards. A month later the patient left the hospital without any evidence of the return of the affection. Theophilus Parvin, MD

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Raisins have been around for hundreds and thousands of years but in 1876 William Thompson introduced the Lady deCoverly seedless grape at the Marysville District Fair (California). These are the same grapes we use today. They have a thin skin and are seedless. Sun-dried produces the dark raisins and oven dried and cured with sulfur produce the golden raisin.

Prior to this time the raisins included the seeds and had thicker skins but still delicious. Below I've included an excerpt from The Boston Journal of chemistry and popular science review Vol. 15-17 pg 79 ©1881:
How Raisins Are Made In California. — In Mr. Blower's vineyard, Yolo County, the grapes are allowed to remain on the vine until of a golden color and translucent. They are then picked, and put on wooden trays two by three feet in size, placed between the rows, sloping to the sun. When half dried they are turned by putting a tray on top, and by inverting them both are transferred to the new tray. When the new grapes lose their ashy appearance, and after removing the green ones, the rest are put into large sweat-boxes, placing sheets of paper between every twenty-five pounds of raisins. They are left there for two weeks, when the stems are tough and the raisins soft. The packing follows, in which iron or steel packing frames are used, the raisins being assorted, weighed, inspected, and made presentable.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sewing Machine & Button holes

The first attachment for the sewing machine to sew button holes was patented by Charles Miller of St. Louis, on Mar. 7, 1854. I've attached a link to a website The International Sewing Machine Collector's Society if you would like to read more about the over-edgers of the sewing machines.

Below is a copy of the patent that Charles Miller patented in 1854:
No. 10,609.—Charles Miller.—Improvement in Sewing Machines.— Patented March 7, 1854.
This invention relates to the adaptation of the cloth, or other material to be sewed, to receive what are termed the button-hole stitch, the whip-stitch, and the herring-bone stitch; and consists in giving the cloth, or other material to be sewed, a movement laterally to the direction of the seam, and in opposite directions alternately between every two stitches, in addition to the movement commonly given in the direction of the seam.

Claim.—Giving the cloth, or material being sewed, a movement laterally to the direction of the seam, between the successive stitches, or interlacings of the needle and shuttle-threads, for the purpose of receiving different kinds of stitches or seams.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Scarlet Summer Squash

One of my favorite vegetables is Summer Squash (Yellow), so I researched how it was prepared in the 19th century. The only recipes I found were for frying it. Personally, I've never had it fried. I like it steamed and served with salt and butter. However, I also enjoy the summer squash casserole I've had a various church dinners.

While I was searching for summer squash information I found this unique post:
"The scarlet summer squash is a new and beautiful flat variety, from France, of the acorn species, of a fine scarlet colour." Taken from The Farmer's and Planter's Encyclopedia of rural affairs ©1851.

Of the five books that reference Scarlet Summer Squash they basically repeated the sentence above. The earliest date was from 1841, the latest 1860.

My best guess is the vegetable is no longer in production. However, it would be interesting to find other references from local historical societies that explore the various crops raised in their areas. This will be one of those backseat topics. One that I will continue to note while researching other sources.

This Scarlet squash does have me curious. How did it taste? How well did it grow? Was the color a turn off? Or did this squash not reproduce well? How similar in taste is it to summer squash? Research! You can get lost in it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


My dad has a great collection of antique hand tools. Someday I hope to photograph them. Which brings me to today's post. It is a simple one giving you a link to another source. Handtools were an important part of our characters lives in the 19th century. Below is a link to the Davistown Museum page on Handtools. There is a good size list of various companies which are hyperlinked to individuals pages with information about the company and the products they produced. Further research can be done by looking for individual images for the company and the tool in question from other search engines on the internet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1884 Simple Interest Rates

From Houghtaling's Handbook of Useful Information ©1884

Simple Interest Bales.
FOUR FER CENT.—Multiply the principal by the number of days to run; separate the right hand figure from the product and divide by 9.
FIVE PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days and divide by 72,
SIX PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days; separate right hand figure, and divide Dy 6.
SEVEN AND THREE-TENTHS PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days, and double the amount so obtained. On $1(X> the interest is just two cents per day.
EIGHT PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days, and divide by 45.
NINE PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days; separate right hand figure, and divide by 4.
TEN PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days, and divide by 36.
TWELVE PER CENT.—Multiply by number of days; separate right hand figure, and divide by 3.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

1884 List of Legal Holidays in the United States

This list comes from Houghtaling's Handbook of Useful Information ©1884

Legal Holidays in the United States
FOURTH OF JULY—In all the States and Territories.
CHRISTMAS DAY—Dee. 25—in all the States and Territories.
THANKSGIVING DAY—(usually the last Thursday in Nov.) whenever appointed by the President of the United States, or Governors of the States—in all the States and Territories.
FAST DAYS—whenever appointed by the President of the United States, or by the Governors—in all the States.
NEW YEAR9S DAY—Jan. 1—in all States except Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
WASHINGTON9S BIRTHDAY—Feb. 22—in all States except Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas.
GENERAL ELECTION DAY—(usually on Tuesday after the first Monday in November)—in California, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina an l Wisconsin.
DECORATION DAY—May 80—in Colorado, Connecticut,Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New .leruey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
GOOD FRIDAY—Friday before Easter Sunday—in Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens on or after March 21st. If full moon happens on Sunday, Easier Sunday is the Sundaj thereafter.
SHROVE TUESDAY—the Tuesday preceedIng the first day of Lent—in Louisiana, and the cities of Selma, Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama.
MEMORIAL DAY—April 26—in Georgia.
MARCH 2—Anniversary of the Independence of Texas, In Texas.
APRIL 21—Anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, in Texas. JANUARY 8—Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans,fought in 1815, in Louisiana.
FEBRUARY 12—Lincolu9s Birthday, in Louisiana.
MARCH 4—Firemen9s Anniversary, In Louisiana

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sinking John L. Avery

Disasters add conflict to a story and conflict is necessary to keep your reader turning the pages. Below is a real life account of the Sinking of the John L. Avery. The account gives the basics about the situation but there are gems in this account for me to learn from with regard to 'writing" and 'creating" a disaster for my characters. Such as, how many people were affected, the actual physical descriptions of the boat and the process of sinking. How the captain reacted, the passengers, etc. Enjoy.

The J. L. Avery, J. L. Robertson commander, was a new boat, built in the most substantial manner, and furnished with every necessary equipment for a first class passenger boat, being designed as a regular packet between New Orleans and Natchex. She left New Orleans, on her customary trip up the river, on March 7th, 1854. She stopped at Point Coupee and took in a large quantity of sugar and molasses; and on the 9th of the same month she passed the steamer Sultana, off Black Hawk point, forty miles below Natchez; and having left the Sultana, (with which she appears to have been racing,) about a mile astern, she struck what was supposed to be a tree washed from the shore by a recent freshet. A very large leak in the bottom of the boat was the consequence of this accident, and although the pilot immediately steered for the shore, the steamer sunk before she could get near enough to land the passengers. Mr. J. Y. Guthrie, an engineer, and the carpenter, were standing just forward of the boilers when they heard the crash—the boat at the same time making a sudden surge to one side. The carpenter immediately lifted the scuttle-hatch and leaped into the hold, but finding the water pouring in too fast to admit of any attempt at repairing the damage, he made haste to get out again, at the same time giving notice to the engineer that the boat had nagged. Mr. Guthrie, perceiving that the boat was going down, hastened to the engine, but before he got there, he was up to his knees in water. The cabin passengers were hurried up to the hurricane-deck. Soon after, the boat righted, and the hull separated from the cabin and sunk in sixty feet of water.

As the hull parted from the upper works, the surging of the waters caused the cabin floor to rise up against the hurricane roof, and six persons who remained in the cabin were dragged out through the skylights by Capt. Robertson and his two clerks. Mrs. Parmin, one of the six passengers rescued from that perilous situation, had her eldest child in her arms at the time, and was with difficulty prevented from plunging in again, as her babe was left asleep on the bed. But the situation of the deck passengers was the most calamitous; there was a large number of them crowded in their allotted place, where they were walled in by hogsheads of sugar, which would have prevented their escape, if escape had been otherwise possible. These unfortunate people were nearly all drowned.

There were many Irish emigrants on board, whose names were unregistered, and there is a great deal of uncertainty respecting the number of those who perished. Eye-witnesses testify that a large number of men, women and children could be seen drowning at one time. Of the twenty firemen on board, twelve were drowned. The second mate and another person launched the life-boat, but it was almost itnmedidiately upset, probably by the eager and ill-directed efforts of tho drowning people to get into it. The steamer Sultana, with which the Avery had been racing, promptly camo to the rescuo of the drowning crew and passengers, and was the means of saving some of them; but the number lost is believed to be at least eighty or ninety.

Mrs. Seymour, one of the cabin passengers who escaped, relates the following incidents of the wreck: party accounted for by stating that some unusual means had been used to get up extra steam, as the officers of the Avery were resolved to outrun the rival steamer, Sultana. Mrs. Seymour had retired to her state room for an afternoon nap, from which she was aroused by the concussion when the boat struck; and soon after, she found herself in the water. She was drawn up into the floating cabin by one of the waiters, named John Anderson, who, as Mrs. Seymour testifies, was instrumental in saving the lives of several other passengers. She states that her pocket-book, containing nine hundred dollars, which had been placed under her pillow, was lost. She also lost a manuscript which she was preparing for the press, and which she valued still more highly than her pocket-book.

Mrs. Seymour continues :—I cast my eyes upon the water, which was covered with fragments of the cabin. To these frail supports human hands were clinging, while many human voices were crying, "Save me ! oh, save me!" The water at first was dotted with human heads, sinking and rising, and then sinking to rise no more. A sudden splash drew my attention to the side of the boat, and I saw that a young lady, who had been drawn from the inundated cabin through the sky-light and placed in safety on the floating deck, in the delirium of the moment had plunged again into the water, from which she never again emerged. Several others followed her example, but appearing again on the surface, they were rescued by the waiter Anderson and two or three others of the boat's crew, who never slackened in their efforts to save human life. Two or three gentlemen leaped into the water and swam to land. A fine Texan poney, belonging to Mrs. Emerson, escaped from the deck, and endeavored to save himself by swimming. He reached the shore, but not being able to climb the bank, he fell back into the water and was drowned. In a faint but earnest tone, I heard a female voice say, " Oh, William, do save her!" On directing my gaze to the place from whence the voice came, I saw a woman sinking in the river. At the same time a child's voice exclaimed, "Oh, mother, he cannot save me!" I saw her fair hair, all wet, fall back from her young face as her little arms loosened their grasp on the neck of her brother, and the mother and her two children sank together.
Source: Fifty Years on the Mississippi ©1889

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sugar Beets

Below are some items of possible interest if you're looking for something a bit different in your story. The source for this information comes from "The Sugar-Beet Industry: by Harvey Washington Wiley ©1890. The author does state in his introduction that previous reports have been written on the Sugar Beet industry but were now out of print.

Some of the best places to grow sugar beets are: Coast Valleys of California, Coastal areas in Oregon & Washington, Certain parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michican, Northern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and New York.
Other states that have raised sugar beets are: New England, New Jersey, Delaware and Kansas.

Some reports indicate that summers are too hot in Kansas to have a high percentage of sugar.

For 25 years many attempts have been made to introduce the beet sugar industry into the United States.

Factories locations: Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois and California financially disasterous with two exceptions One in Alvarado, California the other Watsonville, California.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Personal Hygiene 1880

I was reading through "Home Nursing, and how to help in cases of Accident" by Samuel Benton ©1880 and came across this informative chapter on personal hygiene. I've highlighted a couple of paragraphs that I can see myself taking advantage of in building conflict between characters. Enjoy!

In re-papering a room always take care to have the old paper removed; fancy living or sleeping in a room, as many people do, with the wall papers four or five deep, each one with the exhalations of a generation in process of decomposition. A separate bed should be provided for everyone in the house. Especially should children be prohibited from sleeping together, contaminating each other with their excretions from lungs and skin; it is even worse for a child habitually to sleep with a grown-up person, they only become pale and consumptive. Before getting into bed do not leave your day wearing apparel folded up in a heap, but separate each article so that it may be aired, especially those articles worn nearest the skin.

Under-linen and flannel should be changed at least twice a week; never wear any under-garment by day which is used at night. Always throw back the bedding, and expose it, especially the blankets, to fresh air and sunlight in getting up in the morning. Never fold up a nightshirt, but hang it on a peg to air, or spread it on the back of a chair.

Boys and girls, if left to dress themselves, will usually get out of bed, jump into their clothes, sponge their face and hands, and come down stairs. Children should be taught how to wash all over with soap and water, and rub themselves dry with a rough towel.

Tight-fitting clothes over the chest and round the waist must be prohibited.

Use stocking suspenders in preference to garters, but if the latter are used, always wear them above the knee; when garters are put on below the knee they hinder the venous current of blood towards the heart, and so engender swollen legs, varicose veins and ulcers. High-heeled boots and shoes alter the perpendicular line of the body, and cause fatigue, pain and deformity, also tight boots are a great mistake; to avoid corns and bunions wear boots which allow plenty of room for the toes, and for walking have thick firm soles.

It need only be mentioned with respect to corsets and tight stays, that these things should not be worn. Young growing girls should be encouraged to practise gymnastics on a small scale; it strengthens the spinal and other muscles, also increases the chest capacity. A trapeze and parallel bars can be erected in a dressing room or nursery, and dumb-bells supplied, at a very small cost.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Planting Corn

For most of our characters in the 19th century they enjoyed and needed to plant their own food. Corn was a staple in most homes and farms. Below are some brief tidbits about when to plant corn.

In a 1828 source it is recommended to plant corn on Long Island, NY from the 10th-20th of May.
In 1845 an individual began planting corn in April. Unfortunately it doesn't say where.
An 1854 also says from 10-25th of May.
In a 1895 source it recommends to plant corn when the white oak leaves are as big as a squirrel's foot or a mouse's ear. For New England and Middle states.

Of the various sources I read, most prepared the field by laying down the manurer a month before.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Etiquette & Manners

Etiquette & Manners is something often discussed on some of my of the writer loops I belong to as they pertain to the 19th century. Through Google books I've found a great source of books regarding such topics. Below is a list ordered by the year they were published. I've gathered this resource list over the past two years from Google Books. Hope it helps you in your search for proper behavior in the time period of your setting.

1832 Domestic Manners of the Americans
1835 Pencil Sketches
1837 The Young Lady's Friend
1839 Miss Leslie's Behavior Book
1842 Elegant Extracts
1843 Etiquette or, A Guide to The Usages of Society with a Glance at Bad Habits
1854 Etiquette Social Ethics and the Curtiousy of Society
1854 The Behavior Book
1860 The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manners
1860 The Hand Book of Etiquette
1866 Marine's Sensible Letter Writer
1868 Manners or Happy Homes
1870 Good Manners a Manual of Ediquette
1872 The Ladie's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
1873 The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
1884 Don't: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less
1888 Manners
1889 American Etiquette and Rules of Politeness
1889 Perfect Etiquette or How to Behave in social...
1892 Etiquette An Answer to the Riddle, When? Where? How?
1896 Social Etiquette or Manners and Customs of Polite Society
1897 Manners for Men
1897 Practical Letter Writing
1899 Twenty Letters in Letter Writing and Business

Monday, April 10, 2017

Manners in Speech

The excerpt I'm sharing today comes from the 1854 publication "Manners" by Miss Leslie. In the chapter Incorrect words. You can read the entire chapter at Google Books with this Link

When you mean that an article of dress (a bonnet or a cap) is neat and pretty, do not say that it is cunning. An inanimate object cannot be cunning. To be cunning requires some mind. We are sorry to say that we have heard females who, when they intend to be witty, talk of taking a snooze, (which means a nap,) and speak of a comic anecdote as being "rich," and of a man in faded clothes as looking "seedy." We have heard Philadelphia ladies speak of a "great big" house, or a "great big" ship; and there are still some who expect what has already come to pass—as, "I expect it rained somewhere last night" —"I expect she arrived yesterday"—"I expect he went to Baltimore." In all these cases the proper term is "I suppose," and not "I expect."
The word "mayhap" (instead of perhaps) is a positive vulgarism. It is of English origin, but is only used in England by very low people—and by English writers, never.

Friday, April 7, 2017

1810 Receipt for Hay Stacks

Hay? Why Hay? Well it was a part of everyday life back in the 19th century. I know that title for this post sounds a bit confusing but this comes from an 1810 publication "The New Family Receipt Book." The actual title of this paragraph is "To Prevent Hay-Stacks from taking Fire." Which baffles me in reading the actual paragraph but some of you are more knowledgeable than I in this and can share why that title.

When there is any reason to fear that the hay, which is intended to be housed or stacked, is not sufficiently dry, it is only necessary to scatter a few handfuls of common salt (muriate of soda) between each layer. It would be very ill judged to regret this trifling expense; for the salt, by absorbing the humidity of the hay, not only prevents the fermentation and consequent inflammation of it, but it also adds a taste of this forage, which stimulates the appetites of cattle, assists their digestion, and preserves them from many diseases.
End Quote

So I did some further searching about hay bales burning in farmer's fields today. Apparently this happened in Spring when green bales of hay can produce an interior heat and combust on their own. Which is why we see all these random bales of hay in the farmer's fields. So, if they do combust the bale will only burn a single bale. I also read on a homesteading board that a handful of salt is used between bales of hay. Another writer wrote "The salt absorbs the moisture, and helps so the hay doesn't heat up if put away with too much moisture." Which says to me that green hay can and will ignite, which explains the 1810 title. Don't you just love research?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

California Gold Rush

The term California Gold Rush entered into our history reports in the late 1800's as best as I can tell. I was going to take the time and outline key events of the Gold Rush but came across a web page that has already done for us. The search for Gold helped in the expansion of California and in points west. It dated from 1848-1859.

California Gold Rush Timeline

And don't ignore sites written with children in mind. Sometimes it helps to simplify points by reading over such websites. Kidport Reference Library They also have a lot of links to other sites.

And if your looking for a story and how the California Gold Rush affected some of the towns, Munsey Magazine, Vol 10 has an article Mr. Justice Field located in Google books.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Height of Principle Monuments and Towers

This comes from Houghtalings Handbook of Useful Information ©1887. If you're interested in having the scanned images of this book, you can contact me privately.

NAMES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLACES. . . . . FEET
Pyramid of Cheops. . . . . . . . . Eqypt. . . . . .486
Antwerp Cathedral. . . . . . . . . Belgium. . . . .476
Strasburg Cathedral. . . . . . . . France. . . . . 474
St. Peter's Church. . . . . . . . .Rome. . . . . . 456
St. Martin's Church at Landshut. . Germany. . . . .411
St. Paul's Church, London. . . . . England. . . . .365
Salisbury Cathedral. . . . . . . . England. . . . .400
Cathedral at Florence. . . . . . . Italy. . . . . .387
Cathedral at Cremona. . . . . . . .Lombardy. . . . 355
Cathedral at Utrecht. . . . . . . .Holland. . . . .356
Pyramid of Sakkarah. . . . . . . . Egypt. . . . . .356
Cathedral of Notre Dame, Munich. . Bavaria. . . . .348
St. Mark's Church. . . . . . . . . Venice. . . . . 328
Assinelli Tower, Bologna. . . . . .Italy. . . . . .272
Trinity Church. . . . . . . . . . .New York. . . . 284
Column at Delhi. . . . . . . . . . Hindostand . . .262
Porcelain Tower, Nankin. . . . . . China. . . . . .260
Church of Notre Dame. . . . . . . .Paris. . . . . .224
Bunker Hill Monument. . . . . . . .Massachusetts. .221
Leaning Tower of Pisa. . . . . . . Italy. . . . . .179
Washington Monument. . . . . . . . Baltimore. . . .555(in Houghtalings they had 175 ft)
Monument Place Vendome. . . . . . .Paris. . . . . .153
Trajan's Pillar, Rome. . . . . . . Italy. . . . . .151
Obelisk of Luxor, now in . . . . . Paris. . . . . .110
Egyptian Obelisk, now in . . . . . New York. . . . ---

I'm not certain why they have an error with the Washington Monument but I do know that the construction of the momument was halted during the American Civil War. The Washington Monument officially opened Oct. 9, 1888. Making it the tallest structure in the world. The Eiffel Tower was completed the next year in 1889 taking the title of the tallest structure in the world.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloons were invented before the 19th century. In fact the first recorded launch was in 1783. However a lot of history was covered during the 19th century with regard to improvements and air travel. With that in mind, I've selected a tidbit from "The Literary Digest" ©1898. On a completely different note, take note of the lack of punctuation at the end of each paragraph. This publication was produced by Funk & Wagnalls Company in NY.


WHILE hosts of inventors are trying to make a flying-machine that will travel through the air without the aid of the ascensional force of a rarefied medium, others are experimenting to see whether the old-fashioned balloon is not susceptible of improvement. Some of the plans proposed for making ascensions cheaper and giving the balloonist better control of his craft are mentioned in an article contributed to the Revue Scitntifique (Paris, September 10) by M. H. de Graffigny. Says this writer:
"The greatest part of the expense of a free ascension is due to the high price of the gas used for inflation, whose density is also quite great. The Paris company charges aeronauts ao centimes a cubic meter [about 4 cents a cubic yard] for gas from its works at La Villette, and this gas has an ascensive force of not more than 700 grams to the meter [i^ pounds to the cubic yard], under the most favorable conditions. It has been*impossible, up to the present time, to get any improvement in these conditions, . . . and the result is that balloon trips are necessarily few

"Some investigators, finding hydrogen too costly, are talking of a return to the old Montgolfier balloon, filled only with rarefied air or with water vapor at high pressure. These methods have the advantage of being very economical, and we even have reason to ask why they were ever abandoned. Information on this subject is not easily to be found, and to form an opinion we have been obliged to question specialists and repeat several experiments to base theory and calculation on reality."

M. Regnault thus finds that the old hot-air balloons were very economical, that they were inflated more rapidly than the gas balloon, and that some of the most remarkable ascensions in the history of ballooning were made with them; but that they were forbidden by police-regulation in 1785 on account of the danger from fire, and that more recent experiments with them have not been successful, altho methods have been devised by several inventors for keeping the air hot within the balloon without running much risk of setting fire to it. After a mathematical calculation, the author concludes that a long trip in a hot-air balloon is impossible unless some method be devised for preventing the enormous loss of heat that at present takes place by radiation from the surface of the envelope. The hot-air balloon costs only about one third as much as the gas-balloon and can be made much lighter, but it offers a larger surface to the wind, and is more susceptible to atmospheric conditions, without speaking of the dpnger of firewhich never can be entirely eliminated. This danger, which always attends the hot-air balloon, has suggested the so-called "thermosphere" of M. Emmanuel Aim6, which is described by its inventor in the following terms:
"The thermosphere is nothing else than a balloon partially filled with gas and heated by steam.

"Suppose an impermeable envelope into which is introduced a quantity of gas whose ascensional force is insufficient to raise the balloon with its contents, even on the supposition of a maximum dilatation under the influence of the most intense solar radiation. In the basket is placed a Serpollet steam-generator, heated by a petroleum burrer, whose flame is enclosed, like that of a miner's lamp, in metal gauze, to avoid all risk of fire.

"The steam is conducted into the interior of the thermosphere by a tube with an automatic valve. It produces a double effect: it dilates the gas by its heat and it increases its volume by becoming itself part of the mixture.

"When the quantity of steam thus introduced is sufficient to saturate the gas it condenses on the interior surface and the water runs back through a tube into the reservoir. . . . Thus, as liquid and vapor alternately, the water passes around a closed cyclecarrying heat to the gas and thus converting into mechanical work the energy set free by the combustion of the petroleum

"To start the balloon, we have only to introduce steam, and to descend, we have only to shut it off. In no case is the aeronaut at the mercy of his gas, as in an ordinary balloon, since the gas alone is unable to lift him without the aid of the steam. It is thus possible to travel at any height between the level of the earth's surface and a superior limit which is about 6,000 feet, and that, too, without losing gas. . . . The equilibrium depends only on the turn of a valve; when the sun is shining the steam is turned off a little; when it goes under a cloud the steam is turned on again

"To sum up, the use of steam to give ascending force and as a regulator of equilibrium enables the aeronaut to rise and descend at his will. He can choose and maintain a given altitude, without other loss than that of his fuel, of which he can obtain a fresh supply by descending to the ground. Provided he keeps over inhabited regions, he may take indefinitely long trips. Finally, he may hope to direct his craft by rising or falling till he finds himself in a favorable air-current."

Of these claims, M. de Graffigny speaks, in closing, as follows:
"We shall say nothing further of this plan, for the near future will show whether its claims are just or unfounded, but our conclusion is that there still remains much to do before we shall obtain the ideal balloon that inventors dream of. Nevertheless, many minds are working on this difficult problem, improvements in detail will be worked out little by little, and we do not doubt that in the next century aerostation will be a mode of locomotion, or at least as popular a sport as automobilism is at present."— Translated Jor The Literary Digest.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Parsley, Medical Use

I believe all of us are aware of this herb that is used in cooking but did you know that the roots could be used for medicine? In the Indian Household Medicine Guide ©1883, J.I. Lighthall wrote:

Petroselinum Sativum.
This is a garden plant, and the tops are used in cooking and flavoring different dishes, especially soups and dressing. The root is a splendid cooling diuretic, and should be given in all kidney troubles in low forms of fever. I have known it to succeed when more noted remedies failed. The only way I give it is in the form of a tea made from the green root, to be drank freely.

Household Medicine and sick-room © 1882 says:
Parsley.—The root and seeds of the garden parsley are unjustly neglected as domestic remedies. The dried roots taken in the form of a strong Infusion are useful diuretics in dropsies. The seeds, in doses of fifteen grains, simply bruised and swallowed, produce an effect somewhat similar to that of a glass of brandy-and-water. They cure intermittent*: in one experiment eighty-six cases of ague out of a hundred were so cured. Should be taken every four hours, in the intervals of the fits. The bruised leaves used as a poultice cure the bites or stings of insects. The seeds or leaves made into an ointment destroy vermin in the hair. A substance is separated from the seeds having the appearance of a fixed oil, and termed Apiol. It is a peculiar non-nitrogenous principle, powerfully antiperiodic, and is said to be almost equal to quinine The dose is five to seven drops every four hours. A saturated tincture of the seeds has proved a powerful remedy for intermittents.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Martha's Vineyard Campgrounds

Last week Paul and I celebrated 43 years of marriage.

I mention that to give the reason for my choice of locations for today's blog post. There is a book in Google books, A History of the Wesleyan Grove, Martha's Vineyard, camp meeting: ©1858' that will give you a great overview of what we now refer to as the "Campgrounds." The gingerbread houses bring tourist from all over. As a kid I used to sell bunches of flowers to the "old" (I may be that age now) ladies in the campgrounds. I also attended the Methodist church in the campground, and our high school class graduation ceremony was held there. I have many other memories associated with the campgrounds but that's not why you come to read my blog.

The first camp meeting was held in 1835 and the book linked above only covers to the year 1858. People came with their tents and camped on the grounds. The preacher's tent was elevated and in front of the group. There were only 9 tents that formed the first circle. However makeshift tents were made from sails and awnings. A well was dug for pure water. The land is right off the Oak Bluffs harbor. A quote from those first meetings was "Surely the Lord is in this place." God moved and continued to move for many years and decades. So much so, that tents were replaced with wooden camp houses. The grand illumination, which we grew up knowing as Illumination night, was filled with lighting paper lanterns and hanging them from houses and lines strung for the occasion. It's still owned by the same camp meeting association of 1835 and in August, they still host the Grand Illumination Night.

Here's a picture I took on my last visit to the Vineyard showing one of the gingerbread houses.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Great Gale of 1815

Today this storm would have been called a hurricane. It was a cat 3 and one of the 5 major hurricanes to hit New England.

It hit Long Island, NY, moved across the island and hit land again at Saybrook CT. There was an 11 ft. storm surge that hit Providence, RI was hardest hit. In the book "Ships and shipmasters of old Providence there is a copy of a lithograph and this caption. During the Great Gale o September 23, 1815, ships were tossed about in Market Square; 35 sailboats were blown ashore; 500 buildings were destroyed: and the sloop-of-war Ganges poked her bowsprit into the offices of the Washington Insurance Company. A damage of $1,000,000 was sustained in Providence.

In "The Great Events of the greatest century"©1883 by R. M. Devens I found this image:

The storm continued it's path up thru Boston and then hit parts of Maine. Well were flooded with sea water, making fresh water on the coast towns hard to come by and when they acquired some they paid a hefty price. The sea spray also killed the leaves on the trees. I saw this effect while traveling I10 right after Katrina hit. The trees looked brown where the salt water had hit them. Pine and evergreens were brown on one side and green on the back side to the wind. In 1815 after the great gale they found they had to harvest their root plants and dry them off. If they didn't the vegetables rotted in the ground. The Indian corn was wiped out because it had not ripened before the storm and there was no way to dry out the plants. Some locations, where the corn had started to ripen, managed to harvest some of their crop.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

English Sparrows

I stumbled upon this little tidbit while reading a history of Essex, MA.

In 1873 English sparrows began to make their presence known here about this year--probably the progeny of those imported into Boston. It was believed that they would benefit agriculturists by destroying ravaging insects, but they did not fulfill expectations, and were soon declared worthless.

In 1889 "The English Sparrow (Passer domesticus) in North America" was published. According to their research the English Sparrow was brought to America via Brooklyn, NY. Eight pairs. They were released into the wilds in the Spring of 1851. Several trips to England were made for these birds and during the last delivery some escaped in Boston. Ten years later (1868) the English Sparrow was seen regularly in the Boston Commons.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Household Pets 1868

Hi all,

Below is an excerpt from "Manners: or, Happy Homes and Good Society all the year round," by Mrs. Hale, regarding household pets. The passage is quite long, the humor is in the account of the various pets in the author's home.

The small wood-tortoise will be found to be one of the best, safest, and most convenient pets for little boys. Children always long to handle a pet; and they can do so here, without risk either to themselves or the object of their affections. We shall have more to say on this point later.
Our aquarium has had a large population; but, as in the world of humanity, few individuals have risen to particular distinction. Fishes are monotonous pets ; still it is pleasant to see an aquarium, with its variety of life, * and very little care is needed to make the pets comfortable. The chief pleasure to the owners of this " watercolony " is in replenishing it; and one might well envy the happiness of our May, when she comes home with her wealth of snails, bugs, tadpoles, and dragon-flies.
The glory of our aquarium has departed. Only fishes, gold and silver, remain, with one eel and two lizards. During the past winter, this eel lay concealed under the pebbles and gravel at the bottom of the aquarium; but at the call, or rather whistle, of pater familias or May, this " water-snake" would wriggle itself up and out, eager to get the little rolls of meat held in the hands of its friends, even thrusting its long head above water to seize its food.
We have had a large collection also of birds, canaries, paroquets, ring-doves, and a mocking-bird. The paroquets were a novelty at first, and made a grand sensation at the end of their career. May had set her heart upon a parrot, and pater familias promised to bring her one from Brazil; but the fleet was ordered home suddenly while lying at Monte Video, where only the larger kind of paroquets abound, and the result was that May had two paroquets instead of one parrot. We all tried to love and praise these birds, and to persuade May that they were beauties.
Their color was beautiful, — green all over, in different tints, from the softest spring green of grass and opening leaves, to the dark shade of the closing summer foliage; and then their brotherly love (they seemed like brothers) * was more beautiful than their colors. Nestled closely side by side, as their habit was, with their necks crossed together, like green ribbons to be tied in a knot, they were indeed lovely.
At first they were very quiet; but, as time went on, their vocal powers developed. They did not talk; but oh, when they opened their beaks, what a volume of strange sounds those green throats could pour forth !
Unfortunately for our peace, a piano in full practice was within hearing of our paroquets. They listened and learned, and, after some time, began, on their own resources, a performance which none who heard can ever forget. It was as if every chord in music had broken loose, every quaver gone distracted, every semi-tone become a grand crash. This caused laughter at first; but, as the unearthly din went on day by day, even our steadfast patience with pets gave way, and we hailed the escape of one of them from the window, and exchanged the other for a pair of ring-doves; and thus ended the farce of the paroquets. May has never since coveted a parrot.

The ring-doves proved stupid as dunces, rarely opening their beaks except to eat, and then sitting with stuffed crops, seemingly asleep. Nobody thought these would fly away, but they did. Dunces are usually discontented; neither birds nor people are happy who have no resources within themselves.
Our mocking-bird was a female, and therefore could not be expected to sing; but, as it was a present from
May's uncle, General , who was among the early
magnates of the war at the South, and brought the bird from Port Royal, we all prized it exceedingly. Mockingbirds, however, should never be confined pets. Their nature requires space and freedom. Poor Dixie ! Every feather in its plumage seemed to quiver with its longings for liberty. One of her tricks excited much amusement.
When we said, " Hurrah for General ! " teaching her
to know, by a particular motion of the hand, she would fly round and round the cage, like a whirligig, always watching our hand, and ceasing when we ceased to cheer and wave.
One bitter cold night the furnace went out, and Dixie's little life went out with it. She was buried in the garden, beneath frozen turf, but May's warm heart gave her a "fficjacet."
Of the beast kind, our guinea-pigs were a nuisance, the mice pests, and the gray rabbits not much better. But Bunny, our white rabbit, was Fay's particular treasure. Bunny was well trained, and would stand on his hind legs, and hold up his paws for food. He would come at call, and lick your hand, — " kissing " Fay calls it, — and be very innocently winning.
In appearance and habits, this Angora species of rabbit seems to unite the distinctive qualities of several animal tribes, — laps milk like a kitten, nibbles grass like.a sheep, browses like a goat, and loves sweets like a bear; he plays like a lamb, leaps like a kangaroo, and has, like that strange animal, long hind legs and strong tail to assist his bounds; whiskers like a cat, ears like a donkey, fur white and soft as the ermine, and eyes that, in some gleams of light, shine like rubies.
In short, we cannot but wonder where the rationalistic philosophy would place the " development" of our Bunny, and from what class of animal life he can claim to have been "evolved." Probably the learned Herbert Spencer would himself rank these queries among " The unknowable."
Among our domestic favorites the most distinguished is a very small English terrier, black and tan color, pure blooded and thorough bred, one of the most perfect specimens of doghood to be found in petdom. Mio belongs to May; but we all feel that "Mio" means mine, and so all claim a share in loving him. Mio's reverence as well as affection is certainly given to the pater familias, who — softly be it said — is as fond of pets as any of us children, old or young, can be. So Mio is pampered and petted, and leads a useless life, except that he gives much pleasure to the household. His own happiness would be complete, but for one fault; he will bark when gentlemen come in, and then he is scolded. This wounds his feelings, especially if the reproof comes from his master. Then tears gather in Mio's eyes, — veritable tears, tears that sometimes fall; and his whole manner is so humble and pleading, that you could not but forgive him had he bitten you. We should add that he admires ladies more than gentlemen, and rarely barks at a lady dressed in black.
Our sketch is growing long; but we cannot close without a notice of Tip, the only reptile we ever petted. This little turtle was given to May, as one of the waterspecies, for her aquarium: it was kept three years among the fishes. While there it was only known as the "snapping turtle," and deserved its name. It snapped up and ate or killed bugs, snails, the insects of all kinds, and even the little fishes. It was the ogre of the aquarium: though its shell was not larger than might have been covered by a silver dollar, it seemed ,so fierce we were all afraid to touch it lest it should bite.
At length it was discovered accidentally, that this turtle could live out of water,—indeed, seemed to like the change, and became more gentle in its nature. May was glad to be freed from such a destructive in her aquarium, and gave it to little Carolus who had been longing for a pet of his own ; but, as he could not take care of it, both boy and pet came under grandmamma's protection; and so we had a reptile to instruct.
The first thing was to give it a name; and Tippecanoe, shortened to Tip, was chosen. The first lesson was to teach this name. We have heen often asked about the process; the best illustration may be gathered from " Molly Dumpling's" way of " calling spirits from the vasty deep ;" that is, calling for her drowned lover and his drowned dog: —
" Oh ! tearfully she trod the hall,
And 1 Thomas !' cried, with many a sob ;
And thrice on Bobtail did she call,
Repeating sweetly, ' Bob ! Bob ! Bob !'"

There's the secret; repetition, "sweetly." Fix your eye (" sweetly ") on your pet's eye, and thus chain his attention ; then repeat the name (" sweetly") till the lesson is learned. This will be much sooner, probably, than you expect.
" Tip " soon knew his own name, and we then went further. We placed him upon our hand, extending the arm, saying, repeatedly, " Come, ' Tip,' come, if you love me;" and the little creature would run up the extended arm, and nestle at our throat. This feat he refused to perform with any other member of the family, although always ready to come to them when they called his name. But, alas! " Tip" proved himself unworthy the confidence reposed in him, and grieved us all by wandering away and getting lost. His place was then supplied by two little turtles, named " Tip" and " Tina," to which they responded when called, but never developed the intelligence shown by our old favorite.
Carolus has now a wood-turtle named "Terry," who seems to enjoy its new life upon carpeted floors and amidst the luxuries of civilization. We know little of his powers as yet, but trust much the effect of the two great tamers and civilizers, — kindness and love. We find our opinion in this matter confirmed in a charming little work which has lately appeared, " The Chronicles of a Garden, its Pets and its Pleasures," by Miss Wilson, niece of Dr. Wilson, who seems to have a large experience in pet-life. She says, —
"The great secret of training and attaching animals seems to be kindness and quietness, and a certain sort of friendly intercourse with them, which, perhaps, is only understood by those to the manner born. All teasing them, even in fun, should be avoided, if you wish them to trust you and be gentle. There are individual exceptions in every species; but there are few exceptions, either among quadrupeds or birds, that will not soon get attached to the person who feeds them; but they are frequently far more attached to the individual who understands them, and keeps up a quiet, friendly intercourse with them.
" Unless this sort of' rapport' is established between us and our pets, they are (to my mind) hardly worthy of the name: they degenerate into ' captive animals,' and can neither give pleasure to others nor be made happy themselves."

Monday, March 27, 2017

1887 Gentlemen's Hats

Last week there was a blog post with 1870 Gentlemen's Hats. Today I'm posting advertising pictures of 1887 hats from a periodical of the time.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Encyclopedia Americana

This set of Encyclopedias was produced in 1903. I've found it quite useful and love that the volumes are all searchable and on Google books. Recently on a historical writers loop we started discussing ways to keep our research materials organized. I thought since it isn't always easy to find all the volumes for this set of encyclopedias I'd create a list. This set of encyclopedias has been very useful when dealing with information about the 19th century. The volumes listed below are available at Google Books. Unfortunately I am missing Vol. 10, if you find links for the ones I'm missing please email me so I can add them to the list, thanks.

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol.1

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 2

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol.3

The Encyclopedia American Vol. 4

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 5

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol.6

The Encyclopedia Americana Volume 7 (this edition is from 1905)

The Encyclopedia America Vol. 8 (this edition is from 1906)

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 9

Volume 10

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 11

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 12

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 13

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 14

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 15

The Encyclopedia Americana Vol. 16

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Prairie Traveler, Arms

Below is an excerpt from "The Prairie Traveler" ©1859 regarding the types of arms one should bring on a trip across the plains and prairies. Along with some basic instruction of where to keep the weapons handy.


Every man who goes into the Indian country should be armed with a rifle and revolver, and he should never, either in camp or out of it, lose sight of them. When not on the march, they should be placed in such a position that they can be seized at an instant's warning; and when moving about outside the camp, the revolver should invariably be worn in the belt, as the person does not know at what moment they may have a use for it.

A great diversity of opinion obtains regarding the kind of rifle that is the most efficient and best adapted to Indian warfare, and the question is perhaps as yet from being settled to the satisfaction of all. A large majority of men prefer the breech-loading arm, but there are those who still adhere tenaciously to the old-fashioned muzzle-loading rifle as preferable to any of the modern inventions. Among these may be mentioned the border hunters and mountaineers, who can not be persuaded to use any other than the Hawkins rifle, for the reason that they know nothing about the merits of any others. My own experience has forced me to the conclusion that the breech-loading arm possesses great advantages over the muzzle-loading, for the reason that it can be charged and fired with much greater rapidity.

Colt's revolving pistol is very generally admitted, both in Europe and America, to be the most efficient arm of its kind known at the present day. As the same principles are involved in the fabrication of his breech-loading rifle as are found in the pistol, the conviction to me is irresistible, that, if one arm is worthy of consideration, the other is equally so. For my own part, I look upon Colt's new patent rifles as a most excellent arm for border services. It gives six shots in more rapid succession than any other rifle I know of, and these, if properly expended, are oftentimes sufficient to decide a contest; moreover, it is the most reliable and certain weapon to fire that I have ever used, and I can not resist the force of my conviction that, if I were alone upon the prairies, and expected an attack from a body of Indians, I am not acquainted with any arm I would as soon have in my hands as this.

The army and navy revolvers have both been used in our army, but the officers are not united in opinion in regard to their relative merits. I prefer the large army size, for reasons which will be given hereafter.

Below is a picture of an 1855 Colt Revolver the original picture comes from an antique arms dealers website. I'd also search for other Colt revolvers, it is more than likely that in 1859 the traveler would use a gun he or she purchased prior to the year they are traveling. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Brett

While researching for my non-fiction book 19th Century Carriages & Wagons for today's writer, I discovered the carriage that was considered the RV of the 19th century. It was called 'The Brett." What made this wagon so effective was it had a long body and the seats were generally cushions or blankets. Some folks would set them on top of their luggage to sit up during travel, others would simply sit down with the cushion under the bottoms and across their backs. The driver would sit in front of the body and passengers could sit facing one another. At night they could spread out and sleep lengthwise because of the long body of the carriage.

Here are some pictures of a Brett.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Safety Pins

I love safety pins. I find them incredibly practice on a variety of levels. You probably are grateful too for this little invention but did you know they were invented in 1849 by Walter Hunt. He patented it in 1849. It was one wire coiled at one end with a clasped at the other. Sounds very similar to what we use now. Walter Hunt also built the first sewing machine in 1832.

Here's a link to a page on Walter Hunt that also has an image of the first safety pin designed.
Walter Hunt The Forgotten Genius

Unfortunately as smart as Walter was with his ability to invent, he wasn't very prudent with his financial abilities and sold his patent for $400 to a man he owed the same sum for.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

50 Largest Cities 1880, 1850

Below is a graph of the largest cities in America from census reports. 1880 is in the left hand column and 1850 is the right. Charleston, SC is highlighted showing it's decline from 1850 to 1880.

If you'd like to view the original source here is a link

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pilot Mountain

There are many grand places to see in America. One of these wonders is Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. In a book called "Mountain Scenery" ©1859 we find the general description of Pilot Mountain and location. I love the second to last paragraph in this excerpt because of the language used by the writer.

The Pilot Mountain is situated in the eastern end of Surry, near the line of that county and Stokes. It rises, an isolated pile, in the midst of a plain. No other mountain, or even considerable hills, being within many miles of it. It would seem as if the mountains, having concentrated all their strength, make in it a last desperate effort and die away. There is a hotel kept at the foot of the mountain, where many travellers resort in the hot season.
"The ascent of the mountain to the spring, an agreeable spot of refreshment, more than half way to the top, is so gradual that the visitor may proceed on horseback. From this spot the acclivity becomes steeper, until you reach the pinnacle, which presents an elevation of some two hundred feet The only pass to the summit is on the north side, narrow, steep, and laborious of ascent; yet it is considered by no means a difficult achievement. And the visitor is rewarded for his toil by an'enchanting prospect of the surrounding country and mountain scenery in the distance. The dense and widestretching forest appears dotted with farms and hamlets. The Blue Ridge reposes in a long line of mountain heights on the northwest. Eastward, in Stokes County, the Saura Town Mountains rise to the view,—some of whose summits exceed the Pilot in height.^ And the Yadkin River, flowing down from the hills of Wilkes, and washing the western base of the mountain, 'rolls its silvery flood,' in a mazy line of light, through the wilderness. The Pilot Mountain is nearly or quite three thousand feet above the level of the sea. Its position and form, not height, make it an object of interest.

"At a point on the road, between the Little. Yadkin and Mount Airy, the traveller may obtain the most singular, and, perhaps, the finest view of the Pilot. One end of the mountain is there presented to the beholder in its most perfect pyramidal form. Its vast sides are seen sweeping up from the surrounding forest, gradually approaching and becoming steeper, until they terminate at the perpendicular and altar-like mass of rock which forms the summit. It here gives an idea of some gigantic work of art, so regular, and so surprisingly similar are the curves of its outlines, and so exactly over the centre, does the towering pinnacle appear to be placed.

"It satisfies the eye, and fills the soul with a calm and solemn delight to gaze upon the Pilot. Whether touched by the fleecy clouds of morning, or piercing the glittering skies of noon, or reposing in the mellow tints of evening; whether bathed in the pale light of the moon, or enveloped in the surges of the tempest, with the lightning flashing around its brow, it stands ever, ever the same; its foundations in the depths of the earth, and its summit rising in solitary grandeur to the heavens, just as it rose, under its Maker's hand, on the morning of creation, and just as it shall stand when the last generation shall gaze upon it for the last time."

The Pilot Mountain is reached from Greensborough, or High Point, to Salem, by Clemmens & Co.'s line of stages; from thence by hired conveyance. Salem is a very pretty and quiet town, and will well repay a visit. The cemetery is a favorite walk, and will, probably, compare with anything of the kind in the South. A gentleman, who had travelled over much of Europe, once said that Salem reminded him more of a German village than any place he had seen in this country. There is a Female Institute of much celebrity and age in the place. The town was originally settled by the Moravians, and still bears many marks of their taste and public spirit.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gentlemen's Hat

There are a wide variety of hats used during the 19th century. We see in our minds eye a top hat that Abraham Lincoln would use. The caps that those serving during the civil war wore and we even imagine the Stetson's hat from Texas fame (of course Stetson's shop was in Philadelphia, PA). Although he did invent the hat while in Colorado. Stetson retailed his hat business and by the end of the 19th century there were 150 whole merchants around the country.

Below is an excerpt from the Library of universal knowledge ©1880 and gives a brief description of how hats were made, specifically in the earlier half of the 19th century.

HAT, a well-known species of head-covering, which has assumed various characters. What we understand by a hat is a fabric of felt, or a silk material used as a substitute for felt. . .

The growing scarcity of beaver-fur led to attempts to substitute a cloth formed of silk plush, drawn over a pasteboard frame, about 1810. These were not very successful; and hats of wool or beaver-felt were common until about 1840. The high cost of beaver at length forced on the improvement of silk hats, and now the beaver is almost entirely superseded; while the fabrication of silk hats has been carried to great perfection not only in England, but in continental countries and the United States. The silk hat consist of a body and rim, usually made of two or three layers of cotton-cloth saturated with varnishes, to give the fabric stiffness, and make it waterproof. These are molded on wooden blocks according to the fashion of the day; and when the desired shape is produced, the whole is carefully furnished over with lac and dammar varnish, and, before dry, the fine silk plush is applied with great nicety, so as to prevent the seams being perceived; it is then trimmed with silk braid on the edge of the brim, and a silken band round the junction of the body with the brim; and the lining of leather and thin silk being put in, it is complete. Lightness, gloss, and durability are the prime qualities of the silk hat; and in these respects the hats of New-York manufacture deserve a high commendation. Very excellent hats are made in London, Paris, and Edinburgh; but they are heavier than those of America.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


The term means face to face in French. It is also the term used for a carriage built in the 19th century, originating in France, where the passengers sat face to face. In America these carriages found their way into Urban areas. They weren't as useful in the country or on the farms. They needed well developed roads for the type of wheels and suspension. Farm and country roads were rough and rugged and needed a different type of wheel and suspension for their wagons and carriages. Here is a link to Carolina Carriages with a Vis-a-vis you could hire today. In the later part of the 19th century they often sat up to 6 passengers plus the driver and for an extra seat one could sit next to the driver. However in the earlier part of the century they were a narrow carriage and could only sit two. The advantage to this was the passengers weren't jolted against one another and it tended to be warmer than larger coaches. It fell out of fashion for a few years around the mid-century then the reconstructed ones were larger and interest in them gained once again.

It's a great carriage to use in an Urban setting.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chimney Sweeps Health

Today we still have chimney sweeps and it is wise to clean your chimneys once a year. In the 19th century the need for workers in this field was high.

In The Hygiene, diseases and mortality book ©1892 published in London, we find this excerpt about the health issues chimney sweeps deal with.
Chimney Sweeps are a class by themselves so far as concerns the active cause of disease existing among them. In the chapter on the ' conditions of labour,' we have cited sweeps as a class of labourers who suffer physically and morally by the social position allotted them. They are to a certain degree Helots of society, placed under circumstances inimical to their social well-being and their health; and, from this cause, apart from the peculiar incidents of their occupation, we might expect them to occupy an unfavourable position in tables of comparative mortality, and such we find to be the case. Thus Dr. Ogle says their death-rates between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five, and also between fortyfive and sixty-five, arc excessively high, and their 'total mortality, as shown by their comparative mortality figure (1519), is 50 per cent. higher than the average' (op. cit. p. 56).
As to causes of death, the Table K indicates no marked difference between those prevailing among coal-heavers and sweeps. Those of the circulatory system are somewhat rare, and those of the digestive organs decidedly so. Phthisis and respiratory maladies stand much on a par in the two trades; the latter in a slightly lower ratio. But, in the matter of alcoholism, sweeps show a greatly higher percentage than coal-heavers; that is, as 206 to 13 per cent.
Moreover, sweeps are often troubled with skin (eczematous) eruptions, and their eyes suffer with the acrid soot, making them blear-eyed. It seems demonstrable, moreover, that the soot finds its way into the subcutaneous tissue, where it produces small patches, not removable by washing. From these the black particles can, it seems, make their way along the lymphatic spaces to more distant localities. (See remarks by Mr. W. G. Spencer, British Medical Journal, November 15, 1890.)
But the disease, par eminence, attaching to their calling is epithelial cancer. Dr. Ogle discovered, from his statistics, that' of 242 deaths of chimney sweeps, no less than forty-nine were due to some or other form of malignant disease. This gives 202 deaths from this cause to 1000 deaths from all causes; whereas the proportion of deaths from malignant disease to deaths from all causes, among all males from twenty-five to sixty-five years of age in England and Wales, is only thirty-six in 1000; so that, even if the total mortality of sweeps were simply equal to that of all males, their mortality from malignant disease would be more than five times as much as the average. But the mortality of chimney sweeps ... is 50 per cent. higher than the average, so that the liability of chimney sweeps to malignant disease is about eight times as great as the average liability for all males. These figures scarcely support the belief expressed by some authorities that improvements in the art and habits of sweeps have caused this disease to be comparatively infrequent among them.' Of the forty-nine cases of deaths by cancer returned, the scrotum and adjacent parts weje the seat of the lesion in twenty-three; in thirteen the organ affected was not stated; but in seven of them the malady was in internal organs, and the rest in the face, hip, orbit, palate, or neck.
The consoling belief that sweeps' cancer is becoming a scarce phenomenon, since the application of the special Acts of Parliament controlling their work, is also somewhat rudely shaken by Mr. Butlin, of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, who, in his work on Cancer, affirms that numerous instances are to be met with.

Monday, March 13, 2017


In the Herald of Health there is an interesting article about the problems of corsets and the harm they can do to the body. The article came out in 1869. The use of a corset during the 19th century changes from place to place and decade to decade. Also, corsets came in a variety of styles and in the amount of restriction it causes the body. They were front laced and a few back laced. The back laced corset is what we've seen through the eyes of Hollywood. The front laced was more practical for the single woman, or the frontier and farm woman. This article shows that by 1869 there was concern about the health issues from wearing a corset.

Below is the excerpt from Herald of Health©1869
And now for the corsets! Why are they worn? To improve the figure, many say. And yet some of the finest forms I have ever seen wore no corsets, but were supposed to do so because of the fine bust. In reference to these, I have been asked what corsets or shoulder braces they wore, the inquirer wishing to secure the same, because the chest was so complete in its contour. Now, the peculiarity with these very young ladies was that they had never worn corsets or been compressed, padded, or braced in any way, but had dressed loosely and taken gymnastics,
which aro better than corsets to improve the bust.

And Encyclopaedia Americana ©1830 has this interesting set of recommendations about wearing corsets.
We may conclude what we have to say on the use of the corset, by imbodying the whole in a few plain, general rules:—1st. Corsets should be made of smooth, soft, elastic materials. 2d. They should be accurately fitted and modified to suit the peculiarities of figure of each wearer. 3d. No other stiffening should be used but that of quilting or padding ; the bones, steel, &c., should be left to the deformed or diseased, for whom they were originally intended. 4th. Corsets should never be drawn so tight as to impede regular, natural breathing, as, under all circumstances, the improvement of figure is insufficient to compensate for the air of awkward restraint caused by such lacing. 5th. They should never be worn, either loosely or tightly, during the hours appropriated to sleep, as, by impeding respiration, and accumulating the heat of the system improperly, they invariably injure. 6th. The corset for young persons should be of the simplest character, and worn in the lightest and easiest manner, allowing their lungs full play, and giving the form its fullest opportumty for expansion.

If one wishes a fine figure, do not encase it in whalebone, so as to limit muscular motion, but rather encourage the free development of every organ within and without by appropriate action; that is, take in the most air possible, so as to make lungs full and free; throw shoulders back so as to make the chest broad and erect; give free play to all tho muscles, so that they will grow strong and support the body well without artificial aid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


To Cure Ringworm
To one part of sulphuric acid add from sixteen to twenty parts of water. Use a brush or feather, and apply it to the part night and morning. A very few dressings will generally cure. _ If the solution is too strong, dilute it with more water, and if the irritation is excessive, rub a little oil or other softening applicant, but avoid soap.
Source: Four Hundred Household Recipes (no copyright date)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dressing Rice

A Black Man's Recipe to Dress Rice.—Wash him well, much wash in cold water, the rice flour make him stick. Water boil all ready verj fast. Throw him in, rice can't burn, water shake him too much. Boi> quarter of an hour or little more; rub one rice in thumb and finger, if all rub away him quite done. Put rice in colander, hot water run away; pour cup of cold water on him, put back rice in saucepan, keep him covered near the Are. then rice all ready. Eat him up!
Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1887

Friday, February 24, 2017

Jewelry Cleanser

JEWELRY—Cleaning And Polishing Compound—Aq'i» ammonia 1 oz.; prepared chalk J oz.; mix, and keep cor'ied.

To use, for rings, or other smooth-surfaced jewelry, wet a bit of cloth with the compound, after having skaken it, and rub the article thoroughly; then polish by rubbing with a silk handkerchief or piece of soft buck-skin. For articles which are rough-surfaced, use a suitable brush. It is applicable for gold, silver, brass, britannia, plated goods, &o.
Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1870

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Toad Ointment

Toad Ointment.—For sprains, strains, lame-hack, rheumatism, caked breasts, caked udders, &c., &e.

Good sized live toads, 4 in number; put into boiling water and cook very soft; then take them out and boil the water down to 1 pt., and add fresh churned, unsalted butter 1 lb. and simmer together; at the last add tincture of arnica 2 ozs.

This was obtained from an old Physician, who thought more of it than of any other prescription in his possession. Some persons might think it hard on toads, but you could not kill them quicker in any other way.
Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1870

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Itch Ointment

Itch Ointment.—Unsalted butter 1 lb.; Burgundy pitch 2 oz.; spirits of turpentine 2 ozs.; red-precipitate, pulverized, 1 1/4 ozs.; melt the pitch and add the butter, stirring well together; then remove from the fire, and when a little cool add the spirits of turpentine, and lastly the precipitate, and stir until cold.

This will cure all cases of psora, usually called "The Itch," and many other skin eruptions, as pimples, blotches, &c.

Dr. Beach thinks the animal which infests the skin, in real itch, is the result of the disease, whilst most authors think it the cause.
Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1865

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Milk Paint

Milk Paint

A fellow historical author Vicki McDonough asked about Milk paint on a writer's loop. I'm posting some recipes and information about this commonly used paint. It was even used in the 20th century. As you'll see by the recipes below there were other additives placed in the paint, like the first recipe adds linseed oil. This changes the paints drying time and luster. If the paint is simply milk and lime it is a flat paint, without color it was used on many walls to brighten up the homes. The lack of fumes was another consideration of preference for this paint. Vicki's question dealt with aged paint, in my limited experience, I've mainly seen it worn off, I've never seen in flake or peel. (however, I spoke with my husband who's been house painting for 40 years, he says it powders.) You can still purchase milk paint today and if you like the antique look on furniture milk paint might just be the way to go.

Many of the sources in Google books take from the 1825 copy from Smith's Art of House Painting. This source notates that it comes from Smith's book but was written much later in 1839.
Milk Paint. Take of skimmed milk nearly two quarts; of fresh slacked lime, about six ounces and a half; of linseed oil four ounces, and of whiting three pounds: put the lime into a stone vessel, and pour upon it a sufficient quantity of milk to form a mixture, resembling thin cream; then add the oil a little at a time, stirriitg it with a small spatula; the remaining milk is then to be added, and lastly the whiting. The milk must on no account be sour. Slake the lime by dipping the pieces in water, out of which it is to be immediately taken, and left to slack in the air. For fine white paint, the oil of caraways is best, because colourless; but with ochres the commonest oils may be used. The oil, when mixed with the milk and lime, entirely disappears, and is totally dissolved by the lime, forming a calcareous soap. The whiting, or ochre, is to be gently crumbled on the surface of the fluid, which it gradually imbibes, and at last sinks: at this period it must be well stirred in. This paint may be coloured like distemper or size-colour, with levigated charcoal, yellow ochre, ftc., and used in the same manner. The quantity here prescribed is sufficient to cover twentyseven square yards with the first coat, and it will cost about three-halfpence a yard. The same paint will do for out-door work by the addition of two ounces of slaked lime; two ounces of linseed oil, and two ounces of white Burgundy pitch; the pitch to be melted in a gentle heat with the oil, and then added to the smooth mixture of the milk and lime. In cold weather it must be mixed warm, to facilitate its incorporation with the milk. (Smith's Art of House-Painting, 1825, p. 26.)
Source: An Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa architecture and furniture ©1839 pg277

Another recipe:

"Milk Paint.—A paint has been used on the-Continent with success, made from milk and lime, that dries quicker than oil paint, and has no smell. It is made in the following manner: Take fresh curds and bruise the lumps on a grinding-stone, ! or in an earthen pan, or mortar, with a spatula or strong spoon. Then pmt them into a pot with an equal quantity of lime, well slacked with water, to make it just thick enough to-be kneaded. Stir this i mixture without adding more water, and a white : coloured fluid will soon be obtained, which will serve as a paint. It may be laid on with a brush with as much ease as varnish, and it dries very speedily. It must, however, be used tho same day it is made, for if kept till next day k will be too thick: consequently no more must be mixed up at one, time than can be laid on in a day. If any colour be required, any of the ochres, as yellow ochre, or red ochre, or umber, may be mixed with it in any proportion. Prussian blue would be changed by the lime. Two coats of this paint will be sufficient, and when quite dry it may be polished with a piece of woolen cloth, or similar substance, and il will become as bright as varnish. It will only do for inside work ; but it will last longer if varnished i over with white of egg after it has been polished." j "The following receipt for milk paint is given in •Smith's Art of House Painting:' Take of skimmed milk nearly two quarts ; of fresh-slacked lime i about six ounces and a half; of linseed oil four I ounces, and of whiting three pounds ; put the lime j into a stone vessel, and pour upon it a sufficient quantity of milk to form a mixture resembling thin cream ; then add the oil, a little at a time, stirring i it with a small spatula ; the remaining milk is then to be added, and lastly the whiting. 1116 milk must I on no account be sour. Slack the lime by dipping the pieces in water, out of which it is to be immediately taken, and left to slack in the air. For fine white paint the oil of caraway is best, because -colourless; but with ochres the commonest oils may be used. The oil, when mixed with the milk and lime, entirely disappears, and is totally dissolved by the lime, forming a calcareous soap. The whiting or ochre is to be gently crumbled on the surface of the fluid, which it gradually imbibes, and at last sinks: at this period it must be well stirred in. This paint may be coloured like distemper or size-colour, with levigated chartoal, yellow ochre, &<:., and used in the same manner. The quantity here prescribed is sufficient to cover twenty-seven square yards with the first coat, and it will cost about three halfpence a yard. The same paint will do for outdoor work by the addition of two ounces of slacked lime, two ounces of linseed oil, and two ounces of white Burgundy pitch: the pitch to be melted in a gentle heat with the oil, and then added to the smooth mixture of the milk and lime. In oold weather it must be mixed warm, to facilitate its incorporation with the milk."
Source: Western Farmer and Gardener Vol 2 ©1846 pg327

And finally at the end of the century we have this recipe:
Skim Milk Paint.
A method of painting farm buildings and country houses, while by no means new, is yet so little known and so deserving of wider application as to warrant a description, says an exchange. The paint has but two parts, both cheap materials, being water lime or hydraulic cement and skim milk. The cement is placed in a bucket, and the skim milk, sweet, is gradually added, stirring constantly until just about the consistency of good cream. The stirring must be thoroughly done to have an even flow, and if too thin the mixture will run on the building and look streaked. The proportions cannot be exactly stated, but a gallon of milk requires a full quart of cement, and sometimes a little more. This is a convenient quantity to mix at a time for one person to use. If too much is prepared the cement will settle and harden before all is used.
A flat paintbrush about four inches wide is the best implement to use with this mixture. Lay it on exactly as with oil paint. It can be applied to woodwork, old or new, and brick and stone. When dry, the colour is a light creamy brown, or what some would call yellowish stone colour. The skim milk cement paint, well mixed, without adding colour has a good body, gives smooth satisfactory finish on either wood or stone and wears admirably.—American Mechanic.
Source Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope Vol. 10 ©1897 pg424