Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year Calculations

Here's a tidbit from "The Young Ladies' and Gentlemen's Chronology ©1805

To find Leap Year.
Rule—Divide the given'year by 4, and if 0 remains, it is leap year; but if 1, 2, or 3 remain, it shows the number of'years after leap year.

Answer: 1803 was the 3d year after Leap year, or, more Properly, it was one year before leap year, because 1800, for the reason already assigned, was'a common year.

Ex. The year 1804 is it common or leap year?

Ans. There being no remainder it is leap year.

And below are some examples for the student to try and prove. I left them in just for the fun of it.

Q. Will the year 1822 be a common or leap year?

Q. Will the years 1864, 1879, 1900 be common or leap years?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tidbits about Pearisburg, VA

Hi all,

Just a quick note that I'm on Heroes, Heroines, and History today with a post I titled "Tidbits about Pearisburg, VA." There are a half a dozen photos from the research trip I took last week. Come on over and visit. Here's the Link

In His grip,

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Wedding Dress

For those of us who've gotten married, the wedding dress can be hard to find just the right one. On the other hand, some of us just want to get married and the less fan-fare the better. It was no different for the ladies of the 19th Century as it is/was for us today. In fact an entire novel was written "The Wedding Dress" by Fanny Wheeler ©1876.

A drama was written titled "The Wedding Gown" and had two acts. ©1837

Below is an excerpt from "The Highland Inn" ©1839 about wedding dresses which I found quite fun:

When any thing occurs to annoy or to vex me, when my mind is irritated or my temper ruffled, in order to sooth the one and to daughter's wedding. Luckily for the proprieties of the thing, he fell into a grave the week before, 'sprained his ankle, and was obliged to have a deputy, both to give his daughter away, and to perform the responses. The bride looked more than usually beautiful, although there was a delicacy in her complexion which still augured ill health; and it was even then prophesied, by some of the croakers of the place, that she would not enjoy her prosperity long: but the more favourable observation was, that her ill health made her look the more like a lady, and fitter to be the parson's wife. My Aunt has still a picture of her in her wedding dress. By the bye, I think wedding dresses in general the most tawdry, ill-fitting things. I have a friend who wears hers regularly every year, and supposes that a dress made for her when she was thin and pretty can suit her when she has had a dozen children. But my mother's was a very simple attire. Her rich hair, untutored by the fashion of the time to travel upwards, when nature intended it to shade her fair forehead, was suffered to appear in unadorned ringlets under a white lace veil, the present of my great great Aunt Tabitton, who sent it to her from Northamptonshire. I forget the other details of her dress; nor will you expect me to give you a dissertation on her dress with the same precision as the Ladies' Magazine, or the Belle Assemblee. But this I know, that she not only looked so lovely, that the ladies, in allusion to a novel of Miss Burney's, called her Evelina, but also so elegant, that some of the genteelest people in Averford were proud to speak of her afterwards as their acquaintance. Indeed, it was remarkable that those who had not deemed her worth a glance, as they passed her, now began to speak of her as ' their friend Miss Middleton, their charming protegee, their sweet and interesting early acquaintance.'
"For my father, I am told that he was the handsomest bridegroom that had been seen in Averford for a century: but that is not saying much. However, he looked like what he was, the Honourable and Reverend Mr. Percival; and, I may say, conducted himself as such. My mother trembled as the solemn service proceeded; but the tears were all shed by her sister and her fond mother, the latter especially, who foresaw, in her child's elevation, estrangement from her humble home. Miss Courtenay was not present; for she was absent from her home, on a hasty excursion to the Lakes.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kinds of Fish off Puget Sound and other Pacific Coast regions

Kinds of Fish.—The varieties of fish most valuable in the commerce and industry of the Atlantic are caught also in the waters of our coast. The cod, herring, mackerel, halibut, flounder, sardine, anchovy, and turbot are found in both oceans. The report of the fish commissioners of California, for I880, gives the number of species of fish then known in the waters at 280, 25 of which are fresh, and the remainder salt-water fish. Thirtyfour additional species, including I1 river fish, are found in Oregon and Washington. ' These are all indigenous species. As no thorough search has been made between Tomales Bay and the mouth of the Columbia, it is almost certain that other varieties will be discovered from year to year. Of the 21 flat-fishes on the coast, I9 are found on the shores or bays of California.
Our coast has different fish districts, well defined in geographical limits, and different in many of their occupants. One extends from Point Conception northward to Monterey ; the second, from Monterey to Puget Sound, and the third from that point onward toward the Arctic. The bay of Monterey is the middle ground, where fishes from north and south meet It has about I30 species, and San Francisco harbor has the same number. Santa Barbara has but 95 species, as the rock-cod and flounder do not go so far south. In Puget Sound there are 90 species, all of which belong to the northern varieties. In San Francisco Bay, and its tributary rivers, there are taken annually about 4,000 tons of fish.
The large-eyed flounder (Hippaglossoides fordani) is plentiful in our fishmarkets all the year round. Professor JORDAN estimates the catch of this fish by Chinamen, in the single harbor of Monterey, at 500 pounds per day. Of the chiridae, the painted sea-trout (C/zirus pic us) is common in our northem latitudes, and is found occasionally in the San Francisco market. The c/zz'ru.r guttatus, a species of sea-trout common in the'bays of San Francisco and Monterey, is plentiful in the markets the year round.
The cod-fish proper does not belong to the fauna of California. Dr. BEAN, who recently investigated the fish systems of the Alaskan waters, is of opinion that the cod-fish of Alaska is identical with the Gadus morr/ma, or true cod-fish. The entire quantity of fresh cod brought to San Francisco, packed in ice, does not exceed 300 tons, in the season of 3 months. The green cod, is noted as one of the most rapacious of fishes, coming in this characteristic into close competition with the shark. Lurking among the rocks, it lies in wait for rock-fish, and is often captured on the same hook with the fish at which it bites. It is valuable as a food fish and sometimes attains a weight of 50 or 60 pounds.
Red rock-cod sometimes weigh 25 pounds, and blue rock-fish 50 pounds. These are of extreme size. The barracuda season lasts from the beginning of March to _Iune. In shape and habit this fish strongly resembles the fresh-water pike, being long and slim and exceedingly voracious. It feeds on small fish, such as smelt and herring, and is found in schools among the kelp. It is caught with trawl-lines near Santa Cruz and 1\Ionterey. The barracuda of the Atlantic Ocean is considered unfit for food, while its Pacific relative is esteemed one of the most delicate of table fish. Large quantities are caught in San Diego Harbor. The hook is baited with a white or red rag, at which the fish bites greedily. It is abundant in summer at a distance of 3 or 4 miles from the heads of San Francisco Harbor, and thence southward. In other seasons the young are sometimes taken in seines. The largest size is about 12 pounds.
Of the 27 known species of rock-cod, all except 2 are to be found in the harbor of Monterey. The one most common in the Bay of San Francisco, the wharf rock-fish (Seba.rtic/it/zys auriculatus), the only kind found in shallow bays, sometimes attains a weight of 3 pounds. Those caught by hook and line, from wharf or shore, average about half a pound. The largest of all the species is the large, red rock-fish (Seéastzk/It/zy.r ruber), exceeding in some instances a weight of 12 pounds. Large quantities of the dark greenish rock-fish (Afro:/z're1z.r), taken by Chinamen at the Santa Barbara Islands, are salted, dried, and sent to China. It is the opinion of many fishermen that the Chinamen are rapidly reducing the Californian supply of food fish. Already white fishermen have to go outside the heads for fish which but a few years ago were plentiful in San Francisco Bay. The long flats near the Oakland and Alameda shores are often swept by Asiatic fishermen, who operate with both the seine and stationary net. Inside of Cape Scott, the north-west extremity of Vancouver Island, there is an extensive bank, where rock-cod are taken in immense quantity, and of the largest size. On the shore, near to this bank, a Chinese colony is engaged in the systematic prosecution of the business. In the vicinity of Burrard Inlet, a productive fishing-ground, immense quantities of smelt, an excellent and favorite table fish, are dried, packed, and shipped by Chinese fisherman to their fellow-Mongols in Victoria and in San Francisco. One redeeming feature in the presence of the yellow fishermen in our community is, that they eat up young shark, and esteem as a delicacy the fin of the larger species in a raw or cooked state, or in soup, when it can be spared from drying purposes.
The greater bulk of the fish sent from Tomales and Monterey bays to San Francisco are black bass, black rock-cod, and other species of the sco/;/>mzz'a’w. On account of their dark color they are very slow of sale, and sometimes can not find purchasers, even at a cent a pound. Rock-fish are omnivorous, with a preference for their smaller kindred. They spawn early in the spring. The pompino is found along the entire Pacific Coast. It is a small fish, juicy and fat, and readily brings 25 to 50 cents, selling occasionally as high as $1.50 per pound.
Of the carangida, the horse mackerel (T me/zuras saurus) is taken in large quantity off this coast, and salted for bait. The pilot-fish also belongs to this subdivision of the scombridaa, or old mackerel family. Of the true scombridae, the Spanish mackerel occurs from Monterey southward, and is occasionally found in the San Francisco markets. The largest specimen is I4 inches long. The bonito, or skip-jack, taken in great quantity ofl" Santa Barbara and San Diego, has a coarse, unwholesome meat when eaten fresh, but when salted and dried, it sells for twenty-five cents a pound. Its average weight is about I2 pounds. The albicore bites greedily at a white rag, and affords excellent sport in the bay of Monterey, being caught by trawllines.
Of the sciaenidx, the sea-bass, and the 2 species of so-called kingfish (Geizyonenzus lineatus and Scrip/zus politus), are highly esteemed as table fish. The 2 latter descriptions are seldom more than IO inches in length, of delicate flavor, and of course are different from the king-fish previously mentioned. The white sea-bass is abundant, and instances are not uncommon in our markets of fish weighing 50 or 60 pounds. The sucker bass is found on sandy shores south of Santa Barbara, and the roncador, of about 3 pounds weight, has the same range. Many varieties of the perch family are used only for bait, but the blue-fish, moon-fish, rockbass, johnny Verde, and kelp salmon, all of which belong to this family, rank high as pan-fish. The Jew-fish, or black sea-bass, is palatable, and reaches a weight of 500 pounds. All the species of perch range southward from the Islands of Santa Barbara. Mullet, common in the harbor of San Diego, does not exceed a length of I 5 inches. The flying-fish, frequently seen off the southern part of our coast from Santa Barbara to Central America, reaches a weight of ‘a pound and a half or more, and is excellent for the table. '
Of the apodes, or fishes without ventral fins, the conger eel is plentiful among the rocks near the tide mark of San Diego harbor. Though very pugnacious, it is sometimes taken by hand. Its extreme weight is about 20 pounds. Its skin is said to be poisonous, but the flesh resembles that of the fresh-water eel.
The sting-ray, or stingaree, which is common along the coast, is very destructive to oysters, crustacea, and fish. The Chinese occasionally use it, when dried, as a food fish. It sometimes attains a weight of 75 pounds. The sea vampire, or devil-fish, occurs on our coast, and is not rare in the Mexican waters. The largest known specimens measure 15 to 20 feet in width. The Raia binaculata is common in our local markets, and sells as a food fish chiefly to the French. The largest of the rays is the Raia Coaperi, which sometimes attains a length of 5 or 6 feet.
Salrnon Fam1ly.—In the report of W. G. MORRIS, on the resources of Alaska Territory, it is stated that the yield of salmon is almost beyond belief. Sixty thousand Indians and several thousand Aleuts and Eskimos depend mainly on dried salmon for their winter sustenance. During the running season in the vicinity of Klawock, the marine waters are actually blaek_ with them. They are caught with seines, and are of larger size than the Columbia River salmon. Those taken at Cook's inlet average 60 pounds, and not unfrequently run up to double that weight. Two of the largest fill a barrel. In Alaska, as in British Columbia, the fish can be obtained in vast quantity at the expense of native labor, and, after paying for salt or vinegar, barrels, and freight, return a good profit when shipped to Australian or European markets. The salmon being mainly a river fish, will be mentioned again in the next chapter. The salmon-trout is abundant in Puget Sound, where it is taken by seine-fishing up to a weight of 3 pounds. The surf-smelt, which also belongs to the salmonidze, is very plentiful in the same neighborhood.
The oolikon (the name is also spelled “oolahan,” and “eulachon"), or candlefish, a delicious table fish when taken in its best condition, is not ‘abundant south of latitude 49°. After being smoked and dried, it should be prepared for table by the steaming or broiling process, and is then equal to the finest qualities of salt fish. It is pickled and shipped to San Francisco, where it finds a ready sale. W’hen canned it is sold as Columbia River sardine, or as Spanish mackerel. Its size never exceeds 12 inches, and it is most abundant in the Columbia, Fraser, and Nass rivers. The fish is very juicy and fat, and contains an oil said to be superior to codliver oil for medicinal purposes. Among the Alaskan'natives it is used by the Indians as a substitute for candles, burning with a clear, bright flame when lighted and set up endwise. On the Nass River, where the oolikon is most abundant, 10,000 gallons of oil made from it annually are sold to the Indians for $1 a gallon.
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The Herring Family.-Among the herring family (C'lupez'da>), the sardine is taken in the bays of our coast during the greater part of the year. It is caught from the wharves of San Francisco and San Diego with line and hook, and resembles the fish of that name found in the waters of Europe, where, the young, preserved in oil, are esteemed as a table delicacy; though the canned fish usually sold here, under the name of sardine, is nearly always something else. No attempt has yet been made to utilize for canning purposes on our coast the true sardine, which abounds in the waters of California. The anchovy is almost equally plentiful here; but it is found chiefly in sheltered bays, and is difficult to catch. From 25 to 40 tons of anchovies are caught in the harbor of San Francisco alone, during the season, which lasts from June to August. These are sold to the trade at a cent a pound, and retail at about 3 cents, forming the bulk of what are here preserved in oil and passed off on the public as sardines, many of them under French labels. Some wholesale and retail grocers import directly from France, and sell no other kind, but this is rather the exception than the rule.
San Francisco obtains her supply of herrings mainly from the waters of her own bay. Their poor condition is caused by the fact that they only enter the harbor to spawn, and the later the season the worse they are. In the \vaters of Puget Sound they are caught in much better condition. Their season commences in California in October, and lasts 4 months. Great schools enter San Francisco Bay every winter, resorting sometimes to the mudflats and shallows, and not unfrequently keeping in deep water, beyond the reach of fishermen. As a rule they are caught at night. The shoal water of Richardson's Bay is a favorite herring-ground. At the beginning of the season the price is often as low as 50 cents, but towards the close often rises to $4 or $5 per cental. Their average weight is about a fifth of a pound. On the Alameda shore seals swarm, and make hearty meals by picking the fish out of the nets, the meshes of which are torn in a most exasperating manner during the process. A strip of shoal off Kershaw’s Island, opposite to Saucelito, is sometimes a good fishing-ground for herring. When the nets are cast, men have to be employed keeping off the seals, which often growl in huge disgust at their futile endeavors to get within swallowing reach of the captive fish. The best grounds for herring fishing in the Bay of San Francisco are in its northern and north-eastern portions. The herring move in shoals, and run against the tide. \/Vhen they meet the nets they experience no difficulty in running their heads through the meshes, but owing to the peculiar shape of the fish, they can get no further. Retreat is of course impossible. After a time, the net is slowly drawn in, and one haul is sometimes enough to load a boat. The herring are sold at the city markets for fresh consumption, or at the wharves to persons engaged in salting, drying, and smoking them. Soon after the close of the season, the herring fisher usually starts for the salmon fishing-grounds of the Sacramento, where he remains for 3 or 4 months.
The cost of a herring gill net is over $100, and 40 per cent. of the price is represented by the duty. A good one will last 3 summers with careful usage and timely repairs, and serves also for smelt fishing. Besides the stationary net, the equipment of a boat for the whole season includes a seine, or casting net, 60 fathoms long, with very small meshes, which will catch anything from a halibut 5 feet long to a shrimp or a tomcod; also a seabass or sturgeon net 300 fathoms long, and 20 feet deep, with a mesh 8 inches square. An entire bay fishing outfit costs from $500 to $1,000; the boat alone, if well built and rigged, being worth $350. Forty of these boats may be seen any afternoon at the Vallejo-st.reet wharf. Their rig consists of a short slanting mast, and a slender boom (always longer than the boat itself), from which is bent an immense spread of lateen sail. Occasionally the boats carry a jib somewhat bigger than a table napkin. Each boat is manned by two or three men. On arriving at the fishing-ground, the net is paid out from the stern of the boat. This operation, called “shooting the net,” lasts only a few. minutes. After several hours, the catch is hauled in, and a single haul is sometimes sufficient for one boat-load.
Source: Commerce and Industries of the Pacific Coast of North America ©1882

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1882 Women's Fashions


Walking Dress

House Dress
House & Walking Dress
Outdoor & House Dress
Traveling Bag

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

7 ways to detect Counterfeit Money

Here's some helpful information that you can make use of in your historical novels. Counterfeiting it happened back then just as it does today.

COUNTERFEIT MONEY.—Seven Rules For Detecting.
First—Examine the form and features of all human figures on the notes. If the forms are graceful and features distinct, examine the drapery—see if the folds lie natural; and the hair of the head should be observed, and see if the fine strands can be seen.

Second.—Examine the lettering, the title of the bank, or the round handwriting on the face of the note. On all genuine bills, the work is done with great skill and perfect- ness, and there has never been a counterfeit but was defect^ ive in the lettering.

Third.—The imprint, or engraver's name. By observing the great perfection of the different company names- in the evenness and shape of the fine letters, counterfeiters never get the imprint perfect. This rule alone, if strictly observed, will detect every counterfeit note in existence.

Fourth.—The shading in the back-ground of the vignette, or over or around the letters forming the name of the bank, on a good bill is even and perfect, on a counterfeit is irregular and imperfect.

Fifth.—Examine well the figures on the other parts of the note, containing the denomination, also the letters. Exturine well the die work around the figures which stand for the denomination, to see if it is of the same character as chat which forms the ornamental work surrounding it.

Sixth.—Never take a bill that is deficient in any of the above points, and if your impression is bad when you first see it, you had better be careful how you become convinced to change your mind—whether your opinion is not altered as you become confused in looking into the texture of the workmanship of the bill.

Seventh.—Examine the name of the State, name of the bank, and name of the town where it is located. If it has been altered from a broken bank, the defects can plainly be seen, as the alteration will show that it has been stamped on.
Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1866

Monday, February 22, 2016

Types of Sheets

This tidbit comes from "A House and Its Furnishings" ©1869 with regard to the types of sheets available at the time. What I love about this tidbit is how the author wrote it as a young woman was asking her mother advice for setting up her home. Enjoy!

"But, dear mamma, not very much linen will be required. I do not expect to have linen sheets. Calico will do very well."
"True, Lizzie; but there is calico-and-calico, now-a-days. Ten years ago that valuable material was differently manufactured. If a piece of calico be held against the light, in some you will see knots all over it. This is made with the short-length cotton, and is badly spun, will not wear well, and, when washed, will be rough. Calico should have a regular selvage, and be made with evenly-spun cotton; the threads should be round, and the weaving regular, and it should have very little dress in it.
"The same evidences of excellence are applicable to linen as to cotton textures, only the uneven threads in linen are more mischievous than in calico, inasmuch as the coarse thread will, with wash and wear, separate from the fine, and thus leave a space in the material unfilled. Never buy a piece of linen with uneven selvage; it is a sure indication of being irregularly woven.
"For health, cotton sheets are generally preferable to linen, though by many the latter is preferred. Persons subject to rheumatism should not wear, or sleep in linen; indeed, should sleep in blankets only. Persons so liable to be afflicted would find a slight attack yield to this remedy, and the painful disease most likely be warded off altogether by a continuance in thepractice—at least, I have known many cases of such cure. It is singular that those who have been once induced to try to sleep in blankets never forsake them; but it is very difficult to find one willing to adopt the plan."

Friday, February 19, 2016


As I've mentioned before I grew up on Martha's Vineyard where the Whaling industry made a huge mark on the lives of those living on the Vineyard. Below is some basic information about the Whaling Industry. Perhaps your character has this in his or her past? Or perhaps they are in one of the many industries produced by the whaling industry. Have fun with the information and let your imaginations run wild.

The whale fishery is chiefly carried on by the people of Nantucket and New Bedford. The first people in America who undertook this business, were the inhabitants of Nantucket. This is a large island lying to the south of Cape Cod. It consists chiefly of sand, and affords hardly any soil that can be cultivated. The inhabitants who first settled upon this island, used, occasionally, to put off to sea in their boats, when they espied a whale near the shore, and attack him with their harpoons. The capture of so enormous a creature was a prize of great value to these people, and their success in these attempts induced them to make a regular business of it. Accordingly, they set up a very tall mast on the island, on the top of which a person stationed himself, to look out for whales. When he espied one, he gave a signal, and the whalemen, who were all prepared with their boats, put off in pursuit. This business was profitable for a time, but at length, the whales being thus constantly hunted, kept away from the coast; and the Nantucket people, finding their prey become scarce, were forced to build large vessels, and go farther out to sea, in quest of them. By degrees they extended their voyages to the utmost parts of the Atlantic ocean, and even into the south seas. In this manner they have become the most expert and enterprising whalemen in the world; and their island, which, by nature, was barren, inhospitable, and uninviting, has become a spot of great industry and wealth.
The whale ships are generally from three to four hundred tons, and carry large crews, and are well provided with boats, lines, and other apparatus for taking and cutting up the whales and extracting the oil. When a whale is espied, the whale boats are manned in pursuit. In every boat there is a very long and strong line, made fast to a harpoon. The harpoon is an iron spear, sharp and barbed, like an arrow; so that, when struck into the whale, it may keep its hold. The men are also armed with lances or spears, to kill the whale after he is struck with the harpoon.
A boat's crew consists of a harpooner, a boat-steerer, a linemanager, and other men to row and attend to the general management of affairs. When the boat approaches the whale, the harpooner strikes the harpoon with all his force into him; but if the boat should not get near enough for this purpose, he throws the harpoon at him; and such is the skill of these men, that the harpoon seldom misses, although thrown from a considerable distance. The whale, finding himself wounded, dives at once under water, pulling the line attached to the harpoon after him, with great velocity. The line lies coiled up in the bottom of the boat, and is allowed to run out as fast as the whale pulls it. The boat, meantime, is rowed swiftly after the whale, yet the line is drawn over the edge of the boat with such swiftness, that a person is employed in pouring water upon it, lest the friction should set the boat on fire. A hatchet is always at hand to cut the rope, in case of its getting entangled. A large whale will sometimes run out two or three miles of rope. All the boats are now seen rowing with all their might towards the spot where the whale is expected to rise; for these animals cannot remain long under water, but must rise occasionally to breathe.
When he appears, they strike him again with the harpoon and lances. Again he starts off with the boats in pursuit. After being greatly fatigued with the chase, and being severely wounded, he spouts up water mixed with blood; and the boats surround him and dispatch him with spears. As soon as killed, the whale is towed to the ship, and made fast by tackles, placed at the nose and tail. They then proceed to strip off the blubber.
The skin of the whale is black, and very thick; between this and the flesh is the blubber, or fat, from which the oil is extracted. The blubber is cut into long strips, which are hoisted into the ship, cut into smaller pieces, and thrown into the hold; from which it is afterwards taken, and the oil extracted by boiling it in large copper vessels. The oil is then put into casks and stowed away in the hold; thus the whaling ships sometimes come home completely laden with oil.
On the island of Nantucket, and also at New Bedford, are numerous spermaceti works. This valuable substance, which is so well known for its use in making candles, is found in the head of the spermaceti whale. The oil which this whale produces, is not so abundant as that afforded by some other whales, but in quality, is much superior. It burns with a bright flame, and does not occasion any disagreeable smell.
The spermaceti, in its crude state, is found in the head of the whale; and a single one contains several tons of it. The seamen call it the brains of the whale. It is contained in membranous cells, and is first taken out, and freed from the oil, by draining and pressing. Afterwards, it is more completely purified by steeping it in a ley of alkaline salt and quicklime, which dissolves the remainder of the oily matter into a soapy liquid. The brains then, being washed with water, appear of a silvery whiteness, and the large lumps are cut into shivers, with wooden knives, and spread out to dry. It is then melted and run into candles, or cast in round cakes, for other purposes.
Another product of this fishery is the whalebone, a substance well known for its elasticity and toughness, and in great use for making umbrella sticks, and for other purposes, when strength and flexibility are required. This substance is taken out of the head of the common whale, and is found attached to the jaws, occupying the place of the teeth in other animals.
Source: Scenes of American Wealth & Industry in Produce ©1833

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fishing Dory

The first time I saw a dory I was amazed. Dad brought home this fishing dory that had a hole in the bottom and two bows. He explained that the outboard motor went inside the hole. Well, how can that be? Wouldn't a hole that big cause the boat to sink? And why two bows? The short answer is it didn't. However the 19th Century Dories were powered by men with oars. Below is an illustration of a fifteen foot dory as well as a description of it from a "Report on the Ship building industry of the United States." ©1884
These dories are often painted in works of art from this time period, as in Winslow Homer's The Fog Warning 1882.

A variety'of other boats are built along the New England coast for fishing, some to go with vessels, others for alongshore use, primarily intended for rowing, but often having also some sort of a small fore-and-aft sail, with a pole for a mast that can be unshipped and taken down readily. The shore boats are for lobstering and fishing with hand-lines, seining, etc. They are regularly framed keel boats, usually open, and are sometimes clinker built and sometimes sharp at both ends. The seine boats are always sharp at both ends; they are rather full on the floor amidships, are well modeled at the ends, and are given a good sheer. On the coast of Maine some of the shore boats have a little caddy forward, in which is placed a stove, to keep the men warm in winter, and also to prevent the lobsters from freezing until they can be brought to shore and sent to market. The general model of the open boat is a legacy from early times. It came into existence at a very early period, owing to the exigencies of the peculiar calling in which it is employed, which has compelled the shore fishermen to adopt a boat suited to flat beaches and having the properties of light draught, buoyancy, stability, and stowage capacity for fishing apparatus and fish. The object of building the boats with sharp ends is to e nable fishermen to launch and land through the surf with facility and to handle the boat in rough water with safety. The New England fishermen of to day have been accustomed to this general model from childhood, and they pin their faith to it with the utmost tenacity. It is the model which forms the basis of the admirable boats used in the United States life-saving service. The crews of the life stations have been largely recruited from the sea-coast fishermen, and the bureau at Washington gives them the model they know so well and can handle with such remarkable skill.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sex of Eggs

Okay this is a rather strange tidbit but in Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1866 I found this tidbit:

The Sex Op Eggs.—Mr. Genin lately addressed the Academy des Sciences, France, on the subject of the sex of eggs. He affirms that he is now able, after having studied the subject for upwards of three years, to state with assurance that the eggs containing the germ of males, have wrinkles on their smaller ends, while female eggs are emooth at the extremities.
While on the subject of eggs, you will excuse me for putting in a couple of items more which appropriately belong to other departments:

The above tidbit had me searching for more information on this during the 19th Century. I came up with this next tidbit from "The Book of the Farm" ©1890:

Sex of Eggs.—It has been said that the position of the cell that contains the air in an egg determines the sex of the chick — if the cell occupies the exact apex of the end, which is always the large end, the chick will be a male; and if on one side of the apex, it will be a female. But this cannot be accepted as being reliable, nor can any of the other numerous supposed methods for predetermining the sex of eggs.
Hens are required to lay eggs for the dealers of eggs, and young cocks are required for the dealers of fowls, and for converting into capons. Both businesses are carried on by different persons, and .hence the utility of determining the sex of eggs. M. G6nin says, that as the female skeleton of a fowl contains smooth bone, and that of the male rough, so the male egg is wrinkled at the small end, and the female is smooth at both ends. This is the result after three years' experience.
But all the indulged notions as to determining the sex of eggs, and regulating sex in breeding, have, in the case of poultry as of other animals, been proved over and over again to be fallacious. We take it that this is a law wisely kept beyond the knowledge and control of man.
The matter of sex of the egg is of no importance on a farm, as good chickens of both sexes are valuable as an article of food.

I point out these two tidbits as a reason to search further, know your time period, know what was proven to be a fallacy or just an oddity. Then have fun with it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Beds in particular the mattresses

There are some among us who can sleep on anything. I lean more to the princess and the pea type. The type of beds our characters sleep on, or prefer can make some fun moments in our books. Below are excerpts about various beds in 19th Century homes. It comes from "A House and Its Furnishings" ©1869 What I didn't find mentioned in this excerpt were straw mattresses.

"I must say I never could see the comfort of such an appliance to an English bedstead; but in French bedsteads the palliasse is sunk between the sides of the bedstead to within a few inches of the floor, and upon this a comfortable wool mattrass is placed, and again, one of horse-hair upon the top. Then, Lizzie, the arrangement is not barbarous, but exquisitely comfortable. The palliasse is no longer seen in well furnished French houses . it is re-placed by the luxurious spring mattrass. We have taken from the French the idea of both, but omitted to adopt the manner of using them. Just observe how we arrange them. The sides of our bedsteads are high from the ground, and, instead of being made for sinking a mattrass within, the sides have laths, upon which to rest the palliasse or mattrass, both being a quarter of a yard in thickness, which is again surmounted by a feather bed. This formidable affair, when the bedclothes are on, is now midway between the floor and ceiling, and requires steps to mount. Anything more inconvenient and uncomfortable can hardly be conceived; the getting in and out of such a bed requiring more manual dexterity than many delicate women possess. How it came to be the fashion in England I cannot imagine, but I believe it is fast going out.

"The French spring mattress is very comfortable, but expensive; and if the springs get out of order, they make a disagreeable noise, and are not very often effectually repaired. I have slept on a patent mattrass, made of laths running from head to foot of the bedstead, and mounted on springs, and this, being scarcely raised above the sides of the bedstead, is not open to the objection of increasing the height of the sides from the floor. Some such as this you must select, and, with two wool mattrasses on the top, a feather bed will not be needed."

"One feather bed we must have, mamma, for visitors."
"Visitors, Lizzie! and two hundred a year! You must be dreaming, child! No, no; the spare bed is a long way off yet."
"But, mamma, Edward is to have an increase of salary as soon as we return."
"True, my child; but let it be reserved for some future demand, which is sure to come—don't spend it on visitors. Keep true friends by every means in your power, and true friends will never seek to occupy a spare bed in a house where the income is known to be so limited."
"WelL then, mamma, I must confess to a weakness for a feather bed; you know I have always had one, and with a sacking to the bedstead; no excruciating laths for the mattrass to drop between and create ridges, which cannot be compensated for by the softest bed."
"If you prefer a feather bed, there is no reason why you should not have it—only it must be a good one—and such will be expensive."
"I saw some very cheap beds in a window the other day; these will be good enough, mamma."
"We will see if they answer my requirements, which are somewhat exacting. For instance, Lizzie, when the bed is pressed with the hand, the feathers must rise up instantly. If there be no elasticity, the bed is not good—the feathers are old—the down is wom off them—and they will readily lump together; or, perhaps, the bed has been bought at an auction, and the feathers without re-dressing or steaming, have been placed in a new tick, and thus offered for sale. Of all cheap things, a cheap bed is to be avoided. A manufacturer of beds who supplies them in numbers is the best to apply to. Again, the bed must be bordered, and the tick of linen; and finally, according to the weight of feathers, it must readily swell out, whether it be large or small, and be free from every musty smell; and when all this is secured, and you are in possession of your coveted treasure, the bed must be sewed into thin calico, or two old sheets, to keep it clean."

"And now, mamma, while we have leisure, tell me what counterpanes and bed-furniture I should have, and about the servant's bed. You cannot tell me your reasons for choosing this or that when we are buying, and I am just as likely to wish to have the wrong as the right articles."
"As regards the servant's bed, have an iron bedstead, with cross-bands, or laths of iron, a bolster, and two mattrasses, both of wool, and inexpensive; but allow a feather pillow, three white blankets, and a coloured one for counterpane. The sheets should be of unbleached cotton, not thick, but tolerably wide, and two yards and a-half long, and as these should be changed every fortnight, it will be necessary to have six sheets. At the time of changing the sheets, the mattrass should be taken out of doors, placed on a table—never on the ground, and be well beaten and aired in the sun. The bedstead should be brushed and dusted, and the floor be washed with salt and water. Unless a mistress sees that this is done, and that the blankets are well shaken, no directions will avail. The salt and water, as you know, is to prevent or kill insects of all kinds. You should have no bed-hangings in a servant's room, but the bed must be placed out of all draught from window, door, or chimney. Remember to be careful of a servant's health and comfort; but indulgence is not apt to improve her health, temper, or manners. It is a wicked maxim that 'anything will do for servants,' and equally unwise to pamper their foibles, or give them too much liberty, or license of speech."

Friday, February 12, 2016


Personally, I always loved swans. There were several in a pond near the Methodist Campgrounds on Martha's Vineyard where I grew up. Today's tidbit shares some information on these birds and their various types.

Whistling Swan.
Adult: General plumuge, white; bill and feet, black; a small yellow spot on bare loral skin at the base of the bill in front of the eye, which is not always present; the distance from the /ran/ angle of the eye to the back edge of the nostril is more than the distance from the bark edge of the nostril to the end of the hill . this is oue of the characters by which it may be always distinguished from the Trumpeter Swan; bill and feet, black.
The immature birds are usually pale, plumbeous gray, with a brownish wash on the head and upper neck: feet, pale yellowish, sometimes pale flesh color or grayish. Length, 53; w ing, 21.50: bill, 4: tarsus, 4.20.
Habitat: "The whole of North America, breeding far north, Commander Islands, Kamchatka, accidental in Scotland." (A. O. I'.)
The Whistling Swan is common in winter on the Atlantic coast about the Carol in as and Virginia, and occasionally wanders as far south as Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. It breeds in the far north, the nest being composed of leaves and grass and placed on the ground. The eggs, which are from three to rive, are dull white.

Trumpeter Swan.
Adult; General plumage, white; bare loral skin in front of eye, not yellow: bill and feet, black; the distance from the front angle of the et/e to the. Inick edge of the nostril is equal or less than the distance from the back edge of tin nostril to the end of the bill.
Immature birds are ashy gray, often tinged with brownish on the head and neck; bill and feet, dull yellowish brown, tinged with olive.
Habitat; "Chiefly the interior of North America, from the Gulf to the fur countries, breeding from Iowa and the Dakotas northward, west to the Pacific coast; rare or casual on the Atlantic." (A. O. II.)
The eggs of the Trumpeter Swan are soiled white, and usually from three to six in number. The nest, which is placed on the ground, is composed of grass lined with down.

The Whooping Swan, Olor cygnus (Linn.), is occasionally found in Greenland, but has not been recorded elsewhere in North America.
It is described as having the base of the mandible and the entire hare loral skin yellow.
Source: How to Know the Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America ©1897

Thursday, February 11, 2016

In Memory

Hi all,

Normally I don't share too much of my personal life on this blog, after all, that is not the purpose of this blog. However, today marks the birthday of our youngest son, Tim, he would have been 37 today. He died four and a half years ago. Tim was an artist and we've been blessed with several of his pieces. So, in memory of Tim I'm sharing a few of his artworks. The final piece title "I'm Late." won him one of the top pen and ink artists of the world. He was nominated by his piers. Enjoy!

And Finally a picture of Tim 8 months before his passing to heaven.

Love you, son and I'll see you again in the Lord's precious timing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Burning Fluids

What type of burning fluids are your characters putting in their lamps. This tidbit is something that might not have occurred to you. We tend to think oil for lamps but that was not the only burnable fluid available to our 19th Century ancestors or characters.

BURNING FLUID.—Best In Use— Alcohol, of 98 per cent 9 pts.; good camphene 1 qt., or in these proportions. Shake briskly, and it will at once become clear, when without the shaking it would take from 6 to 7 qts. of alcohol to cut the camphene, while with the least it is the best.
These proportions make the best burning fluid which can be combined. Many put in camphor gum, alum, &c., the first to improve its burning qualities, the last to prevent explosion, but they are perfectly useless for either, from the fact that campnor adds to the smoking properties, and nothing can prevent the gas arising from any fluid that will burn, from explosion, if the fire gets to it when it is confined. The only safety is in filling lamps in day-time, or far from fire or lights; and also to have lamps which are perfect in their construction, so that no gas may leak out along the tube, or at the top of the lamp; then let who will say he can sell you a recipe for non-explosive gas or fluid, you may set him down at once for a humbug, ignoramus, or knave. Yet you may set fire to this fluid, and if not confined it will not explode, but will continue to burn until all is consumed. Families cannot make fluid any cheaper than to buy it, as the profit charged on the alcohol is usually more than tkat charged on fluid; but they will have a better article by this recipe than they can buy, unless it is made from the same, and it is best for any one, even the retailer, only to make small quantities at a time, and get the freshest camphene possible. When made in large quantities, even a barrel, unless sold out very soon, the last part is not as good as the first, owing to the separation of the camphene from the alcohol, unless frequently shaken, whilst being retailed out.
Source: Dr Chase's Recipes ©1866

Monday, February 8, 2016

NYC Houses

Below is a description of a series of houses built in NYC. This comes from "The Manufacturer and Builder" ©1879. What I find interesting in this tidbit is the fact that the author admits that the house has a feel of more overall openness. Enjoy!

On the south side of East Seventy-first street, between Fourth and Lexington avenues, Mr. Chas. MacDonald has just completed three houses, which are well worth the attention of those who admire progress in architecture and approve of a change in the monotonous style of buildings that line our tip-town streets. Each house stands only upon n lot of 16.8x56, and yet there appears to be more room in the hallway than is generally found in n twenty foot house. True, it is done at the sacrifice of space in the front parlor, but the center and rear parlors make up for it in width, thus leaving the front parlor virtually to be used as a large reception room. The dining room is on the first floor in the rear of the parlor and extends across the full width of the house, while the middle room and parlor proper are lighted by a transom light, the dining room being lighted by a dome, giving the entire floor A most cheerful aspect. The rear room is connected with the kitchen by a stairway and dumbwaiter. In the wide hallway created by the cutting of the front room lire largo ornamental closets, adding considerably to the conveniences of a floor that is generally bereft of those foatures. The large front room in the basement is intended for a breakfast room, while the remainder of the basement is divided into a laundry, kitchen and storerooms, and withal there is n good sized yard. The houses are four stories high, of brown stone, and the front might bo called a French Gothic. The plans were made by John G. Prague, architect.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cream Soda

This little tidbit includes for Soda Fountains as well as for home use:

Cream Soda, Using Cow's Cream, For Fountains.— Nice loaf sugar 5 lbs.; sweet rich cream 1 qt.; water 1 1/2gills; warm gradually so as not to burn; extract of vanilla 3/4 oz.; extract of nutmeg 1/4 oz.
Just bring to a boiling heat, for if you cook it any length of time it will crystalize; use four or five spoons of this syrup instead of three as in other syrups. If used without a fountain, tartaric acid one-quarter pound is added. The tendency of this syrup is to sour rather quicker than other syrups, but it is very nice while it lasts; and if only made in small quantities and kept cool, it more than pays for the trouble of making often.

Cream Soda, Without A Fountain.—Coffee sugar 4 lbs; water 3 pts.; nutmegs grated 3 in number; whites oi 10 eggs well beaten; gum arabic 1 oz.; oil of lemon 20 drops; or extract equal to that amount. By using oils of other fruits you can make as many flavors from this as you desire, or prefer.
Mix all and place over a gentle fire, and stir well about thirty minutes; remove from the fire, strain, and divide into two parts; into one-half put supercarbonate of soda eight ounces; and into the other half put six ounces tartaric acid; shake well, and when cold they are ready to use, by oouring three or four spoons, from both parts, into separate glasses which are one-third full of cool water; stir each and pour together, and you have as nice a glass of cream soda as was ever drank, which can also be drank at your leisure, as the gum and eggs hold the gas.

Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes ©1866

Friday, February 5, 2016

Boston Patriot One of New England's earliest Newspapers

Below is a little history on the Boston Patriot. This information comes from "Newspapers and Newspaper Writers in New England." ©1880 It's an interesting article voicing the author's opinion about the paper and it's objectives. But I also believe it helps the reader understand some of the issues that might be debated during the later part of the 19th Century about the earlier part of the century.

On the 3d March, 1809, was issued the first number of the "Boston Patriot," Everett and Munroe publishers. It was started as a stalwart supporter of the administration of James Madison, and a most zealous opponent of the policy and measures of the Federalist party. David Everett, already well known as a political writer, was the editor, and in the first number set forth his view of the reciprocal rights and powers of the States and the General Government in a frank, manly, and very positive spirit. He promised that while politics would claim his chief atten
1 I am indebted to William W. Wheildon Esq., of Concord, for the use of a complete file of "The Boston Spectator," of which there are, probably, few copies preserved.
tion, the great and permanent interests of religion, morality, literature, and the municipal economy of the country would also be objects of primary regard; and he kept his word. The first number contained a vigorous assault upon "The Essex Junto " and its alleged conspiracy against the Union; also the protest of a minority of the State Senate in support of the embargo laws, bearing the still familiar names of Seth Sprague, William Gray, Nathaniel Morton, Samuel Dana, Nathan Willis, and several others. John Adams, then in his seventy-fifth year, came out of his retirement and contributed to the " Patriot" the remarkable series of letters giving a retrospect and vindication of his public life, which at the time attracted the attention of the whole country. The collected works of Fisher Ames, who had died a few months before, were just published, and the "Patriot" devoted a large part of its space for many months to a bitter and sanguinary review of them, involving also the whole tenor of his life and character.1
In May, 1817, the "Patriot," then published by Davis C. Ballard and Edmund Wright, Jr., bought the "Independent Chronicle," and the two papers were thenceforward published as a daily, under the title of the "Independent Chronicle and Boston Patriot," until the absorption of both in the "Daily Advertiser " in December, 1831.
During the period following the adoption of the Constitution there were, outside of Boston, several journals of
1 The spirit which Mr. Everett gave to his paper during all this warlike period may he inferred from the following postscript to one of his more elaborate articles: "In the firm belief in the reality of its principles, the 'Boston Patriot' has taken its stand in the front of the hottest battle; and now, while the enemy deliberate whether or not to fall upon it with all the vehemence of their wrath, the editor has thought proper to reconnoitre their entrenchments, and to show that he will on no occasion be found sleeping at his post."
influence and ability. Foremost among them was the "Salem Gazette," established in 1787 under the name of the "Mercury," by Thomas C. dishing, taking the present name three years later. For a short time (1794-97) William Carlton assumed the publication, and the Rev. Dr. Bently began with him the remarkable and altogether incomparable weekly summaries of the news of the world, which he continued in the "Register" for twenty-five years after. Mr. Cushing resumed the publication in 1797, and espoused the Federalist cause decisively and aggressively; and until the end, in 1815, was its most faithful defender. He was known among his friends, and lives in the traditions of Essex County, as " the amiable and gifted Cushing." But his good temper, his pure character, and his lovable nature were no proof against the fierce temper of that time. As a journalist he was lucid, earnest, and usually courteous; but he spared no energy of argument or of denunciation which his cause seemed to him to require.
The great contest of 1802 between Jacob Crowninshield and Timothy Pickering for Congress, Republican and Federalist,— the "Register," conducted by William Carlton, representing the former, the "Gazette" the latter, — is historical. Nothing like it has been known, or would be possible, in our time. Blows were given and received without mercy. Captain Crowninshield in company with Joseph Story, then a young lawyer in the first flush of his youthful genius, and a writer of political articles for the "Register," called upon Mr. Cushing and threatened to shoot him if he continued his assaults. "The Register," at the same time or soon after, was held in a suit for libel on Timothy Pickering, for which the editor was convicted, fined, and imprisoned. Yet it must be said that both journals were conducted with eminent ability and comparative decorum. I have read the old files diligently, and it needs much reading between the lines to discover the causes of the convulsion which rent parties and society asunder in that stormy time.
Mr. Cushing retired in 1822. His fighting days had long been over. Mr. Buckingham, who speaks kindly of every one, is especially kind to him. "The qualities of his heart," he says, " were not less amiable than the faculties of his mind were respectable. His bosom was the seat of all the gentle virtues ; his benevolence was unwearied ; his friendship disinterested, ardent, and sincere; his integrity steadfast, incorruptible, and unsuspected." Caleb Cushing, his illustrious son, conducted the paper for a few months; but the son had larger plans in view, and left it in the hands of Mr. Ferdinand Andrews, who in 1827 transferred it to Mr. Foote, the present senior proprietor, who for more than half a century has made the " Salem Gazette " a name for all that is pure, honest, and of good report in its profession, and who still lives in the enjoyment of a serene and honored old age.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chafing Dish

This tidbit comes from "One Hundred Recipes for the Chafing Dish" ©1894. I'd like to start off with this introduction quote from the book. I wrote a post back in 2013 also on the chafing dish here's the link.

THIS Book is intended to give pleasure to those who enjoy using a Chafing Dish. The formulas are simple, easy to follow, and are not designed to prove that elaborate dishes can be prepared, but that many articles of food can easily be made very delicate, toothsome and enjoyable.

Next I'm going to include excerpts (tidbits) from the book:

More than two thousand years ago the Chafing Dish fulfilled its true office as the promoter of man's palatable pleasures at the tables of the wealthy Greeks and Romans.

The Chafing Dish is a cosmopolitan vessel. It belongs to all nations. It was no less appreciated by the French than the English.

The Chafing Dish ever identified with the progressive phase of life appeared in America in 1720.

The mastery of the Chafing Dish is one of the undisputed arts where a man and woman may share equal privileges and triumphs. A man may prove his skill in cooking with it without detracting from his dignity and a woman can scarcely manipulate it without adding to her charm.

The Chafing Dish not only makes possible the sincerest expression of the most perfect hospitality, but it seems the true symbol of good fellowship. It develops a spirit of royal camaraderie. Even a pessimist would be inclined to judge his neighbor by his excellencies and not by his defects, as succulent odors whet the appetite and carry the sweet assurance of coming gustatory joys.
Verily, " a good dish sharpens the wit and softens the heart." Who can measure the beneficent influence of exquisite savours!

The Chafing Dish is the culinary censer exceedingly important feature in successful Chafing Dish cooking, is that the wicks of the lamp should be perfectly trimmed, and the reservoir about one half full of alcohol, after cooking a dish, and when making preparations for another, look carefully after this feature.
Have the wicks so regulated that all available flame shall be entirely under the dish, and that none of it shall come up the sides.
As the water is very liable to boil over, it is best to have a tray under the Chafing Dish to catch it, or any other drippings.

The rest of the book is filled with recipes. If you're interested in a copy of the book it is available from Google Books. Here's the link One Hundred Recipes for the Chafing Dish

Can't you just see your characters using or rather trying to use one of these at the table? Oh the situations that could be written.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016