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Our Pioneers' Way of Life
How Our Ancestors Lived

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One Room Schools Birthing Babies at Home
Mail Service Cooking and Canning
The Family Farm Canning in Cans and the Tomato Comes of Age

 This is Page Two

From the Commode to the Privy to Indoors! Grocery Shopping
The Telephone Medicine & the Healing Arts
The Automobile Toys and Games
The IceBox - and the IceMan Money
Religion .
The WCTU Other Pioneer Pages - Related Links
The Circus .

From The Commode to the Privy to Indoors!

I have often held that, beyond a shadow a doubt, the indoor toilet is the greatest invention ever invented by man. (Followed closely, no doubt, by the invention of toilet paper! Can you really imagine life without toilet paper!)

I am only personally familiar with the small, 3'x3' one-holer of my grandfather, but I do remember being in awe while inside a neighbor's 3-holer once. But, of course, one only heard about the grand and glorious, roomy, bricked, 5-holers, with a STOVE no less! And in the mountains, of course, two story privy's. This was so the folks would have a privy when the snow got too high and blocked the door on the lower level! I vividly remember running as fast as I could in the middle of the night so the "boogie" man wouldn't get me.

In order for the toilet to come indoors, three things had to happen: 1) a means devised to bring water into the home, i.e., water supply and indoor plumbing 2) the device itself, and 3) a means of disposal.

As for the commode (flushable toilet) itself, there were various patents filed beginning about 1850 for various versions of an indoor commode. Some folks would have us to believe that one Mr. Thomas Crapper was the inventor of the flush toilet, others disagree. For another page on Tom, see Tom Crapper - A Man, A Plan, A Commode! Actually, the toilet, as we know it today, wasn't invented in one stroke of genius. It took the contributions of many people to finally make it happen. For a less tongue-in-cheek, and possibly more accurate, history of the various changes in the design of the toilet, visit The Men that Made the Water Closet.

As far as getting rid of the material placed in the "toilette", the web site The History of Plumbing in America tells us: "Engineer Julius W. Adams provided the framework upon which modem sewerage is based. In 1857, Adams was commissioned to sewer the city of Brooklyn, which then covered 20 square miles. There was no data available in proportioning sewers for the needs of the people. Yet, working from scratch, Adams developed guidelines and designs that made modern sanitary engineering possible. More importantly, he published the results. By the end of the century, how-to textbooks would be available for towns and cities to use all across the country."

Of course, our pioneering ancestors on the farm had no access to such modern conveniences, and had to wait for the coming of the septic tank for their means of disposal.

The History of Plumbing in America goes on to tell us: "In the early 19th century, U.S. production of the closet was inferior to the English, and most closets were imported. By 1873, 43 British firms, including Twyford, Doulton, and Shanks were exporting high quality closets to the U.S. By century’s end, U.S. manufacturers caught up with the Europeans, and American products began to swamp this market. The American sanitary industry was said to have been born when pottery maker and decorator Thomas Maddock teamed up with his friend William Leigh. The timing was none to soon, because importing English materials was a very costly endeavor."

For a very complete rundown on the history of indoor plumbing, the commode, the indoor bath and such related matters, check out: The History of Plumbing in America, an excellent addition to your bathroom reading! (Actually, it is more interesting than the title might suggest.)

For more on your commodal history, check out these sites:

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The Telephone

The first evidence of a phone we have in the family is that Marjorie (McBride) Weaver recalls that Aunt Pim called over to the Millirons when her dad, Kansas Pioneer Edwin Maxwell Taylor, died of a heart attack in the garden, in 1906.

Even until, and through, the 1950's, my grandparent's had one of those phones that hung on the wall, with the mouthpiece at the end of a cord and the receiver in the wall. It was a party line, with neighbors sharing lines (and sometimes "spying" on neighbors to everyone's dislike). Neighbors on a party line knew if an incoming call was for them by whether it rang two shorts and a long and similar codes of ringing.

The Telephone History Web Site has "everything you ever wanted to know" about telephone history.

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The Automobile

We believe that some of the family had automobiles before 1910. John Lawrence Hass recalls in a letter to me that farmers still didn't get rid of horses for many years, however, as the conditions of roads in the country wasn't that great. Cars could not be counted on in bad weather in the country. My father related to me that he believes my grandfather was one of the last farmers in Cloud County, Kansas to still farm with horses, up into the 1930's.

When folks think of the automobile and history, they often think of the car. But, another effect of the automobile invention was trucking and the ability to bring goods and food to rural America, which greatly expanded things to be purchased that our pioneers never had. And not to mention the impact on other areas of their lives, such as delivery of mail and even news to the farm, rather than having to pick mail up in town once a week or once a month.

I recall, in my interview with Marjorie (McBride) Weaver of over 20 years ago, how she related we take so many things for granted, for example, oranges. She remembered what a rarity, a treat, it was to get oranges once or twice a year.

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The IceBox - and the IceMan

After my granddad and grandmother lost their farm just after the first World War, they moved to town and Granddad got a job as an Iceman for the local Icehouse in Concordia, Kansas. I wasn't around to know what this job was like, but following a visitor to our web pages remembers her Iceman, and a former Iceman describes what his job was like!

Marybeth (Lantow) Mays writes to us:

Thanks, Marybeth, for your remembrance - Webmaster

This remembrance is contributed by Wayne Grindol, who delivered ice in Kansas from the 1920's to the 1940's.

For another remembrance about ice, see Getting Ice, at the Walton Old Timer Page.

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Religion and Religious Beliefs:

The Taylor's and Beaty's were Methodist Episcopalian. Sarah Beaty grew up in a Methodist home in a Moravian community. I am quite sure the Johnstons were Presbyterian. James Taylor and Sarah McCart were married by a Mennonite minister. Our Backus and Seabury ancestors (mom's side) produced some well-known religious leaders during the Great Awakening. Following are some web sites of interest to the history of churches and their impact on our ancestors' lives:

The House of Church History is a very interesting collections of histories of various religions and religious figures, with links, links, and more links: . This site includes:

Methodists: Presbyterians Congregational Churches - the "descendant" church of the Puritans Anabaptists German Origins: Puritans Any Group With the Word "Brethern" in it Historical - No Particular Religion Comprehensive Religous Lists of Links I have my own theory on one reason religion played a big role in the lives of our pioneers. Farming is a very lonely life. What better way to socialize with your peers than to gather at church once a week? That's not to belittle the seriousness with which many took their religion, but a commentary on what life must have been like on a farm.

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The Women's Temperance Christian Union

Per Hulda Sarah Beaty's obituary: "The WCTU held very appropriate services at the home, a service of love and respect for this departed sister, also a sympathy for those left to mourn her. She was a member of the W.R.C. and the WCTU for over 25 years."

The WCTU played a pivotal role on the influence of the day that eventually led to prohibition. See the WCTU Home Page, which is still an active organization. One of the leading, and controversial (and extreme) leaders of this movement was Carrie Nation. and here also. Here is a complete history of the temperance movement, from 1650 through to today, including the heydays in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

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The Circus

Today we have movies and Disneyland. In the 1800's, America, and the rest of the world had P.T. Barnum, the greatest showman on earth, who redefined what entertainment is. His first, early exhibitions began as early as the 1830's, but his crowning glory was the Barnum circus, started in the same year that Edwin and Hulda Taylor settled in Kansas, in 1871. Circuses traveled all over the country, delighting our hard-working pioneers with laughs and entertainment. In 1881, the same year that the Johnston's settled in Cloud County, Barnum joined forces with James Bailey to form the Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show on Earth. P.T. Barnum was a pioneer of our country in the 1800's, too.

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Grocery Shopping

Our pioneer ancestors shopped by entering a grocery and giving the clerk their shopping list. The clerk then collected the goods and collected the money at the front counter. Clarence Saunder's changed all this in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916. He thought: "Why not have the customer come in and just pick up the goods off the shelves themselves?" This concept would lead to the "supermarket", the self-service grocery store!! Read more about the history of the supermarket at the website for this store that continues with the name it had then: The Piggly Wiggly Story (click on Corporate Info - can't link directly to page because it is in frame format).

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Medicine and the Healing Arts

Although we have seen many dramatic advances in medicine in our own century, medical advances in the nineteenth century paved the way for the miracles of today.

See this page on the advance of medicine in the nineteenth century: From Quackery to Bacteriology. - The Emergence of Modern Medicine in 19th Century America. This page covers such wide-ranging topics as patent medicine, quackery, the effect of the Civil War on the treatment of both diseases and injuries, the advancement of public health and nursing and other topics.

For an exhaustive time-line history of medicine and the biological sciences, visit A Chronology of Significant Historical Developments in the Biological Sciences.

Smallpox was a dreaded disease of our ancestors. Although "vaccination" against it had been somewhat "known" by the ancient Chinese, Edward Jenner, in 1796, first conceived of vaccinating a person with cowpox cells, after noting that folks that had cowpox didn't get smallpox. Smallpox vaccination was common by the 1830's. By 1900, vaccination against smallpox was a widely accepted practice in many parts of the world, but it took until only the last decade or so before the United Nations pronounced it eradicated world-wide. See this tutorial on Smallpox Vaccination - Follow the links at the bottom of each screen, which are in a question format, as a tutorial about the history of smallpox vaccine up to today.

In 1859, Robert Chesebrough (of Chesebrough-Ponds fame invented/discovered Vaseline. In 1899, a chemist for the Bayer Company in Germany "re-discovered" aspirin.

See also:

Read about the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and a list of epidemics of the United States 1657-1918

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Toys and Games

Toy History site explains the origins of some games of our ancestors: jacks, the doll, the kaleidoscope.

See the Pioneer Games, Stories and Songs Page, as well.

Pioneer Games describes some pioneer games of the past.

Marbles -  I can vaguely remember playing and collecting marbles as a kid. Here is a set of rules for playing marbles. I'm not sure if these were the same rules our ancestors used, but will give you an idea of the game. This page is a subset of the Marbles Collector Page.

Checkers was a big game for our pioneer ancestors.

The Story of the Teddy Bear.  In 1902, two different people, one in America and one in Germany, independently conceived of the idea of a "Bear Doll". The one in America, who's trade name eventually won out in popular acceptance, was designed after seeing a cartoon of Teddy Roosevelt with a bear cub that had been "tied" to a tree for him to shoot during one of his hunts. Teddy couldn't bring himself to shoot the cub and set him free and the resulting cartoon inspired the original American inventor. This inventor went on to found Ideal Toy Company, one of the largest toy companies in the world.

Lionel Trains: In 1906, Joshua Lionel Cowen, inventor of the flashlight, also invented Lionel trains run with batteries.

The Little Red Wagon: In 1917, Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin began making wooden wagons called the Liberty Coaster. Ten years later he adopted the steel assembly-line process of Henry Ford and began churning out Radio Flyer "little red wagons".

Bicycles. Not exactly a toy, but this seems to be the best place to put this next item. The bicycle boom really began in the 1880's and 1890's. The bicycle had many repercussions for our way of life at that time. It provided transportation beyond what walking could provide. It provided sporting events to compete with baseball. In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world." See The Bike History Page

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The History of Money in North America - excellent review of money in our history and its various forms.

History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies

History of Money @ lycos

Wampum was used as money by early New Englanders and later as Americans moved West to trade with Indians. Without some form of money, the economy of early America (New England and Virginia), would have been stymied. New England did not have tobacco, and was the home of some of the best wampum makers among the Indians, so it used wampum for money, in addition to other items. Wampum was a form of jewelry.

See the WampumWorks Web Site for more information on what wampum is, its history and why it was valued.

An essay on Wampum.

TheBeadSite - another wampum site. An interesting tidbit: "Church ministers complained that people were putting broken wampum, undrilled wampum or imitation wooden wampum into the collection plates."

The Significance of Wampum to Seventeenth Century Indians in New

Clothing and Shoes of the Past

Godey's Lady's Book was the one of the more popular ladies magazines of the 1800's. From it's archives, you can see comments and drawings of fashions of the day.

The Pioneer Dress Collection has photographs of fashion of the 1800's.

Shoes. Probably no more feature of our modern comforts that we take for granted are the shoes we wear. Our pioneering ancestors certainly never had the pleasure of Nike's, hiking boots, or even the concept of soles attached to uppers.

Shoes were made by hand until the mid 1800's, when the invention of the sewing machine eventually led to mechanizing shoe-making. The heel is a relatively modern enhancement to shoes. While made by hand, shoes were not made separately for left and right feet.

The About Inventors Page has a neat set of links to shoe history web sites.
A time-line of shoe history with a summary of the history of seven types of shoes.
History of Footware

History of Shoes

Medieval Shoes and how they were made.

Other Pioneer Pages

The Walton Old-Timers Page, a great collection of remembrances from the past.

The Pioneers Page is chock full of information about our Pioneers.

The WPA Life Histories Collection has some wonderful stories of pioneers. This is a collection of stories and diaries collected during the 1930's by the WPA, a government project during the depression, and is now a part of the Library of Congress web page. The material was gathered from senior citizens of the 1930's, who either remembered homesteading in the late 1800's, or who were first generation children of pioneers. Some really great stories and diaries here.

Explore the Frontiers of Time and Space.  Excellent memoirs, biographies, and diaries of various aspects of ancestors of the webmaster.

I found the Memoirs of David Hunter Patterson to be fascinating. He recounts the area of Big Cove, in Fulton County, PA, where our McConnels (and maybe also McClellands) are from; from its early settlements through about 1920, with details of everyday life from describing roads and saddles to other vivid descriptions.

The Web Page of Useless Information has some interesting articles on the origins of everyday items, along with some humor.

The History of How Soap Is Made... is a clean enough subject... <g>

Visit the Tour of Saybrook and see drawings of different archictectural styles in the 1600's and 1700's of actual buildings still standing in Saybrook. Saybrook was founded in 1635, one of the earliest British settlements in America, just five years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony was started.

This is a page illustrating and discussing the every day life of our colonial ancestors - Pre-Revolution.

The History of Fashion, Dress and Costumes.

Tumbleweeds - ever heard of them...?? Remember the song, "Tumblin' Tumbleweed"?Read this article about a Kansas lady who sells Kansas tumbleweeds over the web... The Tumblin' Tumbeweeds Web Site.

Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by Norris M. Taylor, Jr.

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