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Thread: In an "urban" setting.....

  1. #1
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    Question In an "urban" setting.....

    Was there someone who would come around if you desired and clean out your outhouse or collect the contents of your chamber pots and dispose of the "mess?" Or, was so little known about sanitation, you just dug a new hole or emptied your chamber pots in the street?
    Eli Heagy
    187th PV

    The 137th NY performed way, way better than the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. They just didn't have a self promoting blow hard of a Col. leading them.
    "I didn't do my homework when I was in school. And, you expect me to do yours for you? Not happening."

  2. #2

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    You might enjoy a perusal of the website "Dictionary of Victorian London" and their sub-sections on "Professions" and "Health & Hygiene" which should give you a few period terms to begin looking for American versions of the same professions.

    There is another book that lists employments, descriptions, work conditions, etc. ...but I've forgotten what it's called and can't find it among my book lists. If I do find it, I'll post it.
    -Elaine Kessinger

  3. #3
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    I don't know about other areas, but there was such a service in Tuscaloosa Alabama, then a thriving river town, with a university and several boarding/finishing schools.

    Most of the great houses on the boulevard occupied about two-four acres each, house, outbuildings and gardens. Pits could be stone lined and a clean out service was available.

    My own 1920's home sits on the grounds of an 1840's home. That house was jacked up and pivoted to open up its long lawn for a subdivision in 1920. Repairing storm damage after a hurricane, we discovered partial walls of one such pit, confirmed as such by a man who had boarded in the 1840's house as a student during WWI.

    I already knew that my house was built over the brick and clay tennis courts of the great house. It's the excuse I rely on when all my grass and shrubbery dies off in the summer. I can see the hard packed layers in the walls of my cellar.
    Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net



    Moderator, When I remember. We got Rules here!



  4. #4
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    If you search for "night soil", you should find the information that you're looking for. While a quick perusal found many hits in reference to English history, there should be some information that you can extrapolate as to American practices.
    Bob Welch
    Dirty Shirts

    Macomb and the Civil War
    , my sesquicentennial blog about life in Western Illinois during the war years.

  5. #5
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    Now, there's a job for someone at Westville, huh? ew ick. And, yep, it looks like the Night Soil man, was a regular and most common profession.



    Last edited by lincolnsguard; 08-16-2012 at 09:18 AM.
    Eli Heagy
    187th PV

    The 137th NY performed way, way better than the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. They just didn't have a self promoting blow hard of a Col. leading them.
    "I didn't do my homework when I was in school. And, you expect me to do yours for you? Not happening."

  6. #6
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    And more:





    All you need is a bucket and a shovel and then a place to put your booty!
    Eli Heagy
    187th PV

    The 137th NY performed way, way better than the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. They just didn't have a self promoting blow hard of a Col. leading them.
    "I didn't do my homework when I was in school. And, you expect me to do yours for you? Not happening."

  7. #7
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    Williamsburg/Richmond, Virginia
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    I would highly recommend reading, "Foul Bodies, Cleanliness in Early America" by Kathleen Brown. I think it gives an incredible perspective on hygiene habits in early american history which is a great way to frame any conversation about 19th century "standards." Another avenue of approach would be to call historic urban area's with great archaeological regulations and or archaeological firms. Being Virginia-centric I would suggest contacting the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. There are a large number of resources available in Philadelphia and Charleston as well. Privy pits or the repository for urban outhouses are typically not drained but are limed and if need be a new pit dug and the house moved. Dumping pots on streets is HIGHLY discouraged and in most cases come with heavy fines shortly after Jamestown's establishment.
    Drew Gruber
    3rd Regiment USV- Buffington's Boys
    Atlantic Guard Soldiers Aid Society
    Backus's Bodacious Battery- PNB Artillery Crew

    "...mow hay, cut wood, prepare great food, drink schwitzel, knit, sew, spin wool, rock out to a good pinch of snuff and somehow still find time to go fly a kite." N.B.
    Now thats living history.

  8. #8
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    Collector of night soil. Certainly an underrepresented impression! Given its use in making gunpowder, are there indications this stuff went from being mostly a disposable nuisance to a valuable commodity as the war went on, or were other sources of the necessary chemicals easily available?
    Bill Watson
    I write about history for people who regret not being there when it happened.

    Books
    Brother William's War, Illustrated, about a Southerner's war
    The Ludlam Legacy, Illustrated, about a young Yankee orphan's war.
    Seize the Day! A best-practices guide to wringing more satisfaction from your Civil War weekend
    The Little Book of Civil War Reenacting: An introduction for those who want to try it out

  9. #9
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    Oh Bill, you've stepped in it now!!


    Handbill and subsequent lyrics to follow.
    Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net



    Moderator, When I remember. We got Rules here!



  10. #10
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    "THE LADIES OF SELMA ARE RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED TO PRESERVE THE CHAMBER LYE COLLECTED ABOUT THEIR PREMISES FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING NITRE. A BARREL WILL BE SENT AROUND DAILY TO COLLECT IT."

    JOHN HARRELSON
    AGENT NITRE AND MINING




    THESE POEMS WERE SOON TO FOLLOW BY THE SOLDIERS ON BOTH SIDES:

    SOUTHERN VERSION

    "AN APPEAL TO JOHN HARRELSON"

    JOHN HARRELSON, JOHN HARRELSON, YOU ARE A WRETCHED CREATURE,
    YOU'VE ADDED TO THIS WAR A NEW AND AWFUL FEATURE,
    YOU'D HAVE US THINK WHILE EVERY MAN IS BOUND TO BE A FIGHTER,
    THE LADIES, BLESS THEIR PRETTY DEARS, SHOULD SAVE THEIR P** FOR NITRE,

    JOHN HARRELSON, JOHN HARRELSON, WHERE DID YOU GET THIS NOTION,
    TO SEND YOUR BARREL AROUND THE TOWN TO GATHER UP THIS LOTION,
    WE THOUGHT THE GIRLS HAD WORK ENOUGH IN MAKING SHIRTS AND KISSING,
    BUT YOU HAVE PUT THE PRETTY DEARS TO PATRIOTIC P*SSING,

    JOHN HARRELSON, JOHN HARRELSON, DO PRAY INVENT A NEATER
    AND SOMEWHAT LESS IMMODEST MODE OF MAKING YOUR SALTPETER,
    FOR "TIS AN AWFUL IDEA, JOHN, GUNPOWDERY AND CRANKY,
    THAT WHEN A LADY LIFTS HER SKIRT, SHE'S KILLING OFF A YANKEE.


    NORTHERN VERSION

    JOHN HARRELSON, JOHN HARRELSON, WE'VE READ IN SONG AND STORY
    HOW A WOMEN'S TEARS THROUGH ALL THE YEARS HAVE MOISTENED FIELDS OF GLORY,
    BUT NEVER WAS IT TOLD BEFORE,HOW, MID SUCH SCENES OF SLAUGHTER,
    YOUR SOUTHERN BEAUTIES DRIED THEIR TEARS AND WENT TO MAKING WATER,

    NO WONDER THAT YOUR BOYS ARE BRAVE, WHO COULDN'T BE A FIGHTER,
    IF EVERY TIME HE SHOT A GUN HE USED HIS SWEETHEARTS NITRE ?
    AND, VICE-VERSA, WHAT COULD MAKE A YANKEE SOLDIER SADDER,
    THAN DODGING BULLETS FIRED BY A PRETTY WOMANS BLADDER.


    This particular version is in the Francis Blair Papers in the LOC. Other versions are traceable to various newspapers throughout the country.


    Proabably the most recent publication on the larger subject is "Confederate Niter District Eight: Middle Tennessee & Northwest Georgia" by Marion O. Smith. It is Bulletin NO. 5 of the Tennessee Cave Survey and was printed in 2011. This dealt primariyly with the mining of Niter.

    In Selma itself, a number of young men made their fortune (short lived though it was) and avoided the draft by building the straw beds on the outskirts of town. Urine was poured on in volume so that nitre crystalized on the straw, and was additionally refined before being processed into gunpowder. Selma Arsenal fell in early April, 1865. Countless munitions and cannon were dumped into the river, and remain there today.

    About five years ago, a large naval cannon built at Selma was captured during the Battle of Mobile Bay was returned by the U S Government to the City of Selma. It sits on the lawn of city hall, pointing north.

    Edited to add--I had to hum awhile to get this tune and words that I learned as a child (yep, Alabama History in 4th grade) to come to the well known recognizeable tune--O Tannenbaum/Oh Christmas Tree
    Last edited by Spinster; 08-16-2012 at 10:49 PM. Reason: adding info
    Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net



    Moderator, When I remember. We got Rules here!



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