Hygiene & Education in the 1800s per Bob Wright

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From Bob Wright's post
"Most of the Clint Eastwood shows are too overdone on the scraggley appearance and ignorance of folks of the day. Most men did clean up, and were not bumbling idiots. My grandparents were "of the day" and were neat in appearance. Not quite so polished as today, but certainly not unwashed bumpkins."

This post got me to thinking which is not good.:) It in NOOOOOOO way meant to RAG on Bob. I'm just curious.
Bob I would think that your statement would depend on what part of the country you lived in. In town which had many advantages or a farmer family on the plains living in a Dugout or Soddy. How about the Cowboy that has been riding Drag for 3 months and might not have gone to school. Being a cowboy was a rough dirty way of life for sure.

If you had to get water from the well or river bring it to the stove to heat it when it was raining or snowing it might limit when you take a bath. There are many stories of how people performed their hygiene in the 1800s and most are not good. Just think of all of the horse crap on the streets, flies, mud when it rained and dust when it didn't.

As far as education yes there had to be school educated folks but there were many that were not. For instance my Grandfather had 11 brothers and sisters and lived on a farm. He had to quit school at the 6th grade to help on the farm. He was not dumb just not educated in schools. My Dad and his brother grew up on their farm in the depression with no indoor plumbing or electricity until they moved to town when Dad was in high school. Dad wore hand me downs most of the time.

I'm curious to know where and what your grandparents did and lived.
When looking at old pictures of people living in the West it was obvious it was tough for a lot of them. Looking at pictures of the City Folk it seems they were always dressed up with hats ties and such while in town.

Remember the statement Don't throw the baby out with the bath water:) Father was first to take a bath.
 

eveled

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I think the tendency is to say definitively “this is how it was”. It may have been that way, but that doesn’t mean it was like that everywhere for everyone.

My great grandfather was a school teacher in Nova Scotia. He also helped people with legal matters because many still couldn’t read at that time. After hearing from many sources how smart and respected he was it was kind of startling to find out he only had an 8th grade education.
 

Mobuck

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I came from a shall we say 'throwback' background. We didn't have running water until I was in high school. Once a week bath was common with a daily 'sponge bath' if necessary. Even after we moved to a place that had indoor plumbing, water was limited by the capacity of the cistern so baths were 'as needed' rather than just whenever one wanted. Boys had physical education (gym class) 3 days per week and I made good use of the after PE showers provided by the school.
It's all about what one is used to or how/where one was raised.
 

Bob Wright

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I posted this elsewhere recently:

"I don't know the year, but my mother had pictures of her Dad, one of which one was when he headed a log train leaving middle Tennessee. The men shown are neatly dressed in what appears to be three piece suits and hats. I remember my mother telling me that it took six weeks going and six weeks to return. This hauling logs to Wichita, Kansas some time after the Civil War."

My mother was born in 1896 in middle Tennessee, in a community called Defeated Creek. Her father was born in 1847. He was an circuit riding Methodist preacher, farmer and raised horses at times. So some of the first wooden structures in Wichita were made from lumber harvested in middle Tennessee.

My paternal grandfather, and for whom I am named, was a wheat farmer in Nashville area and got into the real estate business and later became the owner of an automobile repair shop. Also had a rural free delivery route and held a deputy sheriff's commission.

Bob Wright
 

Bob Wright

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My mother's brother lived on a creek near the town of Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. So long as he lived, they never had electricity nor running water. Water came from the well, either drawn up in a bucket or by a pump. There was a wash stand on the back porch, with a bucket of water nearby. A mirror hung on the wall, and a cake of soap was nearby. When coming in from the field, one washed face and hands and combed their hair. Boots were scraped and brushed before going into the house. The cook stove had two tanks on each side to heat water while cooking the meal. The house was swept using broom sage for a broom. A wooden box in the creek served as the refrigerator for milk and butter. Because of its warmth from cooking, the kitchen was the bathroom for bathing. Boys first, then the girls.

Primitive, but they were clean.
 
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Thanks Bob

My Grandmother lived in a small town in Ohio during the 50s early 60s. Her house did not have plumbing and the only water was from a small pump in the kitchen mounted to the sink.
I would never stay overnight because I didn't want to have to go outside or use the chamber pot at night.
I find it hard to believe that the house in town was not supplied with utilities at that time period. The town also still had brick streets.
Her pump was like this one that we have in our downstairs half bath. But with this one all you have to do to get water is lift the handle
1670291532497.png



The one holer.
1670291509171.png
 
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Bob Wright

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As to water, most houses had rain barrels, regardless of their usual source of water. Girls, vain girls, believed rain water was good for washing their hair, better than creek or well water. Some folks believed if water was collected in a storm with lightning it was even better. And spring water, flowing over limestone, was always considered better for making whisky than well water.
 

Johnny-Baseball

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Here's a picture of Texas cowboys on a cattle drive in the 1880s. None are clean shaven, all look like you could smell them miles before you could see them.
 

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Johnny-Baseball

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My maternal grandfather was an oilfield roughneck, and a driller of oil wells in West Texas and Oklahoma. The very few pictures of him show an always-filthy face and hands, even when his shirts were clean. Went with the territory I guess.

My paternal grandfather was a farmer-turned-machinist. Pictures of him on the farm show an unkempt young man with old clothes. As a machinist, his clothes were cleaner (but full of holes from metal shavings, I suppose) but his fingernails were forevermore dirty. He was my best friend when I was 3 or 4 years old - taught me to shoot a rifle and throw a baseball.

My maternal great-grandmother lived in a tiny house (that my grandfather built for her) behind my grandmother's house. My grandfather installed an indoor toilet with running water for her. Great granny, having never encountered indoor plumbing of any sort, used to get her drinking water from, and wash her hands in the commode. 'Nuff said about her cleanliness habits.

Point is - none of my grandparents stayed cleaned up. It had more to do with their occupations than their hygiene preferences.
 

ole442

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Ohio! Way too freakin' close to the city!
The corncobs are a nice touch!
My aunt, Uncle & cousins lived on a farm in Indiana when I was about 5 years old! Had to go one night & my Dad took me out to the outhouse in the dark and sat me down. Something in the pit under the outhouse started thrashing around and I puckered up. In the morning, they said it was most likely the pigs! Didn't change my taste for bacon though! Good sh*t!
 

turd

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One story about back in the day I was told by an older gentleman I worked with for a time. This was in SE Iowa farm country. The local banker built a big brick house up on a hill so everyone could see how successful he was. It was the first house in the county to have an indoor toilet. He said his grandma could never understand the concept and would say "what kind of man would want to sh*t in the house". 🤣
 
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Interesting thread. I have often wondered about this when watching an old western movie. "How clean were they?" The only pictures I've seen of my long gone relatives are black and white of course. But they were also well dressed. Probably because pictures were a serious thing back then, nobody had an iphone.

I just looked it up, about 4.5 billion pictures per day world wide. Nobody dresses up for an ordinary picture anymore.

Same with my wife's relatives in Bulgaria. I've managed to save lots and lots of old B&W photos of her long gone relatives. They are all dressed up.

No telling how ripe was the aroma...
 

Ride1949

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One story about back in the day I was told by an older gentleman I worked with for a time. This was in SE Iowa farm country. The local banker built a big brick house up on a hill so everyone could see how successful he was. It was the first house in the county to have an indoor toilet. He said his grandma could never understand the concept and would say "what kind of man would want to sh*t in the house". 🤣

I can't think of a more fitting post for someone with your user name. :ROFLMAO: (y)
 
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