Facts Worth Knowing in the 1800s

Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of books in my personal research library about various subjects. One book is an 1887 Edition of The Original White House Cookbook by P.L. Gillette. This book is full of recipes by the presidential First Ladies of the White House and actual menus served in addition to one of the State dinners, Mrs. Cleveland’s wedding lunch and President Grant’s birthday dinner. Then at the back are several very interesting sections.

One is labeled For the Sick and lists things to feed someone who’s ailing. Such as: Beef tea, Mutton broth, Gruel, and Porridges. Then it also has a section on how to make different poultices, a remedy for boils, and a cure for ringworms.

Another section is called Heath Suggestions. I found it very enlightening and funny. For instance: “People swallow more colds down their throats than they inhale or receive from contact with the air, no matter how cold or chilly it may be.”

So don’t be swallowing a cold down your throat!

Furthermore…. “Many colds are taken from the feet being damp or wet.”

“Sleeplessness caused by too much blood in the head may be overcome by applying a cloth wet with cold water to the back of the neck.” (HaHa!)

There’s a miscellaneous section that tells you how to clean kid gloves, freshen up furs, wash feathers, and clean oil-cloths. Invaluable I’m sure if you’d lived back then.

Then we come to Facts Worth Knowing and this is priceless.

To clean marble busts: First free them from all dust, then wash them with very weak hydrochloric acid. Soap injures the color of marble. (You want to keep your marble busts in tip-top shape.)

To keep milk sweet: Put into a panful of grated horseradish and it will keep it sweet for days.

To remove paint from black silk: Patient rubbing with chloroform will remove paint from black silk or any other goods and will not hurt the most delicate color or fabric.

To remove stains, spots and mildew from furniture: Take half a pint of ninety-eight percent alcohol, a quarter of an ounce of pulverized resin and gum shellac, add a pint of linseed oil and shake well. Apply with a brush or sponge.

To soften boots and shoes use kerosene. Saturate a woolen rag and rub into the leather.

Choking: A piece of food lodged in the throat may sometimes be pushed down with the finger, or removed with a hairpin quickly straightened and hooked at one end, or by two or three vigorous blows on the back between the shoulders. (Alrighty! I’m laughing here. Seriously? A finger or hairpin down my throat?)

To prevent lamp wicks from smoking soak them in vinegar then dry thoroughly. (This is something we all need to know. My lamp wicks smoke something horribly.)

Never use water from a stone reservoir for cooking purposes. (Huh?)

To prevent the odor of boiling ham or cabbage: Throw red pepper pods or a few bits of charcoal into the pan with them. (Good Lord!)

Death to bugs: Varnish is death to the most persistent bug. It is cheap—ten cents’ worth will do for one bedstead—is easily used, is safe, and improves the look of the furniture. The application must be thorough, however. Coat the slats, sides, and every crack and corner.

To make tough meat tender lay it in strong vinegar water.

To ventilate a room place a pitcher of cold water on a table and it will absorb all the gases with which the room is filled from the respiration of those eating or sleeping. Very few realize how important such purification is for the health of the family or understand that there can be impurity in the rooms; yet in a few hours it will make the air pure. But the water will be unfit to drink.

There were tons of these pieces of sage advice. A few are what we do today but others were just really off the wall and kept me laughing. I wonder what things we do now that future generations will snicker at. No telling but I’m sure there’ll be plenty.

Which things that I mention in this book caught your attention?

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon:  http://a.co/fBoY1sG

Just three weeks until The Heart of a Texas Cowboy!! Happy, happy!


Facts Worth Knowing in the 1800s — 18 Comments

  1. This was a fun read, Linda! I sometimes use sage remedies — not necessarily using kerosene to clean my shoes and boots, although they say banana peels are the thing to use today — but the one that caught my attention here was the charcoal in the same pan with boiled ham and cabbage to prevent the odor caused by cooking two together. I recently received in my e-mailbox a product update from one of the online stores I frequent and they were offering moso bamboo charcoal bags as natural air purifiers. So perhaps charcoal is indeed an odor catcher?

    • Good morning, Alice…….Thanks for coming. I’m glad you found my blog humorous. I don’t think I’d like to eat cabbage and ham with charcoal in them. I’d rather put up with the odor. And I know that charcoal is good for various things. In this book coming out, The Heart of a Texas Cowboy, the baby eats poisonous jimsonweed almost dies. They find a woman doctor and she pours liquid charcoal down the baby’s throat to clean out the poison. I consulted with Dr. David Ciambrone on what they would’ve done and he said charcoal was the only thing available and told me how they would’ve administered it and the time it would’ve taken to see results.

      Have a wonderful day, my friend!

  2. Linda this is priceless, and also definitely coffee spitting info this early in the morning.
    To keep milk sweet: Put in a panful of grated horseradish and it will keep it sweet for days.
    Huh??? That one really blew my mind, many others did too, but that one about curdled my stomach. Ha ha!!!
    An old rememdyvthst I live by and I swear works pertaining to colds & flu, I rub my feet down with. Vicks and put socks on prior to bed and also again in the morning before dressing for work when I feel bad. It really helps sore throats & chest congestion. Plus the Vicks softens dry feet while working on the illness. I’ve heard tale too, that Vicks rubbed on feet also deters & heals atheletes foot. Idk if this is true, but Vicks is cheap and easy to use and so much safer than medicines doctors want to push down people’s throats.
    Again you amaze me with this great blogs. Loved this one. You have a great day my sister friend. Love you and make this a great week for yourself.

    • Good morning, dearest Tonya……..I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. I sat here giggling while I wrote it. Some of this was just too funny. Charcoal in your cabbage, sticking a hairpin down your throat to remove an obstruction. But the funniest was putting the milk in horseradish to keep it sweet. Just blew my mind! Yes, Vicks is excellent for colds and flu. When I was little, my mom used to rub our chests down good with Vicks and wrap warm cloths around it. I still remember how good that felt. And it worked. It made me sleep so good. I never tried it on my feet but I’m going to have to keep that in mind for next time.

      Hugs and much love!

  3. I don’t know about Vinegar tendering meat but my Grams always soaked Deer meat in Vinegar to get the wild taste pulled out.
    Funny Tonya should say this about the Vicks Salve for I had a horrid case of bronchitis a couple years back and Vicks on the bottom of my feet was the only way I could get any relief from the cough. I don’t know how or why but I does work

    • Glenda- good morning, I have soaked roast in vinegar and it turned out to be some of the most tender roast I ever cooked. Well I didn’t actually soak it, but I poured it over the top and cooked about 1/4 cup and there was not a vinegar taste, but a really tender roast. Idk why it works but I’ve also pour Coca Cola over roast and flank steak and it as well turned out tender.

      • Amazing, Tonya. I have some really tough pork chops so I’ll have to try that. Thanks!

    • Hi Miss Glenda…….Glad you came by. I can see where you might use vinegar to rid meat of the wild taste. But I don’t know if I’d lay a good piece of steak in vinegar to tenderize. Before refrigeration, they used to store meat in a brine solution to keep it from going bad. I used that bit of information in Texas Redemption. Maybe vinegar is like the brine. I’ll have to remember the Vicks on the bottom of my feet next time I get sick.

      Love and hugs, lady!

    • It works on your feet because your feet have the most concentrated area of pores on your body. So it allows you to absorb more of the ingredients in Vicks and circulate throughout your body the quickest.

      If you take an onion slice and rub it on the bottom of your foot, within 10 seconds you’ll taste onion in your mouth. 🙂

      That’s why they say, (if you’re into using more homeopathic solutions) if you rub the lotion/oil on your feet before you go to bed at night it works the best. Another good place is the base of your neck where your spine meets your skull. 🙂

      Just in case you care to know. 😉

      • Michelle, thanks for that bit of information. I’ve got to remember this. I rubbed some Lavender essential oil on my feet last night before I went to bed and I slept like a rock. You’re so smart!! That’s why I love you. 🙂

  4. Wow! I think the sticking the hairpin down the throat did it for me. I laughed out loud. Please, if I’m ever choking, don’t go searching for a hairpin! 🙂 Priceless! Thanks for sharing, sister.

    • Hi Jan…….You certainly don’t have to worry. I’ll never stick a hairpin down your throat. I can’t even imagine! Glad I could make you laugh. That was my aim. This was so funny to me.

      Love and great big hugs, sister! 🙂

  5. Chloroform to remove pain from silk? Lordy! If you can get through cleaning before you pass out maybe.
    Some of these remedies could prove to be fatal. Pushing something down someone’s throat if they’re choking or worse, trying to hook it with a hairpin, could make it all even worse.
    I’m trying to figure out the horseradish solution for sweet milk.
    A very interesting and mighty entertaining piece, Linda.
    I have a favorite reference book titled “Remember When” that details highlights of the day between 1900-1950. And then, This Fabulous Century, which takes the century in 10 year increments. It’s fun reading these books, isn’t it?

    • Hi Sarah…….I was trying to figure out how you would keep from losing consciousness too. Cleaning with chloroform seemed really dangerous. Sure would make for a funny scene in a book though. Makes me wonder if people kept chloroform handy in their houses? Seems rather odd. The just shows how weird people’s thinking was back then. Still can’t get the horseradish thing either. And are our bedrooms filled with gases? I sure don’t think mine is. Goodness! I’ll also try not to swallow a cold.

      I’ll bet the two books you mentioned have lots of great stuff in them. Yes, fun and entertaining reading for sure.

      Love and big hugs, Miss Sarah!

  6. I kinda got a kick out of the water purifying the air — because they were onto something there! 🙂

    • Hi Michelle…….Thanks for coming. Yes, they did get that part right. But do our bedrooms contain dangerous gasses? And the fact the water would be unusable is ludicrous. I drink water all the time left on my nightstand and I’m not dead yet.

      Love you, lady! 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Anne…….Thanks for stopping by. Yes, that hairpin takes the cake. And I see someone trying to straighten it out before you croak. It would make a funny scene in a book though. Glad you enjoyed my post.

      Hugs and love, Lady!