Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

October 8th, 1864

Household Conveniences

I have a slate hanging in my pantry with a pencil attached, upon which we are accustomed to write down such domestic concerns as need attention. For instance, upon one side of it is now written, “Send for corn-meal, starch and lamp chimney.” “Examine butter firkin.” “Engage onions of Mr. Allen to-morrow.” These are for my own attention, while upon the other side the girl is reminded to “Brown coffee; gather beans for drying.” “Scald the bread box.” “Wash cellar shelves.” Whenever I find any little item that needs attention either from myself of the girl, I trust it to my slate, and find it much safer than to run the risk of remembering it at the right time. You often hear housekeepers exclaiming “There, I forgot entirely to send for such a thing – or do such a thing, and now it is too late.” Try the slate.

Another – Beside the slate hangs a small blank book, also furnished with a pencil, in which I keep an account of my household expenses. The pages are variously headed “Flour,” “Sugar,” “Meat,” “Butter,” &c., with an extra page, above, I put the amount which I have decided by careful estimate is all we can afford to spend monthly, or yearly, (I have tired both ways) for the article designated. Then I enter every purchase made under its appropriate head, giving date, quantity, price and amount. At the close of each month it is easy to see whether we live within our income or not. You farmer’s wives may think this neither possible nor useful for you, but I assure you if you would once try it you would find a satisfaction from it that would abundantly repay the trouble. I recommend it most earnestly, however, for the wives of salaried men, and mechanics whose income is fixed, and who purchased the staples for their family consumption.  E.H.M.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

October 1st, 1864

How to Tell a Lady

Two women shall get into an omnibus, and though we never saw one of them before, we shall select you the true lady. She does not titler when a gentleman, handing up her fare, knocks off his hat, or pitches it awry over his nose; nor does she receive her “change,” after this (to him) inconvenient act of gallantry, in grim silence. She wears no flowered brocade to be trodden under foot, not ball-room jewelry, nor rose-tinted gloves; but the lace frill around her face is scrupulously fresh, and the strings under her chin have evidently been handled only by dainty finger. She makes no parade of a watch if she wears one; nor does she draw off her dark, neatly –fitting glove, to display ostentatious rings. Still we notice, nestling in the straw beneath us, such a trim little book, not paper-soled, but of an anti-consumption thickness; the bonnet upon her head is of plain straw, simply trimmed – for your true lading never wears a “dress hat” in an omnibus. She is quite as civil to the poorest as to the richest person who sits besides her – and equally regardful of their rights. If she attracts attention, it is by the unconscious [sic]ace of her person and manner, not by the o[sic]entation of her dress. We are quite sorry when she pulls the strap and disappears; if we were a bachelor we should go home to our solitary den, with a resolution to become a better and a – married man.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Sept 24th, 1861

Fires in the Bedrooms.

Most people, even many intelligent reformers have the idea that to sleep in a cold room is good – essential health. It is an error. It is better to have an open fire in your bed-room. The atmosphere is not only by this means constantly changed, but with the fire you will keep the window open, which will add greatly to the needed ventilation. But more than his, with the fire you will have fewer bedclothes over you, which is a gain, as a large number of blankets not only interferes somewhat with the circulation and respiration, but prevents the escape of those gases which the skin is constantly emitting. Even furnace or stove heat with an open window is better than a close, cold room. Interchange with the external atmosphere depends upon the difference between the temperature of the air within and that without. But let us have the open fire. Let us go without. But let us have the open fire. Let us go without silks, broadcloths, carpets, and finery of all kinds, if necessary, that we may have this beautiful purifier and diffuser of joy in all our houses. In my own house I have ten open grates and find with coal at eleven dollars the expense is frightful, and if it were in any other department of housekeeping I should feel I could not afford it; but in this I do not flinch, so important do I deem the open fire. Dr. Lewis.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Sept 10th, 1861

The economy of crinoline is thus discussed by a French writer: – Dresses require, to be worn over hoop s, at least three meters more than would be needed if worn over an ordinary skirt. As no less than twenty millions of ladies’ dresses are made every year in France, the additional quantity of material necessitated by the use of hoops is sixty millions of meters, which, taken at an average price of two francs per meter, makes a sum of one hundred and twenty millions of francs. In addition must be mentioned the extra quantity of material employed in the manufacture of the hooped petticoat itself, and the long, ample underskirt worn between the crinoline and the dress. This extra material can not be counted at less than one hundred and twenty millions more. The average cost of the hoops and the making of the cages can not be taken at less than an average of fifteen and fifty millions to be added to the cost of the woven goods calculated above. These three sums together make up a tribute of three hundred and ninety millions francs, or about one-fifth of the State Budget, paid yearly to a ridiculous and inconvenient fashion.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

I am reblogging a few posts from earlier this year because there has been some recent discussion of working and domestic working attire.

If I Had My Own Blue Box:

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 6th, 1864

Dried Fruit for Soldiers

Mrs. E. J. Roberts, Secretary of the Soldiers Aid Society, New Haven, Mass., has issued the following circular:

Dried Fruit vs. Jellies. – As the time of fruits has again come round, we would remind our friends in town and country that the Sanitary Commission has expressed a decided preference for dried fruits, instead of jellies, for the army, on account of the waste and breakage from fermentation during the heat of the summer, and the difficulties of packaging. The high price of sugar is an additional recommendation to dried fruit. The following recipes are considered good:

Fruit dried with sugar, &c., – to a pound of currants put a quarter pound of sugar. Boil together for a minute – that is, let them just come to the boiling – spread them on plates…

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Published in: on August 29, 2014 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Readings for Rural Life

I am reblogging a few posts from earlier this year because there has been some recent discussion of working and domestic working attire.
(I just saw a mis-spelling. Oops)

If I Had My Own Blue Box:

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 30th, 1864

Wherewithal Shall We be Clothed

I was much pleased with an article in the Rural (March 26th,) on hook skirts, but I should have been more so if so sensible a person, as a writer evidently is, had told us what (in her opinion) woman should wear. I can not think the former custom of wearing a half dozen skirts to make a figure to come up to the fashionable standard, less objectionable as regards health. Then what are we to wear? There is certainly a great need of a revolution in ladies’ clothing, especially farmer’s wives and daughters; and I think it would have been effected long since, but that ladies of wealth and fashion have not felt it so much an encombrance as they would if they were mechanically employed, and, as Faith Wayne…

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Published in: on August 29, 2014 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Readings for Rural Life

I am reblogging a few posts from earlier this year because there has been some recent discussion of working and domestic working attire. Notice at the bottom of this post there are links to several additional articles.

If I Had My Own Blue Box:

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 23rd, 1864

Working Dresses.

It is not my province to dictate any particular form of dress; but when, as is often the case, I see wives and daughters doing their necessary housework with crinoline and long skirts, or in other words, in full dress, I am led to inquire why will they not use their good judgment in this as in other particulars, and accommodate their dress to their duties.

Now, just take some of those long dresses that have become faded at the bottom and in front, take out the front breadths, leaving about five, tear off the bottom leaving the skirt long enough to come half way from the knees to ankle joints, use the parts taken out for pants, prepare skirts to suit the length of the dress, running “shurs” in one for three or four hoops…

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Published in: on August 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Aug 27th 1864

Dried Fruits for Soldiers

The following letter from a lady to the New York Tribune, who has been an army nurse needs no endorsement – it needs only to be read.

“I noticed with pleasure to-day your remarks calling attention to those living in the country to a simple way of drying currants, &c., for the use of the soldiers, both sick and well. This matter should receive wide attention – acid fruit being a necessity for those who live on the unvarying “ration” in a warm climate, also counteract the brackish water they are often obliged to drink. Currants, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, whortleberries, grapes, plums and pie-plant, cut into pieces and stewed in its own juice, are all equally good saved in this way, and more desired than jellies and preserves, besides being easier made and cheaper now, considering the price of sugar, so that there is every reason why all our good women should take hold of this work.

“When dried, the fruit is saved in strong paper bags, or those made of old muslin. A little of the dried fruit put in his tin cup and hot water poured on, with a trifle more sugar, makes a home-like relish for the hard tack to the weary and worn soldier after hard service in the field of on picket. Would that all “the boys” laying in the trenches before Petersburg could have a supply of what they so much need for health, and which every woman would gladly prepare where the idea suggested to her. In neighborhoods where a profusion of the small fruits can be had for the picking, not a quart of them should be allowed to go to waste while this war lasts. Thousands of valuable lives would be saved could the men have what they so greatly crave, “something sour.”

The good ladies in Orange county also prepare a refreshing drink from currant juice, which is a next to lemons in value. To one quart of currant juice add one pound of sugar, and boil and skim; this keeps all the year in bottles or kegs. Other acid juice, also, could be prepared with little trouble, and raspberry vinegar is eagerly asked for by female nurses for their wounded patients in Southern hospitals.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 20th, 1864

What Makes a Lady

When Beau Brummel was asked what made the gentleman, his quick reply was, “Starch, starch, my lord!” This may be true; but it takes a great deal more to make a lady; and though it may to some seem singular, I am ready to maintain that no conceivable quantity of muslin, silk or satin, edging, frilling, hooping, flouncing, or furbelowing, can per se, or per dressmaker, constitute a real lady.

Was not Mrs. Abbot Lawrence just as much a lady when attired in twelve-cent calico, in Boston, as when arrayed in full court dress at St. James, London? “As Mrs. Washington was said to be so grand a lady,” says a celebrated English visitor, (Mrs. Troupe,) “we thought we must put our best bibs and bands, so we dressed ourselves in our most elegant ruffles and silks, and were introduced to her ladyship, and don’t you think we found her knitting, and with her check apron on! She received us very graciously and easily, but after compliments were over she resumed her knitting. There we were without a stitch of work and sitting in stat, but, Gen. Washington’s Lady, with her own hands, was knitting stockings for her husband.” Does that not sweet republican simplicity command your admiration?

 

Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 6th, 1864

Dried Fruit for Soldiers

Mrs. E. J. Roberts, Secretary of the Soldiers Aid Society, New Haven, Mass., has issued the following circular:

Dried Fruit vs. Jellies. – As the time of fruits has again come round, we would remind our friends in town and country that the Sanitary Commission has expressed a decided preference for dried fruits, instead of jellies, for the army, on account of the waste and breakage from fermentation during the heat of the summer, and the difficulties of packaging. The high price of sugar is an additional recommendation to dried fruit. The following recipes are considered good:

Fruit dried with sugar, &c., – to a pound of currants put a quarter pound of sugar. Boil together for a minute – that is, let them just come to the boiling – spread them on plates and set them in the sun for two days; then if they are not sufficiently dried, set them in the oven for a little while. When dry, they can be packed in stone or earthen jars, or wooden boxes.

Blackberry Cordial – Put your berries into a jar, which must be set into a kettle of water to boil for a few minutes; then extract the juice as you do for currant jelly. To a pint of juice put a pound of sugar and a small teacup of brandy. It does not need boiling again, and is fit for use immediately.

Another – To one quart of blackberry juice put a tablespoonful of ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice; boil ten or fifteen minutes, then add a half pound of sugar, and when cool a half pint of alcohol, to which should be added nearly the same amount of water.

 

*I find it interesting, and a bit annoying, that the writer encourages dried fruits, but only includes one recipe. While there is an additional column coming up, I will try to find some additional dried fruit recipes.

 

The Dress Question

[We have sundry communications on this question which indicated the current opinion on the subject, and we give such of them as we can find room for in this number of the Rural.]

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – As the subject of dress is being discussed through the columns of the Rural, I should like to say a few words to the ladies. I am not going to talk to those who sit idly in parlors, or spend their time in useless employ; except to simply say, keep still, ‘tis none of your business what those wear who see fit to do their duty.

I advocate dress reform. I have worn short dresses for the past three years, and find them much more convenient than the long trailing dresses, which require one hand to keep them from under the feet, and out of slops and mud, thereby leaving but one hand entirely free to work with. I think those who have worn short dresses will agree with me in saying they are a great saving, in both time and patience. I have done more work within the last three years than I could possibly have done had I been obliged to have kept one hand occupied in taking care of long skirts. And, sisters, noble women of the North, now is the time to work if we ever do; while our brothers are fighting for the Union, we should not sit idly down and wait for the victory, but do our duty, and do it faithfully, as become the women of such a nation.

A word to the gentlemen and I close. Gentlemen, I do not advocate short dresses anywhere but at home, at work. At church and on the street, I think long dresses much more becoming, and wear them myself. Short ones are only for work; have you any objections to them there? If you have, I would suggest that you put on long skirts, and wear them for one week, wash, mop, milk, work in the garden, and if necessary help plant corn. If you don’t lay them aside at the end of the week and say ladies, wear short dresses to work in by all means, you have more patience than falls tot helot of most mortals. Stellie. Prarie Home, Mich,. 1864

 

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