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8 Year Anniversary party winners: Joan Hochstetler's book winner is -- Caryl Kane, Naomi Musch's ebook goes to Crissy Yoder Shamion, Roseanna White's winner is -- Connie Saunders, Pegg Thomas's "A Bouquet of Brides" goes to Deanna Stevens, Debra E. Marvin's winner is -- Becky Dempsey, Carrie Fancett Pagels' giveaway of Colonial Michilimackinac: Michigan State Parks goes to Wilani Wahl, Carla Olson Gade's winner is Leila Reynolds, Shannon McNear -- Kaitlin Covel

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

18th Century Hygiene, Part 1: Waste Management—And a Giveaway!

When you write historical fiction, as I do, you end up researching strange things. Such as hygiene and the contemporary sanitation systems. Today we take for granted that toilets, hot and cold running water for daily bathing, and sewer systems to carry off the waste are available everywhere. But it isn’t so long ago that those conveniences weren’t available. My focus of study has been the 18th century for quite a while, so for the next few posts I’m going to delve into various aspects of hygiene and sanitation. Today we’re starting with the all-important topic of waste management.

Many cities in Europe had latrines and sewer pipes from the time of the Roman Empire. However, by the 18th century, systems to take care of human waste weren’t widely available except in the largest cities and even there they were limited. Lacking flush toilets, people availed themselves of the good old chamber pot, which would be emptied either by the individual or a servant whenever it filled up, which in the meantime naturally occasioned interesting odors. Or not so much.

From the book Toilets of the World
by Morna E. Gregory & Sian James
Those who lived in proximity to water sources such as rivers, streams, and lakes dumped their waste into them, where it could drift downstream for someone else to deal with. But in cities and towns where waterways and cesspools weren’t close at hand, people simply emptied their chamber pots along with other wastewater from a window into the street, warning those below by hollering something like “gardy loo!”, a corruption of the French “Gardez l’eau” or “Watch out for the water!” This is where we get the tradition of gentlemen walking on the outside of a sidewalk to prevent ladies from being splashed by noxious substances as carriages passed. Human waste joined the animal dung already in the streets, so the stench of urine and feces, not to mention their physical presence, was common. And pungent. And whenever you went for a walk you had to be careful to watch your steps. I suppose you just got used to it, but …. eeewwww!!! I grew up on a farm, and we dealt with more of it than I care to remember!

Not only were chamber pots ubiquitous, but there was also a vessel called a bourdaloue. This was a type of chamber pot that conformed to the female form, a necessary when wearing hoops and layers of petticoats. With the help of a chambermaid women could use them while standing by lifting the petticoats out of the way. I actually found an image of a lady making use of one, but, alas, it is a bit too explicit to include here. This device was convenient to carry along when away from home or traveling. Actually, there’ve been times when I wished I had one on hand!

Bourdaloues originated in the 1700s and according to legend were named after the Jesuit priest Père Louis Bourdaloue. He preached at the court of Louis XIV, and it’s said that his sermons were so long that the ladies demanded small chamber pots convenient to use when at Mass. Other accounts maintain that Bourdoloue suffered from a disease called hypospadia and needed the vessel himself. Whatever the reason, they sure are pretty for such a mundane and intimate use. Hmm … they’d make a lovely pot for plants, don’t you think?

I’ve just received the first copies of Refiner’s Fire, Book 6 of my American Patriot Series—wooo hoooo!!!—so I’m offering a free copy! To enter the drawing, please answer the question below about my series in a comment on this post by the end of today. Of course, if the winner hasn’t read one or more of the previous books, they can choose any of the books of the series.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite character in the series and why?

If you’re entering the drawing, please include your email addy so I can contact you to get your mailing address if you win.
~~~
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, a lifelong student of history, and an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Book 6, Refiner’s Fire, releases in June 2019. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, received the 2017 Interviews and Reviews Silver Award for Historical Fiction and was named one of Shelf Unbound’s 2018 Notable Indie Books. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist in the Carol Award.


26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the interesting post. Some of that porcelain is quite pretty! I've not read any of those books. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Connie, I wanted to add more images of all the pretty pots, but this post was too short to accommodate more. lol! Good luck in the drawing!

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  2. Joan, I love your sense of humor. And yes, we do find ourselves researching many things.

    Favorite character? Impossible. They are all great characters.

    Good to see you here this morning.

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    1. Judith, I admit I'd have trouble choosing my favorite too. We do fall in love with our characters, don't we? Good luck in the drawing!

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  3. I enjoyed your article. It reminded me of the story that my dad told one time about how he and his brothers tried to put out a fire in the field. It also reminded me of when I was little and lived on the farm. I guess we were rich because we had a couple of pots in the house! LOL I haven’t read any of the series so I don’t have a favorite character. Enjoyed the Northkilll series though.

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    1. LeeRoy, it sure reminds me of when I was little growing up on the farm too. lol! We had the pot and the outhouse to choose from. The latter was less than fun on cold winter days and hot summer days too. Come to think of it, it never was fun... Thanks for dropping by, and if you win the drawing, I'll send you a copy of book 1. :-)

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  4. Joan! Joan! Why do have to ask such a question? They are a few favorite characters that I like. Lets take Jonathan or Elizabeth or even van de Groot. I guess I'll go with Elizabeth She has spunk and courage that I sure would to have some of. She wasn't afraid of anything. She was a believer in the cause for freedom. She was passionate and loved her family even though they were loyal to the Crown. She trusted in God! She loved Jonathan with a passion.
    I'm with you about the chamber pots. Ewwwwwww!!!!!!! I've read other historical fiction and fiction books about people dumping them out windows. But, goodness just the thought....... If, I'm a winner pick someone else since I'm already getting a copy. (You already know my email.)

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  5. I figured you'd choose her, Bev! She reflects our spunky side, doesn't she? Having grown up on an Indiana farm way back when, I'm sure familiar with chamber pots. lol! BTW, I'm shipping your copy of Refiner's Fire today!

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    1. Yipeeeeee! (Not the chamber pots-----My copy of RF!) It was a toss up between her and Jonathan. He's got a lot of great characteristics, too.

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    2. Nev, they're a good match, I think. 😁

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  6. We always had them in the house when I was growing up. Probably because my grandparents lived with us and they had an upstairs bedroom. I still have at least one or two of them, plus a metal one we used when camping. Thankfully they were then dumped to the toilet and not the street! The one for ladies with lots of layers of clothing must have been helpful!

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    1. Debra, they definitely are handy even nowadays when a toilet isn't available. And thankfully today we have good infrastructure so we don't have to dump the contents into the street or the local water supply. I sure am grateful for modern plumbing! Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. My husband served a mission in Japan in the late 60's and saw some of this. Very interesting, and I would love to learn more about this as I am a genealogist and deal frequently in this time period, their health issues, etc. Very enlightening.

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    1. Sonja, I'm sure your husband had some interesting experiences. lol! Thank you for joining us!

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  8. By the way, my grandfather had a chamber pot under his bed when we visited him in the 1990's. He lived in East Germany,

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    1. Sonja, I wouldn't be surprised if there are many parts of the world where chamber pots are still in use. People live in places where it's difficult if not impossible to run sewers, and in other areas the expense may be too great. You do what you have to do. lol!

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  9. I have not read any of this series! I grew up with an outhouse and a chamber pot but ours was not fancy like these! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for joining us, Joan! I grew up on a farm, and we had a very utilitarian one. Some of the ones I found on Pinterest are so pretty that they'd make great pots for plants. lol! Good luck in the drawing!

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  10. Congratulations on your book, Refiner's Fire!
    What an interesting post and the chamber pots were rather pretty. I can't imagine having them emptied as I walked by, shudder!

    We had an outhouse and a chamber pot when I was very young as we didn't have any indoor plumbing. I remember when my dad lost his wallet, with the cash from his paycheck, down the outhouse! He "fished" for it but never found it. He was more careful after that.

    Blessings, Tina

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    1. Tina, that really is an eeewwww moment! Lol! Praise the Lord for indoor plumbing. 😂

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  11. I haven’t read your series, but I write historical fiction for kids about the Underground Railroad. So I love slices of American history sandwiched in a good historical novel!

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    1. Cindy, I say get them started loving history early. Those who write for kids are my heroes! Thanks for joining us, and I'll enter you in the drawing. Good luck!

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  12. I haven’t read any of this series, so I thank you for the giveaway. Very interesting information that makes me very grateful for my bathroom!

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    1. You and me both, Betti! Modern plumbing may be the greatest invention ever. Lol! Good luck in the drawing!

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  13. And our winner is....drum roll...Connie R. Congratulations, Connie! Since you haven't read any of the series yet, I'm assuming you'll want book 1, Daughter of Liberty. Please email me at jmhochstetler@msn.com and let me know if that's right and what your shipping address is.

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