Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 24, 1997, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


IN THE Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


1910 Hints for Survival


Sometimes we wonder how our ancestors survived without the present day conveniences which have become necessities in our way of living.  Life was simpler years ago with many “do-it-yourself” and “know-hows” essential to exist.  Modern technology enables the manufacturing of innumerable items made available on the store shelves for us to buy giving us time for other tasks.


Reviewing a 1910 publication, “The People’s Home Library,” many interesting bits of information are given pertaining to the time of its printing.  Those of us in the senior age’s group can remember some of the “know-hows” being practiced by our parents when we were children.


Examples of some of the book’s recipes, helpful hints and solutions will make up most of this week’s “Good Old Days’ article.


Cheap Cake – ½ cup butter, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup milk, 3 eggs – saving out the white of one for icing; 2 teas. Baking powder and enough flour to make a thick but not stiff mixture.  Bake in square pan and cut in square pieces.


Wedding Cake – 5 lbs. sugar, 50 eggs, 5 lbs. flour, 5 lbs. butter, 15 lbs. raisins, 10 lbs. currants, 3 lbs. citron, 1 pint brandy, 4 oz. nutmeg, 4 oz. mace, 1 oz. cinnamon and ¼ oz. cloves.  This will make 43 or 44 lbs. of cake, is unequaled and will keep for 20 years.


Eggs –Eggs over a week old should be fried but not boiled.  To tell a good egg from a bad egg, put the eggs in a bucket of water.  The good eggs will lay on their sides while the bad eggs will turn with the large end upward.


Preserving Meats – The butchering of meat animals was done during winter months enabling the cooling of the fresh meat in an outer shed or the enclosed back porch.


Curing and Smoking Pork Hams – Hang the hams up for a week or ten days.  If kept perfectly sweet, the longer the hams hang the more tender they will be.  For each good sized ham, mix 1 teacup of salt, 1 oz. saltpeter, and 1 tablespoon of molasses.  Put hams in a washtub, heat the mixture and rub well into the hams; repeat this until the mixture is all used; then let hams lie two or three days.  Prepare a salt brine that is strong enough to float an egg; place hams in the brine and let set for three weeks.  After three weeks, remove hams from the salt brine; soak in cold water for eight hours and hang up for a week or longer; smoke from three to five days but be careful not to heat the hams.  Apple tree wood and corn cobs are good for smoking.  Smoke the hams with the hocks down. Tie the finished hams in bags until wanted for use.


Dried Beef – Brown salt like coffee and while hot roll each piece of beef in it thoroughly; pack in a crock and let it remain five days; take out, wash well and hang up to dry.


Mince Meat (that will keep) – Two lbs. lean beef boiled, when cold chop fine; 1 lb. suet minced to powder, 2 lbs. sultanas or seedless raisins; 5 lbs. juicy apples pared and chopped, 2 Tbs. cinnamon, 1 Tbs. allspice, 1 grated nutmeg, 1 Tbs. fine salt, 3 lbs. brown sugar and 2 qts. sweet cider.  This mince meat will keep all winter.


Preserving Eggs – Pour three pails of water over four quarts of unslacked lime, when it is cold, add one-half lb. salt and one oz. of cream of tartar.  Eggs covered with this liquid will keep a long time.


Household “What to Do” and “How to Do Its’”


Rust – to remove rust; cover rusted spot with kerosene oil


To Clean Mud from clothing – use a corn cob to rub mud from the clothing then brush well.


To Remove Wrinkles – Melt and stir together one oz. white wax, two oz. strained honey and two oz of juice from lily bulbs.  Apply to the face every night and it is said your wrinkles will disappear. 


To Remove Panes of Glass – Lay soft soap over the putty for a few hours and it will become soft.  After softened, the putty can be easily scraped away no matter how hard it may have previously been.


To Polish Patent Leather – Orange juice will be a good polish for patent leather.


To Loosen Screws – Hold a red hot poker on the head of a rusty screw for two or three minutes and the screw can be easily removed with a screw driver.


Hard Soap – Put seven lbs. of tallow, three lbs. of rosin and two lbs. of potash into six gallons of water and boil them from three to five hours.  Pour into a wash tub and let set over night.  In the morning, cut into bars and lay the bars in the sun to harden for two or three days.  This amount of soap will last an ordinary family a year and save many a cent that would be spent for soap.


Fire – Kindler – Soak corn cobs in kerosene oil.  As needed, to start a fire in cookstove or space heater, put a cob in the stove, set fire to it and gradually place split wood over it.


To Clean Wall-Paper – Blow heat on the wall with bellows, beginning at the top of the room; go over the paper, rubbing it with downward strokes with pieces of stale bread.  Or tie about two quarts of wheat bran in a flannel cloth and go rub it over the paper.  Dry corn meal may be used instead of bread.  Grease spots may be removed by laying a blotter over the spots, then holding a hot flat-iron on the blotter.


Gnats – Camphor is the best preventive and cure from the stings of gnats.


To Remove Grease from Floor – Soda and hot water will remove the grease.


To Dry Boots – Fill wet boots with dry oats and set aside for a few hours.  The oats will draw the moisture from the inside of the boots.  As the oats swells out, it will keep the leather from shrinking and hardening.  Boots placed by a fireplace to dry will harden and shrink.


To Clean Bottles – Bottles are best cleaned with some gun shot pellets and soap suds.  Save the gun shot in a bottle to be used again.


To Keep Fruit & Vegetables – Put cranberries in a keg of water and they can be kept all winter.  Turnips should be buried in the ground and dug up in the spring.  Celery keeps best when buried in dry sand.  Watermelons, the winter variety, can be buried in the barley in granary bin and will keep until Christmas.


Axle Grease – One lb. of tallow, ¼ lb. black lead on ¼ lb. castor oil: Melt the tallow, add other ingredients and rub all together until cold and well mixed.


To Measure Hay – Fifteen to eighteen cubic yards of hay well-settled in mows or stacks make a ton.  Twenty to twenty-five cubic yards of dry clover make a ton.  To find the number of tons in a mow, multiply the length, width and height in yards, divide by 15, if well settled, and by 18 if not so well settled.


To Find the Number of Bushels in a Bin – Multiply together the three dimensions in feet to get the number of cubic feet and deduct one fifth.  The figure will be approximately the number of bushels in the bin.


To Petrify Wood – Mix equal parts of rock alum, gem salt, white vinegar, chalk and pebble & powder.  After the mixture quits boiling over, toss in any piece of wood or other porous substance.


Strawberry Worms – Poultry will destroy them.  Turn the chickens or turkeys loose in the patch before the berries are formed.


To Find the Number of Common Bricks in a Wall or Building – Multiply together the length, height and thickness in feet and multiply that number by 20.  The result will be the number of common bricks in the wall.  Measurements of other walls, multiplied the same and added together will give the total number of bricks in the building.


To Find the Number of Gallons in a Barrel or Cask – Add the greatest and smallest diameters in inches together and divide by two which will give the average diameter.  Multiply the number by itself, then by the length of the barrel in inches, then by 34 and cut off the four right-hand figures.  The final figure will be the approximate gallons.


Now we know what those generations before us did with their time.

The little log cabin replica stood in the back yard at 29 Hewett for several years.  It was a reminder of a visit made by Benjamin Harrison when he was on the Presidential campaign trail which went through Neillsville.  The city’s residents organized a gala parade with a float carrying the little log cabin, symbolic of Harrison’s life.  Harrison was President of our country in 1889-1893.  Also note the miniature golf grounds that surrounded the small log building.  (Photo courtesy of Mary Neverman Lauer)


A stately house at 29 Hewett Street has long been a landmark in Neillsville, built with the Victorian style in the 1880’s era; it was originally referred to as the Homer Root home.  Root was extensively engaged in the lumbering and logging business, later serving as Clark County Clerk, elected in 1888.  Jule Neverman and family owned the house in the early 1900s, selling to the Chas. Hubings.  The saplings on the boulevard grew to be large trees; the one on the left was cut down this summer to make way for Hewett Street’s reconstruction.  (Photo courtesy of Clark County Jail Museum)



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