View Full Version : Living like the 1800s . . . my experience

08-09-2008, 09:36 PM
I recently discovered of this very interesting sight and I have been reading some threads about living in the style of the 1880s.
Ive not read every post, . . but have skipped around and sampled quite a few of them.
I have lived that way. Some of it is great fun. A lot of it is not. Most people who dream about it would not like it if they really did it. In the early 70s I build a cabin on the family property in Ohio. I lived without electricity, running water, etc. for some time. It was great. When one lives that way one becomes appreciative of the simple ordinary things that most in our society take for granted. I moved into the cabin as soon as I had the roof on. The gaps between the logs were still open, the windows and door framed but no way to close them. Water supply was a spring 100 yards away and down hill. Id fill 2 five gal. cans with water at the spring, hang them from a pole across my shoulders and trudge up the path ( a rather steep one ) to the cabin. When I go the gutters on the roof and the first rain filled the rain barrels, . . it was HEAVENLY ! WATER . . . water to be dipped right out of the barrel. WoW. . . not that is really living ! . . . . During that winter of 73 - 74, . . . . Id wake up before dawn, . . jump out of bed, . . build the fire in the stove, . . break the ice on the water bucket under the kitchen counter and put water on the stove for coffee, . . jump back into bed and wait for the stove to warm the cabin and heat the water for coffee. During the summer of 73 while I was finishing the cabin I cooked always on an open campfire out front. You can get very good at it when it is a matter of do it or go hungry. http://www.drburkholter.com/cf6.html
Anyhow, . . it all sounds nice to many people, . . but few have lived that way and not may would care to. Some would find it an interesting experience to do it for a week as a vacation experience. . . I find the interest in it to be a lot like the "back to the land" craze of the 70s, . . where folks sat in their thermostatically controlled heated homes and read "The Mother Earth News" and dreamed of going "back to the land" . . . and dreaming was all they did. Most of the content of the "Mother Earth News" was good for a good laugh from those that have actually done it.
I have found a site about a place in Texas where folks seem to have a pretty good thing going. The live like the late 1800s for a weekend at a time a few times a year. I can post more information about my experience if anyone is interested.
Have a look at:

bad bob
08-09-2008, 10:29 PM
That's pretty interesting OK, but I believe there's a lot more interest in living life similar to the 19th century than you think.

Consider many folks now live in remote places of Alaska, Yukon, Upper Canada, not to mention unrelated obscure locations such as Siberia, Mongolia, and numerous other spots around the globe. My only point there is that hundreds of thousands of people are already living without any modern conveniences. :)

But you're right about the majority, of which I'm a member. You lasted "for some time", I'd last 2-3 days at most.

08-10-2008, 05:32 AM
After Hurricane Rita, we lived without modern conviences for three weeks. It was challenging. We survived, became closer to our neighbors, and learned to do with less. Everyday living took a lot more effort. I now appreciate my central air and heat, and running water......Speedy

Calamity June
08-10-2008, 06:55 AM
That is really amazing Wolfgang. I am so envious.

I lived for almost 4 months in a big Army tent with other "hippes" on the Olympic Pennisula, in the early 70's. No running water, well unless you count the river we were living by. It was great fun. Cooked over an open fire, took baths in the river.
It makes you appreciate all that we have, compared to the rest of the world.

08-11-2008, 05:21 AM
Here's another site with more about "Marrow Bone Springs" http://hometown.aol.com/thegunftrs/mbs.html
for anyone interested. They seem to have a pretty good thing going on there. :)

12-12-2008, 06:46 PM
Hometown AOL has been shutdown permanently,as of October 31,2008.

12-22-2008, 06:23 PM
Hometown AOL has been shutdown permanently,as of October 31,2008.

Sure Enuf . . . . the other link still works . . . :)


12-23-2008, 11:38 AM
Appreciate the link.:D
Nice town.

12-30-2008, 08:01 PM
Mrs. Rupe and I are trying to buy 40 acres in the high deserts of Oregon for a cabin to retire to. We plan on solar power and composting toilet etc etc. So we are off grid. I can't wait, it's not going to be like the 1800's but it will be a nice and slowed down kind of life. rupe

01-05-2009, 10:12 AM
Rupe ~ I have done a fair bit of what you and Wolfgang and others are taking about. You'd think, at my age, I'd know better....but.... I fear not!!!
I have learned many hard-won truths about wants, needs, necessities and fripperies though, so "this time round" I intend to do it a lot easier on myself and a lot more realisticly. (She Who Must Be Obeyed says I better, or....)
To that end, I thought this idea might spur you on a bit.

They make 2 k.v.a generator kits. I've spoken to Rod, via email, and the fuel requirements seem manageable. I like the idea of being "on the grid" but with a few solar panels and the steam genie, feeding back in to the grid so I get "credits", not a huge bill!

01-05-2009, 07:20 PM
That's a cool little steam engine, the wood would be the problem in the desert. I would have to buy or go to the National Forest and I'm to beat up to be cutting and stacking wood anymore.
We are looking at the Lister engine. http://01856bc.netsolhost.com/order/09912_kit_send_mail.asp?page=K09912 (http://01856bc.netsolhost.com/order/09912_kit_send_mail.asp?page=K09912)

These thinks can run on almost any kind of oil stove oil, diesel, veggie oil, used cooking oil. etc etc. from what I understand. Of course we would be using it only as a back up to the solar power 12v system, unless I needed 110V to run something. Rupe

09-03-2009, 11:47 AM
Sure Enuf . . . . the other link still works . . . :)

I tried the link, but it didn't seem to work for me.
My dad as kid grew up in Hot Springs,Ark. in the 1920s and 30s. When they moved there from Milwaukee, they moved into the old house out on Hwy 70. They didn't have electricity,running water, and you cooked over a wood stove.
Grandma milked the cows and fed the chickens. If they wanted chicken for dinner, she just picked one out and wrung its neck and took care of the rest.Daddy and Uncle Tom helped out too.I recall daddy saying grandpa dug up the septic system and fixed it.
They used kerosene lamps for a long time, until grandpa got together with the neighbors and they payed for electricity to come out to their area.
The cows and chickens were later sold when gradma decided she wanted to go back to work.She got a job as a receptionist for Dr.Wilkins in the Medical Arts Building downtown.
I think grandpa sold the cows to Woodall, who ran a dairy,as these weren't beef cattle. I don't recall my dad ever saying they ate any of the cows as a kid.
Course if they had wanted too, grandpa could have taken care of that, as he was a butcher by trade.
As a kid he couldn't stand his mother,so he left home and got a job driving a delivery wagon for a butcher and slept in the livery stable where they kept the horse and wagon.he had a room there were he slept, and that's how he learned about the business,through his job.
My great grandmother took grandpa and Great Uncle Fred up to the Yukon to look for gold.Greatgrandma was a crack shot with a gun.They never got robbed, but a man who had a claim near them was murdered.
When she decided to come back home to New York, she told her two sons she only had enough money to pay for HER passage, and that they would have to work for theirs. So Great Uncle Fred and grandpa did various things on shipboard for their keep.
That was another thing that grandpa resented.He felt she had the money for all three of them, but didn't want to spend money on her two sons.
That too was something kids did in those days, work.Work in coal mines, factories, and other things.
She made all the kids work,all 9 of them. Why she was tight with money, I don't know.
She came from a good german family was educated and spoke several languages as did her husband,Great grandpa.

The old house never had ceiling fans,don't recall seeing any when we would visit my great aunts who later moved back into the house when daddy's family moved back to Milwaukee.
Later on the house got running water I know.Part of the old porch was turned into a bathroom shortly before my great grandma and her daughters moved out, because they were tired of using an outhouse.
They later also had natural gas put in.What they did with the old wood buring stove I don't know.
I like camping, but prefer indoor plumbing and gas stoves to cook over.But not watching tv or that sort of thing doesn't bother me.I love to read ,so it wouldn't be any hardship.

As far as kids go things were different then.My dad and uncle went to school,and they had chores.But they also had plenty of play time.They would go walking through the woods,or catch crawdads in the Molly Branch.Sometimes when the family went to town, they got to see the latest silent movie or listen to the radio at home with the family.
There was no video games,ipods, cell phones then,etc.
i recall my dad talking about how in Milwaukee in his neighborhood they used to have block parties where the neighbors brought food and everyone got together and had a good time.

09-05-2009, 05:06 AM
Seems to have disapeared ( again ) former site of a few years back disapeared also. I just googled and didn't find it anywhere. :confused:

09-20-2009, 05:48 PM
Rupe ~ I have done a fair bit of what you and Wolfgang and others are taking about. You'd think, at my age, I'd know better....but.... I fear not!!!
I have learned many hard-won truths about wants, needs, necessities and fripperies though, so "this time round" I intend to do it a lot easier on myself and a lot more realisticly. (She Who Must Be Obeyed says I better, or....)
To that end, I thought this idea might spur you on a bit.

They make 2 k.v.a generator kits. I've spoken to Rod, via email, and the fuel requirements seem manageable. I like the idea of being "on the grid" but with a few solar panels and the steam genie, feeding back in to the grid so I get "credits", not a huge bill!
Part of my Growing up was with getting Firewood and Water from anywhere.No Electricity or whatever.
I'm in Januar/Februar in the South West.
First visiting some in ilinoice and toronto,and then Hiking in South West for fife to six Weeks,without Car or whatever.
I may get me a Donkey or what to carry Food,Water,Tent and so.
We are in a Civilised Time,and you can't leave without a minimum of Luxus.It would be wrong.
I do a Spot http://www.handtec.co.uk/product.php?xProd=1865 with me,but i get in Trouble doin a Gun with me to protect me against Wild Animals.
You could leave in a Log-Cabine,on a River which poweres your Generator,Mill and helps Watering your Land.
Next to a River you mustn't drill for water,and that's you most need.Water!
But you also need Phone,SPOT,Tools,Clothes,and,and,and,.....
Well,it's possible to have a leaving as in the 1800,but you also need some of our newer Technic.
Anywhy,if Interested we could put a Ox over the fire,around 20th Januar around Newberry Springs and try what we can and what not

Norman Johnson
09-20-2009, 06:02 PM
I will refer you to my post from earlier this year. I Lived in Vermont in 1972 with running water---a creek, light---kerosene lanterns, a place in the woods for a toilet, and a road we had to build to get to the site. We built a house there on 100 acres using only hand tools, and did well for five months before I had to split. Those were great times.

I go camping every other weekend, but that is not the same. I wish it was and then sometimes I don't



09-21-2009, 04:48 AM
I'd surely love to live in a Cabin along a creek, with the energy of the water supplying power to the cabin, but the one thing I'd miss the most is one of those celsius / farenheit converters.

09-21-2009, 03:16 PM
1971, I knew I was about to be drafted & had a chance to live in a cabin at the top of Black Rd. in the Santa Cruz mts, Califruity, for a few months.

The place was about 80 years old, I had to replace the stove pipe & some shingles, got it cozy & water tight, (almost). At the time there was no electricity for a few miles around, other cabins were set up like mine.

There was a spring in a cave about 1/4 mile, almost straight down hill & filiing 2 5 gal water jugs took 2 hours & at least a gal of sweat.

No car, food was in Los Gatos, a whole day spent hitch hiking & hiking with what I could carry.

I was a skinny, energetic kid with few real needs & a couple of fine neighbors.

It was beautiful at night. I spent the days exploring & found an old logging camp & a couple of long abandoned cabins, leaning & completely unsafe, so I chencked them out of course. Great stuff, rock fireplaces with tree branch gun racks above the mantle.

I still value those memories & think that experience helped steel me for life generally.

Comopared to the cabin those WW2 barracks at Ft. Ord seemed like the presedential suite at the Waldorf Astora.

That drove home an appreciation of what the American pioneers had to endure.

Sweat can take the romance out of a fantasy, but it's still worth it.


09-21-2009, 03:47 PM
Great stories!

While I'd like to try it out for a few months, I'm afraid my better half is about interested in it as I would be in "living la vida loca" in Las Vegas (e.g. not at all).

My grandmother said that when she and my grandfather moved to the wilds of British Columbia in 1963, they might as well have been in the 19th century. They lived out of a camper shell as the general store they bought had been gutted by its former owners for fire wood during the winter. No electricity, no running water (except for the stream on the property), no stove, no phone, and no mail service.

They spent all day clearing the brush on the property, rebuilding the store, and building cabins for their resort. The 20th century advantages they brought to their construction projects were a chain saw, a pickup truck and a tractor.

After a year they got a generator, after two years they got a phone, and after a couple more years they got rural route mail delivery. I doubt I would have made it that long.

09-21-2009, 09:43 PM
I'm going to get to live in my Ohio cabin for a while next spring. It's doing very well for almost no maintenance for the past 35 years . . . and I'm going to do a bit so as to make sure it lasts the next 30 years. I'm planing on doing an internet "blog" regarding living a "frontier life style" while I'm there. Will post a link what that happens. I'm looking forward to it :)

The place in Ohio:

12-16-2009, 07:39 PM
Bad Bob hit it pretty solid on the head with his comment.Quite a few of us actually live this way in Alaska.To many it is considered a way of life and a chosen one.I myself homesteaded just out side of Mentasta Alaska in Bear valley in 1976 shortly after reaching Alaska.I found it to be a innovating yet trying experience how ever the rewards were well worth the effort and the trials and errors.Tho eventually i did have a 5kw generator and hot running water my 1st couple of years were primitive indeed.Hauling water from a creek roughly 1/4 mile away using dog teams to drag fire wood back to cabin.Some may think you are crazy for such a venture but I look back upon it with pride knowing that I can and did survive.If only this opportunity existed for more people...I would recommend it for those hardy enough to pursue this life style.While this may have been a craze in the 70,s for many it was a accepted life style and way of life that was openly embraced with out any illusions.