Household Essentials

History of the Quilt


Project Description

Evaluations of Accomplishments

Future Plans for the Project

Proposal Letter

Request to Commissioners

Biographies by Homemakers Clubs

Biographies by Friends of the Library


Household Essentials

Before electricity was introduced into Harnett County, household essentials as we know them today were very meager or unthought of.

Wood and coal was the source of heat and kerosene was used for lights. Some had very pretty lamps with glass chimneys. Bottles filled with kerosene with a small cloth protruding out the top, were used for outside lights by many.

Homes were heated by fireplace or wood and coal heaters, usually the heated room served as the main sitting room and bedroom for the parents.

Cooking was done on a wood or coal burning stove, outside on an open fire or in the fireplace. Some baking was done on the fireplace hearth by putting red coals on top and under a covered three legged skillet. Cakes and bread were baked in this way; sweet potatoes were cooked in the hot ashes.

Water was brought in the home in buckets from wells and springs that were dug by hand. A small side table held the water bucket and dipper, and wash pan and soap dish. A large towel always hung near for drying face and hands.

Baths were done in a wood or tin tub with water often heated by the sun. Only the affluent had the pitcher and bowl set used only by the guest.

A small bush or strips of paper pasted to a stick was used for fans to fan flies from the dinner table; very few if any had screen doors and windows.

The cow was the source of fresh milk and butter. Almost every family owned a milk cow. The churn and dasher were very essential in producing butter. Milk was put into the churn and set aside to clabber, then the dasher was put into the churn and with an up and down movement the butter separated from the milk, (This was called churning.) Then the butter was removed from the churn and put into molds before storing.

A box with cover, filled with sawdust and placed into a hole in the ground served as ice box for many. Some put food in jars and placed them into the spring or let them down into the well in buckets. Ice could be bought from the ice house or the iceman who delivered once each week for 15 or 20 cents a block.

The horse and buggy, wagon or ox cart and stage coach were the main modes of travel.

With the coming of electricity came running water and electric lights. The bathroom replaced the outside toilet; central heat, electric stove and fans replaced the wood stove, heaters, and homemade fans. Refrigerators replaced the icebox, the icehouse vanished.. Motor cars, trains, and airplanes have replaced the oxcart, buggy and wagon.

Now we have entered the atomic age with microwave ovens, space ships and men walking on the moon.


Written by: Lillian M. Ferrell, President

Progressive Extension Homemakers Club Churn designed by: Mack McKay, Jr.

Embroidered by: Ethel McKay, Member

Progressive Extension Homemakers Club

Quilt Square: Other objects designed by Evelyn Byrd

Row 4 Number 22