Wanted-Laundress...Must Have Tubs,Scrub Board and Rough Hands

 Living so near to Fort Richardson in Jacksboro, Texas, it's possible some of my Leatherwood ancestors could have answered the call for a Laundress'...for sure they would have had tubs, soap and scrub boards.  As explained in the picture...beginning early in the war nearly every army had a least one laundress per 20 men.  They were generally women trying to support themselves or were traveling with a male family member. 
Qualifications:  Your attire will be work clothes, traditionally a long plain skirt and blouse with sleeves rolled up, no hoops, nothing fancy, hair netted or braided, plain skirt and blouse, very little underpinnings, full coverage apron, large bonnet (slatted or full brimmed) for weather protection.  Wear flat shoes, no long fingernails, and try to roughen up your hands.

It was not surprising to see the collection of Flatirons at Fort Richardson's kitchen and laundry room displays, after all they were certainly made to last...like forever.  Made of cast iron and heated on the top of a cast iron stove, the laundress need two...one to iron with while the other heated on the stove.  Flatirons were also called Sad Irons as they were heavy, weighing about 15 lb., were hard to move and often heated unevenly resulting in hot handles.

Padded handles, heavy rags and wood were used to alleviate some of the heat and burns to users.  In the 1870's a detachable, spring loaded handle was invented by an American woman who no doubt was tired of being burned, exhausted from tandem lifting, re-heating, and stoking the cast iron stove.

My 2x Great Grandmother Mary Josephine certainly had the right attire for a Fort Richardson laundress.  I imagine, however, she was too busy keeping up with her own laundry for nine children, husband and self.  I am sure had she applied she definitely would qualify...no 'trying' to roughen up hands...that was a given!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - gosh I'm so glad I live today!! Great post though on those times ... cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

I can not imagine living back in those times. Pioneer women ruled the world with strength and forbearance. So admirable. Nifty post

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I'm glad I don't have to use those irons. Loved all the flower photos. Great picture my mother took of you at your shop.

Sue McPeak said...

Our Pioneer grandmothers were tough and lifting those irons was a workout. Okay for the heat in the winter, but the summer...Nooooo way! Thanks...I could do several more months of flowers. Nice to meet your Mom. The minute she started talking about her Quilting Daughter and your Peter Pan Quilt I knew who she was...LOL! Could you send me the picture?

Sue McPeak said...

I actually can...imagine living back in those times. I guess because I have done so much reading and research on my ancestors from that time...or I have already been there and one that...previous life....YIKES! I'm enjoying living it again through my photo files. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sue McPeak said...

I am too, Hilary, but I think I'm a Pioneer at heart, and wouldn't mind taking a trip back in a Time Machine....I'd love to meet my Pioneer Great Grandmothers.


Related Posts with Thumbnails