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!