This history of early life in Logan County, West Virginia, was written by Howard and Daisy Adams. Howard (1906-1976) and Daisy (b.1915) were children of Major and Belle Dora Adams of Trace Fork of Harts Creek. Titled “The life of pioneers during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 19th century” and written in the late 1960s or early 1970s, their history marks the only known attempt by local people to reconstruct the story of pioneer life. This part of the history includes information regarding the well and bathing.
To get the water supply, a large hole was dug in the earth down till water was reached. Then a flat rock wall was made around the edge of the well to keep the dirt from falling in and filling up. Also the rocks kept the water clean and clear. Some folks had springs nearby from which they got their water. To get the water from a well a large post 12 or 15 feet high with forks on the top of it was set in the ground near the well. Then a long pole about 30 feet long was laid up in the fork of the post and a pin put through forks and pole. It worked as a swivel or pivot and was called a well sweep or ______. These words were not found in any dictionary. They were pioneer slang and to convey messages or to tell the idea to each other.
Back to getting the water out of the well. A long wire, chain, rope, or grapevine was tied on top of the pivot pole and the bottom end of the rope was tied to a oaken bucket. The bucket was made of oak staves and hoops or bands. The bucket was lowered in the well by pulling down the pivot pole. When the bucket was filled with water the pole or pivot drew the water up out of the well. So that was one way of getting water. It always worked too. Some pioneers had a wheel called a pulley with a chain or rope run through it and a bucket on each end of rope so you lowered one bucket in the well to be filled with water, then you pulled water up by hand at the same time lowering the other empty bucket.
Bathrooms were unheard of in those days. So to get a bath you put water in a big kettle, heated it with firewood, then poured the water in a big trough made from a big log that had been chopped out, or dug out as they said, which formed a basin for holding water. Then in you got and washed off, as it was called. If they did not have a trough or big tub for a bath, they just went down to the creek to the old swimming hole and stripped off all clothes and got in and washed off. Boy, I bet there were lots of peeping Toms in those days.