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 clothes washing and outbuildings.
The pioneers done their own washing of clothes. They had a large black kettle set in a furnace made of mud and rocks. The kettle was partly filled with water and some homemade soap added to the water. Then the dirty clothes were dumped in the kettle and a fire built around the kettle and a fire built around the kettle to make it boil. After the clothes had boiled a while a small batch of them was taken out at a time and laid on a large block about 2 feet high and 2 feet in diameter. Then a paddle about 3 feet long 1 inch thick and 4 inches wide was used to pound the clothes as they were taken from the big kettle and placed on the bottling block as it was called. While the clothes were being pounded with the paddle the hot water and dirt would fly everyway. You had to watch out and not get burned from hot water. It was hard work, but the clothes were made clean. Later on a few people got hold of a gadget called a wash board. It had corrugated tin fastened on one side and the clothes were soaped and wet then rubbed up and down on the wash board which took the dirt out of them. This was a hard way doing laundry.
There had to be several buildings erected on the farm, such as barn for cows and horses to be sheltered in, sheep house for sheep. Cribs for corn. A smoke house to keep meat. Salt, flour, meal, etc. in a well house near the well. I will describe one or two of these houses. The well house first. It was about 6 feet wide by 10 feet long and had no floor except the dirt or ground. Some big flat rocks were laid on the ground in the well house and large tubs set on the rocks. Cold water from the well was poured in the tubs and milk, eggs, butter, etc. were set in the water to keep them cool. Water had to be changed 2 or 3 times a day especially on hot days. Now the smoke house. It was about 10 X 16 feet and had a floor in the front end. About 6 feet of floor across the back was left out. The ground space in back of smoke house was used for building a fire to smoke the meat. That would be stored in later. Some folks who put up a lot of canned vegetables made a cellar or can-house for them. The cellar was made by digging a hole in the side of a hill near the house and boarding it up or cribbing it up with logs, which ever were available. Shelves were made in it and the canned vegetables stored away.