Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society, Inc.

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Are You Ready for Cholera ?

    Cholera last year [1884] ravaged portions of the Old World. Judging from former visitations of the epidemic, it is probable that it will appear in this country during the coming summer. Large cities are already their sanitary conditions, and Congress has established a National Board of Health to aid the States in repelling an invasion of the cholera from abroad. Not only should ports of entry and crowded populations be in a defensive condition, but small communities ought to protect themselves. Indeed, this is a matter that interests every householder in the land. The question, "Are you ready for the cholera?" appeals to "you" on the farm, as well as to "you" in the paved and sewered streets of the city. While we do not know all about the cholera, one fact is definitely fixed: It is encouraged by decomposing animal and vegetable matter---everything comprised in the elegant but expressive term---filth.

    The first step, in city or country, is to look to the house and its surroundings, and place them in complete order. It is the wastes of our daily lives that constitute the source of danger. Outside of well ordered cities, there is rarely complete provision for disposing of the wastes of the family. On the farm, the arrangements for getting rid of these wastes, not merely covering them out of sight, but depositing them where they can do no harm, are usually most inadequate. it is not rare to see an expensive house, with an open sink drain leading from the kitchen at the rear, a constant menace of typhoid and other diseases, and offering an open welcome to cholera. The house itself may have its damp cellars and unhealthy rooms. Air, sunshine and the white-wash brush will soon cure these. 

    The surroundings of the house are of more importance as the family wastes are removed from the house with usually little care as to what becomes of them afterwards. The wastes are of three sorts. First, garbage---the kitchen solid refuse, including ashes. Second, liquid waste--kitchen slops, washing water, etc. Third, the waste of the human body. Leaving the other wastes to another time, we call attention to the wastes of our bodies as the most dangerous of all, and at the same time the most readily disposed of. 

    Nothing can be more inadequate for the purpose than the ordinary privy vault. It is not only a constant offence, but a continuous source of danger, its contents often contaminating wells at the distance of a hundred feet or more, and bringing disease and death into the family. There is but one thing to be done with a privy vault---abolish it! Do this at once, before the hot weather. It is impossible to mend, improve or make it tolerable. fill it up and be done with it. The substitute for the vault is the earth closet, use it. Such buildings are usually eye-sores, and the filling up of the vault removes all excuse for the unsightly presence. 

    An earth closet may be placed in any convenient room; one may be partitioned off in a shed; in a barn, or other out-building, or the closet may occupy a small room in the house without unpleasant results. The material required is dry loam, not sand, but good soil, the stiffer the better. Dry this earth thoroughly, by spreading it on a platform of boards in the sun. When dust dry, pass it through a sieve to removed lumps, stones, etc., and store in barrels or boxes in a dry place. Where coal is burned, sifted ashes will answer in place of dry earth, but wood ashes must not be used. For the closet, self-acting ones, in which the weight of the person liberates the dry earth from a hopper, may be purchased if preferred, but a simple and inexpensive closet may be made at a small cost, that will answer as well as the most costly affair. Source:  Waukesha Freeman, May 7, 1885.


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