Archive for February 17th, 2009

The Old Oaken Bucket: Revised by the Sanitarian

February 17, 2009
The Old Oaken Bucket, Currier & Ives, 1872

The Old Oaken Bucket, Currier & Ives, 1872

The original poem is posted below the “revised” version.



With what anguish of mind I remember my childhood,
Recalled in the light of a knowledge since gained;
The malarious farm, the wet, fungus-grown wildwood,
The chills then contracted that since have remained;
The scum-covered duck pond, the pig-sty close by it,
The ditch where the sour-smelling house drainage fell,
The damp shaded dwelling, the foul barn-yard nigh it,
But worse than all else was that terrible well,
And old oaken bucket, the mould crusted bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.

Just think of it! Moss on the vessel that lifted
The water I drank in those days called to mind,
Ere I know what professors and scientists gifted
In the water of wells by analysis find.
The rotting wood fibre, the oxide of iron,
The algae, the frog of unusual size,
The water, impure as the verses of Byron,
Are things I remember with tears in my eyes.

And to tell the sad truth, though I shudder to think it,
I considered that water uncommonly clear,
And oft at noon when I went to drink it,
I enjoyed it as much as I now enjoy beer.
How ardent I seized it with hands that were grimy!
And quick to the mud-covered bottom it fell;
Then soon with its nitrates and nitrites, and slimy
With matter organic, it rose from the well.

Oh! had I but realized, in time to avoid them,
The dangers that lurked in that pestilent draught,
I’d have tested for organic germs, and destroyed them
With potass permangante ere I had quaffed;
Or perchance I’d have boiled it, and afterward strained it
Through filters of charcoal and gravel combined;
Or, after distilling, condensed and regained it
In potable form, with its filth left behind.

How little I knew of the dread typhoid fever
Which lurked in the water I ventured to drink!
But since I’ve become a devoted believer
In the teachings of science, I shudder to think.
And now, far removed from the scenes I’m describing;
The story for warning to others I tell,
As memory reverts to my youthful imbibing,
And I gag at the thought of that horrible well,
And the old oaken bucket, that fungus-grown bucket,
In fact, the slop bucket that hung in the well.
The Sanitarian.

The Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) Aug 12, 1880


From Redbook Online:

Title:     The Old Oaken Bucket
Author: Samuel Woodworth
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell,
The cot of my father, the dairy-house nigh it,
And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well-
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.

That moss-covered vessel I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell;
Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket arose from the well.

How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips!
Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
The brightest that beauty or revelry sips.
And now, far removed from the loved habitation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell,
As fancy reverts to my father’s plantation,
And sighs for the bucket that hangs in the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hangs in the well!

Mine Explosion at Almy, Wyoming, 1881

February 17, 2009
Coal Mines at Almy, 1871

Coal Mines at Almy, 1871

The above picture is from the Wyoming Tales and Trails website. Warning: It has music playing.



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 4 — A special from Evanston, Wy., to the Tribune says: “The gas in the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron company’s mine No. Two, at Almy station, on the Union Pacific road, exploded at 8.45 last evening, throwing the flames many hundred feet high out of the main slope, carrying away the buildings around the mouth of the shaft, and setting the machinery buildings on fire. About 15 minutes before the explosion from 10 to 30 white men and 50 Chinamen went down to work for the night. At two a.m. 17 Chinamen, more or less seriously injured, had been rescued, many with limbs broken and badly scalded. About 20 dead Chinamen have been discovered, but have not yet been brought up. No white man has yet been found, and there are no hopes that any are alive. The jar of the explosion was plainly felt at Evanston.”

A dispatch from Cheyenne says the night shift consisted of 50 Chinamen and five whites. Two of the whites were brought out in a crippled condition, and 15 Chinamen were rescued through the ventilating shaft, all of whom were more or less injured. It is believed that 35 Chinamen and two white men, are now in the mine which is on fire. The mine is owned by the Central Pacific railway, and was being worked at its full capacity. The accident will cause a suspension of work for a year.

Evening Gazette (Port Jervis, New York) Mar 5,  1881


Frightful Explosion in a Coal Mine —
Forty Men Killed.

EVANSTON, (Wyoming), Mar. 5.
A fearful explosion took place in mine No. 2 last night. The cause is not definitely known, but it is supposed to be by gas generated by fire in the abandoned mine No. 1, which has been burning for the past six years, and is separated from mine No. 2 by wide walls only. The explosions completely demolished all the buildings over the main stope and, setting fire to these, burned them, together with the engine and other houses adjoining. There were sixty Chinamen and four white men in the mine. Of the latter, Mr. Gillespie, John Barton and Josiah Crosby were taken out dead, and Charles Beverage alive, but very dangerously burned, but may recover. Twenty-five Chinamen have been brought to the surface, all badly scalded and many with broken limbs. The balance are probably dead. The white men were all married and leave large families. The fire in the mine is now out, and everything possible is being done for the recovery of the balance of bodies and for the injured.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Mar 7,  1881

Coughing up a Confederate Ball of Cast-Iron

February 17, 2009
William J. Bolton

William J. Bolton

This first article I found after the one that follows about General Bolton coughing up the Confederate bullet. I found it interesting in that it seems the Democrats used similar campaign tactics in this past current election as were used back in 1880 (finding so-called Republicans who were “in the bag” for their candidate).


Montgomery county is getting a good deal of newspaper notoriety because it is the birthplace of Hancock, and one or two of its leading Republican citizens have declared their intention to vote for the Democratic nominee for President. The West Chester Village Record strikes at the matter in this manner: At the same time that it is ludicrous, and therefore, somewhat entertaining, the persistency of the discouraged Hancock press in trying to find recruits among the Republicans of Montgomery county becomes rather tiresome. The fact that there are not or [of?] any consequence has been perfectly demonstrated for some time, but the Philadelphia Times, after having made several efforts, sent a reporter up to Norristown, a few days ago, to attempt something heroic. He was determined, probably, to bring back a bagful of names, if he had to copy them off tomb-stones. The result was that he came in with four names and lots of padding. Among the four, of course, were Dr. Read and George Bultock, who must be getting somewhat fatigued by this time at their perpetual elevation on Democratic poles, as captives from the Republicans, and the other two were General W.J. Bolton and Mr. B.E. Chain.

Winfield S. Hancock

Winfield S. Hancock

It now proves that General Bolton is not for Hancock after all, and he publishes a vigorous letter saying so; while Mr. Chain, though a loyal man during the war, has always been a Democrat, and his support of Hancock was, of course, to be expected. It must be remarked that the Times, in printing without any revision General Bolton’s earnest letter defining his position, makes a palpable mistake. It looks odd, of course, and so would the letters of most men without revision by the editor and care by the proof reader. But the force and clearness of the missive are not obscured; it is easily understood, and its distinct declaration that the writer is not to be caught in a Democratic trap, even with a Union General as bait, will not be misapprehended. We suggest, with much respect, to our esteemed contemporary, that if General Bolton had written to it, saying that he was for Hancock, pains would have been taken to put his letter in first-rate order for the compositor’s hands, and that such a discrimination tells as much as a whole chapter of confession.

General Bolton had few advantages of education, but he was a brave soldier, and sustained terrible wounds at Antietam; and if he does not write a perfectly-constructed and exactly-punctuated letter, he makes one that goes to the front — as his leadership did in battle eighteen years ago. Had he voted for Hancock, we should not have assailed him; as he votes, however, with the party that sustained the Union armies, we all the more rejoice at his sound sense. But it is not about time to admit that the Hancock recruits in Montgomery county are not forthcoming?

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield

Even the General’s first cousins, Republicans all their lives, will vote for Garfield, and the county is as unshaken by the Cincinnati nomination as if any other man had been chosen to carry the Solid South’s banner.

The Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) Aug 12, 1880



After Seventeen Years.
[Special Dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette.]

NORRISTOWN, May 22. — General Wm. Bolton was yesterday relieved of a Confederate bullet in his neck, which has been a source of pain for seventeen years past. While Colonel of the Fifty-first Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and awaiting orders on a mound at the time of the famous mine explosion at Petersburg, July 30, 1864, a Confederate canister shell exploded near him and a small bullet entered the lower right jaw at the very point where he had received a bullet wound some years previous at the battle of Antietam. Forty distinct incisions were made a few weeks later, but without success. Since then General Bolton has felt pain and oppression in his neck, especially during damp weather. Yesterday he had occasion to stoop while attending to a customer in his store, and was immediately taken with a violent fit of coughing. Placing his hand instinctively over his mouth, something dropped into his hand. On removing the blood and mucous covering  of the object he found it to be the painful little ball of Confederate cast-iron. It was covered with rust, weighed 273 grains Troy, and the surface was covered with sharp ridges.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 27, 1881

General Bolton of Norristown, carries a novel charm on his watch chain. It is the bullet which he received in the war and which he coughed up a short time ago.

Chester Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania) Jun 20, 1881



Member of Vicksburg and Antietam Battlefield Commissions.

Philadelphia Aug. 2 — Brig Gen William J Bolton died to-day of heart failure, at the age of seventy-four years. Gen Bolton served through the civil war in the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers first as captain of a company and finally as colonel of the regiment, and was brevetted brigadier general. He was wounded at Antietam and at Petersburg. Gen Bolton was a member of the Vicksburg and Antietam battlefield commissions.

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) Aug 3, 1906