~ Bucks County History


Everyday life was not easy

The simpler times were not necessarily the best of times. Life was hard and dangerous, just wearing the latest fashions and everyday chores could be life threatening and often were.

A homemaker’s clothing was cumbersome and often created of highly flammable fabric, bobbinet (1806 tulle fabric), cotton muslin, gauze, and open weave fabrics. The style required large billowy skirts that were hard to manage. This was especially true when cooking fireside. The embers had to be kept hot to not only heat the home but for cooking 3 meals a day. Attempts were made to be careful by hitching up skirts and aprons and tucking them into a waistband or binding at the ankles.

The heat from the fires in the hearth was not only used to cook a household's meals, but was also key in handling other chores, including boiling water for baths, washing fabrics and warming irons for pressing clothes. Keeping the fire burning and managing all these tasks was hard work and dangerous.

Saturday, Nov 28, 1896, a stand upset, and the lamp exploded, setting fire to a carpet and the dress caught fire. Friday, Jan 29, 1897, reaching for a lamp on the mantel, her dress swept against the open grate fire flame and caught fire. Friday, Sep 03, 1886, boiling apple butter, and her dress caught fire. The stories are endless, and most have the same ending.

Fashions of the day could also be hazardous. Dresses and artificial flowers were often made with arsenic, red dye used for children’s clothing caused rashes and ill health, socks made with aniline (chemical) dyes caused sores and cancer and applying makeup made of lead caused damage to wrists. Crinoline’s, enormous wicker or whalebone petticoats, made it almost impossible to be aware of how close you were to fires and candles.

Green was one of the Victorian era’s most fashionable hues; people, mostly women, wore it even after it was widely known that the arsenic-based dye, responsible for the color, could lead to horrible physical suffering and early death.

Men’s fashions were not immune. Felt hats of the day were cured with mercurous nitrate. Prolonged exposure to the mercury caused mercury poisoning. France passed a law in 1898 and England in early 1900 banning the use in hat making. The United States did not address mercury in hat making until 1941 when mercury was needed in the WWII effort. The term “Mad Hatter” is derived from hat makers suffering from prolonged exposer to mercury.

*** , , ,




Page last updated:     March 2, 2024          Broken Links and to contribute additional data email - Nancy

A Timeline of Bucks County History - Mercer Museum PDF

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1864) 2nd Inaugural

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 


  • The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), the state tree of Pennsylvania, is one of the dominant trees of the Commonwealth's forests...
One website can not be all things to all people
- Nancy Janyszeski

"I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work."

- Thomas Alva Edison

Nancy C. Janyszeski All rights reserved.     Information submitted remains, to the extent the laws allows, the property of the submitter who by submitting it agrees that it may be freely copied, but never sold or used in a commercial venture without the knowledge and permission of the rightful owners.   

This website was created as a guide to the history and genealogy of Bucks County Pennsylvania. All efforts have been made to be accurate and to document sources. Some of the material has been contributed and published, with permission, in good faith. All effort has been made to be accurate as possible, and to refer to sources used. If you see an error, please let me know. This website was designed to be informative, a guide to Bucks County history and genealogical research, and hopefully fun. I can't guarantee that all the data is accurate.

Broken Links:
Bucks County

March 2, 2024