Our Forefathers “Borrowed Fire” In Early Days

The Gazette
October 5, 1939

What a world of trouble our forefathers and foremothers must have had. And yet they were just as happy and got along about as well as we do. We of 1939 little conceive of the primitive ways and customs of a century ago.

There was no a match in the whole world in 1839. They made fire by rubbing flints together rapidly, catching the sparks on a substance known as “punk”. This would create a blaze, and fat lightwood kindlings were quickly applied, and so they had started a fire.

Sometimes, however, the punk would give out. So they often had to cover up the live coals in the fireplace at night on retiring, so they would have five next morning. But even this failed, sometimes, and one of the boys would have to jump out of bed, jerk on his clothes quickly and dash off to a neighbor’s house to “borrow” a chunk. The boys would nearly freeze to death sometimes, but it was good for them and they were hale and strong.

During those primitive days in Union Parish there were not many things of any kind that were useful and comforting to mankind, as we have today. There were no steamboats, for the local waters were not yet navigated; no railroad trains, no telegraphs, no telephones, no sewing machines, for the sewing was all done by hand. Cooking was all done on the old-fashioned fireplace, with the pots and pans and skillets the only utensils, with the spit hanging from the chimney back. Oxen were often used for drawing wagons and carts, and the corn was ground on an old-time watermill.

Bye and bye matches were invented and cooking stoves came along to help about the kitchen work. From these crude things we have come a long way to what we enjoy today. It is a blessing that this generation doesn’t have to undergo such hardships, for they are too soft and couldn’t stand it. The luxuries and comforts enjoyed now were unthinkable in those days, and if many of them had been predicted a century ago, the man so predicting would have probably been held for mental examination.

The founders didn’t have much nor did they want much. They had simple ways, simple faith, and enjoyed one another. They were not in a rush. They took their time, for there was much time to take.


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