Before Electricity, Running Water, and Gas Heat
Kerosene lamps, wood cook stoves, rub boards and smoothing irons were the household appliances of an earlier era. Rural electrification came to Williamson County in the late 1930s and changed all that.
Narratives from the Georgetown's
A special thanks to The Georgetown Heritage Society and Martha Mitten Allen for letting us post these wonderful first person stories.
view Foreword and Preface
HEATING WITH A FIREPLACE
Lois A. Burkhart - Caroline Jones, Interviewer
We had two fireplaces, one in one room and one in the other, but the chimney was the same and the fireplaces were back to back. Mama had an old uncle that came and stayed with us for awhile. His name was Uncle Jim Duff, and Dad's patients would give Dad wood to pay for doctor bills. He'd have big stacks of wood cut and brought in. Uncle Jim Duff would go out there and get wood and have a roaring fire. I was afraid he was going to set the house afire, because it would roar up the chimney and, sure enough, sometimes the flames would come out the top of the chimney and scare us to death. But it would really burn the soot out. Dad would get so mad he'd nearly die, when he'd come in and see all that big fire. Uncle Jim was burning up his wood.
We slept off in another room, and, in the mornings, we'd jump up and run in there to the room where the fire was. We'd run in there by the fire and dress. Mama would carry coals out of the fireplace to put in the wood stove in the kitchen, to start the fire to cook on in the morning. She'd have to go through the bathroom and the back porch and into the kitchen. She wouldn't want to go through the hall. She'd go around rather than take it through the dining room. She'd take big shovels of coals out of the fireplace to put in the wood stove. I don't know how our mothers lived.
Emil Ischy - Gregory S. Brown, Interviewer
We had kerosene lamps for light, wood stove for heat and cooking. Had a wood cookstove and a wood heater for a good many years. Then we bought a kerosene oil cook-stove. Of course, we thought that was a big event, because I had to cut wood and split it all up for stove wood before that. In the [wood-burning] heater, you could use chunks. I had to go out here west of town to cut the wood because we didn't have any wood on the place [at the farm in Weir].
I'd go out about six miles west of Georgetown in a wagon and mules, and cut a load of wood. Sometimes it'd be after night going home, and it'd be so cold, I'd have to walk beside the wagon to keep from freezing. I'd have to work that wood all up into eighteen inch lengths, and split it into small pieces to fit into the cookstove. [We used] a hand saw and an axe. Green wood would saw easy. You would always try to work it up while it was green. Granddad always kept our saws sharp.