View Full Version : Lets hear your thoughts...

06-20-2009, 12:02 PM
So im pretty interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this subject.

Why would someone go to the trouble to dip a privy clean, only to fill it in right after with either household ash/clay/rocks/etc.?

My Only guess would be that it might have been a well known fact that Privy Waste was leaching into the water table and contaiminating it.

If there are any other ideas out there I would love to hear it.

Digger ry

06-20-2009, 12:16 PM
I have a different question - where did all the privy-dippings get dumped? Do old directories list the local "honey dipper"?

I wish I would have thought about these things when I was 10 and knew so many people in their 80's & 90's!

06-20-2009, 01:13 PM
To piss us diggers off, why else?[:D] I never got that either Ry, I do know that diseases such as cholera were a major concern of the day.. I even had an record of someone being fined for not having their privy abated.. Funny thing is the street he lived on had the trashiest pits in the town..

Kate, normally the dippings were hauled to a gully or creek bank like the rest of the garbage.. I have dug a couple of these dump areas and while they had some early bottles they didn't have the quantity of most trash dumps..

06-20-2009, 01:50 PM
I think he was wondering why do it the "last time" before filling the hole.. I never understood this either.

06-20-2009, 02:07 PM
Yes doug is correct, I know why they dipped privies Lobe just want to hear possible explinations on why they would dip the pit right before they filled it in for good.

And Doug, I have also found records where people would get fined for over flowing privies.

Digger Ry

06-20-2009, 02:16 PM
Cuz it's a good "Spring Cleaning" - get rid of old stuff that's broken or no longer "in style".. clean out old garbage - sounds way easier than filling it with dirt, actually.

Maybe the women did it in the middle of the night while their husbands were sleeping so they would have to buy all new stuff.

06-20-2009, 02:56 PM
I heard somewhere that dippers sold the glass they found to glass houses to be reused. Kinda gross, but whatever.

06-20-2009, 03:00 PM
Possible I guess. Not sure how they would sepparate the goodies from the bad.
If they could I would think they would be more likely to sell returns to the bottlers than to the glass houses. I think they often offered a small return fee.

06-20-2009, 05:13 PM
actually often they separated everything, in the later years they even had special pumps and screens to separate everything. Glass was recycled, and poo was sold as fertilizer...

funny, I was just saying the same thing to my step dad, why the heck did they clean them out the last time only to fill them back in, and then, with most of the ones i see why only ash instead of all the bottles they were using?

My conclusion was the same that it must of been because of disease. There were probably ordinances, (i have found a few) that required pits to be cleaned, especially out here here where they are often shallow...

Im just waiting to hit a few that were not cleaned!

06-20-2009, 07:08 PM
The city of Philadelphia had an ordinance requiring privies to be cleaned out every 5 years. They also had a city privy inspector that could condemn your privy if it was unsanitary and fine you daily for not having it cleaned and when a pit was abandoned the owner was required to have it cleaned before filling it in. I’m sure most large cities and towns had similar laws. It also seems that these laws were more strictly enforced in the late 19th early 20th century.