Archived Story

Bathtub taxes and galoshes

Published 9:44pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some more from Village and Weekly Affairs. Years ago, remember when girls wore long pantalets that came down below their skirts? And both sexes wore “galoshes,” commonly called “arctics.” Ladies hardly ever buckled theirs and they went around with them flapping, hence, where we got the word “flappers” maybe.
Something I never knew was back in 1872, ladies sat on one side of the church and the men sat on the other side. They even had a stove on each side (bet they were Round Oaks, huh?).
In days gone by Marcellus had two horse-drawn hearses. The large black one was for adults and the smaller white one was for children.
In the book were many pictures and the one of the two hearses shown were quite elaborate.
In the good old days ladies wore “bloomers,” especially when they were cycling.
In stores years ago, crackers, sugar, coffee and salt were in wooden barrels.
Want to know why the Marcellus paper came out on Thursday? (It still does.) It was so it would get to the post office in time for those olden day farmers to get it when they came to town on Saturday (good thinking, huh?).
Chief Weesaw had about 150 people in his village in Volinia Township of Cass County in the 1830s. The village consisted of 20 families. Chief Weesaw also had three wives. Although he moved around in several counties he seemed to regard Volinia as really his home. He was there in 1825 and possibly even years before that.
He moved to Berrien County in 1834 and was murdered by his own son in a drunken brawl.
In the 1840s, a man by the name of Adam Thompson installed the first built-in bath tub in a house, and some towns laid a tax on bath tubs — sometimes as much as $30 a year.
On Oct. 7, 1909, in Volinia, the old mill owned by a Mr. Skinner was the scene of an accident. Mr. Skinner was fatally injured when he was knocked off a platform into the water and died the next day.
In July 1965, Charlie Springsteen of the Cass County Historical Society found the old up and down saw in the ruins of the Williamsville Mill.
The saw was operated by a walking beam working off the water wheel which gave it the up and down motion. This old saw could cut a thousand board feet a day.
I guess it took a long time to saw through a big log. The saying was you could start the saw in a log , go eat your lunch and get back before the saw got through the log.
Did you ever hear of Witch Hazel soap? I do remember hearing about Witch Hazel, but don’t recall what it was used for.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at

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