Toilet Paper, Corn Cobs, and More

The Most Necessary Invention. That was the title on the email a friend sent me.  He’d found an article that listed the most important inventions in each state. New York is credited with the invention of toilet paper.Gayetty

As a historical fiction writer, I was intrigued by the date. Joseph Gayetty created the product in 1857. It was made of manila hemp dipped in aloe. Advertised to heal hemorrhoids. Later the advertising declared it the proper thing to use on that delicate part of your body. Seth Wheeler in 1871 patented an improved version that wrapped around a cardboard tube and was perforated for easy tear-off sections.

I was amazed it had been invented in the mid-1800s. After all, I’d heard people used the Sears catalogue and other printed pages while in the outhouse. I was surprised at the date because my uncle in the 1960s still used corn cobs in his outhouse. Although, he also had a roll of toilet paper in there.

At a dollar for 1000 sheets, I imagine only the rich could afford toilet paper back then.

The friend who sent me the article is a Civil War reenactor. He has a variety of period items on display near his tent. One of those is a packet of Stansfield’s Supreme Fine Ragg paper product. Toilet paper without the tube or the perforation. All you Civil War writers out there might want to place that in your soldier’s rucksack.

Joseph Gayetty was one of the few commercial toilet paper manufacturers until 1898. In 1935—seventy-three years after the first toilet paper was made—the Northern company presented the first splinterless toilet paper.Toilet paper.img

Thinking about toilet paper reminded me, I have my heroine standing in an outhouse at the beginning of my yet unpublished novel Bride in Disguise. My mind reviewed outhouse descriptions. Newer versions are still around today in camp grounds, national parks, the Amish and survivalists.

Then my mind went to all the outhouses I’ve experienced in my life. My great-aunt lived in a small town. She had running water but no indoor toilet. Her outhouse was a pristine two-holer. One hole for children and one for adults. A good housewife prided herself on keeping the outhouse immaculate. My great-aunt May’s was spotless white and reeked of bleach.

My uncle’s on the other hand wasn’t as pleasant. It had spiders in the rafters. That experience helped me describe outhouse unpleasantness in my novel.

When my father was stationed in England in the late 1950s, we found several people in town had outhouses. While our house had indoor plumbing, I remember very clearly the cute little house outback with windows and curtains.outhouse

A few years ago, my husband and I took our third trip to the Philippines. We were presented with some memorable experiences we had been able to avoid in previous trips. Most Asian toilet are squatters. And although there are western toilets in the Philippians, this community in the jungles had no indoor plumbing. The outhouse didn’t even have a roof. And technically, it didn’t have any walls. Instead, blue tarp was draped around a small area. There was a handle to hold while you squatted over a porcelain tile buried in the ground. Not accustoming to squatting, I held my hubby’s hands while I did my business. As long as I was squatted, I was hidden from view. The tarp protection reached only waist high.

Thanks for putting up with my mind wondering from toilet paper to outhouses across the world.

What unusual piece of research took your mind to unusual places? Did it end up as part of your novel’s setting?

 

 

 

 

Romance, Research and Fun Factoids

Sandra Merville Hart is my special guest today. She writes Civil War Romance. I love historical romance. I’ve read a Stranger on My Land the first book in her Civil War series. I’m very interested in her newest release A Rebel in My House. Sandra tells us about it.SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2(1)

A Rebel in My House is set during the turbulent Battle of Gettysburg. The townspeople lived through a nightmare that extended months beyond the battle. This novel gives a glimpse of that suffering through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress. A Confederate soldier caught behind enemy lines after retreat needs her help. Sheltering him ushers in more difficulties than she ever imagined. Lines become blurred as her feelings for him grow. Loyalties threaten to divide them as Confederates seize the town.

Both have made promises to family members.

Some promises are impossible to keep.

How do you research for your book?

I read articles online to learn some initial facts. Then I check out nonfiction books from the library and take copious notes. I try to travel to novel settings. Visiting local museums and walking the historic streets piques my imagination. I learn the history and, along the way, the story is born.

What inspired you to write this book?

When it was time to write my next Civil War romance, I knew there was story waiting for me in Gettysburg. My husband traveled there with me. We spent long hours in the battlefields and attended several ranger tours.We took a private ranger tour with a Battlefield Guide who tailored the tour around my questions about Tennessee regiments. A hazy idea formed.

We visited museums in town and learned of the horrific nightmare the women and children endured. Then I knew I had to write their story as well as the experience of the Tennessee regiments.

Share a few Civil War factoids about Gettysburg most people are not aware of.

The Confederate Army gathered both runaway slaves and free citizens when they crossed into Pennsylvania in June of 1863. Many African Americans had fled by the time Confederate General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg on Friday, June 26, 1863, a few days ahead of the famous battle that began on July 1st.

After the battle, Confederates left behind 7,000 comrades too severely wounded to retreat.

The first Confederate soldier killed at Gettysburg was Henry Raison of the 7th Tennessee Infantry. The hero, Jesse Mitchell, in A Rebel in My House is from that regiment.

The Battle of Gettysburg ranks first among our bloodiest Civil War battles with over 40,000 casualties.

Now, I’d like to ask a few questions about you that my readers might find interesting.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8 (NIV)

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing now. Don’t let someone else determine whether or not you follow your dream. Take writing classes. Attend writers’ conferences. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Pray that God guides your steps.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is amazingly supportive. If I tell him I need to go to Gettysburg for a research trip, he checks his work calendar to plan a week he can take off with me. I take photographs; he logs where the picture is taken. He helps me figure out directions and mileage between historical towns. When I’m baffled by some historical object in a museum, he helps me figure out how it might have been used. He is amazing.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love to read romantic suspense, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, but my favorite genre to read for pleasure is historical romance.

About Sandra Merville Hart:

Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

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A Rebel in My House Book Blurb: Click to order.

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

If you’d like to find out more about Sandra visit any of the links below.

Sandra’s Blog, Historical Nibbles:  https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sandra_M_Hart

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandramhart7/

Sandra’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100329215443000389705/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j3JI-wECyY&feature=youtu.be

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