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Old 12-13-2018, 09:08 AM
 
Location: Billings, MT
9,227 posts, read 7,280,325 times
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Not only was great great grampa a drunk, but gramma was a junkie!

Laudanum was touted a a kind of cure-all. Headache? A teaspoon full of Laudanum will fix you right up! Coughing? Another teaspoon full. Just feel kind of "bleah"? Another teaspoon full.
Laudanum, of course, was a tincture of opium, which is to say opium steeped in grain alcohol.
Opium, when refined, becomes heroin, which was actually created as a treatment of coughs.
It is quite possible that wine was more common than whisky. Homemade wine was easy to make; water, fruit or berries, sugar or honey, and yeast. Put it in a crock (everybody had crocks back then), cover it with cheesecloth to keep bugs out, and set it in a warm place for a week or so. Strain it, bottle it, and enjoy. No still (distillation apparatus) required.
Good times!
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
3,737 posts, read 3,334,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1003 View Post
AN interesting bit of American history that I never heard about, even though I grew up in a whiskey family

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articl...ke-it-was.html
Water was likely to be contaminated back then. The alcohol in whiskey killed germs.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:41 AM
 
5,424 posts, read 3,125,849 times
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Near me there is a small pre-1900s cemetery tucked away on a small hill in the woods. One whole section of it is composed of little grave markers with angels on them. The ages of the occupants at death were young.

My curiosity piqued, I went to the county library for some research on what killed so many children in such a low populated area. Typhoid fever. Likely from unsanitary water supply and practices and a lack of antibiotic treatment methods.
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:52 PM
Status: "Free Bird T-7 days" (set 3 hours ago)
 
Location: Washington State
15,980 posts, read 8,346,547 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1003 View Post
AN interesting bit of American history that I never heard about, even though I grew up in a whiskey family

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articl...ke-it-was.html
Interesting read. I just calculated my yearly alcohol consumption and I run about the yearly US average....I would have to triple that to equal the average American in 1830. There lives were short and life was boring, may as well go down with your liver screaming.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Podunk, IA
2,724 posts, read 1,285,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redraven View Post
Good times!
When I was a kid, we would get whiskey when we didn't have cough syrup.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:19 PM
 
92 posts, read 19,408 times
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It is not true that early Americans in general avoided water because they thought it was unhealthy - or, for that matter, that they avoided water, period.

The historical record can be cherry-picked for objections to water, but that doesn't change the fact that it is replete with far more references to water as a common drink, from wells and cisterns and springs and streams and collected rainwater. And even most of the objections are not to drinking water but to drinking certain types of water. For example, Benjamin Rush counseled against drinking cold water - but not water, period. The Boston Conduit was conceived for firefighting purposes but immediately tapped for residential water use, and this was back in the 17th century. Providence also had a municipal water works in the colonial era. In other urban areas, clean water was transported in from uncontaminated rural sources - as had been done in places like London for many centuries before, of which colonists would have been aware.

This was in the colonial era. By the time described in the article, the 1830s, much had changed. Many more cities had water works providing drinking water as technology (such as metal rather than wood pipes) improved and infrastructure increased. Germ theory was increasingly accepted (Bassi proved in the early 19th century that disease transmission occurred by microorganism) and hygiene and sanitation were increasingly understood.

Beyond the documentary evidence, the idea that people drank whiskey instead of water fails for reasons of simple math. According to the article, the per capita amount of liquor consumed in the 1830s - let's call this Peak Whiskey - was 1.7 standard (750ml) bottles per week. That's well under half a gallon of drink, with only about a quart of that being actual water. No one subsists for any length of time on a weekly quart of water. The human body needs several gallons of water every week. Further, alcohol is a diuretic. Consuming hard liquor necessitates even more water consumption.

Finally, the notion that beer was drunk because it was supposedly nutrious is also spurious. While there is some nutrition in beer, anyone who could procure a pint could just as easily acquire a slice or two of bread, which was more nutrious than a tankard of ale.

People drank because they liked the effects of drinking, the same reason people drink today.

More often, the tale of people drinking alcohol as an alternative to contaminated water is attributed to medieval Europe, but even then it has little basis despite currently being a widespread belief.

https://leslefts.blogspot.com/2013/1...ater-myth.html
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:06 PM
 
8,050 posts, read 5,581,526 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
Yeah, but some of that "whiskey" wasn't quite.

https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/...-west-era.html
Plus, there was always major danger of methanol and other adulterants.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:26 PM
 
146 posts, read 56,855 times
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I've heard before about the huge consumption of hard liquor in early America- but was the average consumption of beer much less? (because beer doesn't travel as well?). And of course wine consumption was virtually nil. So how does the actual average alcohol consumption compare to today?
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Old 12-14-2018, 04:37 AM
Status: "Tinsel, not just for decoration" (set 8 hours ago)
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
32,536 posts, read 39,897,016 times
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Also keep in mind that in a society where hard currency was scarce that alcohol was also a medium of exchange, much like tobacco was in Maryland and Virginia and cotton in the Deep South.
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Old 12-14-2018, 05:24 AM
 
Location: Itinerant
5,388 posts, read 3,842,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SWFL_Native View Post
Their life expectancy was maybe 40 with a 1/3 of their kds dying before 1. I would drink mucho whiskey too.
Their average life expectancy was 40.

But as you point out 1/3 die before the age of 1, making those who live past that age average life expectancy 60.

It's a limitation of the mathematical mean, when a distribution is weighted towards the lower end.

Just pointing that out.
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