“Nineteenth Century Problems”

“Nineteenth Century Problems”

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You’ve heard of “First World Problems”. Like too many choices of ice cream flavors at the sweet shop.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". Meme image: "I want to eat my chips but I can't hear the T.V."

One example of “First World Problems.” [Source]

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I came across some unique challenges our Victorian American ancestors dealt with, more succinctly put, “Nineteenth Century Problems”. True, some of these easily could’ve plagued “townies” in the 18th or even 17th centuries. But as these newspaper articles are from the 19th century, and my focus of research is the Victorian Era (1839-1901) American West, we’ll go with “Nineteenth Century Problems”.

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RUNNING AT LARGE; a Nineteenth Century Problem

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Apparently, owners of cows, horses, mules, dogs, and pigs (probably other animals) allowed them to “run free” and forage for food. This probably made sense when ample green grasses and plants on the prairies or meadows surrounding the settlement was better for the stock than keeping them housed and fed on serious energy-expensive hay. Who has time to mow hay when the meadow is edible? Who has time to track down their horses when they need to hitch the buggy?

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As towns grew, the nuisance factor increased.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Americus Weekly Herald of Americus, Kansas, December 22, 1881.

The Americus Weekly Herald of Americus, Kansas, on December 22, 1881.

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While researching this phenomenon, thousands of notices cropped up in western American newspapers about the laws on the books (or proposed bills in legislative sessions) that would make the impound fees for stock left to run at large hyper expensive.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Saint Paul Globe of Saint Paul, Minnesota, November 5, 1887.

The Saint Paul Globe of Saint Paul, Minnesota on 5 November, 1887.

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Other times, the ordinances had passed, were on the books and everyone knew about the restrictions, but the law would rather chase down criminals than round up horses, cows, and pigs and impound them.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". Emporia Daily News of Emporia, Kansas, July 17, 1882.

Emporia Daily News of Emporia, Kansas on July 17, 1882.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota, May 22, 1884. Part 1..

1) The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota on May 22, 1884. Part 1.

Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota, May 22, 1884. Part 2.

2) The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota on May 22, 1884. Part 2.

Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota, May 22, 1884. Part 3.

3) The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota on May 22, 1884. Part 3.

Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota, May 22, 1884. Part 4.

4) The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota on May 22, 1884. Part 4.

Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota, May 22, 1884. Part 5.

5) The Black Hills Daily Times of Deadwood, South Dakota on May 22, 1884. Part 5.

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But what about crops? Don’t farmers have a right to protect their crops in the field?

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". Dodge City Times of Dodge City, Kansas, March 8, 1888.

Dodge City Times of Dodge City, Kansas on March 8, 1888.

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Some people apparently didn’t care–(the laws don’t apply to them?) and thus liberated their horses when the need to hitch the wagon arose.

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". Barber County Index of Medicine Lodge, Kansas. June 4, 1890.

Barber County Index of Medicine Lodge, Kansas on June 4, 1890.

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If “stock running at large” is too ridiculous of a “Nineteenth Century Problem”, try this one on for size:

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Kristin Holt | "Nineteenth Century Problems". Garnett Journal of Garnett, Kansas, April 26, 1899. Mrs. Alice Johnson... declared insane last Saturday by a jury before Probate Judge Porter...to be sent to an asylum. Insanity was considered hereditary."

Garnett Journal of Garnett, Kansas on April 26, 1899.

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I do believe being declared insane by a jury, because insanity was considered hereditary, and sent to a nineteenth century asylumthat’s definitely a horrible “Nineteenth Century Problem”.

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Updated April 2021
Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC
“Nineteenth Century Problems”