A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Peter Johnston

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Dwelling-houses were not of the best construction for sanitary purposes, the wind and snow finding numerous chinks open to them in the winter, while the summer sun beat down on the roofs, making the unfinished attics veritable sweat-boxes and Opening cracks through which the rain trickled without hindrance, keeping the busy housewife yet busier with pails and pans to prevent everything from' being flooded. When it is remembered that these attics were usually the sleeping apartments of the children; that they often slept three and four in a bed; that they had to sleep between two feather ticks in the winter to keep from freezing, and in summer lie on sheets spread on the floor to keep from smothering, it is not to be wondered at that so many died young.~ Coughs and colds were allowed to run their course, no measures being taken to keep the children housed until they were down sick. Then mustard plasters for the chests, roasted onions or slices of salt pork for the throats, and red peppers steeped in vinegar for a gargle, were the remedies that fetched them around. As a natural consequence, pulmonary troubles and ague were prevalent, and in time the weaker ones developed consumption sometimes quick consumption, but more frequently that long, 1inger~ ing disease that destroys only after years of wasting sickness. From this disease few families were entirely exempt. Jane M. Laing, granddaughter of both John Laing and Peter Johnston, made this entry in her diary in 1831 Scarcely a day passes but the knell of death rings in our ears and reminds us of our own departure to that silent country destined for every human being, which none can escape. Three years later she had joined the silent procession. The Dutch fashion of bundling was in vogue in the early days of Saratoga County and did not die out entirely until about 1820. In accordance with this custom, when a young man was paying court to a young woman they remained with the rest of the family around the kitchen fire until bedtime. Then the master of the house would wind the clock and throw a large log on the fire, and the household would retire with the exception of the lovers. They were privileged to sit up until the log burned out, after which time the young man must either go home or bundle with the girl. It is safe to say that the majority adopted the latter course.

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