Recently at an estate sale I purchased a couple of diaries that record daily life in the 1870s. One of the writers relayed how he “had to change the right rear” following a visit to a neighboring city. That right rear was, of course, one of his horse’s shoes.

The diaries proved the 1870s was a time of simple pleasures and hard work. Weather was so incredibly important. Rain was a blessing for crops but a curse for travel. Muddy roads made travel by horse or buggy impossible. Hopefully I’ll never take all-season tires for granted again!

Here are some other facts I discovered that I hope you find as fascinating as I did:

“Business law in daily use” in 1873:

* An agreement without consideration is void.

* Contracts made on Sunday cannot be enforced.

* A contract made with a lunatic is void. (Wouldn’t you love to know the 1873 definition of a lunatic?)

* A note obtained by fraud, or from a person in a state of intoxication, cannot be collected.

* It is a fraud to conceal a fraud.

* Signatures made with a lead pencil are good in law.

* A receipt for money is not always conclusive.

* The acts of one partner bind all the rest.

Populations in various states from the latest available census (1870):

 Florida -- 187,756

California -- 560,285

New York -- 4,364,411

Ohio -- 2,662,214

West Virginia -- 445,616

Population in select “territories” (not yet states!):

Arizona -- 9,658

Dakota -- 14,181

Washington -- 23,901

Population in certain cities:

Cleveland, Ohio -- 92,846

Detroit, Mich. -- 79,580

New Orleans, La. -- 191,322

San Francisco -- 149,482

(For comparison, the population of California in the latest census (2012) was 38,041,430. Arizona had 6,553,255 people. Cleveland, Ohio, boasted 390,928 inhabitants, and San Francisco had 825,863.)

In 1873 Ulysses S. Grant was president. Postage of letters throughout the Unites States was 3 cents for each half ounce.

People living in the 1870s did not have very much in the way of material possessions. They commonly listed their worldly goods as a horse ($60), buggy ($50), watch and clock ($20) and household goods ($150). As long as they had “raiment and food” they saw no reason to complain. Sundays were reserved for Sabbath School at 9 a.m., sermon at 11 and prayer meeting at 4 p.m.

They wasted nothing and made repairs to clothes, shoes and buildings so that their use would go on and on. Their families were treasured and they pitched in to help their neighbors.

These diaries made me appreciate what I have a little more. And realize that I need a little less.

And they have made me grateful for the advances doctors, scientists and engineers have made over the 140-plus years. While some principles in life and business have remained unchanged, it’s now a reality that diseases are recognized and cured, roadways have been built across the nation (2,605,331 miles of them) and, thanks to tire engineers, Mother Nature doesn’t have control of our daily lives anymore!

Author

Lori L. Mavrigian
Lori L. Mavrigian

Managing Editor

Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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