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COUNTRY ANTIQUES : Bucket Benches

May 05, 1985|ROBERT STONE

Because fresh water is essential to all froms of life, lakes, ponds, streams and rivers were magnets for early settlers. On the other hand, much pioneering activity took place in areas where there was no easy access to water. Just as digging a well was the most important project--and often the first--undertaken on a piece of land, keeping the always-needed water on hand was an additional challenge. Household chores might keep women busy for up to 18 hours a day, and most of those tasks required water in one way or another. In developed areas, running water wasn't a commonplace convenience until the mid-1800s, and it was an even later development in the rest of the country.

To maintain their household routine, pioneer women needed a ready supply of water, which was usually drawn by the "men-folk" before they went into the fields each day. For reasons of safety and sanitation, however, having buckets full of water all over the house was impractical. After all, babies have always loved to created watery havoc, and dogs and cats have poor table manners. Consequently, household water had to be stored safely and out of the way. The bucket bench was a practical solution; it kept water within reach and at a convenient height.

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