Injured Thumb While Butchering Hogs

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 16, 1912:  Our dearest Ruth left for Sunbury this morning and my heart is rather sad. We killed some pigs and I took a slice off the end of my thumb. Oh sad the day, for I don’t care anything about having a sore thumb.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Butchering hogs  is a lot of work.  A hundred years ago today, the yard between the house and barn on the Muffly farm was probably filled  with scalding troughs and  large wooden tripods with hog carcasses hanging from them.

I wonder how bad Grandma’s cut was. A “slice off the end” of her thumb doesn’t sound good. (Click here to read a previous post on how they treated cuts and wounds a hundred years ago.)

Did Grandma  miss her sister Ruth or was she being sarcastic?  (Personally I might be annoyed if I had a  sister who didn’t have to help with the butchering.)

I think that Ruth went to a teachers’ institute. She was a teacher at a one-room school-house near McEwensville. Winter break for the schools began the previous Friday, and I think that teacher institutes were held over the breaks to provide professional development and training for the rural school teachers.

Sunbury is the county seat of Northumberland County and is about twenty miles from McEwensville.

 

11 Responses

  1. Ew. Hearing that she took the end of her thumb off makes me feel sick to my stomach. I know a girl who did that with a paper cutter in high school.

    • My memory of my grandmother as an older woman is that her fingers looked fine–so even though I’m sure it was a bad cut, fortunately, I don’t think that there was any permanent damage.

  2. On a random note, there is a Sylvia Plath poem about taking off the tip of her thumb. Great post, as usual.

  3. Judging by the “Our dearest Ruth…” I’m thinking some sarcasm was involved. I’ve only participated in one hog butchering and that was plenty.

  4. [...] had been in Sunbury since the 16th. I think that she was attending a teachers’ training institute over winter break. What [...]

  5. [...] again (though I suppose that she possibly was still complaining about her December injury). On December 16, 1912 she [...]

  6. […] December 16, 1912 […]

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