Settlers Making Progress

A week ago, this space was devoted to water and pioneer era wells.

Today we will continue the theme, but present another, improved, method of obtaining water for a household.

Think 1850’s. It’s called a cistern. You dig a large hole, line it will tile or brick or stone. You want a material which will hold the water (or most of it) inside the underground container.

Next you pipe the water collecting from the eaves of your home (or the nearest building) into the cistern. [Think of it as replacing the rain barrel which had stood in place and collected water for washing and other uses.] Now you need one more thing — a way to get the water out of the cistern when you want it.

This crank pump was a great improvement over the windlass at the top of the well. Most of the spouts featured a knob to prevent the handle of your bucket from slipping off.

A more modern pump with a vertical action handle. Descendants of this model were found on several of the farm cisterns during my childhood. And they were also located at the occasional highway rest area or small park at the top of a well.


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