Tag Archives: victorian women

Women Gave Police Lots of Trouble in the 1800s





The Almonte Ladies Barber

Women in Prison 1900s

Women Arrested for Wearing Pants?

Lanark County “Bad Girls”– Bank Street 1873

“Wenches” in Almonte??

She Came Back! A Ghost Divorce Story

She Came Back! A Ghost Divorce Story


A True Story from the Newspaper Archives 1897

When Miss Rippledeane married Mr. Baldwin in 1897 he was a widower. The marriage hit the skids pretty quickly and Mrs. Baldwin brought suit for divorce. It must have baffled the lawyers and judge as the grounds was because a ghost of former Mrs. Baldwin, his first wife, insisted on still jointly sharing the house and interfering with their matrimonial happiness in spirit.

Mrs. Baldwin insisted she was once a cheerful healthful woman, and now she was in a nervous frame of mind altogether owing to the ghostly persecutions of her husband’s former wife.

Apparently the former missus was waiting for the new missus the day they got married and the new bride saw her standing in the doorway dressed in white waiting for the new couple. The new Mrs. Baldwin asked her new husband who the lady was and he said he saw nothing of the sort. She thought he was jesting and upon giving the description of the ghostly vision the maidservant gave way to emotion declaring it was none other than the dead wife herself, Rosamond Baldwin.

Since that initial encounter the ghost followed her wherever she went, pinching her, pulling her hair, and causing her to cry out in front of guests. To collect further evidence she called for her sister Miss Anna Rippledeane to come visit, not telling her that the former Mrs. Baldwin was still calling her former residence home. One day Anna screamed in fright insisting that she too saw the lady in white. She made her new brother-in-law search for the ghost under the bed, which was futile.

In Mrs. Baldwin’s suit she claimed she once overheard her husband begging: “Rosamond please go away and leave him in peace”. Upon being interviewed Mr. Baldwin refused to speak about the incident. But, the divorce suit was brought forward and will determine whether Mrs. Baldwin is entitled to a divorce and whether Mr. Baldwin is creating bigamy by having one under the quick and even the dead.  if the divorce has granted Mr. Baldwin has assured his current wife that he will not marry again.




Another sad Baldwin Tale




Clipped from The Inter Ocean26 Apr 1889, FriPage 7


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)





To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum

The Insane Spinster Ghost of Appleton Ontario

Embroidery of the Insane?

I am a Laundry Girl



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Dear Ellen,

As I have written you before I have found work in a local laundry here in Perth. Please don’t have visions of  sunlight and happiness as it’s actually located in a cramped kitchen. I was told yesterday to feel lucky as they used to have to work in a dark tenement courtyard next door.

I wash clothes all day long in dolly tubs with a dolly stick. There are also tall tubs in which large items are stirred and beaten with dollies or a plunger on a long handle. The water is heated in a large metal boiler on a stove with extra pots boiling over an outdoor fire. It provides ample washing water for the tubs and  we are watched carefully as our soap has to be used very economically.

We have to carefully mix it into the hot water for the main wash, but everyday linen is still cleaned with an ash lye. We make our own soap, which is a week-long operation involving making lye, rendering tallow, and combining them to make the soap.  We use plenty of ashes and fat,  and when it turns warm and dry we use salt to set the soap. The soap is then cured for at least three months, so we use it sparingly. Lots of soft water is needed for the washing, so  we also collect rainwater to use for the washing if at all possible.

Our laundry takes in both both domestic laundry and linen from the local hotels. We also offer a “wet wash” which is tackling bags of dirty linen and clothes for a small payment and returning them still damp.Most of the ironing is then done by the customers at home. The lady in charge tries to keep our prices down as there are quite a few mangle woman. With a box mangle they charge pennies for pressing household linen and everyday clothing.

Last year a government study by the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor found that some wet washes were “unsanitary”.  Because the laundry was sometimes washed in nets, bundle by bundle, this prevented “the proper application of disinfectants, soap, water, and heat”. Keeping the laundry damp in bags for a long time added to hygiene problems they said.

A preparation for a particular load of washing begins a few days beforehand as there is mending to do beforehand and the best part of any day is when the clothes are on the line–  unless the line or the pegs are dirty, when the clothes may need washing again.

The ironic part of all this dear Ellen is that most families have cleaner clothes than I do as I literally don’t have enough time to wash every week.

Yours in great friendship




Kids these days expect an app (or mom) to do everything for them. Victorian people were hardcore.

Related reading:

Musings about Vibrating Appliances and Other Dirty Laundry

Tales From the Chinese Laundry on Bridge Street

Tales of the Queen’s Underwear and all those “Accidents”

As the World Turns in Carleton Place — Soap and Ground Beef

I will Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap!

What the Heck was Electric Soap? Chatterton House Hotel Registrar


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News


She’s a Lady— Whoaaa Whoaaa Whoaaa




Perth Courier, June 29, 1860

Read the Almonte Gazette here

The Almonte Examiner is the title of a new paper started in the village of Almonte.  It is under the management of Thomas Leckie.  It is very creditably got up, is conducted with ability and is devoted to the cause of Reform and progress generally.  As a disseminator of Liberal principles in the Ottawa section of the country we wish them every success. We publish with interest today the article:

What is a Lady?

A lady must possess perfect refinement and intelligence.  She must be a Christian, mild, gentle and charitable, unostentatious and doing good by stealth.  She must be deaf to scandal and gossip.  Her high sense of honor will forbid her prying into her husband’s secrets, searching stealthily his portmanteau and pockets and breaking open his desk drawers.


She must not disdain a kindly nod of recognition to her servants, seamstress, dress maker, butcher, baker or any other employee she may chance to meet.  She must possess discrimination, know of human nature and tact sufficient to avoid offending one’s weak points, steering wide of all subjects which may be disagreeable to any one present.  She must keep the Golden Rule uppermost in her mind.  She must look upon personal cleanliness and freshness of attire as next to godliness.  Her dress must be in accord with her means, never dressy or flashy but if possible composed of the best material.  Abhorring everything soiled or faded finery or mock jewellery, her pure mind and clear conscience will cause the foot of time to pass as lightly over the smooth brows as if she stepped on flowers and as she moves with quiet grace, and dignity all will accord her instinctively the title of lady.




To Wives:

The first inquiry of a woman after marriage should be:  how shall I continue the love I have inspired?  How shall I preserve that heart I have won?

  1. Endeavour to make your husband’s habitation pleasing and delightful to him.  Let it be a place to him where his heart may always turn from the calamities of life.
  2. Invariably adorn yourself with delicacy and modesty.  These, to a man, are attractions the most highly captivating.
  3. Cultivate and exhibit the greatest care and constancy, cheerfulness and humour.  A gloomy, dissolute manner is chilly and repulsive to his feelings.  He will be apt to seek elsewhere for those smiles and that cheerfulness which he finds not in his own house.
  4. Particularly shun what the world calls in ridicule “curtain lectures”.  When you shut your door at night endeavour to shut at the same moment all discord and contention.
  5. Be careful never to join in a jest and laugh at your husband.  Conceal his faults and speak only of his merits.
  6. Few things please a man more than seeing his wife notable and clever in the management of her household.
  7. Let him be your empire—your world.  Let it be the stage on which the varied characters of wife, mother and mistress where you strive to shine.


Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

To Die Dying Your Hair



barbering manual recipes

In 1898 the Almonte Gazette reported that a local resident died from dying her hair and this just the week before it had happened in Buffalo.

Edwardian women washed their hair infrequently (by today’s standards) and brushed their hair with with real boar bristle brushes. They put just as much stuff in their hair as we do but they also did things to their hair that we would never do. In the Victorian era hair was considered an important part of her appearance. On both sides of the Atlantic, it marked her status and her femininity.

An important rite of passage for an adolescent girl during this time was the moment she began to wear her hair up. Previously it would have been worn loose or in braids and tied up with a ribbon. The hair was not cut unless absolutely necessary.




As in many societies, religious doctrine was a factor in the policing of Victorian women’s hair, mandating that it be covered or done up, particularly if the woman was married. Letting one’s hair down was commonly seen as brazen and immodest, even sinful. To a Victorian observer, photographs of women with long, loose hair would be particularly titillating. Pornographic even.


Among the fashionable middle and upper classes of Victorian society, a lady’s hair became the focal point of sexual interest, the primary expression of her femininity. For the poorer classes, maintaining long tresses amid the disease and poor hygiene of the time was highly impractical. Many women resorted to selling their hair for cash — not a problem if they typically wore it short or covered anyway.

But, was none other than toxic ingredients the ladies mixed that sometimes created a fatality in the life of those trying to stay beautiful.


Read the Almonte Gazette here.