SAMUEL DRAKE – died 1690
Eastchester. "In the Name of God Amen, I Samuel Drake of Eastchesterbeing sicke and weake." Leaves to wife Ann all household goods, "except one bed with furniture sufficient to keep warm in winter, and some pewter, and a kettle, a warming pan and a bed pan," which are to be delivered back at her decease, and if she remarry, then security to be given for them. Also 4 which is in the hands of my son John Drake. Part of it is to be paid by my son Samuel Drake of , Connecticutt. "And 3 a year so long as she remains my widow, and noe longer." Leaves her some cows "and Fairfield to winter five head of cattle." The dwelling house is to be put in repair for her use. Leaves to son Samuel Drake, "my best horse that is in grasse , and my branding iron." To son John "my bed pan, to be delivered after my wife's decease." Leaves to daughter Mary, 25 to be paid at Fairfield County by my son Samuel, and one cow when she is married, and 2 pewter platters and four Porringers. Leaves to his son in law Joseph Jones 5 shillings. To sons in law Lofels and Slatter 5 shillings. To son in law Richard Headley 5 shillings, and the same to grand children Samuel and Robert Headley, Joseph and Samuel Jones, Mary and Hannah Jones, and Martha and Elizabeth Slatter. "My lot of upland, and my lot of meadow at Cornelis, with one half of my home lot in Fairfield Eastchester," are to be security for the payment of above legacies. Leaves the remainder to his son Joseph Drake, and makes his wife executor.
[New York City Wills, 1665-1707]
Antique 18th century bed pan.
I guess everything is relative. The use of outhouses in freezing winter nights would be most unpleasant, thus increasing the importance and value of bed pans or chamber pots in one's life. Since porcelain was very expensive in the late 17th century and early 18th century, it shouldn't be surprising to find a bed pan in an old will. Only the more well to do could afford them. I must confess, though, that I couldn't suppress a giggle as I read Samuel's will. Makes me wonder what items might be in our wills today that people will laugh at in a few hundred years.
I'm sure many of you Blog readers who grew up in New Gretna remember chamber pots and outhouses. I know of some New Gretna outhouses that were still being used when I moved to New Gretna in the early 1970's. However, I never read a New Gretna will that mentioned a bed pan or chamber pot.
A New Gretna outhouse. (April 21, 2005 photo by Pete Stemmer.)
With the economy in such bad shape lately, I was thinking of starting a bus tour of New Gretna's outhouses to pick up a little extra cash, sort of like the tours of famous celebrity houses in Hollywood. I could have maps printed and little Hummel-like outhouse figurines for sale. If you would like a ticket, please see my tour director, Howard Ware, who is sitting in his office in the above photo.
PS- Can't make the bus tour? You can take a cyber tour of New Gretna's outhouses at . . .