January 11, 1852

 

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Jan 11  Sunday  Have been to meeting although it has

been stormy  Mrs Witherell did not go which is

unusual  Henrietta Mrs Clarke & self called on

Mrs Witherell at noon.  She burned her foot and

cannot go out but it is getting better.  Have written

a letter to Oliver this morning and have been reading

Sarah Witherell burned her foot and couldn’t go to church, probably because she couldn’t put her shoe on. How had she burned it?  Fallen against a coal stove? Stepped on a live ember? Spilled hot tea or scalded it stepping into a tub? If the possible sources of the burn are multiple, so were the potential remedies.

“Cotton wool and oil are the best things for a burn,” declared Lydia Maria Child in The American Frugal Housewife.* Dusting a burn with flour and wrapping it in cotton flannel was another common practice. Like today, the application of a salve was soothing.  We might apply cold water; they might have applied butter, assuming they had any on hand to spare. Home treatments for minor burns are still variable, despite today’s over-the-counter ointments and sprays.

Sarah Witherell, we learn here, always went to meeting.  Her absence today surprised even Evelina, who came back from church at intermission to check on her sister-in-law.  Evidently reassured that Sarah would be fine, Evelina settled into her more normal routine for Sunday, which included reading after church and, today, writing a letter to her middle son, Oliver, who was away at college.

 

*Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, 1846, p. 17