The always interesting Asymmetrical Information passes along a guide for stagecoach travellers that claims to be from an 1872 newspaper.
I profoundly agree with the moral of her post. Forget the Good Old Days. Go back 100 years and life was worse than today in every measurable way. But I’m also skeptical that this is real. Some parts of the "article" read true (I like the warning about hair oil) , others seem like modern-day commentary and stereotypes. Snopes asks the same big question that I did: why would this be considered newsworthy in 1872? It’d be like opening up today’s newspaper and reading "When Riding About in An Auto-Mobile".
Then again, newspapers really do publish mostly useless articles about how people can be more comfortable when driving and flying, so I guess it’s not entirely impossible.
But that’s always the problem with gathering everyday detail from historical accounts. Most people in 1877 wouldn’t think to include commonplace observations about the constant presence of horse dung, biting flies, unwashed body odor, the frequency of stops for watering the horses, etc. No more than I’d casually mention that most light bulbs get hot, describe how the gas nozzle has to seat in the filler, or note that my old TV makes a slight buzzing noise.
You can pick up on those kinds of things if you read a lot of period writing but they’re not likely to show up in a single conveniently quoted place. So I suppose that in their own way even fictionalized history can be helpful as a slice-of-life sort of thing, if it’s basically accurate.