More Fun Facts from the 1800s

Now that I’ve met my latest deadline (PHEW) I’m coming up for air. During my free time this week I’ve addressed all those pesky little life details I let get away from me. I’ve attempted to clean house, organize tax papers, cleaned the inside of my car and scaled Mt. Laundry. I’ve also put some time into researching my next book, AKA immersing myself in the 1800s again. As promised here is a list of a few key moments and inventions in our American history, from the latter part of the decade.


First elevator installed in 5 story New York department store
“Dime Novels” become popular
Paper bags
George Crum”s potato chips in Saratoga Springs, NY
Gold used to fill dental cavities
First oil well in America
Sparrows imported to Brooklyn to eat caterpillars
Modern embalming methods
Los Angeles incorporated as a city
Darwin”s natural selection and evolution theories
Mailboxes on the streets of New York and Boston
The source of the Nile
Mr. Macy”s Store
Ice hockey


Chewing gum
The martini invented in San Francisco
First weekly fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar
Peep shows
The game of croquet imported from England
The corkscrew
Liquid soap
Laced shoes
The Zoëtrope motion picture projection machine
Mr. Pullman”s sleeping cars on trains
City-block long department store – A.T. Stewart & Co. New York
Badminton invented
Roller-skating in America
First professional baseball team the Cincinnati Red Stockings
The seventh-inning stretch and base-stealing introduced in baseball
The Ph.D. degrees
Pony Express begins fast mail service
Dynamite manufacturing in San Francisco
US is covered by rail as Union Pacific & Central Pacific linked
1st New York elevated train, the 9th Avenue El


Standard Oil Company opens for business
Mr. Proctor and Mr. Gamble”s floating soap, Ivory
Inter-collegiate football games played by the new Harvard Rules of Football
Pullman dining cars
Barnum & Bailey”s circus “The Greatest Show on Earth”
Kindergartens in schools
American-made bicycles
The Refrigerator
The Brooklyn Bridge
Alexander Graham Bell”s telephone
First Sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta
Woolworth”s 5¢ Store
Yellowstone – first National Park in America
The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
Montgomery Ward mail order catalogues
American Bar Association
National Rifle Association (NRA) and the invention of the repeater rifle by Mannlicher


Edison makes electric light
Coca-Cola, Hire”s Root Beer and Dr. Pepper
The hamburger
Electric powered elevators
The hot dog
Central heating and plumbing
12 story is tallest building in New York – later to become Chelsea Hotel
The game of Bingo
The brass cylinder Music Box or idiophone
Mr. Gregg”s shorthand system
World”s first beauty contest at Spa, Belgium
Bicycle built for two
Tournament of Roses parade
National Geographic Society
The Roller coaster
Statue of Liberty presented to U.S. by France
First rodeo
The Pledge of Allegiance


First radio programs
B B guns
Fairy Floss or cotton candy introduced at American circuses
Sears Roebuck catalogues
Erector sets, Tinkertoys and Lincoln logs
The Wright Brothers airplane at Kitty Hawk
The ice cream cone
Ziegfeld girls, “It” girls
Baseball cards
I.Q. tests

telephone with separate earpiece and mouthpiece
First Auto Show at Madison Square Garden displays 31 cars
Boy Scouts
Halley”s comet
Plaza Hotel in New York
Emmeline Pankhurst”s woman”s suffragette meetings
Teddy bears

I could go on and on and on. I really had a hard time picking and choosing what to include here today.

What stuck out for you? Anything you didn”t already know?

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23 thoughts on “More Fun Facts from the 1800s”

  1. Lots of stuff I didn’t already know, Renee. And lots more I never even thought about. I actually remember Sears Roebuck catalogs and erector sets. And I have Tinkertoys and Lincoln logs for my granddaughter to play with. Never thought about how long those things have been around. Thanks for the fun trivia.

    P.S. I can identify with the post-deadline scramble to get your life caught up. Guessing you’ll be back in the saddle soon.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    Funny, but I still have my Lincoln logs from childhood. Never could put a stupid…er, house together. Guess it’s a boy thing. =)~

    I was fascinated to discover that IQ tests have been around for so long and that they showed up around the same time as Ziegfeld girls…hmmmm.

  3. Hi Renee,
    Interesting post. I knew most of these because of my own reseach, but I daresay readers would object to a 1800s cowboy chewing gum or downing a Dr. Pepper. A reader once took me to task for writing about ice in a pitcher. Yep, they had ice machines back then, too. We Historical writers are challenged to be accurate without disturbing the myths.


  4. Great list fun facts… My grandfather worked for Standard Oil in Scotland.. Congrats on meeting your deadline.. Have a break and enjoy yourself.

  5. I’ll be scaling Mt. Laundry this weekend, too. Love that desciption. So apt. 🙂 The mountain should be slightly smaller than the last time I climbed it, though. It’s our Spring Break this week, and the kids have been lounging around in their pajamas all day. I’m trying to contain my envy.

  6. Wow, so many interesting things! But the one that stuck out for me was elevators in NY so long ago. I’m sure they were nothing like what have today but still it’s amazing. Loved seeing all the lists of inventions. Very fun blog.

    Wishing you much success, Filly sister!

  7. These are so interesting! One that stood out for me was the saccharin. Did not realize it had been around that long. And still it tastes terrible!

    Mary, loved your comments. My grandparents has a gas powered refrigerator and then there were the Ice boxes from before then. My grandfather was the ice man and we loved to sit in the ioce house when it was hot outside!

  8. What a great post Renee – some of these items are already getting my mind to working on possibl scenes in my upcoming book set in 1896. And con grats on making your deadline – enjoy your ‘between deadlines’ time and find something fun to do!

  9. Winnie, so glad I helped get your creative juices flowing. Sadly, I only have a week between books. I’m at a church conference right now (at Andy Stanley’s church). Talk about getting filled up.

  10. Some people were very busy during this century! My Grandfather was one. He was a Civil Engineer in New York and had something to do with the elevators in New York. Now, I wish I had paid attention to what my Mother was telling me. If she was born in 1905, he must have been born in the middle of the 1800’s. He died at the age of 94.
    There is something wrong with the picture of an 1800’s cowboy–out on the range–chewing gum, and/or drinking a Dr.Pepper. Even though it could be very true. Lets just say that those things hadn’t reached outside the city at that particular time. OK? Just spoils the mind picture.

  11. i loved all the facts! Thats why I love reading books in this era. I always wondered though what did women use back then for their special time of the month? I cant think of how hard it must have been back then to deal with that! hahah!

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