York Town Square

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York County, Pa., outhouse rules: From honey dippers to privy diggers

Tom and Dan Grove will present on the topic “Digging Up the Past, One Privy at a Time” members of the public attending an upcoming West Manchester Township (Pa.) Historical Society meeting. The program will focus on artifact hunting in the pits of former outhouses. Background posts: One-room school reunions preserve educational culture of thousands of York countians, What’s a privy? a woman asked. ‘It’s an outhouse,’ came the answer., Wheatland Mansion tour: ‘We don’t know if President Buchanan used the tub.’

“The Codorus Valley Chronicles,” a newsletter of the Codorus Valley Historical Society prooduces a monthly newsletter filled with interesting information from both within and outside the greater Jefferson area.
And it’s a quick read under the trusty pen of Robert Shaub.
So as soon as I receive it in the mail, I look through it to see what is happening with a variety of county historical groups.
That’s what I was doing when the headline “The Outhouse” caught my eye… .

It touted a program of the West Manchester Historical Society set for 7 p.m., Nov. 15, at the West Manchester Township building, 380 E. Berlin Road.
Here’s how the description of the program under that headline started:
“Before indoor plumbing every property had an out house. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Smelly all the time.”
Town folks hired honey dippers to clean the privies, which often were set over a pit dug in the soil.
“When the pit got nearly full or some other reason a new pit was dug and the privy relocated. Now what better place to dispose of the old bottles and other items… ” the newsletter stated.
“In the place of the “honey dipper” we now have “privy diggers.”
Privy diggers hunt for artifacts in those former outhouse pits.
Tom and Dan Grove will be at West Man to present the rewards from their diggings.
For information on the “Codorus Valley Chronicles,” contact Robert Shaub, P.O. Box 10, Codorus, Pa. 17311-0010.
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Image courtesy “Codorus Valley Chronicles.”