Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where Would We Be Without Electricity by Debbie Lynne Costello

Giveaways everyday in March and a drawing for a Kindle and a $25 Amazon gift card at the end of March

So when was the discovery of electricity? Care to take a guess?  I bet a lot of you said 1752 when Benjamin Franklin flew his kite and key. What would you say if I told you it was actually 600 BC? A man name Thales of Miletus wrote about rubbing two amber rods together and them becoming charged. What he was describing was static electricity. Then in 1600 William Gilbert, an English scientist coined the word electricity. 1660 brought the invention of a machine that made static electricity and things just snowballed from there. Europe and America were making discoveries about this new power source by leaps and bounds.
But when did we actually start really using electricity. Although they were learning it wasn’t until the 1870’s that all their work started coming to fruition. In 1879 electric lights were first used for lighting street lamps in Cleveland, Ohio. That same year in San Francisco a power company began selling electricity to customers. But they could power less than 2 dozen arc lights.
1881 brought the electric street cars and as most know in 1882 Edison opened the Pearl Street Power Station of New York City. Edison was able to light 5000 bulbs! I find that amazing when just 2 years earlier another company could only light 21.
And from then on the inventions and improvements were coming yearly.
Electric power houses had to be built in cities in the 1880’s where they could get power to the street lights and in to very select homes. People of power and wealth were the fortunate ones to receive electricity. So technically it was the 1879 that homes got power but that was such a minute amount of the population even into the 80’s it could hardly be counted. And remember you had to live in the city for that to be a possibility.
Even as electricity progressed into the 1890’s there still was not that many homes with power, mostly the affluent. Restaurants, hotels, industry, and street lights used most of the power. But things were progressing and by the mid 90’s several power companies had laid 20 miles of wire! I think oh my goodness. I drive that far to go to the store but 20 miles was really a big deal back then and they were quite proud of those 20 miles of wire. 
The thing is most homes were already built. Can you imagine wiring a house that never had electricity? None of those holes or wires are anywhere. It’s not like today when a house needs to be rewired you just pull them through as you tug the old ones out. Nope, didn’t have that luxury. So that was a factor. But as the 19th century turned to the 20th century the new houses being built had electricity. Life was about to change forever.
By the 1920’s almost every major city across the nation had power stations to supply their cities with electricity and by 1930 most large city or town residents were blessed with light bulbs instead of gas lamps.
 However, if you were a rural farmer you might still be running by batteries and crude stoves as you awaited the lines to be run out to remote places. Only 10% of farmers had electricity in the 30’s.  Power companies were privately owned and they were there to make money. Running miles of wires out to a farm didn’t seem economically sound. Not to mention they didn’t believe the poor farmers would pay them. By 1939 the number of farmers with electricity had risen to 25%.
So now onto the place I love. Charleston, SC. Just a few quick tidbits of information. Okay I can’t make anything about Charleston short…but I can try..
In 1881 The Charleston Company was organized by a group of local businessmen. In the summer of 1882 they purchased land on Queen Street and by September they had completed their central-station building. Within one year the company had gained private customers, strung wires along two streets, provided electricity to two textile mills, and the Agricultural Hall. In 1883 they told the city how they could light a city street in Charleston and even demonstrated it. But alas, City Council voted to stick with the tried and true gas lamps (you don’t suppose they had lobbyists back then do you?)
A year later the company went out of business. Yikes! What happens when the only power company in town goes out of business? Yep, that’s right you don’t get power. So all those people who were relying on their electricity to run their business or light their home suddenly found themselves in the dark. ;o)  It took two years before the enlightened city of Charleston would have electricity again. A contract was given that all the principle streets would be lit by electricity and the side streets by gas.

And now for the answer you’ve all been wondering your whole life—Who invented the Christmas tree lights? The answer is—Edward Johnson an inventor and business associate of Thomas Edison was the first person to come up with the electric Christmas tree lights in 1882. J





I'm giving away a bath basket to one lucky winner and a 19th century hand made bracelet to another. Leave a comment to be entered. Follow this blog for a second entry. Tweet it and Facebook today's post for another 1 point each. Be sure and let me know if you are following, tweeted or FB so I can give you the extra entries. Four entries possible!
And don't forget we are giving away a Kindle and a $25 Amazon gift card
For each day you comment on CFHS you receive one entry in the kindle and $25 Amazon gift card giveaway. Comment on every post in the month of March and earn 31 entries!

96 comments:

  1. you knocked my socks off Debbie Lynne. Great post! I had no idea about a lot of this. Love the research. Joe must be proud that you blogged about electricity! LOL

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    1. LOL! I think I forgot to tell him! I'll send him the link. Stay warm. ;o)

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  2. Wow, never knew any of that. Thanks for the history lesson. I am sharing on Twitter and Facebook plus I follow this blog, so please enter me to win this wonderful bracelet....oops, I guess we don't get to choose which one we want? (I have sensitive skin, not sure I could use the bath stuff)

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    1. Thanks Chaplain Debbie! So much fun and interesting stuff out there I thought I'd start close to home. Hubby works for I believe it is now the largest Power Company in the U.S. You get 4 entries!!

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  3. I enjoyed reading your post.Learned a lot.I also love Charleston,SC!I've been there on vacation twice.I'm following this blog.

    Katie N.

    specialbutter918(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for following us Katie. Isn't Charleston just wonderful! What a city. I can't seem to get enough time there. Wish I could go back in time and walk the streets there in the 19th century! YOu get 2 entries!

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  4. Interesting history lesson about something we take for granted....Thanks! I follow Debbie Lynn's blog already. These giveaways are fun! bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

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    1. Thanks for following us and for following my blog! I do like to do the giveaways. Good luck! You get 2 entries!

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  5. Very, very interesting history lesson! BTW, my husband is from the world's first electrically lighted city - Wabash, IN (also the home of Colleen Coble!) Though, it was just a single light, with a lighting radius of one mile. It's still their claim to fame! :)

    As soon as I publish this comment, I'm going to start following your blog. Who knows what other fascinating things I will learn! :)

    jimmynmatthewsmom at netzero dot com

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    1. Hey Bethany! How neat is that! All those little tidbits of history are so interesting. I bet back then that once light seemed like daytime to them. LOL. Thank you for following our blog! you get 2 entries!

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  6. I agree with everyone - awesome history lesson! I'm a christmas tree light lover so that bit was particularly fun for me. :) I'll have to save this post for my kids to read! (gotta get those school lessons in anywhere I can)
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

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    1. Awe thanks Sue. I love that the kids will learn something from it! That fact was so interesting to me too! I love the lights at Christmas. Thanks for coming by.

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  7. Thank you for the chance to win. I enjoyed reading this article you wrote and I learned something today as well.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

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  8. Thanks for coming by Angela. Good luck! We can glean something from just about everything. If we look deep enough there is history behind everything we see.

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  9. Hmm, Debbie, great post, but was Ben Franklin still around in 1852? :)I used the bit about the electric Christmas tree lights in my novel Christmas at Holly Hill and in Summer Dream, they talked about the use of electricity in Hartford Ct in 1888. Lots of fun stuff we can learn while doing research.

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    1. Sorry about the typo Martha. I corrected the 8 to a 7. I do love doing research and Christmas lights was especially fun to find.

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  10. Enjoyed the research topic. This is a must read blog site. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks Diane. Just so happened my latest ms is set in a time where all this was going on so I found it so interesting!

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  11. I really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for all the interesting information.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    azladijo(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thanks Jo and thanks for coming by! Good luck!

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  12. That's very interesting. I had no idea electric Christmas lights were around so long ago. :)

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    1. I know, DeAnna! I was shocked. Didn't believe it lol so I had to do more research! Who would have thought that. It's amazing how many things were invented over 100 years ago! You just wouldn't believe. Maybe I'll do a post on that next!

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  13. WOW, Deb, VERY interesting topic, especially since I've been researching electricity for my latest series, so it was fun to read and find out that I didn't stray too far from the truth!! ;)

    LOVE the look of this website, my friend -- you guys did a GREAT job!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hey girlfriend! So good to see you stop by here. Isn't the birth of electricity so interesting? I had to keep myself in check! LOL. I mean that really brought about the major changes in the world so it is fun to see how early some things came about.

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  14. Such an interesting post! I didn't know who came up with the idea of Christmas tree lights - but that is a pretty fun fact to know! Last year the lights on our Christmas tree gave us such trouble! LOL They kept going out in sections!
    Thanks for such an informative post!

    sgmintheozarks(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Ugh Lynn! Mine too! I actually had a strand that half didn't work so I waded it up and shoved that part into the inside of the tree. LOL. I figure if I get 2 years out of lights I'm doing good. I think they have an automatic blow up fuse that after 2 Christmases they self-destruct. heehee

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  15. Hi Debbie , we take so much for granted and electricity is one of those for me, I hardly ever think about it until we have an outage...I thought of the Amish today reading this post and how they don't have electric and do just fine without it. using other ways to make do. I have enjoyed reading the post on this new blog and meeting many of the authors. thanks for sharing.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. Hey Paula. I know! What would I do without my blow dryer. LOL> You brought up a good question about the Amish. I've heard before what you said that Amish don't use electricity but I was wondering if there are different orders that do things differently. We hired some Amish men to build cabinets for my MIL and they could use electricity as long as it was from a generator and not from the lines above. Does anyone know? I've wondered about this for a while. Thanks for bringing it up Paula! ;o)Good luck!

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  16. Great information. I didn't know most of it. I will post to FB, Tweet and sign up to follow as soon as I leave this comment. kimberlyj503(at)gmail(dot)com
    Great blog.:)

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    1. Thank you Kimberly! And good luck! You have 4 entries!

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  17. I would love to win either of these great gifts. I am already a follower and I shared on facebook.

    I loved this information on electricity. So interesting. :)

    ginger(dot)solomon(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hey Ginger. (I love you name!) I'm glad you enjoyed the information. Thanks for following our blog and sharing on FB. YOu have 3 entries! Good luck!

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  18. That was a very interesting and informative post. Thanks so much!

    crandallberries at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks Dawn. And thank you for stopping by!Good luck!

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  19. I used to say..what would we do without electricity but after working 9 years in Mexico and Nicaragua, I now know. Most of who we work with have none...or inside bathrooms. The day I was born in 1959 was more modern than these places. Makes me appreciate our home in the states so much more!

    I am a follower of this blog!

    Would love to win, win, win!

    missionwife@hotmail.com

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    1. Wow Melody. that is awesome that you worked down in Mexico and Nicaragua. Our pastor's parents were missionaries in Haiti and so we've got close connections and take mission trips down there 2 to 3 times a year now. It is amazing the poverty. An interesting fact I learned that if you make $34,000 a year you are in the top 1% for the WEALTHIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. That means the majority of the U.S. is wealthy in comparison to the world standards. Makes one put things into perspective.

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  20. I think the simpler life has it's pros and cons...I would hope I could do without it if necessary since we know that God always gives us what we need...but I sure do like having it! =)

    SHARED and TWEETED and FOLLOWED =)

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    1. Hey Eliza. We were hit by a hurricane years ago and lost our power for 2 weeks. It was tough! but though it is I think it is harder when everything you own runs on electricity. At least back in the day they had coffee pots that were made for the old woodstoves. LOL But I do think the more technology we get that is supposed to make our lives easier the busier we become. You have 4 entries!

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  21. That is a lot of neat info..... I know electricity is something we sure take for granted....and have learned to depend on.

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    1. Hey Anonymous! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. If you leave your email addy I'll enter you in the giveaways!

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  22. Debbie Lynne, that was really interesting. It would be a tough row to hoe without electricity today! Two winters ago I was without electricity for 5 days. By the fifth day, it was really getting old! Fortunately, I have a gas range and was still able to cook and heat water for 1 real bath! I'm not fond of the old-fashioned "sponge bath"--LOL!!
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com
    I am a follower.

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    1. Hey Kay. No electric in the winter months would be tough! Especially when many don't have fireplace these days. LOL. Yes, there is much to say for our showers!

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  23. Having lived in a house built in the 1850s I know about not having light switches in the right place or not enough outlets, then there's my MILs house. It had to be wired and the electricy was run through a condiut down the wall. Now I don't think that looks to great but I bet when it was done the homeowners were joyful.
    Diana

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    1. I forgot I'm a follower by email and I'll tweet this as well.
      Diana

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    2. Hey Diana! I have this dream about remodeling a 19th century house. But having remodeled one house and built 2 ourselves, hubby says NO WAY! LOL> He says building is much easier than remodeling. I have seen places with the condiut on the wall like that. And I bet the home owners were thrilled! Thanks for following us. You have 3 entries!

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  24. Loved your electricity post. I think we are so dependent upon things that we take them for granted. We have lost electricity twice lately due to hurricanes and storms. The longest was 4 days. We had to grill outside, take cold showers and all sat around the radio just like the picture!
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. Thank you Mary! So glad you enjoyed it. WE did the same thing when we lost our electricity for 2 weeks. Cold showers and a grill. We also bought dry ice and tried to save our food. 2 weeks was too long. :o(

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  25. Good afternoon, Ms. Debbie Lynne! :)

    Ahead of reading this article, I wanted to share a tidbit about my {maternal} Papa Great, as my mother's family settled in Chicago two centuries ago! {as it was the 19th!} He always considered himself the next "Ben Franklin", as he was enammored with electricity! He was an electrician by trade {I doubt he would have been happy otherwise!}, and was quite literally involved with the lighting of Soldier's Field! :) He was most infamous in my family though, for watching an electrical storm by standing on the front porch, gazing at the criss-crossing flashes and being in rapt awe! My GG and Nana at the time were in horror worried he'd get himself killed! :/ Sighs. I think he's the one who installed the "you whos" in the house too, which was an elementary form of 'intercoms' between floors! :)

    1879 eh!? How extradordinarily interesting! You know, I find that that pivotial year comes up quite a lot lately! :)

    I know I have a connection to Edison, as I swear I either visited his home or museum as a child,... he was always one of the more fascinating men of science to me! Right up there with Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington Carver, and Albert Einstein! :) :) What is even further interesting, is despite my love of having electricity, in the future, I'll be learning how to use a woodstove {for back-up heat as much as for cooking!}, finding my own retrofitted vintage typewriter to bring home, and picking up more vintage lanterns, which I might convert to candles! I seem to want to take a few steps back, and still enjoy everything that's come to pass since 1879! :) :) I like having a foothold in both the 19th and 21st centuries!

    Ironically, I've lived in two homes that had wonky electricial wiring so it always felt like it was 'half wired' to begin with!! Laughs. I'd love to say in the future I'll have better luck! :) :) I'd love to have a house built in the 1800s, but either they need a full-on gut job OR they're in different stages of liveability, that either is affordable or will put you into despair!

    Speaking of farmers + getting the lines to the rural communities, you can still see this as an evident issue today, if you travel by car throughout the states! Some places, you'd be surprised had the ability to stay connected either due to plain after pastural plain OR how to get the power to those who live in the mountains or valleys, that are hidden away from proper townes and cities! Its such a fasincating journey when you take road trips, because you get to see how everything comes together,...as much as notice that in some places, time has stood still for a century or a half! :)

    It did not surprise me who invented the Christmas Lights, because in the cobwebs of my younger self's memory, I remember Edison's friends and associates were as innovative as he was and he always encouraged invention and modification amongst his close circle. He loved being at the forefront of what was yet to come! :)

    Wicked sweet article, Ms. Debbie Lynne!

    Thank you for the blogaway, especially as I too, am curious about how the bracelet was upcycled, changed in form/shape, and turned into such a conversation piece to wear! A slice of history worn on the wrist!

    Entry for the bracelet!:)
    CFHS RSS feed subscriber/follower
    inkand-blogaways(at)usa.net
    //Florida



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    1. Hey Jorie! I'm so glad you enjoyed the article! I love stepping back too. I still love it when we lose our electricity at night and have to use candles. It's romantic and a fun change from the TV being on! LOL. I have a stash of oil lamps, and candles.

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    2. Sorry! Forgot again to say you have 2 entries.

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  26. Very interesting topic. Thank you for the information and for offering this giveaway. I'd love to be entered. I'm a follower of your blog, a subscriber to your blog, and have shared your contest on FB.
    Nancee
    quiltcat26[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Hey Nancee! I'm so glad you stopped by. It was a fun piece to research. YOu get 3 entries!

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  27. Wow, thanks for sharing all that amazing history! It was very illuminating ;)
    I was very surprised to find out that there was a dam producing hydro-power (electricity) in the 1920's just north of where I live in very rural Northwest Montana.
    Jasmine A.

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    1. LOL Jasmine! Illuminating! Very funny. heehee. That is so cool about the hydro-power. I had read about some of the hydro plant. The 19th century really had a lot more technology than I realized. The problem was it took a while to get it out to the people but they had the knowledge.

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    1. Awe, thank you Christina! That is a big compliment coming from you!

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  29. Very informative post, Debbie. I remember visiting Leadville, CO, which has an elevation of around 10,000 ft. I was shocked to learn they had electricity way up there sometime in the 1880s, if I'm remembering correctly. Can you imagine the excitement as the first lights were turned on in a town?

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    1. Oh I can only imagine, Vickie! That had to be like...well, I don't know? Landing on the moon? I bet every person came out to see it. And OMGoodness the 10000 ft elevation? Can you imagine standing at the bottom of that mountain with everything else dark? that had to be amazing!

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  30. These posts are so interesting. And the prizes for the giveaway look beautiful. Thanks for having the giveaway.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  31. This was so interesting! Thanks Debbie Lynne! I am so glad we have access to electricity now. : ) Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thank you, Carrie! I'm glad you enjoyed it! It was so much fun researching. And I have to say when it's 99 degrees outside I'm really glad for electricity too!

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  32. Thanks for all of this info. Debbie. Hard to believe lots of places had electricity so far back, and I was born in 1935 and din't live in a house with electric lights until I was 9 yrs old or so. I thought we lived in a castle. LOL Please enter me in your contest.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Wow Maxie! So you are one of those people lived out of the city, I'm guessing. I bet you really appreciated electricity when you got it! Good luck!

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  33. This was really interesting. I am glad God let me be born during the days of electricity and not before.
    jbedwards123@triad.rr.com

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    1. LOL! But at the same time, life in the 19th century was slower pace. A lot harder in terms of labor but I think maybe less stressful.

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  34. Debbie, I made a comment already, but I am a follower of the blog, and I shared it on my Facebook page. Should have 3 entries.
    Maxie mac262(at0me(dot)com

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  35. 2 years without electricity?? Yikes.

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    1. LOL. No 2 weeks without electricity and I get 2 years out of my Christmas lights. heehee

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  36. Very interesting.

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  37. Wow, Debbie Lynne, I had no idea electricity, albeit static electricity, was discovered so early! My mom was raised in rural Indiana. I remember her saying they finally got electricity in the 1930s. Before that they lit the house with kerosene---they called it coal oil---lamps. I still have one of those lamps I use when the power goes out. Thanks for the great, "electrifying" post. :o) I learned a lot.

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    1. HEEHEE. Thanks Ramona! My grandmother talks about that too. She lived with her aunt and uncle as a child and they had a coal yard and as a child she'd have to walk 'men' back to get their coal and at night! I thought that was terrible. She said she used to be so scared.

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  38. Interesting post, Debbie! I love learning historical facts.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

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    1. Hey Laurie, Thank you! I love to learn it too. Wish I had when I was in school. lol

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  39. I enjoyed learning about something that is so common now we don't even think about it (until it storms and the power goes out).
    Thanks for "enlightening" us about electricity.
    I'm a follower of this blog.
    Thanks for the chance to win a prize.
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  40. Hey Pam!Boy isn't that the truth! We do take it for granted until we lose it! then we really appreciate it.

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  41. Pretty interesting electricity facts..who knew! The Amish don't have to worry about such things! Thanks for the opportunity to win great prizes. I am following this blog, too...Thanks, Linda
    dmcfarl101(at)juno(dot)com

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  42. Hi Debbie!
    I'm so glad we have electricity today. Although the days without electric seem more romantic. And I'd never heard of Thales of Miletus. Also, you said that (In 1879 electric lights were first used for lighting street lamps in Cleveland, Ohio.) I'm a bit jealous that this wasn't Cincinnati, OH instead of Cleveland since I've lived in Cincy for 33 years now. I wonder how they picked Cleveland. Great post, Debbie.

    Jill

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    1. I'm not sure. I do know that Power Companies were privately owned back then. So it was probably that someone from Cleveland that started the company so they would want their city lit. That's my guess anyway. I do agree the days without electricity do seem so romantic! Why is that? Thanks for coming by and thank you for having me on your blog this week! It's been a blast!

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  43. DRUM ROLL PLEASE....And the winners are...PaulaO has won the antique bracelet and Maxie has won the Bath Basket. Congratulations! IF YOU DIDN'T WIN THE BRACELET, I'M GIVING ANOTHER ONE AWAY ENDING SUNDAY AFTERNOON 3/10 AT http://www.jilliankent.blogspot.com/2013/03/christian-fiction-historical-society.html AND WATCH WWW.FICTIONADDICTIONFIX.BLOGSPOT.COM FOR A 3RD CHANCE TO WIN A BRACELET. THAT GIVEAWAY WILL START 3/11

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  44. Between llpm and 2am are my magical hours to write! I am relaxed and my creative juices flow. Then... I read being on a computer before bedtime is not conducive to sleep. So much better than going to bed, and get a thought you must get down!

    But alas, think of quill pens, or even those wonderful nib tip fountain pens with the blue-black ink, a clean sheet of paper, and dim yellow light covering the page from your lamp ~ so many great writings! (And of course the extensive knowledge we can gain here: http://www.pentrace.net/article052501085.html) ~ enjoyed your post! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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  45. I'll bet Edison's friend thought of the Christmas lights in order to save homes from burning! Great article. I facebook, and google + shared and followed.
    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for sharing and following! Good luck on the Kindle and the $25 gc

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  46. Thank you for the history lesson. I enjoyed it. It's hard to think of what our lives would be like without electricity. I am a new follower of this blog. I just found it today and have been enjoying reading all the posts.

    Would love to be entered for your giveaway.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Yay Cindy! So glad you found us! Thank you for coming by and good luck on the giveaways!

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  47. Interesting story - I live near Louisville, Ky., Thomas Edison lived here for a while. Thanks for the opportunities to win the gift basket & bracelet. I follow this blog.

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks for coming by and for following our blog, Bonnie. Good luck on the kindle & $25 gift card.

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  48. I love going to our Coattage where there is no electricity! I love getting away from technology and just enjoying Gods creation and the quiet!
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

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  49. Hey Lisa! How fun! I think I would enjoy that too. No electricity, no phone, And I think I'd leave my cell phone in the car only for emergencies!

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  50. nice research, people of old, didn't have electricity to sustain their daily life, but today looks like we can't live without it.

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    1. That is very true Vincent. When storms hit and electricity goes down everyone is calling their power company wanting to know when it will be restored. We went down to Haiti on a mission trip in January of this year, and I have to admit, life is much more difficult without electricity. When darkness falls there is nothing else to do but sleep. There is no TV or computer or video games. It was an eye opening experience to watch how even fixing a meal is done. Thanks for stopping by.

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