Birth Control in Two Pan: 1871

PART 2:Gross Alert!!!

The historical information is documented, but names changed here. Some of the birth control practices were gross and questionable. Please click here if you’d like to read something lighter.

This past week  freighter, Jonas Hopkins was set upon and robbed as he brought a wagon load of dry goods from LaGrande. He was forced to dump the mail satchel on the ground. “The perpetrators took a brown parcel of Dr. Power’s French Preventatives from the mail bag,” he said, “and two pounds of coffee beans from the buckboard.”

In an easy to carry tin

This is the 3rd incident involving the theft of condoms in the territory.  Due to the rarity of mail delivery in this hard-to-reach mining valley these hygienic products have become first-class barter goods at Opal’s Sporting Palace.

Mr. Hopkins refused to disclose who the parcel was addressed to. Until these larcenies can be stopped, the tome of Moral Physiology recommends coitus interruptus or women should wash their private inner parts with alcohol or vinegar. While not foolproof, this action may keep births to a manageable level.

Unlike large city newspapers, whose economic mainstay are notices for condoms, and cures for venereal disease, the Tattler does not run those ciphered ads in which “French” is code for contraceptive and “Portuguese” for something that induces abortion.

However for hygiene sake, we do support the

The French are so practical.

sale of cleansing syringes. Particularly the latest with changeable nozzles that can be used for both sanitizing and watering houseplants.

Also for hale living, some women wear pessaries or “womb veils” (available by mail) to correct inner problems. Doctors’ records show many ladies keep them [diaphragms] in for thirty to forty years.

Big Opal, proprietor of the Sporting Palace, said stealing all the condoms in the territory “won’t change the price for a good roll in the hay.  I tell the girls to use quarters as womb veils. It’s cheaper. Then they give ’em to the church ladies who demand we donate to their charities, but cross the street if they see us in public.”

Woodcut from the graphicsfairy

Grubbs Mercantile would like to announce soap was on the wagon-load of goods and may be purchased immediately.

(And according to the soiled dove who shared the story, she thought the donation of “used” quarters was pretty funny.)
Source(s):America’s Women, 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges; Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins;

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Pioneer Friday in Two Pan and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Birth Control in Two Pan: 1871

  1. Roxie Matthews says:

    The “French preservatives” were sturdy things, made to be washed and re-used. A real pal would loan you his if you were about to be “caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella.” Courtesy demanded that it be washed and dried inside and out before being returned. I imagine that a lot of married women became more “handy” than we might expect.


  2. You mean they didn’t squeeze an aspirin between their knees? Wow. Bet none of us look at a quarter the same way EVER again. Thanks for the chuckle.


  3. Phil says:

    No wonder so many folks are saying, “Keep the change!”


  4. Rose L says:

    Left in for 30-40 YEARS!!!!!!! EWWWWW!


  5. Beth says:

    While waiting for my mom to pick up a prescription one time, I wandered around the back aisles of the pharmacy and amongst the bedpans and other porcelain stuff. I saw a tall, can-shaped enameled pot with nipples for hoses and an assortment of of nozzles. I asked my mom what they were for. She hemmed a little, but finally whispered that the short ones were for enemas, and the longer, cured ones for douches. Since I didn’t know what either of those were I lost interest. But thinking back, it was a multi-purpose cleansing kit. That was probably in 1948.


  6. souldipper says:

    Portugese? I know women used Dettol and Lysol soap with a bit of water. The mixture opened the womb without suspicious signs of self-enducement. Honestly – what women had to do! Must have eaten their souls alive! A very interesting & informative post, Barb! Who knew??!!


  7. Red says:

    To think the average man of today (with a condom in his wallet) could have bartered for a roll, a smoke and a draft at Opal’s is amazing…in the way pulling the wings off butterflies is. Insane the amount men and women alike are willing to pay for contraception. Somehow, inflation has stayed away. It has always been overpriced.

    Good to see you today, Barb.


  8. curm says:

    I wonder if that’s where they got the idea for rides at Wal-mart. Why for two bits I’d….


  9. Al says:

    I understand a silver dollar is 4 times more effective.


  10. momaescriva says:

    Of course I should’ve said knew instead of new but I knew it was new to me anyhow.


  11. momaescriva says:

    I new there was another use for watering cans! What a hoot.


  12. winsomebella says:

    I’ve heard shot glasses perform nicely as well 🙂


  13. Jon says:

    Used quarters? Eeeewww!


    • Barb says:

      Wife walks in on Jon busily sudsing something in the sink. “Why are you washing your quarter,s Jon?”
      “Well, I just read this blog….”


  14. Great tale. I love the quarter part. I always look forward to your wild west stories.


  15. jmgoyder says:

    Hell’s bells!


  16. Elephant's Child says:

    At least there was none of that nonsense about the efficacy of holding an aspirin between ones knees. However, knowing what condoms were manufactured from would have ensured that my girdle remained on at all times and that my knees and my ankles were padlocked tightly together. Euwww doesn’t begin to express how I feel about early contraception. It also just about covers my reaction to the thought of a child a year. My choice is none. Go away. What did I tell you? Leave me alone!!!!


  17. Another super post. You’ve sure enlightened me about how these “delicate matters’ were handled once upon a time. The used quarters story totally cracked me up. Thanks for the morning’s lesson and smile.


  18. magsx2 says:

    That is hilarious, I just couldn’t help but laugh about the cleansing syringes, very practical, seeing as how you can also use them for your plants as well, and how convenient to have different nozzles. 😆
    I have never heard of these before, goes to show, you are never to old to learn. 🙂


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