Privy Help

coled18

Greenie
Dec 26, 2023
12
33
Pro: I just probed my first privy, a brick liner! (Edit: I thought it was a brick liner at first, it definitely was not)

Con: First three bottles were all ketchup bottles, from around 1930. Found about 3 feet down.

Question: I haven’t dug the whole privy, just a little bit down. It seemed that there were no other privy sites nearby. Is it normal for privy’s to have hard layers, and is it worth digging deeper to potentially find older glass at the bottom? I’m here for the pre machine made bottles, and do not know if privys were used for decades.

The building was built as a school in the 1880s, and last used around 1930. It is relatively small for a two story building, and had only one teacher. Keep in mind, this is in the countryside. When I probed this pit, it seemed there were harder layers, then a foot or so of soft layer after each hard layer. I was able to stick a 5 foot probe in there and assume it is deeper.
 

Last edited:

pepperj

Gold Member
Feb 3, 2009
37,384
138,591
🥇 Banner finds
1
Detector(s) used
Deus, Deus 2, Minelab 3030, E-Trac,
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
Pro: I just probed my first privy, a brick liner!

Con: First three bottles were all ketchup bottles, from around 1930. Found about 3 feet down.

Question: I haven’t dug the whole privy, just a little bit down. It seemed that there were no other privy sites nearby. Is it normal for privy’s to have hard layers, and is it worth digging deeper to potentially find older glass at the bottom? I’m here for the pre machine made bottles, and do not know if privys were used for decades.

The building was built as a school in the 1880s, and last used around 1930. It is relatively small for a two story building, and had only one teacher. Keep in mind, this is in the countryside. When I probed this pit, it seemed there were harder layers, then a foot or so of soft layer after each hard layer. I was able to stick a 5 foot probe in there and assume it is deeper.
There's a sure way of finding out, dig a little deeper.
There might of been an older pit also.
Just saying 50yrs for one pit is a longtime.
20/30 kids using it everyday it probably takes a deep pit to accommodate the use.
What are the layers made of, lime, ash, sand?
 

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coled18

Greenie
Dec 26, 2023
12
33
There's a sure way of finding out, dig a little deeper.
There might of been an older pit also.
Just saying 50yrs for one pit is a longtime.
20/30 kids using it everyday it probably takes a deep pit to accommodate the use.
What are the layers made of, lime, ash, sand?
As far as layers go, I haven’t dug very deep yet. I noticed some black ash, though. I wasn’t sure how long is ‘typical’ for using a single outhouse.

Might I add, the town population peaked in the very early 1900s and by 1920 it went down to around 50 people.
 

pepperj

Gold Member
Feb 3, 2009
37,384
138,591
🥇 Banner finds
1
Detector(s) used
Deus, Deus 2, Minelab 3030, E-Trac,
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
As far as layers go, I haven’t dug very deep yet. I noticed some black ash, though. I wasn’t sure how long is ‘typical’ for using a single outhouse.

Might I add, the town population peaked in the very early 1900s and by 1920 it went down to around 50 people.
Dumping a lye, ash, layer helped the odor and also helped break down the solids.
Grew up with one, dug many while working on the Railroad gangs.
 

treasureguy56

Full Member
Mar 31, 2019
129
179
Half way Between Perry and Owosso Michigan
Detector(s) used
Fisher 1210 , Tesoro Golden Sabre , CZ5 , Equinox 800
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Privy Digging isnt an exact science , nor was the building and use of a privy . Most ( Normal ) privies had a shelf life of say 10 - 15 yrs then a new one was dug , but as stated before not an exact science and need most times determined the building or even cleaning ( dipping ) of a privy . You may find your privy being another foot deep or another 10 feet deeper . Good luck and enjoy the dig .
My wife and I absolutely love digging privies and trash pits , its back breaking but most times its very rewarding for us . Locating one is half the battle . I cant tell you how many times we dug promising holes only to find out it wasnt anything at all but some loose dirt :icon_scratch: . You can infact find older bottles 6 inches down or 6 feet down logic is not always the rule , but logically speaking the older material would seem to be closer to the bottom .
Al
 

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coled18

Greenie
Dec 26, 2023
12
33
Privy Digging isnt an exact science , nor was the building and use of a privy . Most ( Normal ) privies had a shelf life of say 10 - 15 yrs then a new one was dug , but as stated before not an exact science and need most times determined the building or even cleaning ( dipping ) of a privy . You may find your privy being another foot deep or another 10 feet deeper . Good luck and enjoy the dig .
My wife and I absolutely love digging privies and trash pits , its back breaking but most times its very rewarding for us . Locating one is half the battle . I cant tell you how many times we dug promising holes only to find out it wasnt anything at all but some loose dirt :icon_scratch: . You can infact find older bottles 6 inches down or 6 feet down logic is not always the rule , but logically speaking the older material would seem to be closer to the bottom .
Al
Thank you. So true on the back breaking part too. I will keep you posted on what I find this weekend!
 

Bucket Lister

Sr. Member
Dec 20, 2023
256
393
Detector(s) used
XP Dēus II
XP MI-6
XP WSA II-XL
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
I know it’s not your goal, but even 1930-ish catsup bottles are better than getting skunked. 🦨🚽
So true. One of my favorite recoveries is a French's Mustard jar (no lid) with a 1915 pat. date (which only means it probably isn't any older than 1915--it could be a lot later...).
 

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coled18

Greenie
Dec 26, 2023
12
33
So true. One of my favorite recoveries is a French's Mustard jar (no lid) with a 1915 pat. date (which only means it probably isn't any older than 1915--it could be a lot later...).
Funny you bring that up! I excavated the rest of the pit (it was about 4.5 feet deep, just a simple one seater). I found some more ketchup from the 20s and two French’s mustard jars. I don’t like screw tops or modern machine mades, but I figured they could make cool pen holders or something. I couldn’t find any more pits nearby, but there was a creek so maybe the older trash was dumped there. It was still neat to find something though!

I went to another town and got a permission on a c. 1910 homestead with two small wells behind it, but couldn’t find the pit after a few hours of probing.
 

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Bucket Lister

Sr. Member
Dec 20, 2023
256
393
Detector(s) used
XP Dēus II
XP MI-6
XP WSA II-XL
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Funny you bring that up! I excavated the rest of the pit (it was about 4.5 feet deep, just a simple one seater). I found some more ketchup from the 20s and two French’s mustard jars. I don’t like screw tops or modern machine mades, but I figured they could make cool pen holders or something.

Funny you bring that up! 😛 Here's mine.
DSCN5323.JPG
 

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