Maplewood History: The Contents of a Privy – Part Two


I went into a great amount of detail in my first post on this subject, the contents of a privy that was recovered from the yard of Maplewood’s oldest home, Woodside.  If for some reason you missed that one or just can’t remember it, you can link to it here.

I have often wished that I had photographs taken of the excavation from which these items were recovered. Amazingly, my wish has been granted.  I do have photographs of this event.  What’s more surprising is that I took them and had completely forgotten about doing so. I recently rediscovered them in another box in my basement that is one day headed to our library.

I’ll repeat that I have ten boxes of artifacts from this privy.  In my first post, I selected items from just two of the boxes.  What follows are items from two more of the boxes.  This leaves six that I haven’t gotten to yet.  My intention is to post images of a selection of items from all of the boxes but I have no idea how long it will take me to accomplish this.

My recently rediscovered roll of film. A whole roll. 36 slides. It used to cost me 10 bucks a roll for the film and the processing.  Wrapped up in copy paper because it is not acidic. If it were, everybody’s hard copies would disintegrate like newspaper.

Woodside at 2200 Bredell on March 4, 2005.

In the foreground is the wishing well that a few of the neighbors thought might have been real.  It wasn’t.

This is a bonus image of the basement in Woodside.  Here one can see how the stones had been dressed and squared.  A better method than the rubble foundations that were common to many, if not most, of the farmhouses of the same period…mid-1800s.  Sadly, this foundation was lost during the conversion of the home to 21st century standards.  The boiler was about the size and weight of a small locomotive.

In order to save, Woodside it was necessary to sell the side yard on the east to a developer.  He built 3 condos there. The architect copied the triple cross gables found on Woodside on the new building.  By the 14th of March the excavation had begun.

It was on the side closest to Woodside that the items that had once been discarded in the privy were found.

Shortly after the discovery, volunteer Marty Fischer arrived on the scene.  Marty is a true savior of Woodside.  He very generously paid for a new roof!  Without it, Woodside would not have survived.

In this image, one can notice the very yellow color of the clay compared to the soil where the privy once stood.

We found a lot of very cool bottles.  Many were not broken.  Stay tuned.  I plan to eventually post images of many of them.

The bottles and other artifacts looked like this when we found them.

Tom Bakersmith remembered that we found some whisky bottles.  Absolutely correct.  We probably have half a dozen of these that once contained Popcorn Whisky, whatever that is.  This cleanup may give the reader an idea of the amount of work that was done on this project by the grad students of the Museum Studies program at UMSL under Professor Tim Baumann.  Amy Creasy (now Clark) was my contact.  I know she did a lot of the work herself.  I hope she had a lot of help.

The patent date on some items helps to fix the time period.  In my first post, I included a photograph of Woodside taken in 1904.  The privy was gone by then.  Since this bottle advertises the year the company was established, 1868, we can assume it was made sometime after that.  Charles Rannells died in 1877.  There is a good chance that these once belonged to him.

A goblet. But it doesn’t look like a glass one would use for Popcorn Whisky.

A Popcorn Whisky glass if ever there was one.


I had to look this one up.  From Wikipedia, I think.  “Lithic may refer to: Relating to stone tools. Lithic analysis, the analysis of stone tools and other chipped stone artifacts.”

There was a lot of shoe stuff.

The grad students labeled these Lantern Pieces.  A more accurate description might be parts of a kerosene lamp.  We found several smashed examples like this one.  Want to see what it looked like when we found it.  Scroll down.

So you want to be an archaeologist, do you?  Kristen Tillitt is a professional who examined every one of these artifacts.  She said that if a grad student wanted to do it, he/she/they could do their dissertation just on this collection.

More lamp parts.

Careful. That last one may still be loaded.

This was my first real, up close experience with an archaeological site.  It was great!  Dirty, but great.  Local archaeologist, Joe Harl, was kind enough to visit Woodside on 4 different occasions.  He pointed out 8 different locations around the home and under it that should have been examined in a proper archaeological manner.  This was the only one that was.

I can only imagine what was lost in the other locations that were removed by bulldozer.  I know that they were loaded.  Neighbors of Woodside that live on the north side of Folk Ave. have reported finding artifacts in their backyards.  One even brought me a large number of ceramic fragments that may have come from a large crock.  You know who you are.

Ultimately, we saved the home but lost the historic site and much of the historic fabric that it had been created from.  Que sera.

Doug Houser        March 24, 2024



  1. Big thanks to you Doug! I have always been intrigued by Woodside and used to wonder why those townhouses are so close to it. Really enjoyed the read as well as the story about Marty and the roof. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks so much, Doug! I’ll be passing along to my cousins. We inherited some china I presume from the Rannellses that didn’t get thrown in the pit, but so far don’t see anything that matches these broken pieces. As always, hoping the new owners of Woodside have some interest. I’ve been compiling what info I can find of the previous homes also named “Woodside” of the Aston Warder families in Pennsylvania and Springfield, OH areas. Gotta wrap those up and send along at some point.

    Greg Rannells- nice to see your name. I would love to be in touch. Doug has my contact info.

    – a descendant of Charles and Mary Aston Warder Rannells

    • You’re welcome, Rachel. I know the name of the new owner of Woodside now. I have stopped by several times but have yet to catch him/them at home. Thanks so much for all that you have contributed in the past. I’ll forward your email address to Greg.

  3. Doug,
    Thanks for the posting!
    As always, very interesting.

    I appreciate you and all of the other dedicated individuals who bring history to life again.

    Greg Rannells


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