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Last Week’s Reveal: Country homes without running water used a well bucket like this one to draw water from deep in a well drilled or dug in the ground. The well bucket in the photo was specifically designed to fit into a narrowly drilled well shaft. It hung on a cross-bar, or from a porch ceiling over the well. A rope was passed through a pulley which was used to raise and lower the bucket into the well.
When the bucket reached the water, a float plug in the bottom of the bucket floated above the opening of the bucket, allowing water to fill the bucket. As the full bucket was raised to the surface, the weight of the water pushed the plug back into the hole, preventing the water from running out of the bucket.
Once the bucket was out of the well, it was held over a water pail and a small pin at the top of the bucket, which was connected to the float plug, was raised, opening the hole at the bottom to release the water into the waiting bucket. Barbara Mathes also added that if the rope or chain on the well bucket broke, they would have to take grab hooks and “fish” it back out.
Lorna Hefley remembered using this well into the 1970s at her grandparents’ house in Damascus. Betty Abbott said she still had one out in her front yard. I was also informed by a reader, Billy Smith, that they are still available for sale on Amazon.
Many remember well water as being the best tasting water ever. Joyce Christopher related that the water was used in the kitchen for cooking, in the wash pot in the yard for cleaning and in the washer on the porch. It also filled the old metal tub used for bathing. Her father even filled an old re-purposed gas tank, taken from a car, to create a shower for the kids to use in the summer. He would pull the tank up into a tree and an old tarp was used to enclose a space for a little privacy.
This water bucket is part of the agricultural exhibit at the Faulkner County Museum. To see more artifacts, visit the museum, its Facebook page or its website www.faulknercountymuseum.org Help preserve the county’s history by supporting the museum!