By 1900 most urban areas of Illinois had public water supplies that piped into homes and sewer systems that piped waste out. In the 1920s, farm families began installing plumbing systems with links to cisterns that held water and to leach beds that processed wastes. Privies, hand pumps, and dry sinks were replaced by flush toilets, drains, and sinks and bathtubs with hot and cold running water. With water easily available inside the house, levels of cleanliness and sanitation increased.
One advance in bathroom sanitation was the use of vitreous china for sinks, toilets, and tubs. This smooth ceramic was fired at a very high temperature to give it a glass-like finish that was much easier to clean than other materials. The Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company, founded in 1908, in western Abingdon, Illinois, was a large producer of vitreous-china plumbing fixtures.
© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96