Hillbilly homesteads are rarely without an outhouse, inevitably embellished with a half moon carved in the door. Countless postcards and souvenirs perpetuate this concept. Unlike other hillbilly attributes like long guns and moonshine jugs, this privy mountaineer syndrome has no genesis in historical accounts. Back in the log cabin era, dimension lumber to construct the little house out back wasn’t available. We have never seen a log cabin privy. Pioneers likely did their business in the woods in shallow pits occasionally spanning them with a section of tree trunk to sit on.
Jokey souvenirs and novelties of hillbilly outhouses have been marketed to a public that readily accepts the backwoods mountaineer as a symbol of perpetual revolt against industrial society’s improvements to hygiene, health, and comfort. (click on any image to start slide show)
Our next post will explore the likelihood that the hillbilly outhouse syndrome did not originate in the mountains.