826NYC Post
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826NYC Post

Pastimes of the 1860s

By Jason Rivers

In the early 1860s the most popular games for people to play were board games such as the game of Life, also known as Simply Life. Also, they played classic games like checkers, chess, and dominoes. Some of the card games they played were poker, twenty one, and keno. Also, card decks were so scarce that they obtained them from fallen soldiers or prisoners. These games were mostly played for money back then.

Gambling was the most popular way to get money and was the easiest way to get money. People also gambled on horse races. How it works is a person gives money to bet on a horse to win the race and if they win they get money.

Other ways people were entertained was to listen to music. Music was a very popular thing as well as singing. Another popular activity was reading such as the Bible, newspapers, and letters. Sometimes soldiers would get desperate and trade reading materials with their opponents.

Pastimes of the 1860s article

About this piece:

During the Fall 2021 semester, 826NYC’s journalism class, Write All About It, dug deep into our local Brooklyn history with support from historians at the Center for Brooklyn History and the New-York Historical Society, alongside independent research. In emulation of one of the first Black-owned newspapers in the country, The Freedman’s Torchlight — which was published in the town of Weeksville, now part of Crown Heights, in the 1860s — students wrote about the news and culture of 1860s Brooklyn in this time-hop special edition of The 826NYC Post.



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