|There's a couple ways that come close to finding out. One--speak with very elderly people. My mother is ninety. She was born when many people didn't have a radio---well, I could go on and on. But it is amazing the changes she has seen in her life. It has been increasingly difficult for her to keep up with technology.
Just think of the shock if an 1861 man were to be catapaulted into 2009! I would think many things would be very frigtening such as the jet palnes flying overhead, the speed of trains, automobiles, Interstate highways, 18-wheel trucks, people walking around with weird little things stuck up to their ears.
I read once that one of the great differences of modern life over previous centuries is the constant noise, music, phones ringing, TVs blasting, cars and trains, trucks, motorcycles, printers, constant commotion and an unrelenting background of unrelated sounds.
Another change is light pollution. We live a "lit up life" day and night. We are hardly ever in true dark, but in 1861, farmers, for example, far from cities would experience true darkness at night. A man from 1861 might be quite challenged by all the strange noises and constant light.
I would think even smells would be quite different now. Oh, just think of the sheer numbers of people here now as compared to 1861.
Another person to talk to would be someone who has spent many years in a POW camp, such as some of the prisoners in Viet-Nam. Quite a few amazing changes took place while they were gone. They would have some idea of the shock of modern life and change.
I am 65. I have seen many, many stunning changes in my life. When I was a pre-schooler, there was no TV. When TV came it was balack and white, not color. It had only four channels. Reception was an iffy matter. We had no remote control. TV went off at eleven at night and came on at seven in the morning. That's just TV. All the tecnological changes I have seen in 65 years are amazing, but someone from 1861 facing it all at once--I just don't know how they would cope. Even the way people dress now would be shocking to a man from 1861!
Such scenarios make for interesting novels and movies.