My mother used box cameras with fixed focus, shutter speed and f/stop. They were truly point and shoot cameras, designed to create reasonable photographs in sunny conditions. My mother never worried about adjusting her camera: she asked her subjects to stand in bright sunlight and made sure that the sun was behind her. In many of the photographs which she made of me I was squinting or shielding the sun from my eyes with my hand.
Her photographs were of good quality, partly due to Kodak's combination of film speed, shutter speed and lens opening and the latitude of the black and white film she used.
However, there's another reason why snapshots from the late part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century were of high quality: film size. Some of my mother's negatives were 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches (620 film) while others were 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/4 inches (presumably 616 film).
These negatives are extremely large compared to 35mm film which became the standard in the 1950s and '60s. Of course some photographers continue to use medium format film (120 film is the same size as 620 film) and large format (4" x 5") film because of its quality, but early photographers like my mother used such film routinely because that was all that was available and it, like the box camera, was cheap and easy to use.
Large negatives are inherently high in quality if they were exposed correctly. The detail in the negatives made using box cameras is incredible, considering that the cameras had inexpensive, fixed lenses. The prints made from these films were usually contact prints, not enlargements.
If you're fortunate enough to have 'old' photographs and negatives in your collection treat them with the respect and care they deserve. You may wish to scan the photographs or negatives or enlarge the negatives. You'll be amazed at the quality which results from large negatives, even if they have been ignored or mistreated.