Cloth woven by Dicy Austin sometime in the 1800s

  • Station 7: Pioneer Life1:33

Station 7: Pioneer Way of Life

These pioneers had two things on which to depend: themselves and the land. The had to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. They grew gourds in their gardens and then allowed them to dry to provide utensils. They used animal fat to make candles. They used ash from the fireplaces to make soap. They spun wool and flax to make clothing. They also used animal skins to make leather for clothing.

Many / most pioneer families were purposefully large: to provide the necessary help for survival. Girls tended the gardens, cooked, spun, wove, mended, sewed, and made soap and candles. Boys cut trees and built fences. Children also pounded corn to make cornmeal: a staple for early pioneers.

Pioneers depended on themselves and the land; they also had to depend on neighbors. They could borrow fire, when theirs went out. They helped one another build houses and barns. They also would hunt wild game together and share the meat. Hog killing was yet another time when it was helpful and almost necessary for neighbors’ help.

Pioneers and their neighbors would have husking bees where families would help other families husk corn that would be used to feed the farm animals through the winter. There would also be quilting bees where women and children would come together and stitch quilts that were necessary for families living in homes heated only by wood fireplaces.

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Compare ways individuals and groups on this farm had specific roles in the past to the roles we have today.

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