Christmas in the Old West

Christmas was not vastly different in nineteenth century America from what it is today. Gifts were exchanged, time was spent with family, there was feasting, games and other social events, there were decorations – Christmas trees from the 1830’s onwards, Christmas cards from the 1850’s onwards, and there was even a modern-style Santa Claus from… Read More

The frontier trading post

Trading posts were establishments, usually found at key places on trade routes, where goods were both bought and sold. What was most commonly bought by the posts was a valuable commodity yielded in abundance by the rough country of the frontiers: furs of various animals which had been either hunted or trapped. What was bought… Read More

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed is an American legend. Some of the popular ideas which surround him, created as they were by stories, cartoons and films, are not accurate. However he was genuinely admirable, and he introduced the cultivation of apples to many states even, it is thought, as far south as Texas. His real name was John… Read More

Indians in the house

‘Indians in the house’ is the title of the chapter in ‘Little house on the prairie’ in which Laura describes the frightening occasion when two Indians come into their house, dressed in reeking skunk skins, and demand that Ma cook them cornbread. After eating it, they go away, taking all Pa’s tobacco. This isn’t the… Read More

Settlers’ children

Children usually had no say at all about their family becoming pioneers. They left behind their friends and any comforts they’d had in their daily lives, and they took on hardships, grinding chores, and responsibility like they’d never known before. Some children or youngsters embraced the change; it was invigorating, an adventure, and they could… Read More

Settlers’ fare

Settlers were the epitome of self-sufficiency, at least when they first arrived until a community was established. Therefore what they ate was very much dependent on the locality and the season, their ingenuity, and their farming efforts. Certain staples came with them on the journey and would be replenished as soon as possible. These included… Read More

Barbed wire, the invention that tamed the West

An increase in the number of railheads meant that driving cattle long distances was no longer necessary. However the golden age of the cowboy really ended when the open range was divided up and fenced under private ownership. The means for restricting the vast open spaces was a type of fencing which was cheap, easy… Read More