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

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

Fever ‘n’ ague

Settlers in the West had to combat serious illnesses which they hadn’t encountered before. These maladies are now for the most part controlled or at least understood, but in those days they were surrounded by prejudices which hampered any possibility of understanding how to avoid them. The negative effect of the illnesses was that much… Read More

Prairie fire

Fire plays a necessary role in the natural cycle of prairie ecology by removing the mass of dead matter which impedes the growth of the young grass. Controlled fires are still used to do the job, but in the days of the first settlers uncontrolled wildfires could sweep across the prairies threatening all in their… Read More