We read about cowboys, mail order brides and living in the wild west, and we think of it as an exciting and romantic time.
What was it really like in those days before the invention of so many things that we take for granite?
How was homesteading done in the 1800s?
There are numerous diaries that have been left behind by the folks who “traveled West” and the hardships they endured; as well as diaries of those who “stayed behind” in the civilized world of chamber pots and chimney fires. Reading these diaries gives a very good insight into how people lived.
If you really want to know what it in the day-to-day life of Homesteaders opposed to those that lived in the city? Become a homesteader yourself, without electricity, power tools or indoor plumbing. Also take away modern medicine and learn to recognize gangrene. Go to the grocery store for only flour, coffee and sugar. Grow your own linen and wool. Learn to spin, weave and knit and use only your feet (or those of a horse) for transportation. Dig a well, do your own blacksmithing and starve in the winter when you’ve had a bad crop.
Be expected to have 18-20 children, all born at home, and have half of them die before the age of five because of dysentery, typhoid, scarlet fever or measles. Be prepared to get up with the sun and read by the light of your drafty fireplace. (The Franklin stove was invented in the late 1700s, but it weighed so much, most folks take it with them when they went west. If you had stayed in one of the “big” cities, you would have access to whale oil or kerosene for your lights.)
Be prepared to slaughter pigs and use everything except the “oink.” (Think pickled pig’s feet.) And you spend all day Sunday at church.