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Life in Pioneer Times, page 3

    Johnny-cake and pones were served up at dinner, while mush and milk made the favorite dish for supper. In the fire-place hung the crane, and the Dutch oven was used in baking. The streams abounded in fishes, which formed a healthful article of food. Many kinds of greens, such as dock and poke, were eaten. The "truck-patch" furnished roasting ears, pumpkins, beans, squashes and potatoes, and these were used by all. For reaping-bees, log-rollings and house-raisings, the standard dish was pot-pie. Coffee and tea were used sparingly, as they were very dear, and the hardy pioneer thought them fit only for women and children. They said they would not "stick to the ribs." Maple sugar was much used and honey was only five cents a pound. Butter was the same price, while eggs were only three cents a dozen. The utmost good feeling prevailed. If one killed hogs, all shared. Chickens were to be seen in great numbers around every doorway, and the gobble of the turkey and the quack of the duck were heard in the land. Nature contributed of her fruits. Wild grapes and plums were to he found in their season along the streams. The women manufactured nearly all the clothing worn by the family. In cool weather, gowns made of "linsey-woolsey" were worn by the ladies. The chain was of cotton and the filling of wool. The fabric was usually plaid or striped, and the different colors were blended according to the taste of the fair maker. Colors were blue, copperas, turkey red, light blue, etc. Every house contained a card-loom and spinning wheel, which were considered by the women as necessary for them, as a rifle was for the men. Several different kinds of cloth were made. Cloth was woven from cotton. The rolls were bought and spun on little and big wheels into two kinds of thread, one the "chain," and the other the "filling." The more experienced only spun the chain, the younger the filling. Two kinds of looms were in use. The most primitive in construction was called the side loom. The frame of it consisted of two pieces of scantling running obliquely from the floor to the wall. Later the frame loom, which was a great improvement over the other, came in use. The men and boys wore jeans and linsey-woolsey hunting shirts. The jeans was colored either light blue or butternut. Many times, when the men gathered to a log-rolling or a barn-raising, the women would assemble, bringing their spinning wheels with them. In this way, sometimes as many as ten or twelve would gather in one room, and the pleasant voices of the fair spinners would mingle with the low hum of the spinning wheels. Oh! golden early days!

    Such articles as could not be manufactured were brought to them from the nearest store by the mail carrier. These were few, however. The men and boys, in many instances, wore pantaloons made of the dressed skin of the deer, which then roamed the prairies in large herds. The young man who desired to look captivating in the eyes of the maids in whom he loved, had his "bucks" fringed, which lent them a not unpleasant effect. Meal sacks were also made of buckskin. Caps were made of the skins of the fox, of the wolf, wildcat and muskrat, tanned with fur on. The tail of the fox or wolf often hung from the top of the cap, lending the wearer a jaunty air. Both sexes wore moccasins, which in dry weather were an excellent substitute for shoes. There were no shoemakers, and each family made its own shoes.

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