Life in Pioneer Times, page 4
The settlers were separated from
their neighbors often by miles. There were no church houses, or regular services
of any kind to call them together; hence, no doubt, the cheerfulness with which
they accepted invitations to a house-raising, or a log-rolling, or a corn
husking, or a bee of any kind. To attend these gatherings, they would sometimes
go ten or more miles. Generally with the invitation to the men, went one to the
women, to come a quilting. The good woman of the house where the festivities
were to take place, would be busily engaged for a day or more in preparation for
the coming guests. Great quantities of provisions were to be prepared, for
dyspepsia was unknown to the pioneer, and good appetites were the rule and not
the exception. The bread used at these frolics was baked generally on johnny or
journey-cake boards, and is the best corn bread ever made. A board is made
smooth, about two feet long and eight inches wide, the ends are generally
rounded. The dough is spread out on this board and placed leaning before the
fire. One side is baked and the dough is changed on the board, so the other side
is presented in its turn to the fire. This is johnny-cake, and is good, if the
proper materials are put in the dough and it is properly baked. At all the log-rollings
and house-raisings it was customary to provide liquor. Excesses were not
indulged in, however. The fiddle was never forgotten. After the day's work had
been accomplished, outdoors and in, by men and women, the floor was cleared and
the merry dance began. The handsome, stalwart young men, whose fine forms were
the result of their manly out-door life, clad in fringed buckskin trousers and
gaudily colored hunting shirts, led forth the bright-eyed, buxom damsels,
attired in neatly fitting, linsey-woolsey garments, to the dance, their cheeks
glowing with health and eyes speaking of enjoyment, and perhaps of tenderer
emotion. In pure pioneer times, the crops were never husked on the stalks as is
done at this day, but were hauled home in the husk and thrown in a heap,
generally by the side of the crib, so that the ears when husked could be thrown
direct into the crib. The whole neighborhood, male and female, were invited to
the "shucking," as it was called. The girls and many of the married ladies
generally engaged in this amusing work.
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