Friday, February 01, 2008

Life on the Indiana Frontier - Part 1

Frontier life in Indiana kept the whole family busy. The need for food drove much of life as women and children gathered nuts, berries, grapes, crab apples and more while the men and older boys were out hunting and fishing. Time that could be spared from gathering food was spent clearing land so it could be farmed. Soon seed corn could be planted in the rich, Indiana soil. It produced more food per acre than any other crop and quickly became a mainstay of the pioneer diet.

Once the family had established itself, vegetable gardens and fruit trees were added which provided more variety to their diets. Women and children were primarily responsible for the gardens and preserving the food after harvest.

Winter slowed the pace of life somewhat, but there was still much to do. Men built furniture and worked with leather to make their own shoes. Women spent many hours with needle and thread making clothes and bedding for the whole family.

Medicine was practically unknown on the frontier and disease and accidents often took a heavy toll. Indians were still part of the landscape. There are few records of encounters between the Brethren and Indians in Indiana, although Elder Jacob Miller, living in Ohio is said to have visited Indian encampments where he became a welcome visitor with his prayers and songs. Otho Winger records that the Indians called Elder Miller "The Good Man, the Great Spirit sent from the East."

Another Indian story tomorrow.

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land: Church of the Brethren in Indiana