Learn about Survival
in the 1870's
Surviving in the 1870's took a family working together
to build a home, maintain, feed, and clothe themselves. It took work from
the family each day, not just going to the store. Typically men, women,
and children worked on the farm and household tasks from dawn until dusk.
The pioneers would first buy their home site. They
need to pick a nice place for a home but, good farming land. The pioneers
would quickly begin clearing the land after they had purchased it. There
were no machines to clear the land, it all had to be done by hand. Family
and neighbors all pitched in to help clear off all the rocks and chopped
A log cabin was a typical frontier home. The men and
boys cut the trees into logs together to form a cabin. There was always
a fire place at one end of the cabin. The hearth was made of stones it was
usually the families favorite place. The fire was used for cooking, light,
It was daily work to maintain and furnish the home.
They made most of their furniture from trees. They made their mattresses
and filled them with grass, leaves or feathers. Most of the household utensils
were whittled from tree limbs. They made their own soap from boiling animal
fat and ashes.
The family also had to be fed which was not easy. The
basic foods of the pioneers was corn and meat. The family ate corn in some
form almost every meal. Corn was their chief crop because it kept well any
Most pioneers raised cattle, hogs, sheep, and chickens
for their meat. They also hunted wild game. They had to prepare the meat
for later use. In Little House in the Big woods Pa hunted deer, rabbits, and
bears. Then he had to skin and gut the meat while Ma preserved it. They had
no refrigeration, but they knew how to keep the meat from spoiling. Some of
the meat they dried in the sun, smoked over the fire, they salted or soaked
it in salt water.
The women raised the vegetables and herbs. They would
cook the vegetables up in hearty meals. Milk was the meal time drink provided
by the family cow. The milk was easy to get at home. It was to hard to get
tea or coffee at the store because the town was to far away and it cost to
Clothing was the hardest thing to provide. The materials
were expensive. It was time consuming to spin and weave the cloth. There
was more time involved to make the cloth into clothes. Most people only had
three or four outfits to wear while they worked and one for church.