Volume 1


Fourth Edition Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1920
Copyright 1917 by Clarence Ray Aurner

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, submitted April, 2013


In selecting a place for the cabin the owner might be fortunate enough to find a living spring of water near by. If not so lucky, he must have a well and draw the water with a bucket. There were no wind pumps or engines to raise the water, and perhaps not even a windlass to pull the bucket up by turning a crank, but there was a simple way by which any man could have some help in lifting the water. For example, by resting a yard stick or any such bar of wood across a support it will be balanced when suspended at the middle, but by hanging something on one end it will tip up.

Such a simple machine was used to pull up the water bucket out of the well. A heavy pole, bigger at one end than at the other, was hung in a forked post set deep into the ground. On the big end of the long pole a load of chunks or wood or of rock was fastened; and to the small end there was fastened a light pole which carried the bucket down into the well. This “well sweep” was not hard to pull down and when the bucket was full of water, the load on the big end of the pole helped to pull it up. Later a pulley and a rope with a bucket at each end was used to draw the water. In some neighborhoods the tall well curb with the pulley at the top may yet be found.

pg 86

pg 87

pg 88

The spinning wheels for yarn and flax which stood in a corner of the cabin were the musical instruments of the housewife. The first lessons of the young girl were not on the piano but in cooking and spinning. “Store clothes” or even “store cloth” might never been seen in a settlement, for garments were usually home-made. The wool was prepared by hand for the spinning wheel and woven into yarn. The flax was prepared for the small wheel and spun into strong thread. Not every family had a loom on which to make cloth, but there might be one among several families in the neighborhood. The sewing was all done by hand, since machines to do it had not been invented. One would expect to find many skillful needle-women among the pioneers.

A kind of cloth called linsey woolsey was made out of both wool and flax thread; it was the common cloth for girls and women’s dresses. Men and boys wore homespun woolen clothes, and shoes or moccasins were probably made by fathers in those days when there was no place to buy shoes or boots and little or no money to get them if there had been. Buckskin, the tanned hide of the deer, was very useful. The hunter and trapper and trader made clothes from it; and on the outside of the cabin one would have seen many kinds of skins stretched over a hoop of wood and hung up to dry. Almost every man knew how to tan the skins he took in hunting so that nothing was wasted. Besides one could always sell any kind of fur.

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