Real Homesteaders - another take

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by TabletopHomestead, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. TabletopHomestead

    TabletopHomestead Well-Known Member

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    I've been thinking abour our ancestors, who'll I'll refer to as pioneers instead of homesteaders. I'm thinking of those who first crossed the Appalachians in the 1700's, those who made the long, hard trip to California and the Oregon Territory in the 1840's, the Mormon pioneers to Utah, the "sodbusters" of the Great Plains, and those who went to Alaska in search of gold. Yes, they all had it rough, because it was a different, "rougher" time. Some were able to take advantage of the Homestead Act during the limited time period it was in effect. Some, pre-dating the Homestead Act, were able to simply claim a piece of land as their own, yet still many throughout the long period of settlement of our country purchased their land. In truth, the Homestead Act was more propaganda than panacea, a way to get population (hence money) out into the Great Plains (known up to that time as the Great American Desert) to the advantage of the railroads. My own great- grandparents missed the last Oklahoma land run by only days and went on to purchase a "homestead" in the Dakotas. That land was as much theirs as if they'd filed a claim, the work was every bit as hard, and I certainly wouldn't want to face my ancestors and tell them they weren't "real homesteaders." Some had funds, some didn't. The reason they did things the hard way was not because they had some "homesteader's standard" to live up to, but because there was no other way to do things. Certainly, no homesteading family of any means turned their backs on the newest labor saving invention, truly they embraced the technology of the day. They sought comfort in their homes. Take the sod-house farmers, for example. When they came to a point where they could purchase wood for a frame house many chose to keep their soddies. Because they had some notion of being "true homesteaders?" No, because the soddies were cooler. They were all farmers, because that's how you ate. There were no separate categories for homesteaders, farmers, etc. If times were rough, no one turned down work off the home place. A good read is "Sod House Days - Letters from a Kansas Homesteader 1877-78" by Howard Ruede, University of Kansas Press. Which brings us to us. None of us are "real homesteaders", all of us are "modern homesteaders" though we like to look for the similarities between ourselves and these pioneers. Both catagories embrace an incredible variety of people, places and motives. Most of us are probably more accurately termed re-enactors, history buffs, idealists, environmentalists, or lunatics. Like the pioneers we seek to better our lives for probably many of the same reasons they did - freedom, finances, and faith. Like them, some of us have funds and some don't. The difference is we search for something rare in our world that was commonplace in theirs. Those of us who embrace some of the old ways need to humbly remember that such a choice is a reflection of this modern world and not theirs. They would have thought us strange indeed to want to go backward. If we want to be "true homesteaders" maybe we should model our pioneer ancestors and come together as community emmulating a time when neighbors helped neighbors, advice was given gently, certain subjects just weren't accepted in polite conversation, and good etiquette was the rule of the day.
     
  2. AngieM2

    AngieM2 Big Front Porch advocate Supporter

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    Very nice post and a lot of good ol' un-common sense.

    Angie
     

  3. Philbee

    Philbee Well-Known Member

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  4. TabletopHomestead

    TabletopHomestead Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, though I have to apologize for the typos. :)
     
  5. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

    My compliments on your post. I concour most heartily.
    Ed
     
  6. IwannaFarm

    IwannaFarm Well-Known Member

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    IMO the biggest difference between 'pioneers' and modern culture can be summed up in one word:
    Selfishness

    Once people started thinking about themselves and ONLY about themselves instead of what is good for their family (including extended family) as well as community that is when things really started falling apart, I think.
     
  7. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Well said tabletop.
    tnborn
     
  8. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, Selfishness is a human flaw that has always existed. I would agree that it is more rampent now. But weren't the ranchers being selfish when they tried to run the sod busters off the range? Weren't those same pioneers being selfish when they violated indian treaties and staked their claims on indian land?

    Selfishness and greed have always been with us and always will sadly.

    Sylvar
     
  9. QBVII

    QBVII Well-Known Member

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    HA! :haha:

    Great post.

    Personally, I'm not about to give up certain "creature comforts".....little things like electricity, running water, etc.
    I know my comfort zone and I fully intend to stay in it. No desire here to be a "real" homesteader - they had it ROUGH!
     
  10. akmyilee

    akmyilee Well-Known Member

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    I think this explains why my MIL hates it that I use cloth diapers, when you couldn't have disposiables and wanted them and then others choose not to use the "easier" way it kinda bugs ya.......

    What do you think that the pioneers would say if they saw this board today? I have wondered that before.........I think they would have alot of good advice to offer if nothing else. I wish I could talk to them.
     
  11. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

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    Very erudite! I concur wholeheartedly.

    HOMESTEAD: a place where a family makes its home, including the land, house and outbuildings.
    HOMESTEADER: A person who has a homestead.

    There is also the LEGAL definition of homestead, that is a land grant.......so I guess both sides of the argument are correct.

    Sometimes it helps to get our definitions straight before we offer opinions. (Not slamming anyone)

    I looked this up in Webster's New World Dictionary.

    Personally, I hate to be labeled, makes me feel like I'm in a box.

    I am what I am & what you see is what you get. :)


    :yeeha:
     
  12. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Very well put.
    ahhhh,..sensable people are such a joy.

    Everybody I am going to brag a little, Judy is my friend/spirit sister and a mentor of sorts. She is well educated and skilled at homecrafting, as in the building of a home, in feeling and way of life. (not just a roof over your head)

    Judy and her hubby have built a wonderfull homeplace from land that is far harder to live on than my place is.

    I need to come visit, I miss you......
     
  13. TabletopHomestead

    TabletopHomestead Well-Known Member

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    Ah, shucks. :eek: You come any time.



     
  14. TabletopHomestead

    TabletopHomestead Well-Known Member

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    Now that's something I haven't thought about. LOL. I remember my Aunt Ada from growing up in the 70's in Oklahoma. She was born around the turn of the century. She was doing permaculture before the word was even evented. She raised cattle and I saw my first chicken butchering at her house. She could put in a full days work and have a multi-course lunch on the table before noon. The played the fiddle and refinished furniture in her "spare time." She sewed her own clothes and boiled them in a huge pot on the stove. Was she a "real homesteader?" Who knows, but I sure strive to be like her.