Our Pioneer Grandmothers

Our pioneer grandmothers labored from morning till dusk and then by candlelight continued their work on into the evening. They spun the wool raised on the farm into yarn. This yarn was taken from the old spinning wheel and wound on a reel into skeins. The skeins were dyed with home­ made dyes, then wound into balls by hand. These balls of yarn were knitted into stockings or mittens or woven into cloth from which blankets and clothes were made.

They strained the milk and kept the crocks, pans and pails sweet and clean. They skimmed the rich, yellow cream from the milk and with the old dash-churn, turned this cream into the finest butter possible. They knew how to make "all-cream" cheese and "skim-milk" cheese that would melt in a hungry mouth.

They could make all kinds of delectable dishes from corn. The corn-. meal pudding was placed in a small sack and then boiled in a kettle of water. They knew how to make "Johnny cake," "Injun bread" and hominy. No more does a hungry boy eat a whole Johnny cake with a bowl of milk and smack his lips for more. No more does he eat his hunk of "Injun" pudding covered with sweetened cream and no more is his Sunday dinner made entirely of hominy and milk.

Those pioneer grandmothers met several times during the year at a quilting bee where they finished the pieced blocks made from the remnants of the year's dresses and aprons, into warm quilts for winter or into the "crazy quilts" that are still shown by their grandchildren.

In sickness they were ever ready to give a helping hand. They knew all the first-hand remedies. Catnip and boneset hung drying in the garret at all times. Yellow dock salve could be made at a moment's notice and molasses and sulphur were always in the cupboard.

The home was the center of family interest. Every home every evening was a "Cotter's Saturday Night." The mother's "no" to her children meant "NO." "You may stay a half-hour" meant just one-half hour and no longer.

Those girl grandmothers of ours wore sensible low-heeled shoes and calico dresses and aprons. They wore their hair in long braids, tied with ribbons. They wore sun-bonnets made from calico remnants, stiffened with a few flat pieces of pasteboard, in summer, and a cloak having a hood and cape in winter. These grandmothers of ours often hid very attractive faces beneath those sunbonnets and often our boy grandfathers failed to get even a glimpse of those winsome hidden faces.

The .world moves on. Our grandmothers have gone to their reward. The mother of today has changed. The family life no longer centers about the home fireside. High-heeled shoes and other fashions have been brought from. the French capital to take the place of the calfskin shoe and the calico dress. No longer do our girls wear their hair in long braids tied with ribbons. No longer are their faces hidden by the sunbonnets of yore. Civilization cannot stand still, but sometimes we wonder if its progress is along the right path.



History of Henry County

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