Saturday, July 26, 2008

Not Sure I'd have liked Living in the 1800's

My husband always said he had to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. I love anything historical, whether it's touring historical sites or reading an historical novel. I loved the "olden days" and I had a terrible love/hate relationship with my first computer.

Recently, I've been researching women's lives in Texas during the 1800's as part of a new project. As much as I love history, maybe as time has marched on in my own life, I've gotten more comfortable in a world with flat screen TV's, on-demand movies and hot and cold running water - not to mention indoor plumbing.

Reading women's journals about life in the 1800's frontier sure does give you first hand knowledge of just how tough these women were. They crossed thousands of miles in wagons and boats, with their cattle and pigs, their few possessions and usually half a dozen children in tow. Their kids and animals drowned or died of illness and disease, they lived in tents, fought off hoards of mosquitoes and eked out a living. Half the time their husbands were off fighting the Mexican army, leaving them to find for themselves.

One saying I came across was that "Texas was heaven for men and dogs and hell for women and oxen." How true.

It gives you an appreciation for the life they scratched out of the mud and wilderness. It was women who insisted on churches, schools and social get-togethers which created a society. It was women who fought for the lives of their children, nursed the sick and wounded and gathered wild flowers for the mantel.

We do have it much easier than these women but they are still part of us. Today women still show their metal by juggling child raising, cooking, shopping and working, all hopefully with grace and style and a smile plastered on their face.

Reading about where we've been has truly given me an appreciation for my life and for the conveniences I take for granted. What I'd like to hold on to from the past is the strength and love of family and country that made these ordinary women heroes.

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