Frontier and pioneer life

The Foxfire Book

The Foxfire Book

Anybody interested in DIY projects or maker culture or just getting back to basics should take a gander at the Foxfire series of books. Beginning in the late 60s and continuing on through today, a class at a rural Georgia high school decided to take a different tack at English class and create a magazine.

They had no money so the venture needed to pay for itself. As there was little market for poetry or short stories found in ordinary high school magazines, they decided to print folklore and folk ways gathered from people in their own community. It was the beginning of something amazing.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Brigham Young

Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet

The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, February 7, with a lecture on Brigham Young by John Turner author of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet:

Brigham Young at age forty lived in western Illinois, was a faithful disciple of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, and had but one wife. He was known for his spiritual fire, collegial leadership, and tireless missionary service. Within ten years, much had changed. By then, Young had led thousands of religious refugees to the Salt Lake Valley, stood at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the governor of the newly created Utah Territory, and had been sealed in marriage to fifty-five wives. Young, moreover, had become a very different sort of leader: hyper-sensitive to criticism, vigilant against potential rivals within the church, and violent in his rhetorical responses to everything from criminality to U.S. interference in Utah affairs. In his talk, John Turner will follow Brigham Young from Illinois to Utah, explaining how that transition affected both Young’s personality and the place of his church within American society.

Find out more about this lecture on Mary Washington's web site.
All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are held at 7:30pm, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall, and are free and open to the public.

West by Covered Wagon: Retracing the Pioneer Trails

By Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

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"A modern-day wagon train journey is interwoven with fascinating facts about the harsh realities of a wagon train passage across the prairie one hundred years ago."
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Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865

By Courtni C. Wright

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"Wright details the experiences and hardships faced by Ginny, a young African American girl, and her family as they travel west from Virginia to California in 1865. Unwelcome on the big wagon trains departing from Independence, Missouri, Ginny's family must form its own group of newly freed friends and relatives. They endure snakebites, drought, broken wagon wheels, extreme temperatures, and treacherous mountains before finally reaching California. In keeping with the picture-book format, Wright includes no maps and mentions no famous landmarks, concentrating instead on a few episodes in the fictional journey."--Booklist

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Pioneer Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes

By David C. King

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"Join twelve-year-old Sam Butler and his nine-year-old sister, Liz, on the American frontier in 1843. Discover the hard work, fun, and adventure of their daily lives, and along the way learn how to play games, make toys and crafts, and perform everyday activities just like Liz and Sam. You can make your own homemade soda pop and cook up a batch of johnnycakes. Use clay to create your own pottery and design a string of African trade beads, or learn the Native American art of sandpainting. You can even make your own holiday decorations out of dough or pinecones--if you're not too busy playing tangram, a Chinese puzzle game, or a beanbag target game. Pioneer Days is filled with interesting bits of historical information and fun facts about growing up in days gone by. Discover how different--and how similar--life was for American kids in history."

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A Frontier Fort on the Oregon Trail

By Scott Steedman

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Step inside a 19th century frontier fort and discover for yourself what life was like for the pioneers of the American West. Dramatic cutaway illustrations provide a vivid insight into the challenges they faced:

  • travel westward with a wagon train of pioneers seeking new land to settle;
  • watch the fort being built in rugged terrain;
  • spend a day with a soldier, see his uniform and his equipment;
  • visit an Indian encampment, and learn how they lived;
  • find out about the traders, carrying basic necessities from fort to fort;
  • discover how skilled trappers worked;
  • witness the coming of the Pony Express, Wells Fargo, and the railroad;
  • learn about the daily life of the pioneers;
  • find out what happened to the forts after the West was "won".

(Amazon review)

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Food and Recipes of the Westward Expansion

By George Erdosh

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"Looking closely at the environment, economics, eating habits, and favorite foods of our American forebears teaches us volumes about their world and ours. The 'gravy train' takes on new meaning as kids learn how the pioneers survived the long journey. Video games and television take a back seat as kids learn how to make a prospector's dinner of skillet bread and pork and beans."

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Strange But True, America: Weird Tales from All 50 States

By John Hafnor

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"...a 50-state tour de force of every oddball fact missing from standard travel and history books. Richly illustrated by veteran artist Dale Crawford, the book's 101 weird tales and matching drawings are crafted to surprise. Author John Hafnor employed a deeply curious research style to unearth the little-known tales, each building to a twist ending that assures reader interest. The book pulls few punches in redefining much of America's previously unquestioned folklore."

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The Quilt That Walked To Golden

By Sandra Dallas and Nanette Simonds

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Quilts fill this narrative re-creation of the history of the West from the time of the early pioneers to the present day. The purpose of quilts and the art of quilting provide a window into the lives of women, their friendships, and their sorrows.

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Glen Rounds: Cowboy Storyteller

Artist and author Glen Rounds was neither a tenderfoot nor a city slicker. He was the real deal of the nearly Wild West--though he wasn’t beyond telling a few tall tales, too, here and there. Born in a sod house in the Badlands of South Dakota, when he was just a babe he and his family traveled by covered wagon to the open spaces of Montana.

Spinning Tales for His Supper
Glen grew up on a horse ranch and worked as a mule skinner, a cowboy, and a carnival artist, but eventually his talents took him into the big city—Kansas City’s Art Institute where he studied for two years. In 1930, he moved to New York City and started taking night classes at the Art Students League and tried to sell stories during the day. He would visit publishers’ houses to sell his work, arriving in the late morning so he could grab a free meal—a trick he managed by starting a good story and offering to finish it over lunch. His artistic style was spare and rather rough, but it was perfect for the often funny, sometimes somber stories he wove about the American West.