Pioneers didn’t have texting, video games, Internet, fast food, or shopping malls. They didn’t participate in sports or after school activities. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have friends or fun times.
- Pioneers generally lived in small, remote communities. They were probably accustomed to a quieter, simpler life than most of us live with fewer interactions outside of family. They probably did feel lonely at times, especially during the winter.
- However, they developed strong ties within their communities. Neighbors helped neighbors. For example, women brought food and offered care after a baby was born or when someone was ill.
- Barn raisings were special events. Men and boys would gather to help their neighbors build barns, or even cabins. When the work was done, the community shared a meal, games, and dancing.
- Women got together for quilting and knitting bees to share their sewing and handiwork. At these events, women talked and caught up on the latest news.
- Children put on special school programs at Christmas and the end of the year. They sang songs or recited poems for the parents.
- Harvest was also a time of gathering. The men (and women) often worked together, going from farm to farm to bring in the crops, especially if cold weather was coming and they had to hurry. Barn dances were one way to celebrate a good harvest season.
- The church played a central role in the community too. People met for Sunday worship and sometimes for Bible study during the week.
- Families got together for fun at other times too. Summer meant picnics and swimming; the Fourth of July was usually a big celebration, and most communities had a fair. During the winter, children enjoyed ice skating on frozen lakes, sledding, or playing in the snow.
- Remote: isolated, removed
- Interaction: contact or involvement
Questions and Answers
Question: Did adults have friends too?
Answer: Adults were busy and didn’t have a lot of time for socializing, but they did have very good friends. Their friendships often revolved around helping each other with their work or sharing resources. One woman wrote about sharing a nice dress with her neighbor. They took turns wearing the dress to church.
Watch an Amish barn raising.