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30.—The home and clearing of a backwoodsman. It was a gash cut in the universal forest, with a cabin and farm buildings
made of logs.
and dried the strips of venison over the fire after the day's work in the open was done. As each new baby arrived its elder brothers made a cradle of bark for the little stranger. When the man wanted a new suit of clothes he tanned and worked deer and raccoon skins into pliability and turned them over to his wife, who cut them and sewed them together. Such a suit was considered to fit well if it did not hamper its owner's movements in any way.” His cap was of skin with the fur on, and his shoes were soft moccasins, as were the foot coverings of all the family.
Cloth was called linsey-woolsey, and was a mixture of flax and wool made by the wife by carding and spinning. From it she created her jacket, petticoat and poke bonnet. Once in a while she made coats and trousers for her husband or the boys out of the same home-made fabric. The girls helped their mother in her household manufacturing, knit their own heavy stockings and made similar socks for the men. They also cut and sewed the bedticks and filled them, collected pine knots to serve as lamps in the summer evenings, made the soap, learned how to distinguish such herbs as were used as remedies in time of sickness, and hung them up to dry.
Actual money was a thing of fable, having no place in such a community. If a man by some strange chance came into possession of those curious pieces of copper or silver he hastened to swap them for something of practical use, and kept to himself his opinion of the man who took them. All necessities of life had their accepted ratios of value to one another, and needed things were got by barter.
It was then called "jerked meat,” and was hung up under the roof for future use.
? A deerskin suit was often decorated with fringes at the bottom of the coat and down the sides of the trousers. They were of similar skin cut into narrow ribbons and were sometimes dyed red or blue. City-made boots, any kind of a hat and coats with buttons on them were esteemed sure evidence of snobbishness and were severely frowned upon.
Skins of all useful sorts came nearer to actual currency than anything else.
Powder, salt, iron, and lead for bullets were brought in from distant towns on the coast or to the northward, and were carried overland in as large quantities as the nature of the country would permit. Powder, in the cities, was worth about two dollars and a half a pound and lead about sixteen cents. When the hill people needed fresh stocks of such things they sent out bales of skins by some of their number, and in that way got the few commodities they could not produce themselves.
There was an intimate relationship between all these conditions and the travel impulse that so suddenly sprang into existence from amid them. For the social organization here described was the only one that could successfully have conducted such a movement. It was as though some far-seeing power had long since planned a westward advance of the population, and, without disclosing its predetermined purpose, had trained the people for the part they were to play in history. No army of soldiers could have made the journey on which the cabin dwellers of the southern mountains were soon to set forth. It was a task far beyond the ability of military discipline merely, and the larger the force of trained automatons which had attempted it, the speedier and more complete would have been the disaster that must have followed. The westward advance through the wilderness was one of those few instances of record in which the attendant conquest was made, not primarily by the force of weapons, but by the adaptability of the invaders to their new surroundings and a resourcefulness as self-sustaining domestic arti
1 The pack-train method of travel by means of which this intercourse was carried on will be described in a later chapter.
sans rather than as warriors. Such conquests are always vital to the region affected. A military army scars the land that feels its presence, but after a time it either retreats, or, ceasing to be an army, is absorbed by the country it has reached, and its visit becomes a paragraph in text-books. But when in earlier times white men of Anglo-Saxon stock resolved on an expedition from which there could be no retreat, and to whose success there must be no alternative, they did not begin it with guns and food alone. Instead, they burdened themselves down with their women and children, dogs, pots, pans and cattle, and started into the unknown. The eras of such spectacles are past, and considering them from these later days it can be understood how needless were the fears with which more timid souls sometimes looked on such hegiras. The multitudinous details of human, inanimate, and four-legged baggage that paralyzed speed and seemed to presage failure were the elements that made success inevitable. Without them the men could have returned.
The first symptom of the permanent invasion of the region beyond the mountains was seen in 1771 and 1772, when a little stream of people drifted down toward the southwest from Pennsylvania and northern Virginia into the broad valley that is bounded on the west by the Cumberland Mountains and on the east by the Unaka or Great Smoky range.
Through it ran the various branches of the Clinch and Holston Rivers, that empty into the Tennessee. The men travelled under the trees on foot, while the women and household goods were loaded on the horses, and the elder children drove the cows and pigs. It was a journey that, save in its greater length, was in many respects a repetition of the march of Pastor Hooker and his congregation through the wilds of Massachusetts a hundred and thirtyfive years before. The political boundaries of the colonies were rather vague in those times, and the people of these little bands, knowing that the upper part of the valley was a part of Virginia, thought the region where they stopped to build their cabins and make clearings in the
1 Heretofore referred to in these pages as the Cherokee River.
31.-Usual type of a cabin dweller's home. The method of building such a house is described in this chapter. Habitations like this were the abodes of
nearly all Americans, except town-people, for a century and a half.
forest was also in that colony. It was not, but was theoretically under the jurisdiction of North Carolina, and was later to become the extreme eastern part of the present state of Tennessee. They were so far removed from any other civilization, and so much out of the reach of any government that they soon proceeded with all deliberation