Not too long ago I wrote a story about how to build your own log cabin. Now that they have all been finished, how did you furnish them? Did you go to the nearest furniture store or did you simply go to your computer and order things from E-Bay and pay by PayPal? If the pioneers heard that, they would accuse you of “hitting the bottle!” That may be fine and dandy for this generation, but what did our forefathers do?
A few families brought a few cherished pieces with them from the “old country.” Otherwise it was the “home made” variety and very simple. To make a kitchen cupboard, holes were bored in the logs of the cabin with a large auger and fitted with stout pins. On these pins were laid clapboards to form the shelves of a “china closet.” A few yards of calico would form a curtain for the cabinet and decorate it nicely.
If someone had a large box or packing case it was made to do duty as a table, until a better one could be gotten. The frontier bedstead would be regarded as a curiosity by people of the present time. It was a stationary affair built in one comer of the cabin. A straight sapling, three or four inches in diameter, extended from the floor to the ceiling to form the outer corner. From this sapling small poles extended to the end and side walls, where they rested in the cracks between the logs, or in holes bored to receive them. Boards were then laid across, or a network of ropes was made to receive the bedding. Persons accustomed to steel springs and a felt mattress might think such a bed would be uncomfortable. But when a “tick” filled with clean straw, wild hay or com husks was placed on the boards or rope network and surmounted by the plump feather tick, the pioneers had a satisfactory resting place. During the cold winter the meager stock of blankets and quilts was supplemented by buffalo robes, overcoats and other wearing apparel to protect from the cold.
Cooking stoves were rare and most of the meals were prepared at the fireplace. The principal cooking utensils were a large iron pot, a long handled skillet with an iron lid, a cast iron teakettle and a coffee pot. Bread was baked in the skillet by setting it on a bed of coals and placing more coals on the lid to make it bake evenly. The iron pot was used for preparing the “boiled dinner” which consisted of meat and several kinds of vegetables. As many of the pioneers were from the eastern U.S. states, this kind of meal was called the “New England dinner.”
Somewhere in the cabin were two hooks, formed from the forks of smaller trees, for a “gun rack.” Here rested the long, heavy rifle of the settler and suspended from one of the hooks was the bullet pouch and powder horn. Such a rifle was a necessity of the frontier. Upon it the settler depended for protection against marauding bands of Indians and it enabled him to provide a supply of meat for the family. Such was the life of the pioneers!
So now that you know how all of that works, you are ready to furnish your new home! Oh, where are Sears and Ikea when we need them?