Teamwork Made Survival Possible in Missouri Ozarks

One family pooled all their efforts to survive on a homestead in the Missouri Ozarks.

| Good Old Days

The Missouri homestead my father bought in the Missouri Ozarks had only a two-room log cabin chinked with mud. We carried water in buckets from two large springs quite a distance from the house, and we did our washing at a stock pond with washtubs, a washboard and a large iron kettle for heating water. After the clothes were washed, we hung them on bushes. How sweet they smelled drying in the sunshine!

My father hauled lumber for a sawmill 15 miles away and built a four-room house. Until it was finished, several of the children slept in a grape arbor near the log house.

I helped my mother rive board for shingles on our house. A tree was cut down and logs sawed. We drove wedges in the end of the log to split it.

With my sister I hauled rock in our brother's wagon and built a quarter mile of rock fence. We tried to dig a well, and we dug until it was so deep we could no longer throw out the dirt. Father hired two men to finish it.

Mother made jams and jellies from grapes and plums. We also picked blackberries and wild grapes, and Mother canned them in tins which were sealed with wax melted in a ladle and poured around the lid.

We helped our neighbors strip sorghum cane and took molasses in return. Navy beans, black-eyed peas and cowpeas were picked on shares. We raised a garden. Corn was cut from the cob and dried, and apples, peaches and pears were also dried. At the approach of winter a large hole was dug in a corner of the garden, lined with straw and filled with potatoes, cabbage, squash, turnips and apples. A covering of straw and dirt kept them from freezing.

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