When the early pioneers packed up to head to Kaintuck, they knew that everything they needed in the new land would have to be carried with them. When they reached the wilderness, if they didn't have a tool or some other necessity, they did without! It was a very scary thought.
The womenfolk had to pack as much as possible in just a little space, stretching their ingenuity to the limit. They had to use horses to carry things over the mountains and to the new land, or carry it on their backs, because the road was not wide or smooth enough for wagons or carts in the beginning. So they had to pick and choose what to take and what to leave behind. Much of what they left behind they sold or gave to friends or relatives. The furniture had to be left behind, because it couldn't be carried on the horses. They packed vegetable and fruit seeds in bags, and made sure they packed their favorite flower seeds. The men made sure they had seeds such as corn, flax, wheat, hemp, and tobacco. The men also made sure they had one of the most important tools, the axe, and hopefully they had more than one. Some of them were lucky enough to be able to carry an extra axe handle, in case the first one broke.
When the early pioneers reached the place in Kaintuck where they decided to settle, they had to build a one-room log cabin, usually with a lean-to in the back. They often built the barn first, to protect the cattle and hogs from the wild animals, and they could also sleep there. Later they built the one-room cabin and a crib for the corn.
They felled 70 to 80 of the tallest and straightest trees for the cabin. All the men in the area would gather to help one man complete his cabin and then everyone would help the next man. The cabins were usually twenty feet long and sixteen feet wide. Deep notches were made in the ends of the logs to hold them more securely. The roofs were usually clapboard, and all nails were pegs handmade out of wood. Most of the cabins had dirt floors, which would be swept and sprinkled with water to keep the dust down. Later, when the men had time, maybe in a couple of years, they would cut wood to make a wooden or puncheon floor. Since there was no glass available, wooden shutters were the only thing on the windows to keep animals, such as bears and panthers out. All crevices in the wall and around the chimney were stopped up with mud or clay. The ceiling was no more than seven feet high.
The spoons were whittled out of horn or wood and hunting knives were used at the table. The table plates were made of pewter or wood. They used gourds for bowls and drinking utensils. The table was made of large clapboards set on wooden legs and the bed was made of wooden planks or ropes tied across and blankets piled on top.
Later, during the Revolutionary War, when the path was made wider and straighter, and people could use wagon and carts, supplies could be brought in, and the homes were improved and enlarged. Some cabins were replaced by a story and a half loghouse. Sometimes the original log cabin was used as the outhouse or storage room, or even a smoke house for meat.
It was not an easy life, starting with very little, and your family and friends were often left behind when you moved. Sometimes you knew you would never see the old folks again, because you would never go back again, and they were too old to make the journey. It took a lot of courage for the men and especially the women to head west across the mountains and through the Gap into the new land, with all of its dangers and lack of comforts or conveniences.
The Treasure House has lots of summer shorts and tops for women, men, and children. They have boxes of toys and lots of books for the little ones. They have drawers of yarn for knitting and lots of different sizes of fabric for sewing or cutting for quilts. Stop by and see all the new items they have for sale. They are open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Family Research Center is open the same times. We have a few copies of the book, "Sacrifice, A Memorial to James Bethel Gresham" for sale. He was the first American to be killed in World War I, and he was born in McLean County, on the other side of Beech Grove.