American Pioneers

Medicine, Food and Clothing

Pioneers medicines were often homemade remedies and treatments made out of roots and berries, because there was a lack of doctors on the early frontier. Still, many people died of diseases like measles, diphtheria, small pox, malaria (fever 'n ague), cholera, whooping cough, and scarlet fever. Pioneers also died because of injuries, or during childbirth.

There was some variety of foods on the frontier. Pioneers usually had corn, potatoes, pumpkins, wheat, peas, carrots, and tomatoes to eat from their gardens and fields. They also had ham, venison, beef, salt pork, buffalo, rabbit, and bear meat. Sometimes they had sourdough bread, flapjacks, and whole wheat bread.

To accompany their meals, pioneers drank coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, milk, and mostly water. Sometimes pioneers had stew, soup, or mush for their meal. They also ate small things from the forest like walnuts or chestnuts, and berries. On special occasions they might have pie, candy, or cake. They flavored their foods with brown sugar, molasses, honey, and salt.

Pioneer women and girls wore long dresses made of wool, or linsey-woolsey with calico, plaid of plain print. They were mostly black, green, blue, and red dresses. Their undergarments included stockings, corsets, and hoops for their skirt. To protect their faces from the sun, because it was un-proper to have a tan face, they wore bonnets. In the winter they wore black or brown leather boots, scarves, and a shawl (a cape-like covering). When working, they wore aprons or pinafores to keep their dresses from getting dirty.

The men and boys wore mostly blue, green, red, and white shirts, black, gray, or brown trousers, variously colored suspenders, wool socks, and black or brown leather boots. To cover there heads, the farmers wore straw hats, and other men & boys wore fur or beaver felt caps.

Table of Contents


The Homestead Act

Religion, Tradition, and Fun

Life on the Trail

Native Americans and Outlaws

Life after Settling