By 1850, the Mid-Atlantic states were well connected with roads and transportation being easily accessible. Farmers could trade their goods with states to the north and south. Most farmers grew wheat and tobacco which were in high demand.
Crafting was still going on but not so much a necessity any more. Travel and trade allowed some people to become specialized in their area of expertise. Early settlers had to know how to provide for every need in life. The 1850 farmers and homeowners could share and make money from the goods they chose to trade or sell.
Newspapers and books were more readily available. Most families were now embracing the new culture and abandoning homeland practices. Families had married outside their culture and a new American way of life was being integrated.
Around this time, good farming practices became constant. Guano was used to fertilize the soil and crop rotation was common. Machinery took over a landscape once trodden by horses and oxen. Agriculture societies set about educating farmers by supplying pamphlets and material on better soil management.
The large cooking fireplace was replaced with a cast iron cook stove much to the delight of the housewife. Canned and processed foods made an appearance and along came the prepackaged medicines. Grooming products began to make life sweeter.
When the big rush of settlers went west, many were Virginians who knew how to break the land and carried that pioneer spirit that tamed the West. Then gold was discovered in 1849 which drove men to leave their families and search for easier financial futures.
Families would follow when the money started coming in—-but for some the money never came and all fell to ruin. Some men passed their lives quietly in California as their family maintained as best they could the farms back East.
Families who chose to continue farming in the East would spend most of their extra income on buying new land and expanding the farm. 23% of the population in Virginia were slaves. Slave freedom would not be seen until the mid 1860’s. This region would see the war between the states in just 10 years.
When the Civil War arrived, many of the farms were looted and robbed of their surplus so the troops could be fed. Some of the farms became battlefields and others would see their men go off to fight and never return.
Many of these beautiful farms still stand today and one of them is reconstructed at The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton Virginia. The pictures today are from my recent visit to the area.