Monday, March 9, 2015

Texas Hardships in the 1860s by Kathleen Ball

Texas Hardships 1860s by Kathleen Ball

I often scour the bookstores for Texas History and I came across a gem. The Captured by Scott Zesch. It’s a true story of abduction by the Indians on the frontier. I’m still in the process of reading it but what struck me was his description of the living conditions of the pioneers, ranchers, and homesteaders.

He explains how Pop Culture, western movies, and series elevated the living standards of the settlers on the Texas frontier during the 1860s. For example in John Ford’s The Searchers the family lives in a multi-roomed house with wooden floors and glass windows. They ate off china laden with food and their clothes were clean and barely worn.

During his research, he found the following to be true:
“A typical house in Castille Texas during the 1860s would have looked nothing like that. The immigrants’ dwellings were crude log cabins of one or two rooms. The walls never quite fended off the strong gales of a winter norther; however, they did manage to trap the one-hundred-plus degree of heat of August. The floors were hard-packed dirt. No matter how many times a housewife swept them, they didn’t seem clean. The thatched roofs leaked. The windows had no screens or glass, only shutters. During the daytime, a person could either leave them open and risk an invasion of grasshoppers, wasps, and mosquitoes, or close them and seat in dark rooms.”

The author goes on to describe the food conditions:
“They didn’t do much canning or preserving to store food for the winter because they didn’t have any jars. They rarely got wheat flour for bread and they were desperate for corn. Anytime U.S. soldiers camped nearby, the locals scoured the ground afterward for corn their horses might have left uneaten.”

Here is his description of the children:
“The kids had no shoes. Their feet and arms itched from frequent brushes with stinging nettle, cat’s-claw, and thistles. As they went about their work they had to watch out for diamondback rattlesnakes along the sandstone ledges and cottonmouth moccasins in the river bottom.”

Things got worse during the Civil War. It’s surprising so many lived. There were Indian raids because the soldiers all left to fight in the war. Why didn’t they just leave? They couldn’t afford to move. The book is mainly about non-Indian children being captured and how most didn’t want to return. I found the living conditions fascinating. I have done my share of research but in the back of my mind, the conditions weren’t even close to the truth.
The book is The Captured by Scott Zesch. Copyright 2004 by Scott Zesch

Sexy Cowboys and the women who love them...

Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards.

Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review.

Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable characters.

Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including

Amazon's Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and

Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor's Choice

Awards, and The Readers' Choice Award for Ryelee's Cowboy.

There's something about a cowboy...


trishafaye said...

Fascinating! I've done a lot of research on north Texas families, mostly those that came here through the Peters Colonies. I haven't seen this book. I'm going to check it out too!

Kathleen Ball said...

Thanks Tricia
I found it at the half price book store

Jean Joachim said...

This was fascinating. I could have gone on reading. What a difference from our present-day perception to the reality back then. Life was hard. That's probably why people died so much younger than they do now. Great post, Kathleen. Thanks for the information.

Jeanine said...

I've done a lot of research about native american captives. Very interesting topic.