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7 Reasons Prairie Moms were Bad Asses!

Family in front of house

7 Reasons Why Prairie Moms Were Bad Asses!
We know that moms rock it on a daily basis, but these women were in a league of their own.

pregnant woman 1860s

1. They conquered the weather
Summer brought temperature in excess of 120 degrees, drought, rainstorms, tornadoes, wind, and swarms of grasshoppers that could destroy crops. The winters were long and cold, but these women persevered—even while pregnant!

George Waters and Family, Comstock, Nebraska

2. Speaking of kids…
From 1800-1850 families averaged 6-7 children per marriage. While men worked plowing fields, wives set up housekeeping in tents, sod shanties, or crude cabins. Keeping children fed, clothed, warm, dry, entertained, and educated was an everyday challenge. Mom was up with the sun cooking breakfast with one kid pulling on her apron and another on her breast. Now that is multi-tasking!


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woman with a gun

3. Nerves of steal
Prairie moms weren’t afraid of anything. They gave birth without painkillers or doctors. They shared their home with the mice, insects, spiders, and rattle snakes. Mom was also the  first line of defense on the prairie. While the men were off in the field, she would be the one to greet strangers like Native Americans, cattle rustlers, or wagon trains.

family in front of Sod House

4. Spectacular Vision
Your mom might have eyes in the back of her head, but these moms had eyes like a hawk. Have you ever tried to spot a toddle wandering through 6-foot-tall prairie grass? These moms could. They could also see a child slacking off 160 acres away. After an endless day of drudgery, mom would finally sit down after washing the supper dishes. Then she would read scripture, sew, and mend clothing by candlelight.

women with her two children

5. Sometimes they did it alone
Most women came to the plains with their husbands or parents, but some came alone. There was no sexual discrimination in the Homestead Act. Women could file on their own for 160 acres. In fact, they had a better track record than men—42 percent of the women proved up on their claims versus 37 percent of the men. While pioneer men could visit friends or go off in groups for long hunts, the women didn’t have time to visit friends, who usually lived several miles away. One such pioneer mother recorded that she only left her homestead three times in four and a half years.


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Woman & Daughter Gathering Buffalo Chips

6. They were really strong, physically…
There was no lack of traditional “woman’s work” to fill her day, but the frontier woman’s place wasn’t always in the home. She helped with outdoor chores—plowing fields, planting and harvesting crops, building fences, caring for livestock, and milking cows. Don’t forget hauling water from the river daily which could be miles from your home.

woman breast feeding

7. And emotionally!
During this time the mortality rate of children was very high partly because they were so far from doctors or hospitals. Epidemics of typhoid, whooping cough, smallpox, pneumonia, diphtheria, influenza, dysentery, and cholera sometimes claimed the lives of several children in one family. In 1901 the Gauchron family buried a three-year-old daughter and two sons, aged seven and ten, near the Black Hills. Children accounted for 53 of the 200 burials at the Old Post Cemetery at Fort Meade.

Unsung heroines of the westward movement, pioneer mothers endured through blizzards and bank failures, crop failures and catastrophic storms, droughts and disasters to leave a legacy of strength and pride for their descendants. Wow!

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