Pioneer women

This was composed for a Women’s Institute project when I lived in Upper Clearwater in the 1950s and 1960s) - Barb Ferguson

  • Feb. 24, 2012 5:00 p.m.

In the days of newly settled

Homesteads springing from the prairie,

Covered wagons, moving westward,

Men were first to turn the furrow,

Hew the forest, build the cabins,

Climb the mountains, widen pathways

For the slowly plodding oxen.

 

With them came the quiet women,

Capable in homespun dresses,

Milking cows and churning butter,

Helping with the seed and harvest,

Spinning, quilting, feeding babies,

Strong and calm and uncomplaining,

Helping where they most were needed.

 

But packed with love inside the wagons

Were treasures of a fragile beauty,

Dainty cups and plates of china,

One or two especial pictures,

Soft material for curtains

Waiting till the cabin windows

Should be finished, ready for them.

 

Those early, courageous women

Did not think their lives heroic,

Never dreamed that we would call them

Pioneers. They helped their husbands

Through the snowdrifts with the cattle,

Worked all day in field and garden,

Salted down the meat in barrels,

 

Fed the men and taught the children,

And then sat down by lamplight

To sew by hand and to embroider

Daisies on a baby’s gown. The mothers

Saved their precious seeds and planted

Apple trees for fruit and beauty,

Hollyhocks, geraniums

To cheer the heart and welcome neighbors.

 

Long hours they worked, but satisfying,

No thought of honor in the future

But just to bring a bit of beauty

To the new home in the west.

– Barbara Ferguson

(This was composed for a Women’s Institute project when I lived in Upper Clearwater in the 1950s and 1960s).