by Ramona K. Cecil
As a student of my state’s history, I’ve learned that the life of an
pioneer two hundred years ago was not easy. Just to stay fed, clothed, and
relatively safe required back-breaking work from sunup until sundown. Many of
the pioneers’ more arduous chores required multiple hands to execute, providing
opportunities for these early Hoosier settlers to come together and turn the
work into fun, social occasions. Indiana pioneers, like many others over North
America, grabbed with both fists these opportunities to break up the monotony
of their daily lives. Indiana
In the spring there were sheep shearings, sugar boilings; when the sap of the sugar maple trees was collected to make syrup, and log rollings to clear cut timber from land to make room for a cabin or farmland.
The summer ushered in the season for quilting bees, weddings, wheat threshings, and cabin and barn raisings.
The autumn brought even more opportunities for work-parties beginning in September with bee hunts, where parties would venture out into the woods in search of hollow “bee trees” full of honey to harvest.
Most often, these work-party events involved contests and were fashioned in a way as to encourage young people of marriageable age to mingle and hopefully for love to bloom.
|Apple Paring Party
Workers divided into teams, and the winning team was the one that finished the task quickest and most efficiently. During the paring, any girl who happened to get a hollow-cored apple was compelled to kiss a young man of the opposite team. In another game, girls would try to peel an apple with the paring in one long string. They would then throw the length of paring onto the floor. Whatever letter the paring resembled when it landed was thought to be the initial of her future husband’s name.
Corn huskings were held in a barn with each man present choosing a
lady as a partner for the contest. During the husking, if a lady happened to find a red ear of corn she was entitled to a kiss from each gentleman present. If a man found a red ear, he got a kiss from every woman present.