Friday, August 11, 2023

Frontier Frolics

by Denise Weimer

Hello from North Georgia! I’ve taken some time off blogging since my last historical release. Now that I have a new four-book series, Scouts of the Georgia Frontier, which will come out with Wild Heart Books starting in September, followed by a Civil War novel with Barbour next May, I’m back in the saddle here at HHH and pleased to reconnect with historical readers.

What’s more fun to jump in with than the topic of frontier frolics? Settlers used events such as cabin raisings, log rollings, corn shuckings, and weddings as rare times to come together and celebrate the results of hard work and the growth of families.

When a man wanted to build a house, he cut logs, hauled them to the home site, peeled the bark off with a draw knife, and invited neighbors for a good dinner and cabin raising. At times, neighbors would spend the night prior for an early start.

According to The Early History of Jackson County, Georgia, published in 1914 by G.J.N. Wilson, a similar event was a log rolling, which occurred when forest was cleared for planting. First, the trees were belted or “deadened,” sawn partway through near the base so they would decay and fall. In the winter or spring, they were cut. Neighbors came to pile and burn the logs. Feats of strength—including jumping, running, throwing, and wrestling—were the order of the day. The ladies would quilt in the cabin, then wrap their creation around the man of the house and seat him at the table for dinner, as depicted in my upcoming release.

Around eight p.m., the fiddler would tune up. Small bronze pitchers of metheglin—water, honey, and spice—or cane skimmings beer were passed around. Eight men would open the dancing in a set called the rigadoon. Some of steps included the double shuffle, jump Jim Crow, cut the pigeon wing, and hop over the moon. Wouldn’t you love to see those? Next, the laeden, or leader, would illustrate every step of the evening. Then it was time for reels, jigs, and the Georgia Gallop, which continued until even the strongest dancers were exhausted. Mid-1800s frolics would include dances such as the Soldier's Joy, Virginia Reel, various quadrilles, polka, and waltz.

Most of us are familiar with shuckings, which occurred in the early fall after the corn harvest. These events would often have two captains over competing teams to see which could shuck their pile of corn the fastest. Settlers might sing as they worked or catch up on the latest gossip. Men or boys who found red ears of corn were entitled to a kiss from the gal of their choosing, as happens in book three in my series.

At southern frontier weddings, settlers sometimes “ran up” the groom. About a mile from the bride’s home, the groom would be waylaid by a dozen or more horsemen with cow whips, rifles, and pistols. They would rush in behind him, lashing the horses to a full-speed race that ended at the bride’s door.

These events provided a break from the constant push for survival and helped establish new communities. You can imagine how eagerly anticipated they would be! And how much fun I have including them in my stories.

You can now pre-order book one, A Counterfeit Betrothal:

At the farthest Georgia outpost this side of hostile Creek Territory, Jared Lockridge serves his country as a scout to redeem his father’s botched heritage. Then he comes across a burning cabin and a traumatized woman just widowed by a fatal shot. Lame in one foot, Esther has always known she is secondhand goods, but the gentle carpenter-turned-scout draws out her heart…even though his is already pledged to another. His family’s love offers hope even as violence erupts along the frontier—and Jared’s investigation into local incidents brings danger to their doorstep.

Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance from her home in North Georgia and serves as a freelance editor and the Acquisitions & Editorial Liaison for Wild Heart Books. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses. Connect here:

Monthly Newsletter Sign-up





1 comment:

  1. Welcome back and thank you for posting today. It is nice to hear how folks made work fun and understood that many hands do make light work. Or at least quicker work of a hard job!