Teaching Cleveland

Lesson 4

FACT SHEET

When your closest neighbor lived a mile or two away through a dense, trackless woods, life could get pretty lonely. Any kind of a get-together was most welcome to the pioneer. Sometimes these get-togethers meant hard work, for when someone needed help with a job too big for one man, he invited everyone to come to a work party. The frontiersman gladly lent a hand, not only because of helping a neighbor but because this was his recreation, getting together to swap tales and match his strength with his fellow men. These work parties were called "bees" or "frolics".

In a new community the first bee was usually a house raising. These were serious affairs for the family had to be got under cover before rain or snow or cold came. They were usually all work with little jollification. The fun came later when the family was moved in and settled. Then, in appreciation, the family invited everyone who had helped build the house to come to a house warning where they ate and drank and sweated out the jigs and reels and double shuffles to the sawing of the fiddle.

Once a community was established, the real bees and frolics began. Everybody came, young and old alike, for the pioneers had no baby-sitting system. The babies were lined up on the bed to nap while the men worked and the women cooked and the older children ran errands. Logging Bees were held to help a farmer clear his fields. The trees had been felled before the neighbors arrived and now the job was to drag them into piles at the side of the field and burn them.....

When the corn was cut in the fall there was a rash of Husking Bees. The corn was brought to the barn and the job was to remove the husks. The men were divided into two teams which vied with one another to see which could husk the most corn. To enliven matters, if a red ear of corn turned up the finder could kiss any girl he chose.

The ladies had their bees and frolics also. They met and worked and gossiped at Quilting Bees and at Weavings, Spinning and Sewing Frolics. Usually they worked all day and were joined in the evening by the men for a pot luck supper and dance......

Life for the pioneer was rigorous and there was little time for play. But the ingenious pioneer kept from becoming dull by combining his work and his play.

"Frontier Fun", Lillian M Carroll, Ohio Cues For Ohio Youth,
Vol. 15, No.4, January, 1966.

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