What remains challenging is in the eye of the researcher. As a family history writer, I have often challenged myself to go beyond the obvious genealogy fact finding. Just who were my ancestors? Just how did they live? Stepping back in time to get into their minds, worlds, and lives presents a challenge in finding resources and clues for my ponderings.
My focus the past few blogs has been on my 4th great grandparents, Joseph and Rachel (Low) Storer. Having challenged myself to finding out about farming in Maine in 1820, I located a great resource. (The website is cited at the end of this blog.) After studying the article, a clearer picture of life for the Storer family came into focus.
The Storers had settled in Weld, now Franklin County, Maine, in 1807. They would have found temporary shelter near their homestead until the wilderness could be cleared and a log home built. This took four years of labor. Before heading into the wilderness, the Storer men would plant at their temporary home a garden which the wife and small children would attend. With his three oldest sons, they would work together to clear 5-6 acres during the first year. During the second year, the men would burn the slash and build a log cabin. Corn would be planted among the stumps. During the third year, a barn would be constructed as well as clearing 5-6 more acres. In the fourth year, rye and English hay would be planted and harvested.
For livestock, most farms had 2-20 Devon cattle and oxen. Most farms did not have horses. The Devon cattle’s milk nourished the family plus added to the autumn making of butter. Oxen served as draft animals. Livestock that was raised for food were turkeys, sheep, chickens, ducks, and geese.
It is challenging to fuse together this information to get the truest picture of my beloved Granddaddy and Granny Storer’s daily lives. The challenge comes from wondering about their thoughts, their daily conversations, and their family decisions. These questions will never be answered.
A great resource for discovering information about Maine farming in the early 1800s is found at http://www.mainething.com/alexander/community%20life/Making%20a%20living/Farming/A%5D%20BRIEF%20HISTORY%20OF%20FARMING.html.