By Anne Butler
Booklet by way of Butler, Anne
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They delve into it with a passion that bemuses the non-practitioner. The world expects this of historiansthat they should be the keepers of the sacred events and great leaders of other eras. From among vast collections of documents and photographs, maps and artifacts, scholars piece together the patterns of earlier societies and the people who lived in them. They pore over military strategies, tariff lists, and election returns to explain how one nation thrived as another declined, why one army triumphed as another collapsed.
The qualities of endless patience, quiet suffering, and limitless sacrifice appealed to W. H. D. Koerner, who felt keenly about the "loss of the frontier" and its values for American families. Koerner, who painted his western images from his studio in New Jersey, should hardly be castigated, for he clearly embodied the spirit of so many Americans of his time. That spirit underscores a tale of the West that highlights the settlement experiences of white families and glorifies their struggles Page 7 at the expense of other western residents.
Page 13 Small wonder that women valued the social interludes that marked a break in the farming routines. Church gatherings, whether held outdoors or in a crude building, meant more than prayer and hymns. Before and after the services, homesteaders enjoyed the chance for a visit with far-flung neighbors. Other events, such as quilting bees, church suppers, and community dances gave the families an opportunity to indulge in a welcome change from the isolation of farm living. Preparations for the Fourth of July or a local wedding also ranked as festive times, when women in an area gathered for work with a social flavor.