Homesteaders and Pioneers

Daily Life

Daily life on a homestead was centered around hard work. In addition to raising children and the maintenance of the hearth and home, the work of farming and expanding the claim was ever-present. Modernization was late in coming to the Olympic Peninsula, but eventually washing machines, telephones, and electricity were installed. Children went to primary and secondary schools if one was available, and most settlements were able to provide them. Holidays, dances, sporting contests, and other community events provided the opportunity to socialize and come together with people who shared the challenge of living in this remote corner of the country. Travel between settlements was by trail and/or canoe, with small ferries operating on Lake Crescent.

People needed to get together occasionally to help each other, have some fun, and build community. Sporting events, dances, political meetings, and holidays gave the homesteaders a chance to relax and an excuse to socialize. Hunting and fishing served the dual purpose of recreation and providing meat for subsistence. It was sometimes a long walk to get to participate in social gatherings, but settlers readily made such trips to alleviate their isolation.

Many, if not most, homesteaders needed to spend some amount of time away from their claim so that they could earn the cash needed to buy necessities. Jobs taken were varied - loggers, U.S. Forest Rangers, mail carriers, miners, fishermen, packers, guides, bounty hunters, hired hands - whatever jobs were available in the area.

Often homesteaders would leave their wives and children on the claim to continue farming and return at the end of the working season, because the law required continuous residency. However it was hard to prove whether residency requirements were strictly obeyed.

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