Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County

From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County


In drawing a contrast between the past and the present, we are led to inquire, what have all the refining influences of Christianity and civilization done to elevate the standard of the female sex to a higher position of excellence in society? Suppose a youth of eighty years ago should call to pass an hour or so with his lady-love, and find her hair done up in frizzles and frouzles, bangs, spit-curls, gum tragacanth, quince seeds, etc., playing on the piano, or reading the latest novel, while her poor old mother was bending over the wash tub; conversely, let us suppose a youth of to-day, with his fancy livery turnout, button-hole bouquet, red silk rag dependent from his coat pocket, cigar at an angle of forty-five, in the northeast corner of his mouth, gold-washed chronometer, patent-leather boots, and hair parted on the meridian of his brainless skull, should call to see his inamorata, and find her pulling flax, or in the barn, swingling the same, dressed in linsey, her feet uncramped by side lace, her hair unconfined, " wooed by every wind." The result, in each case, can be imagined by the reader.

The clothes for the pioneer family were manufactured from the raw material; no muslin, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, supplied the place of home-made linen. The men generally sowed tlie flax, gathered, and broke it, leaving to the women the succeeding steps in its transformation into wearing material, namely, pulling, spreading to water, rolling, taking up, swingling, hackling, spinning, weaving, and making into garments. With all this before them, and without that inevitable modern appendage, a hired girl, they kept themselves and their houses neat and tidy; and when the bride of those days of natural simplicity and hard work, when the hands find plenty to do, and the mind is pure and innocent, leaves the arms of her mother, the ceremonies attendant upon her nuptials were unostentatious, No broadcloth scissor-tailed coat, no stove-pipe beaver, no Alexandre seamless, no flash of the diamond, nor the gauzy real point lace, nor silks, nor satins, adorned the scene; but the honest pioneer, in his home-made hunting shirt, buckskin breeches, moccasins on his feet, with dried leaves for stockings, and his big heart full of love, stood by the side of the innocent girl, in her linsey-woolsey frock, guiltless of all "magnolia balm," or " bloom of youth," quince seed, frizzles, etc., except that which nature gave her; for she is nature's child, pure and artless.

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