The Importance of Corn to The Early Settlers
When flour was hard to get, corn became indispensable.
Corn and cornmeal became most important to settlers from the time they first came to the frontier until after the turn of the century. Corn was very easy to grow, making it easily available and used in place of flour almost without exception by many frontier families. The cobs were used to provide fuel in the cooking and heating stoves.
After the mature corn was ground at the local mill, the cook sifted out the hulls with a wide-rimmed shaker sieve. No matter how hard they tried to come up with different ways to prepare corn meal, no matter how hard the effort to disguise it, as one old timer put it: “it was still corn.”
A young schoolteacher who lived with a family in the area where she taught in frontier Nebraska wrote of her experience in eating on the frontier:
“Their manner of living is so different from ours that it just about used me up. For breakfast we had corn bread, salt pork, and black coffee. For dinner, greens, wild ones at that, boiled pork and cold corn bread, washed down with ‘beverage.’ For supper we had hoe cake, cold greens, and pork with coffee. The ‘beverage’ was put upon the table in aa wooden pail and dished out in tin cups. When asked if I would have some of the ‘aforesaid’, I said ‘yes’, thinking it perhaps was cider, but found out it was vinegar, brown sugar and warm creek water.”
When we think of wanting to live in “the good old days,” how many of us have any concept of how it actually was?