WWOC 02: Pre-Emption House

Almeda Naper, pioneer wife.

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We often tell the story of White settlement as if all the hard work and sacrifice was done by men with women only as “wives.” But the reality was different. Illinois prairies were harsh places to settle and survive- wolves, prairie fires, unpredictable conditions- women needed to endure these just like the men. While men’s roles in farming and hunting remained remarkably like their lives in the East, women found themselves working in roles they never had before. They made soap and candles; spun thread and wove cloth to make clothing; took care of animals and children; built farm fences; maintained kitchen gardens; oversaw the home; and helped in the fields. They did all this work while spending, on average, one-third of their time pregnant. Success of White settlement across Illinois in the 1830s was due in large part to women.