Book Review: Children Of The West, Family Life On The Frontier by Cathy Luchetti
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Published by W W Norton and Company May 2001
256 pages/ Non-fiction/Children of the West/American History/The Old West
The first wagon birth occurred in 1843. I cannot imagine giving birth to a baby in the middle of no-where, with no physician, maybe no other women to help, and knowing that my baby may not survive the birth nor I.
Yet, many women traveled by covered wagon following their husbands out west. They settled in California and Oregon. Many settled in Nebraska, Colorado, Montana or the Dakota Territory.
The book Children Of The West delivers (no pun intended) a thorough job in educating the reader about what life was like for a child born in the west during the trip, or for a child that lived thorough the memorable experience of traveling by wagon to their western destination, or in living in the frontier.
Whether the child is Caucasian, African American, Mexican American, Chinese American,----all children have "their" own important life stories.
I was happy that the author included the histories of other racial groups and did not dwell on Caucasian children.
I learned about how children were treated for sickness. Hot fried onions were used for phlegm. Mustard poultices or greased up with goose grease prevented taking a cold. Rhubarb and magnesia was given for diarrhea. Catnip tea was given for colic.
I learned about some things I did not expect to learn about such as contraception use, which was more available in the city, and abortion methods.
A quote: "Early American discipline presumed that children should be invisible, women submissive, and men the natural, moral authority of the family."
Children Of The West is a sobering look at children's lives during the westward expansion of the 19th Century.
This is a book about children but not a book for children. Death and sickness and many sad stories are told.
The book is a large library size hardback book.
Many photographs are throughout the book, with photographs on every page.
The photographs themselves tell stories.