Frontier Folk

It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.

The name Texas brought up dreams of wide-open land and wide-open opportunity. New ideas, jobs, identities, and money were all possible on the vast frontier. Fish, game, wildflowers, grains, and cotton abounded. Land, and lots of it. The promise and opportunity of life in Texas outweighed the threats of frontier life.

Upon arrival, settlers had to build cabins, often a one- or two-story log cabin with a middle breezeway where dogs could lie comfortably or trot through from front to back.

The colonists were pleased with the rich and fertile land, with vast herds of buffalo. The prairies were beautiful in the spring. Each head of a family was granted a huge plot of land for farming and way more for raising livestock.

The settlers brought with them professional skills, money, and literacy. Many also brought their slaves, although the Mexican government was opposed to slavery. Anglo American settlers pretended that their slaves were actually servants or contract laborers.

Men talked hopefully of the future, but for the women, it was a difficult life. They talked sadly of the hardships they were undergoing and the dangers that surrounded them. They feared they would never again see the families they had left behind.

Life on the Texas frontier was hard and often dangerous. Conflict among settlers and native populations increased as Tejanos lost their place in society and American Indians lost their lands.

Early Texas settlers did hard physical labor. Cotton and other crops had to be planted, tended, and harvested. Farm animals required care. Daily food had to be hunted. Women sewed tanned deer hide into buckskin clothing. A few who had a spinning wheel made their own cotton to make clothing that was lighter and smelled less. Any trade with the other far-flung Texas settlements required weeks of dangerous travel on rough roads. Settlers organized home schooling and church services. For most settlers, rest and recreation were rare.

Source: Frontier Folk
© Bullock Texas State History Museum

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