Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Backwoodsman Lifestyle.

By Andrew Knez Jr.

 "We breakfasted at a Captain’s whither we had been directed; for along this road, and others like it in America, one must not be deceived by the bare name of taverns. The people keep taverns if they have anything over and above what they need, if not, the traveler must look about for himself. The Captain was not at all pleased that the neighborhood was beginning to be so thickly settled. ‘It spoils the hunting,’ he said, ‘makes quarrels; and then they come and want to collect taxes; it is time some of us were leaving and going deeper into the country.’ Hence we supposed we should find a thickly settled region, but had to go not less than seven miles before we came to the next neighbor. Like most of the inhabitants of these frontier, he was of those whose chief occupation is hunting, who from a preference for doing nothing, and an old indifference to many conveniences, neglect and dread the quieter and more certain pursuits of agriculture.

"These hunters or ‘backwoodsmen’ live very like the Indians and acquire similar ways of thinking. They shun everything which appears to demand of them law and order, dread anything which breathes constraint. They hate the name of a Justice, and yet they are not transgressors. Their object is merely wild, although natural freedom, and hunting is what pleases them. An insignificant cabin of unhewn logs ; corn and a little wheat, a few cows and pigs, this is all their riches but they need no more. They get game from the woods ; skins bring them in whiskey and clothes, which they do not care for of a costly sort. Their habitual costume is a ‘rifle-shirt’ or shirt of fringed linen ; instead of stockings they wear Indian leggings ; their shoes they make themselves for most part. When they go out to hunt they take with them a blanket, some salt, and a few pounds of meal of which they bake rough cakes in the ashes ; for the rest they live on the game they kill. Thus they pass 10-20 days in the woods ; wander far around ; shoot whatever appears ; take only the skins, the tongues, and some venison back with them on their horses to their cabins, where the meat is smoked and dried ; the rest is left lying in the woods. They look upon the wilderness as their home and the wild as their possession ; and so by this wandering, uncertain way of life, of which they are vastly fond, they become indifferent to all social ties, and do not like many neighbors about them, who by scaring off the game are a nuisance besides. They are often lucky on the hunt and bring back great freight of furs, the process of which are very handsome. Uncompanionable and truculent as this sort of men appear to be, and however they seem half-savage and, by their manner of life, proof against the finer feelings, one is quite safe among them and well treated ; they have their own way of being courteous and agreeable which not everybody would take to be what it is. Their little house-keeping is, for their situation, neat ; and their wives and children are content in their solitudes where for the most part they spend the time in idleness."
Johann David Schöpf  1777-1784.
My sincere thanks to Spence at http://minuteman.boards.net/thread/225/backwoodsmen?page=1&scrollTo=1518 for sharing this information.

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