Pioneers Miners Cowboys

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The New West : 

1 The New West What was the gold rush? A California Gold Mine in 1849. Powerpoint edited by Mrs. Cosper

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2 Many Americans were lured to the West by the chance to strike it rich by mining gold and silver. The Western Mining boom had begun with the California Gold Rush of 1849. From California, miners searched for new strikes of gold and silver. gold Mining and Railroading Boom Towns What was a strike of gold?

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3 In 1859, two young prospectors struck gold in the Sierra Nevada lands. Henry Comstock discovered a vein of gold called a lode. The Comstock Lode attracted thousands of prospectors. Miners came across the United States, as well as from France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, and China. One of every three miners was Chinese.

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4 Thousands of people came West to supply the minors with materials such as tools, food, and clothing. People opened restaurants, boarding houses, laundries, etc. With the boom in mining tent cities formed, but they later became towns and cities. The cities of Denver and Colorado Springs grew very quickly as a result other miner’s discovery of gold.

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5 When the gold was gone the city’s turned into ghost towns. A ghost town was an abandoned town.

The California Gold Rush : 

The California Gold Rush

January 24, 1848 : 

January 24, 1848 The California gold rush began when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill As the news of discovery spread, some 300,000 people came to California from the rest of the United States and abroad

Click here to view a treasure map and see the destinations of the 49ers : 

Click here to view a treasure map and see the destinations of the 49ers These early gold seekers called “49ers” traveled to California by sailing ships and covered wagons across the continent.

Techniques for retrieving gold : 

Techniques for retrieving gold At first a technique called panning was used to retrieve gold from streams and riverbeds. Hydraulic mining was later invented in California. This technique was created for larger scale gold mining

The negative effects of the gold rush : 

The negative effects of the gold rush Native Americans became the victims of disease, starvation, and genocidal attacks. The Native American population in 1845 was 150,000 The Native American population in 1870 was less than 30,000. Many people that journeyed to California from around the world never made it. The Donner party- A total of 87 people from various families set out for California and became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Only 48 of the original 87 pioneers survived. To read the Donner party journals and learn more about their journey click here

The positive effects of the gold rush : 

The positive effects of the gold rush Towns and cities were charted Roads, schools, and churches were formed Improved transportation between California and the east coast All of these developments led to the statehood of California on September 9th, 1850 as the 31st state.

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12

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13 In 1862, Congress passed the Homestead Act. Under the act, the government gave 160 acres of land to anyone who farmed for 5 years. The government wanted to encourage farmers to settle in the West. They also wanted to give poor people in the East a chance to own their own farm. Farming Homestead Act Many Easterners rushed to accept this offer for free land. These people who accepted the offer of land were called homesteaders. By 1900, half a million farmers have settled on the Great Plains under the Homestead Act.

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14 African Americans joined in the rush for land. In 1879, a group of African Americans decided to move to Kansas. They called themselves the Exodusters. They took their name from the Bible. White Southerners did not want to lose a cheaper labor supplied by the African Americans. To prevent the African Americans from leaving, whites stopped the boats carrying the African Americans up the Mississippi. Despite the danger, between 40,000 and 70,000 African Americans moved to Kansas in 1881. The Homestead Act had its problems. Only about 20% of the homestead land originally went to small farmers. Big land owning companies took large areas of land illegally. They divided the land and then resold it to farmer’s high price.

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15 Many farmers made their homes from soil because wood was rarely found on the plains. They called these homes sod homes. Plows made of steel enabled farmers to break up the ground for planting. It enabled sodbusters, or the plains farmers, to cut through the sod and reach the soil below.

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16 In the 1860’s farmers began to work together. They believed if they worked together they could improve their farming conditions through economic cooperation and political action. They formed an organization called the National Grange. Grangers helped farmers set up cooperatives. In a cooperative, farmers pooled their money together to buy seed and other tools wholesale. Wholesale means buying or selling things in large quantities at lower prices.

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17 People to be strong to survive the hardships of life on the Great Plains. Women made clothing, quilts, soap, candles, and other goods by hand. They also have to cook and preserve all food needed through the long winter. They had to educate the children. They also treated the sick and injured because there were no doctor’s nearby. People lived miles apart so they enjoyed the chance to get together with other families. Picnics, dances, and weddings were special events. Women and the Plains

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18 In 1896 farmers and labor unions joined together to form the Populist Party. The Populist Party demanded government to help with the falling farm prices and the regulation of railroad rates. They also called for an income tax, an 8-hour workday, and limits on immigration. They argued that an increasing money supply would cause inflation, or increased prices.

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The Homesteaders Farming the Plains

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What were the problems of farming the Great Plains?

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Ploughing the Land Growing Crops Lack of Water Protecting the Crops Fire Insects Size of Landholding Farming Machinery Extremes of Weather

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Before it can grow crops land has to be ploughed. Until the arrival of the homesteaders in the 1860s however, the soil on the Plains had never been cut by a plough. The Prairie grass that covered the Plains had thick deep roots of up to 10cm. These roots grew in dense tangled clumps that were difficult to cut. The first homesteaders that arrived on the Plains brought their iron ploughs from the Eastern USA. These could cut through the previously ploughed soft soils there, but they broke when used on the Great Plains. Ploughing.

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Growing Crops The homesteaders planted the crops of maize and wheat that they brought with them from the Eastern states. These were suited to the mild and damp climate there. However these crops did not grow well on the dry hot Plains. If the homesteaders could not grow their crops, then their life on the Plains would be impossible to sustain. No crops meant no food for the homesteaders. Even if they could grow enough to eke out a living, they could not grow a surplus to sell. Without a surplus the homesteaders had no income, and could not pay for supplies or machinery for their farms.

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Lack of Water Although Stephen Long’s 1827 description of the Great Plains as ‘The Great American Desert’ was an exaggeration of their climate, the Plains were not ideally suited to agriculture. The annual rainfall on the Plains averaged 38cms. Rain usually fell during the hot summer and the sun soon evaporated the standing water. Without water to irrigate their crops the homesteaders could not succeed. There were no lakes or rivers to provide water for irrigation. Digging a well was impractical as the work was expensive and would often fail to find water anyway.

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The homesteaders needed to mark out their claims to protect them from other homesteaders. A homesteader could not afford to lose any land because of a disputed boundary. Cattle and buffalo were also a problem. The homesteaders often farmed near to the vast cattle ranches, and the cows would stray off the ranches and trample the homesteaders’ crops. Buffalo were simply roaming wild, still in large herds until the 1870s. The lack of trees on the Plains meant that there was no material to build adequate fences. Some homesteaders tried to use the prickly Osage tree to make hedges, but this was only a short term solution. Crops were Trampled

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The dry Plains were provided the perfect conditions for fires to start. The long hot summers left the Prairie Grass and the homesteaders’ crops bone dry. Accidental fires started by a spark or a bit of broken glass lying on the ground and reflecting the sun were a disaster for the homesteaders. Unless the fire could be stopped quickly by beating, it soon spread. Without any water to put out the fire, the homesteaders were forced to hide in their sod houses until their crops were destroyed and the fire died. Fire!

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Fighting a Fire by Beating.

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Plagues of grasshoppers visited the Plains in 1871, 1874 and 1875. The swarms contained millions of insects, and covered hundreds of miles of the Plains at a time. They devoured everything the homesteaders possessed. The grasshoppers could eat a homesteader family’s entire crop in a few hours, leaving them with nothing to eat or sell. The grasshoppers ate boots, tools, clothes, even the wooden door frame of the sod house. After a visit from grasshoppers, the a homesteader could be left penniless and without any means of survival. Plagues of Insects

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The Homestead Act of 1862 gave the homesteaders 160 acres of land each (a quarter square mile plot). Although this much land was enough for a family in the fertile lands of California and Oregon, it was insufficient on the Plains. Homesteaders were unable to support their families with only 160 acres. The lower yields of crop caused by the harsh climate and lack of water meant that many thousands of homesteaders simply gave up their plots. Homesteads were too small.....

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The Plains experienced massive variations in temperature as part of their normal temperature. Winters were long with freezing temperatures and snow. Summers were extremely hot. This made it difficult to grow most crops in a normal year. The Plains were also regularly struck by dust storms. The vast open spaces of the Plains encouraged high winds and tornadoes. All of these could do great damage to crops. Extremes of Weather

Minnesota Pioneer Life of the 1800’sA Trip Through the Imagination : 

Minnesota Pioneer Life of the 1800’sA Trip Through the Imagination

What would life be like if we traveled back in time? : 

What would life be like if we traveled back in time? Let’s imagine…

To begin, we have to imagine we are the first people to settle a new land. Who are we? : 

To begin, we have to imagine we are the first people to settle a new land. Who are we?

Some of us may wear cotton fabric that has a design on it. What’s that called? : 

Some of us may wear cotton fabric that has a design on it. What’s that called?

Calico. : 

Calico.

We’re traveling across the huge fields of grass. Where are we? : 

We’re traveling across the huge fields of grass. Where are we?

The prairie. : 

The prairie.

And on our travels, we arrive in an area of land that’s owned by the government. Where are we? : 

And on our travels, we arrive in an area of land that’s owned by the government. Where are we?

Minnesota Territory. : 

Minnesota Territory.

After entering Minnesota Territory, we locate a thick patch of trees or bushes. What is it? : 

After entering Minnesota Territory, we locate a thick patch of trees or bushes. What is it?

A thicket. : 

A thicket.

Look! Over in the distance is a small, rounded hill. What is it? : 

Look! Over in the distance is a small, rounded hill. What is it?

Right! A knoll. : 

Right! A knoll.

Let’s make this our homestead. What’s a homestead? : 

Let’s make this our homestead. What’s a homestead?

The land and buildings a person owns. : 

The land and buildings a person owns.

On our homestead, we will need to build a home. : 

On our homestead, we will need to build a home.

Where might we live if our home is “dug out” of the ground? : 

Where might we live if our home is “dug out” of the ground?

A dugout. If we also had to use the top layer of soil and grass, what would we need? : 

A dugout. If we also had to use the top layer of soil and grass, what would we need?

Sod. : 

Sod.

Could we build a small addition to our home? : 

Could we build a small addition to our home?

Sure. That’s called a lean-to. : 

Sure. That’s called a lean-to.

Sometimes, a lean-to might be a good place to keep a container used to make butter. What is the name of this container? : 

Sometimes, a lean-to might be a good place to keep a container used to make butter. What is the name of this container?

A churn. : 

A churn.

As pioneer children, we may need to write our school lessons on a handheld chalkboard. What do we call this? : 

As pioneer children, we may need to write our school lessons on a handheld chalkboard. What do we call this?

A slate. : 

A slate.

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56 Before the arrival of the settlers the Spanish and Mexicans set up cattle ranches in the Southwest. Over the years the strays from these ranches grew into large herds of wild cattle. These cattle were known as longhorns. They roamed across the grassy plains of Texas. As the demand for beef increased the growing cities needed meat. The Texas longhorns were perfect for the market. The Cattle Kingdom

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57 In response to the need for meat, ranchers began rounding up the herds of longhorns. They drove the herds hundreds of miles called cattle drives. The Chisholm Trail became the most famous cattle trail. Ranchers employed cowhands to tend the cattle and drive the herds to the market. Their job was to keep the cattle moving and round of strays. Vaqueros were skilled riders who herded cattle on ranches in Mexico.

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58 The cattle kingdom group up in the West during the 1870’s. Ranching spread north from Texas across the plains. Soon cattle grazed on the grassy plains from Kansas to the present day Montana. In the 1870’s, farmers began moving on to the range.

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59 By 1900, half a million farmers had arrived. They put up fences in their fields with barbed wire. As more farmers strung barbed wire, the open range began to disappear. Bad weather ended the cattle kingdom herds. The winter of 1885 was terrible and that summer was hot and dry. The bitter cold of the next winter killed millions of cattle. By the spring of 1887, nine out of ten cattle have frozen to death.

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60 Cattle drives ended in cow towns. In cow towns the cows were held in large pens until they could be loaded on large trains and shipped to markets in the East. Towns such as Abilene, Kansas and Dodge City sprang up. Cow towns attracted settlers that wanted to build stable communities where families could strive. Each town had a main street where people conducted business. Every town had a general store that sold tools groceries and clothing.

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61 By the 1870’s the cattle boom ended. One reason for this was there was not enough grass for the cattle to feed on. Many conflicts developed between the sheep herders and the cattle herders that ended in destroying many cattle and sheep. The bitter winter of 1886-1887 killed entire herds of cattle. In the summer, severe heat and drought dried up the water holes. Cattle ranchers began buying land, fencing it in and setting up ranches. The days of the cattle kingdom were over. The church in society played and important role in cow towns. As towns grew in size the church and worship played an important role by providing spiritual leadership.

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