Border life: experience and memory in the Revolutionary Ohio by Elizabeth A. Perkins

By Elizabeth A. Perkins

During this unique and delicate ethnography of frontier existence, Elizabeth Perkins recovers the rhythms of war, subsistence, and cultural stumble upon that ruled life at the margins of British the United States. Richly unique, Border existence captures the intimate perceptive universe of the boys and ladies who colonized Kentucky and southern Ohio through the progressive era.In reconstructing the psychological international of border population, Perkins attracts on a pioneering resource in oral background. within the 1840s, the Reverend John Dabney Shane performed hundreds and hundreds of interviews with surviving western settlers, collecting their memories on subject matters starting from meals training to encounters with local americans. even though Shane's interviews have lengthy been hailed as a wealthy, if advanced, resource for western heritage, Perkins is the 1st student to think about them seriously, as texts for cultural research. Border existence additionally deepens our knowing of the way usual humans struggled to make experience in their personal lives in the circulation of background. studying an important disjuncture among recorded reminiscence and written background in bills of the early frontier, Perkins exhibits how historians and renowned authors reshaped the messy complexities of remembered event into heroic—and extensively simplified—conquest narratives.

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Rather than constituting a monolithic backwoods population, these newcomers often found each other's cultural practices and intimate habits nearly as exotic as those of the Indian peoples they encountered. Chapter 3, on identity, explores how residentsnew and oldsorted themselves out, made decisions about each other, and interacted with one another in a dynamic multicultural environment. Encounters among strangers on the American border also took place under particular historical constraints. Euroamerican occupation of the Ohio Valley was concurrent with, indeed facilitated by, war for independence from Great Britain.

Where specific years are cited, I have put brackets around dates of interviews that are my estimates. ) Otherwise, the dates are those given by Shane. Page 1 Introduction But to return to our back settlers. I must tell you, that there is something in the proximity of the woods, which is very singular. It is with men as it is with the plants and animals that grow and live in the forests; they are entirely different from those that live in the plains. CRÈVECOEUR, Letters from an American Farmer Since the first eighteenth-century traveler put pen to paper, observers have disagreed about the character of life in the American backcountry.

JOHN DABNEY SHANE An old farmer living between the ferry turnpike and the mill road was in his field when the young Presbyterian minister came to call. John Dabney Shane recorded the man's reaction to his inquiries about early times: "Wouldn't stop from his corn to talk longer. " Yet as Ben Guthrie warmed to his talean account of moving to Kentucky in 1783 to settle a frontier outposthis words filled five closely written pages of the young minister's notebook. On another day, Mrs.  . " But the day never came to return to her.

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