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In this book there is a lot of first hand diaries, artifacts and photographs that show how it was in the 1800’s and how hard it really was to make the trip to the west and live there. This book is about how the west was won. It is also about emigrants from China and Europe, slaves that had just been freed, teachers from New England schools, and just some farm boys or opportunist from the south and mid west. They all found out that the west was so enormous and commendatory. They could not believe this native land was so immense and enormous. One reason for heading west was the Homestead Act, which would give deserving people sites or land to individuals who stayed on there land for five years.
There were six main Trails that they took; the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, Mormon Trail, Gila River Trail, California Trail and the Old Spanish Trail.
Some people even came out West on the Transcontinental Railroad that was recently built. The settlers could even buy the land on the plains from the Rail Company. The rail road company had been granted great tracks of land by the United States government on both sides of the railroad and was later sold to settlers. The Native Americans suffered from this flow of people from the east and this would change their lives forever. There were many struggles and the quest to just stay alive is why today we call it the “Wild West”. Especially when a good number of them were dishonest scoundrels or just drifters and adventurers. Plus, most of them were armed.
The first thing the settlers needed to get done was to dig a well. Well digging was very hard job and often had to be done many times because they would run dry or they just couldn’t hit water. For the families that just arrived getting a crop in was another one of the many important chores.
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Making houses in the plains with no trees for lumber made a bit of a challenge for the pioneers. The pioneers made sod houses out of the land they were standing on, this land needed to have the sod removed to farm anyway. An acre of farmland would be the amount of turf that was required to build a “Soddie” (sod house). The Soddies were infested with animals and bugs along with the dust that covered every thing in the house. This was just one dilemma the settlers encountered with these houses. Nature often had other ideas for the settlers though. Many violent disasters like blizzards, tornadoes, dust storms and plain fires hit them and wrecked homes and crops. Many of these catastrophes had a devastating effect on them and it could take years to get back to where they were. Once again this was another one of the struggles on the plains.
Once they have arrived in the West problems with gun fighters and drinking quickly launched. Some moved from border states after the Civil War where sympathies ran high with dislike of the federal government. Others turned to gun fighting in the west because of the denial of amnesty offered to confederate regulars. So being a outlaw in there town they moved west. There was much violence in these communities and this was one of the main problems with the town life. Even though the legends were some times stretched most were cold-blooded killers that were mainly molded by the civil war. Fueling this problem was limited law over the people and not having enough law enforcers. Along with having shady and two faced sheriffs who changed sides of the law many times as in the case of Wild Bill Hickok and Henry Brown. Most of the attractions to coming to the west were the free land and gold or silver mines. Towns quickly turned into havens for gunfighters, gamblers, merchants and fortune hunters. One case of this was in the town of Tombstone, Arizona. The sheriff Josie Earp said, “Tombstone had a man for breakfast every morning.” This was very true unfortionly for many of these wild insufficiently lawless towns.
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Towns sprung up fast in the West. The birth grew because of the letters they sent in the west of how pleasant it was in the west. In many Western towns the newspaper editor was one of the most important members. He was the one that got more people and females to come out and see them. There was a scarcity of females in the west and many setters put in ads in newspapers in the east to try to solve this problem. Even dances where held and because of having so few women men had to dance with each other.
Settling the lands the people of the America forgot whom these lands belonged to and this started many bloody wars between the two. The Indians and the whites got along at first but once the amount of people coming into there lands was hundreds by day there were arose confrontations. So the United States sent in troops and the Indians fought back with all their strength. This started a number of wars that would change the relation between whites and Indians forever. The federal government eventually forced the Indians on to reservation where they had to abandon their nomadic ways.
Gold was discovered in Clear Creek, Colorado and news was sent home back east. Soon a rush that would last 30 years was started. Many people hoped to find a better life by getting striking it rich but many did not find much gold and often lost money on overpriced supplies. This gold fever struck ever group of people and soon brought many people to the so-called gold plentiful towns.