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Candle Making

Candles are made of wax (today as well as back in pioneer time). Wax must be kept hot to make candles. The silver pot has the wax while the larger pot contains hot water to keep the wax warm.

It takes many, many dips into the wax to make a candle. Each dip into the wax only adds a paper-thin layer onto the candle.

After each dip into the wax, the layer has to dry so it won't melt back into the pot of wax when dipped again.

Candles were very important in pioneer time. They were used for light after the sun set.

Pioneer Clothing

Pioneer clothing had to be made from nature. Typically clothes were made from animals (skin and fur) brought back from hunting. Clothes were also made of wool.

Deerskin Shirt

Wooden Button on Deerskin Shirt

Coonskin Cap

Dress with Apron


Day Cap

Making the Day Caps

All clothes had to be handmade. Even the fabric had to be made by hand, first by getting the wool from sheep (a process called "sheering"), and then by spinning the wool into yarn. Then the yarn would be woven into fabric.

Above is a picture of a loom. These were also used to weave blankets.

Cooking and Cleaning

Back in pioneer time, families grew and hunted their own food. Bread was baked at home in a Dutch oven after harvesting and grinding the wheat to make their own flour. Butter was churned by hand and the milk was gathered from the family cows. There was no freezer to keep the food for winter so families would salt and dry meat to preserve it and make homemade preserves to keep other parishables.

Water had to be brought from a well to wash in. Dishes and clothes were all washed by hand with homemade soap. Water for washing was heated over the fire.


Pioneers had to cut wood to heat their homes in winter.

It took a long time to cut all the wood, cutting down the trees in the forests with large saws like this one.

Fireplaces like this were one of the main ways pioneers heated their homes. They didn't have any vents like we have today so the homes didn't heat evenly.


A hornbook is a piece of parchement (a type of thick paper) in a wooden frame. Usually the frame had a handle and hole to hang from the child's waist. The hornbook was a learner's guide to beginning study with an important piece of knowledge such as the alphabet or a prayer.

They were called hornbooks for the thin piece of horn (from an animal) that was nailed over the parchment to protect it.

Above a student uses a hand drill to drill the hole in the handle of the hornbook. Another student stains their hornbook.


Weaving in pioneer time was a common way to make clothes since they couldn't be bought. The process started by getting wool from the sheep (a process called "sheering"). You couldn't even buy fabric in a fabric store. After you had the wool from the sheep, you had to clean it and pull the wool apart before yarn could be spun. This was called "carding" the wool. After that, yarn was spun using a spinning wheel. After the yarn was made, it was woven into fabric for clothes, floor mats, or blankets using a loom. But it didn't stop there. After you made the fabric, you had to cut the fabric to make pants, shirts, dresses, or hats and then hand sew the pieces together.


Paddles for Carding Wool

Individual Looms

Weaving on the Four-Harness Floor Loom

Mats Made by a Grade 3 Class