Today’s post is taken from a question I got on a recent post that I had written. The question was: What areas of History fascinate you the most and why?
The area or better yet Era of history that fascinates me the most is the history of the American West during the 19th century. So much takes place during this time period, from the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, to the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and others. Homesteading was huge, as the United States was expanding, The First Nations were pushed off their native lands onto reservations which were the least desirable of the least desirable sections of land (like Oklahoma and South Dakota), and they were forced to cohabit with their enemies because their ways, culture and politics we’re considered to be savage. Along the trails, as Homesteaders staked their claim towns popped up along the way as more people settled in these previously unsettled by those of European descent. During this period of western expansion prospecting towns also popped up across the southwest as Gold and Silver were found. Many of these prospecting towns have since become Ghost Towns or Semi Ghost Towns as the gold and silver ran out. Of the contiguous 48 states, all but Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona had been admitted to the union by the end of the 19th century. The three states I had mentioned joined the union by the end of February of 1912.
Westward expansion opened the way for many European Americans and immigrants to work for the American Dream to make a better life for themselves and their families. They gave up everything they had to go west. Many came out here to try to strike it rich in the gold and silver fields. I had family that came out west on the Oregon Trail, and even as late as the early 20th century, one set of my great grandparents spent several years with most of their 9 children on a homestead somewhere I want to say, in Northern California. This history is part of my personal history, in addition to the fact that I find it fascinating. To take a go of it out here was not easy and the early white settlers really were pioneers.
I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, I also love exploring the Ghost Towns, Old Forts and Missions we have out here. Being able to go see history, touch it, feel it, and experience it is something that gets me out of bed in the morning, and gets me excited.