By Michael J. Cassity
Publication via Cassity, Michael J.
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Additional info for Defending a way of life: an American community in the nineteenth century
Buckskin was the order of the day for men. The cotton and wool goods were likewise home made. "8 Even the raw materials provided for the local crafts and shops came locally: Page 13 sawlogs, clay for the potter, coal for the blacksmith's fires, the hides and bark for the tanners, the furs for the hatters, the wool for the carders, and the grain for the mills. 9 From other perspectives the outstanding quality of this society would be its restraints, its material limits. But from within the society the valued and precious characteristics were the freedom, the independence, and the responsibility it generated.
It would only matter when those outside forces attempted to take possession. At first those efforts came to naught. Probably the first contact in this area came when a Spanish caravan coming east from Santa Fe in 1720 made camp just north of the future county. The reception this encampment received was portentous. Thinking the group of Indians at that place to be Pawnees, an ally, the Spanish offered them the instruments of change and defense: guns and ammunition. The Indians, however, were Missouris, bitter enemies of the Pawnees (partly because of that Spanish alliance) and during the night the Spanish expedition was decimated.
The work progressed unevenly, with stops in sawing logs at the mill caused by low water causing delays in construction. By the fall of 1842 the principal timbers were in place, but the project was not completed and work had been halted for some time. By May 1843 the work was still incomplete, but the water had risen in April. By July 1843, the bridge was finished. For two years work had been stopped because of low water. But when it was finished, a grand bridge it was. The quality of the work was superlative; the bridge commissioner declared it "certainly the best I have seen in the state and I think should be a standard by which other bridges should be required to come up to" 16 The frailty and constant dependence on nature made Pettis County a poor place to be for the impatient.
Defending a way of life: an American community in the nineteenth century by Michael J. Cassity