Fiona Buker, 1866 Pioneer Girl Historical Research

American People & How they Lived at the Time of Fiona’s Character

Wyoming of the 1860’s is glamorized here in an 1890 painting depicting the “good old days” of the pioneers

Location – Vast America

Fiona has selected a character which can be versatile to represent 1866 western America in town, city, established farm community, remote area, fort situation, or very remote such as a mining town or logging camp.  A young daughter would be a valuable resource to any family running a farm, boarding house, restaurant, mine, or any other type of business that supported the family.

Because geography, environment, weather, topography affects the access and availability of clothing and communication affects fashion, Fiona’s character will be limited to western rural and farm locations including forts and small towns of the American West in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana, with some consideration for the Midwestern states such as Michigan which were similarly developed in about the same time frame.

This is because her potential work as an interpreter will be limited to her ability to travel in such states; predominantly the forts and museums of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Since the advent of the Eastman Kodak “portable” camera of 1841, the true American West could be honestly depicted – here in about 1870
America of the late 1860’s was rebuilding during the aftermath of the War Between the States. Many fled the destruction and loss of homes and property to find a new life in the American West as transportation and communication improved

Young Women in the West

This character will be at home on wagon, wagon train, with Mormons, sod house, wood frame, log house, farm, ranch, in town, or in wayside inns, boarding houses, train or relay stations.  Photos of these many situations where her character will feel “right at home” are below.

Wagon Trains 

It took at least 6 months on the Mormon Trail from St. Louis, MO to Salt Lake City, Utah:

1860 UTE Pass on the Mormon Trail
1868 Mormon women and children on the Trail
1870 Family
1875 in Oklahoma

Notable Women Pioneers

Women who Homesteaded all alone, and families of literary legend were among those who went West after the Civil War:

The (Laura of “Little House” fame) Ingalls sod house in Kansas

Mary Longfellow proved up her homestead claim in the 1870’s and then promptly got married
Yet another woman in South Dakota who homesteaded alone. Often they would take over the shack of a friend who had preceded them and was absent during the “acceptable” amount of time one could be absent to still meet the timeframe for a claim


Built as specific places, housed inside someone’s home, or very far from home, education was the responsibility of the local community in the 1860’s-80’s:

Those who couldn’t get to a school, taught themselves or each other like this 1870’s pioneer
1890 Nebraska graduating class
1890’s, already well established; most likely in the 1860’s
1895 in rural West, already well established also, but they still have no shoes

Regular people – Variety of Places

From the thriving metropolises of Denver and Colorado Springs, to a muddy street in  Montana, people settled close together at the end of the trail:

Denver, Colorado, 1865
Colorado Springs, Colorado 1875
Boarding house abandoned by 1880, probably thrived before the transcontinental railroad took over the job of the wagon trails
1883 Pioneer City, Montana

Regular People – Staying Remote

Innovative and strong, the new Settlers of western United States built homes in every imaginable way from sod dugouts to vast spreads with outbuildings:

1868 Remus, Michigan
1869 Mormons at Echo City, Utah
1870 Kansas City, Kansas
1870’s miners, Colorado
1870 Kansas
1870 Ouray, Colorado
1870’s Michigan first family with cabin
1870’s family
1875 Del Norte, Colorado
1875 Kansas
1880 Nebraska

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