The Ozark Folk Center is a state park in Mountain View, Arkansas, where a mountain town has been recreated as living history. Here visitors can get a greater understanding of the life of American pioneers.
Certainly, most of the people in a town like this in the 1800s would have been farmers, growing their own food and making most of the things they uses. However, there were some special skills that a community would need, and we visited the people who had special jobs that shared those skills with their neighbors.
We visited a wood carver. Many men would whittle a spoon or other household objects, but there might also be a woodcarver in town, a person who could make special things like wooden toys. In the town where we live, the first Christmas tree was in the home of a German immigrant toymaker. He charged people ten cents to come see his Christmas tree, and gave each person a carved wooden toy. At the Folk Center, the woodcarver makes fine wooden toys.
Another woodworker was the cooper, someone who could make barrels, churns, and other large wooden objects.
The cooper at the Folk Center told us that a small town wouldn’t usually have a cooper, but there would usually be a farmer who did some coopering, making butter churns and wooden bowls for the people of the community.
A community might also be lucky enough to have a potter. The Folk Center’s potter makes beautiful pots, bowls, cups, and more. A pioneer community would count on a potter to make jugs and dishes.
A larger town might have a printer, someone who could print newspapers for the town, and possibly also signs and circulars for stores. The Folk Center’s printer showed us how he takes metal type, small metal letters, from wooden cases, puts them together, and then prints with his printing press. No electricity required. One of the things he printed was a set of rules for students from 1872:
It was fun to visit a pioneer town. It was interesting to see how people worked and went to school more than a century ago.