Monday, 26 January 2015

Christiana Holmes Tillson

A Woman's Story of Pioneer Illinois

Christiana Holmes Tillson is writing an account of her time travelling from Massachusetts to Illinois to give her daughter an account of it, making this a personal piece of writing. However, as the subject is her daughter it could be softened to show only the positives rather than the negatives of her journey out west. When settled in St. Louis Christiana was "aware that the "white folks," though very friendly when [she] met them, were much perplexed to know what Tillson's wife found to do. She didn't spin nor weave". This seems to highlight the civility of the new America as women were not expected to help their husbands, they were expected to be at home and take up a craft. This stands as an explanation for why women were sent for once the men had built towns, so that they would not have to dirty themselves whilst striving for the ideal of moving west. This shows that it was very much a man's need to move west, and the women would follow.

Christiana also focuses on the very small things; like how much each piece of furniture was and what times the post came and the route the postmen took. She goes into quite a lot of detail about what they used as candlesticks until their furniture arrived which suggests that actually there was not a lot for her in this new America. She left her parents in Massachusetts to follow her husband, much to their dismay, and now has to busy herself with the scrupulous details of what they used as a dinner table and that women wore bonnets inside. It suggests, perhaps, that, despite her excitement of moving west, she has nothing much to do - as mentioned when it says she does not 'spin' or 'weave'.


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