Jobs of My Ancestors: Appalachian Labor

I imagine my ancestors traveling with loaded wagons and packs, babies and small children, through the Appalachian blanket.  Perhaps they stopped for lunch in woods carpeted by ferns, leaves and pine needles, and, like me, paused to admire a beautiful orange lichen.  Protruding from a tree trunk a child could easily have reached up to break off a “platter” for playtime.  Parents would brusquely remind the child to leave it behind as they set off through the woods, the air sweetly scented by sun-warmed pine.

These are the trees my ancestors saw–oaks, maples, pines–as they relocated from eastern communities in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Virginia to the frontiers of western New York, western Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  Up and over mountains that chained from Maine to Georgia, the Sayles, Minors and Bradfords sought land and liberty.  Generations later I can still smell those trees, see those ferns, climb those mountains, free to explore me because those families dared to labor through the forests of the Appalachians.

2 thoughts on “Jobs of My Ancestors: Appalachian Labor

  1. Beautiful thought. I have wondered lately how those pioneers dealt with poison ivy, not to mention ticks. Please don’t mention ticks!

  2. SO TRUE! Ticks are icky! And I bet they had tick checks three times a day! I wonder if the poison ivy was as widespread and hardy as ours? When I was growing up, the nectar of the orange wildflower jewelweed was purported to heal the rash. I wonder if they used that remedy?

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