SIMILARITIES BETWEEN FRONTIER AMERICA AND FRONTIER AUSTRALIA – MARGARET TANNER

 

FRONTIER LIFE – AUSTRALIA AND AMERICA

Life on the American and Australian frontiers have a strikingly similar history. For example, take the The American Homestead Act, and the Australian Act of Selection, which is the basis for my novel, Frontier Belle.

 

America: The original Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20th, 1862. It gave applicants freehold title to up to 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River. The law required only three steps from the applicant – file an application, improve the land, then file for a deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, including freed slaves, could file a claim on the provisions that they were over the age of twenty one and had lived on the land for five years.

 

The Homestead Act’s lenient terms proved to be ill-fated for many settlers. Claimants didn’t have to own farming implements or even to have had any farming experience. The allocated tracts of land may have been adequate in humid regions, but were not large enough to support plains settlers where lack of water reduced yields.

Speculators often got control of homestead land by hiring phony claimants or buying up abandoned farms.

 

Most of us visualise the frontier home as a rustic log cabin nestled in a peaceful mountain valley or on a sweeping green plain. But in reality, the “little house on the prairie” was often not much more than a shack or a hastily scratched out hole in the ground. In the treeless lands of the plains and prairies, log cabins were out of the question so   homesteaders turned to the ground beneath their feet for shelter. The sod house, or “soddy,” was one of the most common dwellings in the frontier west. The long, tough grasses of the plains had tight, intricate root systems, and the earth in which they were contained could be cut into flexible, yet strong, bricks.

 

Ground soaked by rains or melting snow was ideal for starting sod house construction. When the earth was soft and moist, homesteaders would break the soil with an ox- or horse-drawn sod cutter, which was an instrument similar to a farming plough. Sod cutters produced long, narrow strips of sod, which could then be chopped into bricks with an axe. These two- to three-foot square, four-inch thick sod bricks were then stacked to form the walls of the sod house. A soddy roof was constructed by creating a thin layer of interlacing twigs, thin branches, and hay, which were then covered over with another layer of sod. To save time many sod houses were built into the sides of hills or banks. Some settlers gouged a hole in a hill side, so they only had to build a front wall and roof.
As a result of their extremely thick walls, soddies were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Soddies were also extremely cheap to build. Of course, there were drawbacks to sod-house living. As the house was built of dirt and grass, it was constantly infested with bugs, mice and snakes. The sod roofs often leaked, which turned the dirt floor into a quagmire. Wet roofs took days to dry out and the enormous weight of the wet earth often caused roof cave-ins. Even in the very best weather, sod houses were plagued with problems. When the sod roof became extremely dry, dirt and grass continually rained down on the occupants of the house.

A typical American log cabin measured about ten by twenty feet, regardless of the number of inhabitants. Settlers often built lofts across the cabin roof or lean-tos across the rear of the cabin to give the family more space. Typically, frontier cabins featured only one room, which served as kitchen, dining room, living room, workroom, and bedroom.

Homesteaders could often build a log cabin in a matter of days, using only an axe and auger. No nails were required for the task. The first step in construction was to build a stone or rock foundation, to keep the logs off the ground and prevent rot. Once the foundation was laid, settlers would cut down trees and square off the logs. These logs were then “notched” in the top and bottom of each end then stacked to form walls. The notched logs fitted snugly together at the corners of the cabin, and held the walls in place. After the logs were stacked, gaps remained in the walls. Settlers had to jam sticks and wood chips into the gaps, then they filled in the remaining gaps with cement made out of earth, sand, and water. Fireplaces were built of stone, and often had stick-and-mud chimneys. Most cabins had dirt or gravel floors, which had to be raked daily to preserve their evenness.
Australia: In the colony of Victoria the 1860 Land Act allowed free selection of crown land.  This included land already occupied by the squatters, (wealthy land owners) who had managed to circumvent the law for years and keep land that they did not legally own.

The Act allowed selectors access to the squatters’ land, and they could purchase between 40 and 320 acres of crown land, but after that, the authorities left them to fend for themselves. Not an easy task against the wealthy, often ruthless squatters who were incensed at what they thought was theft of their land.

In 1861 the Act of Selection was intended to encourage closer settlement, based on intensive agriculture. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied land and were prepared to fight to keep it. The bitterness ran deep for many years, often erupting into violence.

The first permanent homesteads on the Australian frontier were constructed using posts and split timber slabs. The posts were set into the ground, about three feet apart, according to the desired layout. Slabs of timber were then dropped into the slots. A sapling or similar, straight piece of timber ran across the top of the posts, which allowed them to be tied together so they could support the roof. Clay was often plugged in between the joins and splits of the cladding to stop draughts. The internal walls were sometimes plastered with clay and straw, lined with hessian/calico, white washed or simply left as split timber. Roofs were pitched using saplings straight from the bush and often clad with bark. Early settlers learnt from the aborigines that large sheets of bark could be cut and peeled off a variety of trees and used as sheets to clad the roof.

So, as you can see, there is not much difference between our two countries in this respect. My novel Fiery Possession is an example of this.

FIERY POSSESSION

American Wild West versus Australian Frontier.

Only a fine line divides love and hate, and when the hero and heroine step over it they create a firestorm of passion and betrayal. .

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XWYF3ZW

Margaret Tanner writes Australian frontier romance, and American westerns romance. offer)

Margaret’s website:

http://www.margarettanner.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for Review Team Members

I am looking for a dozen or so people who enjoy my books and would like to become one of my regular book reviewers. If you have never read my books, but would like to help out, you are also welcome. You must however, enjoy Western Romance and/or Romantic Suspense.

You will be supplied with a free copy of the book/s to review (in .mobi format – which I can send directly to your kindle).

In return, you will need to post a review on for each book – generally within a couple of weeks of receiving your review copy.

Those who do not post a review will be removed from the group.

If you are interested, please contact me via email – write_cheryl @ optusnet.com.au

Please, only apply if you are genuinely interested. If you don’t intend to review, don’t waste my time.

**Book review sites are also welcome to contact me.

I have set up a private group on Facebook specifically for this purpose, and will need to add you. (It’s a “secret group” and no one outside the group will see your comments. They won’t even know you are in the group!)

*For those who are not aware, I write across genres. I write contemporary western romance, historical western romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance. (I mostly concentrate on contemporary and historical western romance these days.)

I currently have eight published books, and another due for release at the end of February, with plans for at least one book per six weeks for the rest of the year. I mostly write novellas around 18,000 to 20,000 words, which take about two hours to read, but a couple of my novellas are around the 35,000 word mark.

On average, I write a novella per month.

You can see a list of my books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Wright/e/B0088GDSKM/

Thanks for your time.

 

New Release from Cheryl Wright


After meeting Isabella O’Reilly at his brother’s wedding, Sheriff Chase Callahan is smitten. With his wife’s tragic death still on his mind, even after all these years, dare he risk falling in love again?

Isabella could have stayed in Chase’s arms forever, but work commitments forced her to leave him. Caught up in a dangerous situation, will Isabella be able to escape and reconcile with Chase? Or will they be torn apart for eternity?

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW FROM AMAZON

THE SOILED DOVES SERIES – MARGARET

I am excited to announce that Western Romance Author Susan Horsnell and I have embarked on an exciting series, telling the story of soiled doves of the old west. Book 1 – Sophie, Book 2 – Tess, Book 3 Annabelle (Susan Horsnell) and Book 4 Laura with Claire and Grace on the way.

New Release from Author Susan Horsnell

CapturingCharlieCoverOur dear friend Susan Horsnell has a new release. (And isn’t he gorgeous?)

Both Margaret and myself (Cheryl) have had the pleasure of meeting Susan in person. It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to finally meet someone you’ve corresponded with via email and the internet.

I am so pleased to be able to spread the word about Susan’s wonderful books!

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One week before he is due to marry, Charlie leaves the family who had given him a second chance at life.

Orphaned at the age of 10, when his parents and sister are killed in a botched bank robbery, Charlie is taken in by his father’s best friends.

After being deceived by his fiancé, Charlie sets out on his own. He encounters an abandoned dog and the two become close companions as they travel over the mountain range in search of a new home.

After being shot at and thrown from his horse, he suffers a life threatening head injury. Josephine Platt takes responsibility for his care, after all, it was her crazy Grandmother who shot the poor stranger.

Will Charlie recover and lose his heart to the feisty girl or will past experiences leave him unforgiving and bitter?

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Here’s a short excerpt:

Charlie came in early from riding the fence line. The day was hot, the air thick with moisture, and he looked forward to a swim in the nearby creek. It would wash off the dirt and grime of the day as well as bring relief to his tired, aching muscles. Fixing fences was back breaking work and the only job on the ranch that he hated. The chore needed doing too damned often thanks to one very amorous bull.

He sighed as he dismounted near the barn and led his horse, Shadow, inside. Giggling and chatter reached his ears as he entered. Sounds like Lois. Wonder who she’s with? He led his horse into the nearest empty stall, patted his nose and closed the stall door.

Charlie strode towards the tack room at the end of the stable block, the area the sounds had come from. A smile graced his face. Maybe Lois will come swimming with me.

He pushed open the door to the tack room and froze. Lois squealed as she sat upright in the small bed, attempting to clutch the sheet to her breasts. Her top half was bared for Charlie to see. Her creamy white skin, small perky breasts and dark rose coloured nipples drew his eyes. The man she was with lay as naked as the day he was born, Lois was obviously the same.

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Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00K7NS0QG

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940149437306

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/Search/Query?fcmedia=Book&query=9781497725034

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id876403924

Paperback: http://amzn.com/1499395760

 

About Susan Horsnell:

SusanHorsnellI was a Nurse, a career that spanned more than 35 years. During my career I specialised in caring for people with Alzheimer’s type Dementia, an area that fascinates me despite how heartbreaking it can be. My dear father-in-law is unfortunately afflicted with this disease and now resides in a Nursing Home. In the not too distant future I am hoping to pen a novel incorporating some of the stories I have heard from these amazing people. Part of my career was with the blind and I also cared for severely disabled children for a while too.

When I retired 4 years ago I decided it was time to get the stories out of my head and onto paper. From there I just hoped my stories were interesting and well written enough to attract readers.

I am married to the love of my life, we have 2 wonderful adult boys, and 5 amazing grandchildren. We also play substitute Mum and Dad to a beautiful, adopted young lady. We reside in sunny Qld, Australia in the midst of a Blackbutt Forest. We are surrounded by the peace and quiet of Mother Nature and wildlife abounds. It is a dream come true location for us.

For more information about me, I can be found at:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Horsnell/e/B00BXR5FMM/

Blog: http://susanhorsnell.com

Web: http://horsnells.wix.com/susan–1

Twitter: @susanhorsnell

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Thanks so much Susan for joining us today!