Thursday, December 30, 2021

Chinese Walls by Zina Abbott


When I first moved from Los Angeles to the San Joaquin Valley in the 1970’s, on my first road trip to Sonora in the Mother Lode foothills to the east, I noticed, first, that there was a lot of rock that looked almost volcanic. I also noticed the fields of the rolling hills were covered with walls made of the black basalt rock. I was told these are called “Chinese Walls,” because they were built by Chinese workers in the nineteenth century.

One of the great contributions of Chinese Americans to development of California was their stone masonry skills. However, there were stone masons of other nationalities at work in the state at the time, so without conclusive documentation, one cannot be absolutely certain how many walls were built by the early Chinese.

This photograph, above, was taken about four years ago along Highway 108 to Sonora. There are very few Chinese Walls remaining along this route to the gold fields that dates back to the 1850's. Although they seemed to last from the early 1860’s to about the 1980’s, modern development coupled with a disregard for the history of the region has tended to take its toll.

These rock walls, which date back to the early 1860's, built with field stone or river rock, are also called "Chinese Walls" because they are believed to have been constructed by Chinese laborers. Several instances of reports of work crews by Chinese laborers might be found in the Mariposa Gazette, the county’s newspaper which dates back to the 1860’s. These stone walls meander through Mariposa County in lines that define the contours of the land. They can often be seen from more modern roads, such as the one in the photograph above. I took this picture and the one used for the post header a mile or so south of Highway 140 to the west of Mariposa.

The stone walls on the Quick Ranch is well documented as having been built by Chinese workers under a Chinese contractor, since the ranch has remained in the family of the founder for six generations. They serve as a prime example of Chinese stone masonry technique and can be used to help identify other Chinese stone walls throughout the state. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this historic photograph of this wall, which was about four feet in height, and used to contain and separate the ranch’s livestock, visually leaves a lot to be desired.

The Quick Ranch sits in the rolling foothills along the former Raymond-Mariposa Road. The original plank house that dates to the 1850s still stands. The ranch is now owned by Clyde E. Quick, the great-grandson of the founder, Morgan W. Quick.

In 1849, Morgan Quick, at the age of 21, sailed from New York to California, then traveled to Mariposa to mine gold. In 1859, Morgan bought a homestead 11 miles south of Mariposa for $250. The 160-acre property was located on Rancheria Creek, surrounded by a common brush fence. The highest hill on the ranch is 2,022 feet. Altogether, including various home steads, the ranch covered 4,000 acres. Remains of the homesteads are still on the ranch.

In 1862, Morgan Quick had a rock wall built. This not only kept the livestock in but cleaned the fields of rocks. Cattle, horses, hogs, turkeys, and chickens were raised over the years. The family grew their own barley and wheat, and harvested wild oat hay.

Chinese workers from Mormon Bar built the fence under the direction of a Chinese boss. Morgan also agreed to feed the workers and bought a herd of hogs at about a cent and a half a pound to provide pork. Most of the original wall is still standing. Although other parts of the ranch remain, one of Morgan Quick's greatest monuments is the rock wall.

From the 2008 Sierra Sun Times article, “Chinese Walls,” By Rochelle Frank:

Morgan Quick agreed to pay a Chinese contractor $1.75 for each rod (sixteen and a half linear feet) of stone wall. He also provided pork and rice for the workers. The contractor, who sat under an umbrella tracking construction progress with an abacus, paid his workers 25 cents per day IF they completed a rod and a half (twenty four feet and nine inches). The daily wage was lost if workers failed to meet the quota. 

The whole project, about four miles of stone wall, took almost a year to complete and cost the rancher $6,000.

The workers cleared fields of stones and used them to build four foot high barriers that marked property boundaries and formed cattle enclosures. No mortar was used to hold the wall together. Skillfully stacked, the uncut stones were carefully placed to slope inward on each side. Being about two feet wide at the bottom, they tapered up to one foot wide at the top. Some of the walls still serve their original purposes today, where an addition of stakes and barbed wire have been incorporated into the original stone foundations.


Although Mariposa County is not featured in my book in the Bachelors & Babies series or my two in the Cupids & Cowboys series, it is the county immediately to the south of Tuolumne County, of which Sonora is the county seat. However, the basalt rock Chinese Walls along what was originally the Old Sonora Road would have been seen by Cole, Madeline, and their parents as they traveled between Knights Ferry and Sonora. Below are the links for these books.


Cole -

Madeline -




Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Happy New Year!

Right now I am writing Grace's Gift, which takes place in Denver in 1875. Progress on this story has been slow because of the holiday season as well as having to research the area, but I believe I can finish in time to release it on January 11th. I've learned a lot while researching the beginnings of this great city. Did you know that Denver began as a mining town and, like Chicago and San Francisco, it suffered a great fire that destroyed nearly everything? Afterward, no one was allowed to build houses out of wood. Denver also suffered not one, but two, floods in its early years. Honestly, this place could have easily been swept off the map had not so many people poured into its fertile land from 1865 to 1890. And the mining had long since dried up during that time. What were they all coming for? Other opportunities like land purchases and retail, from what I've read. (And probably to get away from unwanted suitors or family members, though there aren't so many documented cases of this.) Quite a contrast from the crowded streets and cities back east.


I don't have much to share about this story yet, as I've struggled to write it, but look for it on January 11th, and I want to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope 2022 is everything that you want it to be!




Sunday, December 26, 2021


Do you believe in ghosts and spirits? Josiah Wilbarger certainly did! Why wouldn’t he, when a spirit saved his life?

Josiah Pugh Wilbarger
and a son
On a hot August day in 1833, Texas settler Josiah Wilbarger and four other men were scouting territory near present-day Austin when they spotted a lone Comanche and gave chase. The brave escaped the party, and Wilbarger and the others turned back toward neighbor Rueben Hornsby’s cabin six miles away. At mid day, they decided to stop for lunch beside a small stream and give their horses a rest. Wilbarger, Tom Christian and a Mr. Strother unsaddled and hobbled their horses. Haynie and Standifer, wary of the Indian they had seen, decided to leave their mounts saddled and tied them loosely to a nearby tree.

The men started a fire to cook beef, and passed around cold corn pone. They were relaxed by the water when war whoops and rifle fire accompanied by flying arrows shattered their peace. The five men jumped behind trees and began firing, but the spindly scrub oaks offered little protection. Haynie and Standifer ran to their saddled horses. Wilbarger called out to them and they turned to see Wilbarger with arrows in both legs. He took a shot to the back of the neck which exited through the front of his throat, spurting blood, as Comanches surrounded him. Certain their friend was beyond help, Haynie and Standifer rode hard for Hornsby’s cabin.

At Hornsby’s, they sent a rider on to Wilbarger’s home some miles away to relay the sad news to Josiah Wilbarger’s wife, Margaret, and to rouse other neighbors. By the time men arrived from the surrounding area, it was too dark to retrieve the remains for burial.

As everyone slept that night, Sarah Horsby suddenly awakened from a dream that left her trembling. She woke her husband and told him of the vision of Josiah Wilbarger, naked and leaning against a tree. Her dream convinced her he was alive and waiting to be rescued. Reuben scolded his wife for waking him because he and the others had to rise early the next morning. He reminded her Comanches never left their victims alive, cutting throats to be certain they were dead. Sarah was unconvinced but went back to sleep.

Within a short time, the dream returned exactly as before. She awakened her husband and the other men. As she served them breakfast, she told them the dream was an omen and that they would find Josiah exactly as she had envisioned. She told the men to wrap Josiah in a sheet and bring him back for her to tend his wounds. The men scoffed at her vision. Reuben knew his wife was not given to irrational thinking, so he was less skeptical than the men with whom he rode. The mother of ten, Sarah had survived the rigors of frontier life and had more than her share of experiences with Comanches.

When the men arrived at the site, they immediately found the bodies of Christian and Strother. They buried the two while looking for Wilbarger. As they were about to give up their search for him, a rider spied what looked like an Indian leaning against a tree, naked, and covered with red war paint. The rider called to the others then raised his rifle to shoot. The naked man stumbled toward them and said, "Don’t shoot. It’s Wilbarger."

Though scalped, wounded in several places, and near death, Wilbarger was just as Sarah Hornsby said he would be. The rescuers gently wrapped him in the sheet Sarah had provided. Reuben held Josiah as they rode slowly back to the Hornsby cabin. Confident he would be found alive, Sarah waited with hot water, bear’s oil, and poultices ready. She nursed him for several days until he was able to be transported home on a makeshift sled.

Wilbrager described his ordeal. The bullet that passed through his neck temporarily paralyzed him, and he couldn’t resist the Comanches who attacked him. Not only did his injury convince the Indians there was no need to slit his throat, it also prevented him from feeling pain. However, he was alert as the Indians roughly stripped him and scalped him. He reported that it sounded like distant claps of thunder as they jerked the scalp from his head.

He fell unconscious until late afternoon. When he awakened, the paralysis had left his body and he experienced terrible pain. He crawled the few feet to the creek and remained in the cold water until he was numb. Before he fell into what was probably a comatose state, he crawled out to a sunny spot. When he awoke, he became aware of swarming blowflies feasting on his exposed wound. In hastily stripping him, the Comanche left him with one sock. He shooed the flies away and covered his head with the sock. He tried to move toward Hornsby’s, but managed only about six hundred yards. Believing his death was inevitable, he leaned against a tree and hoped for rescue.

A vision of his sister, Margaret Collins, who lived in Missouri, appeared to him. She spoke softly, "You’re too weak to go on, brother dear. You lie here and rest and help will come to you before another day is over." She turned and headed toward Hornsby’s cabin.

When Sarah described the woman in her vision, Wilbarger told her that was his sister. Weeks later, Wilbarger received a letter from Missouri. His sister Margaret had died the day before the Comanche attack. He firmly believed he saw his sister’s spirit that night, and that she not only gave him courage to hold on, but also alerted others through Sarah Hornsby’s dreams. People who knew both Josiah Wilbarger and Sarah Hornsby attested to their honesty and mental soundness, and believed their stories.

Josiah after being scalped
Wilbarger recovered from his wounds and lived another eleven years. From her silk wedding dress, his wife, Margaret Barker Wilbarger, 
made caps for him that he wore constantly.

After coming to Texas when it was a part of Mexico, the Wilbargers and Hornsbys joined Stephen F. Austin's 300 as Texas pioneers.

Wilbarger eventually operated a cotton gin near Bastrop. One day while walking through the building, he hit his head on a low ceiling beam. For most people, the event would have merely raised a bump. For Wilbarger, with no hair or scalp to pad the skull, the injury was fatal. He died on April 11, 1844.

Wilbarger's tombstone in
the Texas State Cemetery
A monument at Fifty-first and Berkman Streets in Austin marks the estimated site of the scalping. Josiah Wilbarger and his wife have been reinterred in the state cemetery in Austin. Sarah and Reuben Hornsby are buried in the Hornsby Cemetery at Hornsby Bend near Austin. (Baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby is a descendent of this pioneer family and is also buried in this cemetery.) Margaret Wilbarger Clifton, the spirit who saved her brother, is buried in Florissant, Missouri.

Now do you believe in ghosts?

Thanks to FROM ANGELS TO HELLCATS: LEGENDARY TEXAS WOMEN, by Don Blevins. Thanks also to other sources including THE HANDBOOK OF TEXAS ONLINE and Wikipedia. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas in Colorado 1876

Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

It's the time of year when we look back and forward at the same time. Christmas and the New Year. Goals, Resolutions and so much more. How about we look back even further?

In answer to that question I thought I would share this article from the Las Animas Leader,. Volume 4, Number 29, December 22, 1876. As we move closer to December 25 and the celebration of Christmas, it seemed an appropriate time to take a look back and what was said and thought in the time period we read and write in. 

From me to all who read this "May the Holidays be the best possible for you and all those you love and care about." 

Christmas gifts.

Of all the holidays in the Christian year, none comes home to the universal heart like that which almost the whole civilized world will be celebrating when these lines are read. To the generality of its observance, indeed, something of this hardy affection is due; but much to its origin as the birth day of a religion of love; even more, perhaps to the general associations that cluster around it. Its very name is pregnant with the pleasant suggestions of homes lit up with glowing fires, and made musical with the laughter of happy children, of tables laden with abundant cheer, of all the charms of domestic life. Only in the northern latitude, indeed, one is fain to think can the full delight of the day be fairly tested and enjoyed Christmas out-of-doors — a summer Christmas, such as they have in Australia, for example — must be a rather unsatisfactory business after all. It is a fact, at least, that the southern nations have never gone into the celebration of the season with half the zest and heartiness that welcomes it in the northern climates. And the reason seems to be that the inner meaning of the day, like some shy exotic, blossoms and reveals itself only in the genial warmth of the fireside; that the true lesson of the time is learned only in the affectionate embrace of the family circle.

Christmas is preeminently an indoor holiday, and there is reason in the disappointment that children feel at a Christmas without snow.

Much of the happy influence of the time comes from the pleasant custom of exchanging gifts. Whether it be traced to a pagan origin in the practice of the Roman Saturnalia, or, as devout Christians love to believe, to the offerings brought by the Wisemen to the manger at Bethlehem, it is an ancient custom and a charming one. Apart from the pleasures of pleasing those one loves, there is valuable moral discipline in the habit of thoughtfulness so induced for others, and the little sacrifices to be endured for the sake of conferring these gratifications. Amid the strife and bustle of a world not over given to generosity, the kindly custom comes as a gentle protest against the selfishness of everyday life, a whispered reminder needful now and then, of the excellence of charity and goodwill. In the wonderful fruitage of the Christmas tree, there is no gift more valuable than the lesson of domestic affection and universal humanity it teaches so gracefully and simply.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

Thursday, December 16, 2021

"O Tannenbaum" - How a German Tradition Transformed Christmas by Jo-Ann Roberts


In book three of my series, Grace - Brides of New Hope, I knew I wanted Christmas to be a big part of the plot. 

So, as I tumbled down the history rabbit hole, I came across German traditions in 1800s America...specifically, the German migration to Texas. As the granddaughter of immigrants, I often include ethnic characters in my plots, adding flavor to the melting pot that was, and still is, the United States. The more I read about the harrowing three-month ocean voyage from Germany to Galveston then traveling more than two hundred miles inland, the more the hero's-Tripp Walker-character and backstory emerged. 

Christmas Trees 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How steadfast are your branches!
Your boughs are green in summer’s clime
And through the snows of wintertime.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How steadfast are your branches!

In the early 19th century, the German government wanted to preserve the forest so cutting down trees was against the law. But what they did have were goose and swan feathers. To get the green color, they boiled the tops of tansy and sorrel plants. Once the feathers were dyed, they were split and then secured with twine (then later, wire) to form the branches.  These twine branches were then wrapped around a sturdy twig which acted as the trunk. The branches were widely spaced to keep the candles from starting a fire and allowed ample space for ornamentation.  

German immigrants brought feather trees with them when they sailed across the Atlantic to the New World. Their popularity was increased when President Theodore Roosevelt also responded to the diminishing supply of fresh evergreens in America. In an effort the save the trees, He ordered that no live trees be used in the White House holiday decorations.

Although the tradition of decorating churches and homes with evergreens at Christmas was already long established, it was the German-born Queen Charlotte, the consort of King George III, who was the first to have a Christmas tree in England, at a party she gave for children in 1800.
The custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family, but Queen Victoria had a tree in her room at Kensington Palace every Christmas growing up — so she was happy to adopt her beloved husband’s custom wholeheartedly after their marriage.
When German-born Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he brought his love of Christmas and Christmas trees to Windsor Castle. Decorated with roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, and special decorations made of pressed sugar, Albert and Victoria also lit their Christmas trees with the warm lights that flickered and gave a cozy glow to the entire room at that darkest time of year. Just one year after the royal marriage in 1840, the tradition of having Christmas trees had already become widespread, as wealthier middle-class families followed Court fashion.

Still, the connection to Germany led several American colonial towns where there were many German immigrants to claim the title of having the first Christmas tree in the country. Windsor Locks, Connecticut, maintains that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree during the Revolutionary War in 1777 while he was imprisoned at a local home.
The title of having the first Christmas tree in America is also claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, where German settlers were said to have erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recorded having a Christmas tree in 1821, leading Lancaster to also lay claim to be the home of the first Christmas tree in the US.
The Christmas tree came into its own in 1836.  The first mention of a Christmas tree was in a story, “New Year’s Day”, by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, in which she told the story of a German maid decorating her mistress’ tree. 

But it was the prestige of the British royal family that secured the Christmas tree’s place forever in the hearts of Americans. The engraving of the family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle which had been initially published in The Illustrated London News in 1848 was copied in the United States at Christmastime 1850, in the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Immediately, the Christmas tree became an essential part of the celebration of the holiday in the United States, and ultimately, around the world.

German Christmas Stars

As with most of America’s Christmas traditions, much of the history of Christmas ornaments stems from Europe and more accurately from the holiday traditions of Germany.

German Straw Christmas ornaments have been used in Germany for centuries. They are fairly easy and inexpensive to make, and since most people had some access to straw, they became quite common. But it’s more than that… straw is closely tied to the symbolism of the Christ Child being born into a bed of straw. In fact, the legend of the first straw ornament is related to the Christmas Story.

The Froebel star carries the name of the German educator Friedrich Froebel, founder of the kindergarten concept. He encouraged the use of paper folding in early education with the aim of conveying simple mathematical concepts to children. Froebel did encourage paper folding as an activity for young children, which is how his name, and the folding instructions might have become synonymous.

A side note here: When I was in elementary school, we had a winter play with the whole school participating. My mother, with the help of several mothers made hundreds of theses stars, dipped them in paraffin wax and sprinkled them with glitter. They hung from the ceiling of the stage during the Nativity scene. Admittedly, I do know how to make them, but haven't done so in years!

The Christmas Pickle


This tradition is commonly believed by Americans to come from Germany. It has been suggested that the origin of the Christmas pickle may have been developed for marketing purposes in the 1890s to coincide with the importation of glass Christmas tree decorations from Germany. Woolworths was the first company to import these types of decorations into the United States in 1890, and glass blown decorative vegetables were imported from France from 1892 to present day.

One suggested origin has been that the tradition came from Camp Sumter during the Civil War. The Bavarian-born Private John C. Lower had enlisted in the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry but was captured in April 1864 and taken to the prison camp. As the story is told, on Christmas Eve he begged a guard for a pickle while starving. The guard provided the pickle, which Lower later credited for saving his life. After returning to his family, he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on their Christmas tree each year.


 May Peace, Hope, and Love
be yours this
 Holiday Season
and throughout the
New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2021

St. Nicholas Magazine by Bea Tifton


December 1879
Forgive the reprint but it's a good time to hear from St. Nicholas. 
Pioneer children in the West often had to amuse themselves for weeks or even months during the harsh winters. One way in which children were able to do so was by reading the St. Nicholas magazine. St. Nicholas Magazine was founded  by Scribner’s in 1873. Roswell Smith of Scribner and Company contacted Mary Mapes Dodge in 1870 to see if she would be interested in editing a new children’s magazine. Dodge was the author of several children’s books, including Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, and was an associate editor of Hearth and Home magazine.  Dodge married a lawyer at 20 and had two sons. When she was 27 she was widowed and took up writing to support her children. 

Dodge was adamant that the magazine should not be “a milk-and-water" variety of the periodicals for adults. In fact, it needs to be stronger, truer, bolder, more uncompromising than the other… Most children attend school. Their heads are strained and taxed with the day’s lessons. They do not want to be bothered or amused, nor petted. They just want to have their own way over their own magazine.” 

Mary Mapes Dodge

When the first issue debuted in November of 1873, Dodge explained why she chose the name St. Nicholas. 

Is he not the boys' and girls' own Saint, the especial friend of young Americans?... And what is more, isn't he the kindest, best, and jolliest old dear that ever was known?... He has attended so many heart-warmings in his long, long day that he glows without knowing it, and, coming as he does, at a holy time, casts a light upon the children's faces that lasts from year to year.... Never to dim this light, young friends, by word or token, to make it even brighter, when we can, in good, pleasant helpful ways, and to clear away clouds that sometimes shut it out, is our aim and prayer.

The magazine had a section entitled, “For Very Little Folks” with easy to read stories in large type. It also had puzzles, math and word games, stories, and even a feature for older children to contribute their own writing. Because Dodge knew many other writers, she tapped them for contributions to St. Nicholas. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel Little Lord Fauntleroy first appeared as a serial in 1885. Burnett also contributed a novella, Sara Crewe. Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, and Mark Twain also sent contributions to the magazine. The illustrations were of good quality, often in brilliant colors. 

In 1881, upon the death of her oldest son, Dodge abdicated most of her editing duties to William Fayal Clarke, but she continued to work for St. Nicholas until her death in 1905.

The magazine changed hands several times until its demise in 1943. St. Nicholas magazine can be found on online auction sites and sites that sell old publications and books or on the Gutenberg Project site. The periodical offers a fascinating look at one of the ways children could amuse themselves, especially during the long winter months in the Old West.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Gilded Age

1865-1900 marks The Gilded Age. Authors Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner's novel gave years of reality a name.
During the Gilded Age, the surface glittered, but financial and social turbulence was everyday reality. That era is also known as The Age of Innocence, and perhaps its definition applies exclusively to the East. 'A time when society placed such deep restrictions on its members' (according to one author) that 'citizens became brittle and the spirit roiled.' 

Decisions by bankers and industrialists back East certainly affected Westerners. But The Gilded Age was better known to Westerners as the era of the Great Die-Up. 

The Great Cattle Die-Up

Old cattlemen noted that the cattle showed all the signs of a hard and early winter.  The truth couldn't have been expected: temperatures dropped to fifty below, freezing a sheet of ice over the snow that had already fallen.

Many people are familiar with the story, but for other history-lovers, the author briefly reviews.  Even the cattle barons and billionaires were touched by the chain of catastrophes. Complications tumbled across the open range. The place and time where cowboys could rely on incomes had vanished. The open range had ended.  
Ranchers wanted to keep their eyes peeled for trouble, so they ran fewer head. In this way they could protect the smaller herds from heavy weather.  They fenced off some of their property and grew hay. But recovery was temporary. The ruthless changes marched ahead. Even wealthy Theodore Roosevelt, large acre-holder and rancher, wrote that losses were 'devastating.'
In the Western US, some people dubbed this era one of increased gun play and thievery, calling it The Outlaw Era. The Outlaw Trail, which ran through the US from Canada to Mexico, continued, never faltering.  The loosely connected trails with their resting places for stolen herds, goods and rustlers thrived.  
Statistics aren't plentiful about the increase -- or decrease -- of violence in the West, so the author takes her opinion from documents and experts of that time.  From the first day that pioneers set off from their farms, ranches and towns, legal protection ended.  Even the fledgling forts that were so important in pioneer hearts -- they would have been important to many a woman's peace of mind -- told those seeking legal decisions that forts were placed as reminders to native tribes that the federal government was powerful.  These were places where trade could occur.  These were not places where grievances, even killings, could be legally examined. It's interesting that wagon trains formed their own courts of law, with sentences increasing to banishment from the group.

The Outlaw Trail
Like my hero Thunder Hawk says in Rescuing the Lakota's Bride, "We're getting too serious."

Women's Fashion During the Gilded Age.  

Fashion Authorities insist upon two things: One. Women in the nineteenth century wore many layers of undergarments. Two: no matter what her income was, she'd have accessories and a few 'good' dresses.

It's hard to look at a tiny soddie and agree, so let's concentrate on the top layer of clothes that a  Western settler woman could have sewn for herself: a calico gown.
A dress sewn from calico, a durable cotton fabric
For most women settling west of the Mississippi and further, sewing their own clothes and most of the children's, was a given. In the early sod house days, a treadle sewing machine was considered a treasure. Women would travel to relatives' homes to use their family's sewing machine.  In this and many ways, the Industrial Revolution in America was aided by the Westward expansion.
A sewing machine (no electricity needed)
Sewing machines became cheaper, so more women's lives were much easier.  The men were aided by better farm equipment.  By the turn of the century, agricultural work done by twenty men equaled what one hundred had done in 1850.
These advances continued in the West, while the Panic of 1893 threw havoc over the world.  This economic depression was as severe as the Great Depression of the 1930's.  The economic fallout persevered for four years, though the Great Depression lasted ten.  More panics followed the one of '93 while the world adjusted.  Some of the West's brave farmers had bought new equipment, then were bankrupted.
Still, the West continued. In 1862, Texas and Oklahoma added 2 million residents and these figures grew. The West didn't escape untouched, but people continued to flow from Europe and other nations, believing in the power of the American West.