Last summer one of my granddaughters, Madison, who lives in Tacoma, had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a pioneer trek in Washington state. Over 160 years ago, my family’s ancestors came west across North America. Many of them came on foot, walking the whole way, pulling their belongings with handcarts. Madison was part of a five-day trek in June 2015 during which young people and their adult leaders pulled handcarts and recreated a small snippet of what that pioneer journey was like.
Madison needed clothing for this learning-filled adventure. She would need a hat, two skirts, two shirts, two aprons, and two pantaloons. A skilled seamstress, Madison did all the work herself, except for needing a little help on the shirts. I was pleased by her commitment to participate in this trek, and her ability to be self-sufficient in the necessary sewing preparation.
Coming from pioneer stock, my family and I are proud of the strength and resolve it took for our ancestors to pioneer westward. One aspect of pioneer western life is the strong tradition of craft skill that is passed down through families. Madison’s sewing projects, creating her own pioneer-style clothing needed to re-create a trek and honor her ancestors, is evidence of continuing that tradition in modern times. One of my joys in teaching young people to sew is passing on the knowledge from my foremothers, helping them know the craft skills from yesteryear, so those skills will continue forward.