Age of Jackson
Jackson Rural 01 St Johns Jackson Rural 02 Two Sisters Jackson Rural 03 TN Farm Jackson Rural 04 The TN Jackson Rural 05 TN Log Cabins Jackson Rural 06 Mary Call the Cattle home

Rural Life

During this time in Tennessee’s history, most people lived in rural areas which had many farms. 
Farm communities and families tended to organize their time according to the seasons of the year. Each type of crop, from cotton to corn, had a particular time of year it needed to be planted, weeded, and harvested. 
Some tasks like milking dairy cows happened every day. These natural schedules affected whites, free blacks, and enslaved people who lived and worked on farms. You couldn’t leave your farm and go on a trip without making sure someone would feed and care for your farm animals. For this reason, most families didn't travel long distances.
In general, men did jobs like raising crops, cutting firewood, butchering pigs and cows for food, and constructing buildings and fences. 
Women tended vegetable gardens and raised chickens and collected their eggs. They were responsible for household chores like cooking and preserving food, cleaning, and making the family’s clothes. Women had the primary responsibility for taking care of the family’s children. 
Children were assigned a variety of tasks and were usually expected to work hard. In wealthy farm families, slave women and men performed most of the hard labor of farm and housework.
Life on the farm could be lonely and was usually filled with long days of hard work. Many people living in rural areas valued opportunities to join with their neighbors in having fun. 

Church services and activities were popular not only to worship but also to talk with friends. Weddings brought people together to celebrate. Going to town to shop, do business, or watch the county court in session made an entertaining break from the farm routine. 

Picture Credits:
  • Photograph of St. John’s Church. This church was built in 1841 by the Polk family near Ashwood in Maury County, Tennessee. Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Photograph of two sisters. This photo is from Lebanon, Tennessee, and shows the two women wearing white bonnets. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 1999.134.8
  • Painting of a Tennessee farm. The painting shows a large house and a field of harvested corn in Robertson County, Tennessee. Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Drawing entitled, “The Tennessee.” It shows two log cabins alongside a river. A few men are shown along with various tools and animals. Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Drawing entitled, “Tennessee log cabins.” This drawing shows two log cabins along with a man carrying a bucket and two grazing cows. It was published in 1875 in the book, The Great South; A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland illustrated by Edward King and James Wells Champney. University of North Carolina
  • Drawing entitled, “Mary, call the cattle home,” by H. J. Rhodes. It shows several cows walking toward a young woman who is calling to them. This drawing was originally published in October 23, 1875 in Illustrated London News. New York Public Library

   Age of Jackson >>  Tennessee's People >>  How They Lived >>  Rural Life

Sponsored by: National Endowment for the Humanities
Website developed and maintained by: The Tennessee State Museum.
Contact us:
Web Design and Hosting by: Icglink

: :