Nostalgia for Pioneer Days
By the 1870s, many expressed a nostalgia for pioneer days, perhaps hearing stories passed down from their grandparents about a simpler time. In his 1878 history of Wayne County, Ben Douglass celebrated the contributions of the Pioneer Mother: “And what shall be said of the Pioneer Mothers? Heaven’s blessing be upon them! How comforting to believe that in that procession of beatified and redeemed souls which forever circle around and are closest to the Throne, the Mothers are there!...There was no hardship they were not willing to endure, no sacrifice they were not ready to incur.”1 Pioneer women experienced extreme hardships, including loneliness, early death, and often the death of their children. They were more than cooks and mothers--they helped to build the economy of early Wooster and educate its youth. Pioneer women provided the foundation from which Wooster as we know it arose.
Consider the life of Adelaide Critchfield, cut short by a tragic fire in 1895. In addition to the staggering responsibilities of pioneer women, Adelaide took on new responsibilities as an instrumental organizer and activist in both the abolition and temperance movements, the most important social and political issues of the time. She was also a key member of the Methodist Church, and practiced what she learned from habitually reading the Bible. Mrs. Critchfield died at age 61 while attempting to extinguish the fire that destroyed her home.2 Critchfield displayed much of the intelligence and bravery revered in pioneer women, but was able to build on their successes in the city of Wooster to continue to advance women’s roles.
To read a 1910 description of Adelaide Critchfield, click here.
1 Ben Douglass. History of Wayne County, Ohio. Indianapolis, Ind: Robert Douglass, 1878. 184.
2 History of Wayne County, Ohio Vol. 1. Indianapolis Ind: B. F. Bowen & Co., 1910. 56012.