As our country ended the Civil War and began to heal from the devastation, groups of people with a Eurocentric background began to move West for different reasons. Land speculators and owners of the railroads encouraged white men and their families to immigrate to the West.
Boosters of the 19th century made these claims to potential immigrants. Boosters were hired by the railroads and land speculators to entice white, Eurocentric families to move west.
The poster shows all the beauty of the West and the fertile land without any of the hardships.
In reality, the first pioneers faced harsh conditions on the prairies. They found that the climate was not mild, but could be severe. The immigrants quickly found that the not all of the boosters' claims were accurate.
This is an example of the type of pamphlets that boosters used to encourage immigration to Kansas. Land was shown to be very fertile and the climate extremes that can occur in Kansas are not mentioned. This Kansas pamphlet, like the one advertising Colorado, did not accurately portray the land of Kansas.
Unlike the prosperous homestead shown in the Kansas pamphlet, this turkey farm was often the type of homestead found on the prairie. Boosters would often criticize other regions in order to make the region they were promoting seem more attractive.
After the Civil War, many freed African- Americans were also enticed to move west to begin new towns and establish homesteads. One such town, Nicodemus, was begun in Kansas in Graham County. The pamphlets appealed to the African-Americans wo desired to establish new communities where they could practice their new freedoms.
Other settlers traveled West looking for gold instead of land to farm. This is an artist depiction of gold country in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This type of drawing along with booster posters and writings produced a mass immigration to California of people who were looking to get rich quick.
The picture shows how desolate this part of Nevada and California are. Even though Death Valley was close to impossible to travel through, some gold seekers tried to cross to the gold fields of California by going through Death Valley. One such group was from Illinois and called themselves the Jayhawkers. Unfortunately, the shortest way was not always the smartest way.
The earliest frontier pioneers felt a special pride in surviving the hardships they endured as the first white settlers. These men (and women) began pioneer societies to reminisce about the hardships they had endured. They often criticized the later arriving farmers as having a much easier time. They also expressed the opinion that these later arrivals were soft and effeminate compared to them.
These people also formed a pioneer society that met almost annually. The Jayhawker Society would reminisce about their ordeal and how they survived crossing Death Valley in order to arrive at the California gold fields as quickly as possible.
The modern immigrant does not have the same difficulties as the early pioneer. However, movement from one place to another in order to establish a new home is always problematic. Strong attachments are formed to the new area to convince the immigrant that the decision to relocate was the right one.
The boosters and pioneers of old helped to shape the face of the West and its heritage. This heritage lives on today and modern day boosters still encourage people to immigrate to a place where they can leave over-civilization behind. But do they really find pristine, unspoiled places?
People who move to the west today often become strongly attached to the place, just as the early pioneer did. They want the West to live up to their view of what &quot;western&quot; means. However, instead of finding a refuge from overcivilizaiton, they quite often find themselves in a metropolitan city.
Different cultures came to the West at different times to begin new settlements. However, the earlier white men felt they had priority over the ownership of the West and they often treated the other cultures badly.
These are some of the different cultures who have lived in the west for centuries. As we in the US study the concept of westerness, we need to look at the contributions that each ethnic group has made and perhaps redefine what is meant by being &quot;western&quot;.
The American West Boosters, Remembrances and the Modern West Lorana Johnson
PROMISES OF BOOSTERS <ul><li>AVAILABLE LAND </li></ul><ul><li>MILD CLIMATE </li></ul><ul><li>“ RAIN FOLLOWS THE PLOW” </li></ul><ul><li>CULTURAL AMENITIES CLOSE BY </li></ul>
This is an example of a pamphlet written by boosters to encourage migration to Colorado. Courtesy of the Western History Collection, Denver Public Library, C917.8042 D714HE)
Homestead in Colorado Courtesy of Western History and Genealogy from the Denver Public Library
Booster poster encouraging immigration to Kansas. Courtesy of Kansas State Historical Society HE10ATSF.docpro.1881 #2
HOMESTEAD IN KANSAS A TURKEY FARM Courtesy of KS Historical Society, FM Steele Collection
Courtesy of Kansas Memory This pamphlet for the town of Nicodemus, Kansas did include the name and address of a person who could be contacted about the soil, locations and climate.
Drawing of the California Gold Rush Courtesy of Life Photo Archive Google Images
A View of Death Valley Courtesy of Western History and Genealogy from the Denver Library
PIONEERS AND THEIR MEMORIES Courtesy of Western History and Genealogy from the Denver Public Library
Courtesy of Western History and Genealogy from the Denver Library Juliet, John W., and Reverend James Brier These are three of the people who crossed Death Valley to reach the California gold fields as soon as possible.
<ul><li>People want land to own, so they </li></ul><ul><li>moved west. </li></ul><ul><li>Strong attachments to the settled places were made after overcoming the hardships of moving west. </li></ul><ul><li>They did not want their place (s) to </li></ul><ul><li>change, but remain as they had created it. </li></ul>Traits common to both early and modern day immigrants
The West Today Modern day people, as the early pioneers, are searching the West for unspoiled beauty. Courtesy of Western History and Genealogy from the Denver Public Library
Present day Denver Modern immigrants may be looking for the spacious west, but often find metropolitan areas.
Various cultures have settled the West Courtesy of Santa Clara University Archives Courtesy of Bancroft Library. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA Which culture should have claim to the land?
Whose West is It? The Native American The Mexican The African-American The White Man The Asian American