Culture of the Colonies

(The picture above is a saltbox house. It was one of the type of houses used in the colonial times.)

The families that came to the American Colonies had to start a new life. They were coming to escape religious tyranny, but still, they faced many challenges.

Those families, where the father had a skill or a trade, found it easier to survive.  A few examples of their occupations include barber, cooper, grocer, clockmaker and cabinet-maker.  This specialization made it so that each family didn’t have to be good at, or try to be good at, everything to meet there needs. For example, the cabinet-maker made cases for clocks made by the clockmaker.  Farmers would trade their animals, eggs, and milk to the grocer who would sell them to the people.  Did you that if you were a colonist looking for the grocery store you would search for a sign with a rhino or a rhino’s horn?  Supposedly, a rhino’s horn meant good luck. If I were living then, I would enjoy being a blacksmith who could fulfill the occasional order for Rhino signs!


Children living in the colonies had to help their families with the chores. They also attended school – called a dame school because it was taught by one woman – and then start apprenticeships (boys) by age ten.  During the free-time they had, they enjoyed playing games such as ‘nine pins’.  Nine pins has become the popular sport we now call bowling!  They also played an early version of baseball.

I was very shocked to learn that someone my age (around age 15) would build and live in their own house!  Many were simple one room, one family houses built out of wood and mud. If they were wealthy they could afford better materials to make better and bigger houses.

Unlike today, they didn’t have the convenience of being able to wash their clothes in a machine, or indoor plumbing and toilets. They had to walk outside, even in the middle of winter, to go and use the outhouse. They also did not have the amazing development of electricity even though people were toying with it.  Even though it would be interesting for me to go back and experience the life and culture of the colonists in the  early 1700’s, learning about what it was like for them has made me appreciate all that we have today.  I wonder what they would think if they could see my life?

Quinn Palmer

RPC Student

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