By Ellie Bullard, Missouri
Scholastic Student Reporter

A woman's life in 1800 was a very difficult life to lead. On a daily basis, women usually worked just as hard as men. They had to work hard to survive.

Pioneer women had to be tough. A rich woman who lived in the city would have had a much easier life.

"It was very difficult, and there were no modern conveniences," said Brigette Bowers of St. Louis. She portrayed Mrs. Nathanial Prior in the re-enactment of the Lewis and Clark expedition. "You didn't have the amount of clothing you have now. Everyone had two sets of clothing at the most. You would work from sunup to sundown to keep everything clean and keep the fire burning."

Most women had more than three or four children in their lifetime. Pioneer women were considered to be lucky if 7 out of 10 of their children survived.

Sacagawea, the Native American who helped direct the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean, gave birth at Fort Mandan. She had a very hard time giving birth to her son. To help her, she was given a rattlesnake tonic. After she drank it she had the baby within 10 minutes.

The chores that women had to do were gardening, taking care of lots of children, cooking, cleaning, and much more. These chores were done daily and without the help of machines such as washing machines or gas ovens.

Women had to make do with what they had, which was the fireplace, pots, spits, buckets, rags, and the most important tool of all, their hands.

Some women were hired to do laundry for the U.S. soldiers. They were given half of the rations of the soldiers.

Women played a very important role in U.S. history. Women in the 1800s were strong and able to withstand a very hard life.

A woman in period dress at the Three Flags ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri, in March 2004. (Photo: Hugh Murray)