sioned these dwelling places. The survival of the structuralrnshell of a house is not enough to bring ali’c a vanished time.rnFortunately, it sometimes happens that the interior furnishingsrnof a house remain as they were when the dwelling was a framernfor family life, hi one sueh house in Atehison, the furnishingsrninclude a great variety of personal possessions of the originalrnowners so that it is possible to get the feel of a bygone time inrnthis Plains state, hi the Evan C. Cray home, the world of thern1880’s is revealed in the old Corona typewriter, the harpsichordrnand Packard parior organ, the baby carriage, outh chair, icebox,rnand butcher’s block. To be sure, wallpaper, carving, and ornamentalrnglass cannot reveal the inner lives of the inhabitants.rnOne can only guess at their ambitions, affections, disappointments,rnand anxieties.rnhe Plainsrnstatesrncontinue tornfeel pressures from the big cities onrnthe two coasts, though the strongestrnpressures are now cultural ratherrnthan economic.rnFrom the perspective of modern life, the old house on thernbluff at Atchison appears extraordinarily placid and free ofrnstress. We forget that death was with the generation of thern1880’s to a degree unknown in middle-class America in thern1990’s. Medical care was of the most primitive sort. A child’srnearache could be fatal. Appendicitis was a catastrophe withoutrnremedv. A father or mother could be taken away from a familyrnafter an illness of a day or two. A family might well experiencernthe loss of one or more children in their infancy or preadultrnyears. My own paternal great-grandparents, Williamrnand Ellen Rodgers Harrigan, had 13 children, of which onlyrnfour survived to adulthood. It was said that a black funeralrnwreath was always on the door of their home on ScammelrnStreet in New York City. The sufferings of the times shapedrnthe character of men and women, either destroying them orrnsteeling them for a harsh life, making them exceptionallyrnstrong. The reality of suffering undoubtedly accounts for theirrnreliance on the consolation of religion and for church buildingrnand church attendance. In our time, insulated as wc arc byrnmodern medicine, suffering, when it comes, is more of a shock,rnmore devastating in its unexpectedness.rnThe photography of the I880’s and 1890’s sheds light on thernattitudes of the times. The faces in so nian’ family pictures arernstony and devoid of humor. Perhaps it was the more openlyrnDarwinian character of society that accounts for the grim outlookrnreflected in the photographs of people young and old. Ifrnthey looked grim, one also has to bear in mind that there wasrnnot onlv the constant threat of fatal illness but the absence ofrnany safety net under the vast majority of people. It was arnwodd of hardship and deprivation for people in the more humblernwalks of life, certainly in the isolated communities of thernPlains states. The shanties in towns and cities have not sur-rn ived, but we know that bringing in coal and wood and takingrnout ashes were demanding tasks in an era when “the survival ofrnthe fittest” made little allowance for those who were not fit orrnwho lacked stamina, education, or opportunity.rnThe inner life of communities on the Plains in the 1880’s, orrnany other chapter of history, is impossible to recreate in its entiretyrn—even when there are literary remains or letters to study.rnSome eras are notable for the candor of the people, but peoplernin other eras—the Victorian period, for one—were extremelyrnreticent. Jeanne S. Richardson, in Here Lies Sioux Falls (1992),rntakes a penetrating look at the lives and deaths of a number ofrnthe men and women of Sioux Falls of yesteryear, beginningrnwith the settlement of the city on the treeless plain adjacent tornthe great falls of the Sioux River. The eariiest years of the settlementrnof Sioux Falls in the Dakota Territory were the classicrnWestern story of danger from hostile Indians and of the safeguardingrnof villagers bv the U.S. Cavalry. Life involved occupations,rnills, hardships, and joys that were peculiar to the timernand arc not features of modern life. The dread diseases were typhoid,rndiphtheria, tuberculosis, scadet fever, and pneumonia.rnFarmers outside the citv were confronted with grasshopperrnplagues. An ordinary home in the 1870’s cost $800, but thernrich on “Nob Hill” sometimes paid as much as $10,000 for arnbrick mansion. Livery stables and hack services were essentialrnto community life. Progress meant cement sidewalks andrnbrick streets. A prosperous citizen might be a brewmasterrnwho owned a malting works. A major project in MinnehaharnCounty was the building of the Odd Fellows Hall or a courthousernmade of quartzitc. Many parents of Sioux Falls citizensrnwere homesteaders. The streets were filled with hay-haulingrnwagons. Children were born at home. The Catholic faith wasrntaken to outlying areas of South Dakota in a railway car fittedrnout as a chapel. Men spent their lives as brakemen on trains.rnA prominent Sioux Falls citizen who died in another city mightrnbe brought home on a special funeral train. A business secretrnof the time might invoK’e the procedure for making stonecuttingrntools. In the dark of the night men were known to loserntheir lives as the result of a hit-and-run wagon or carriage. Allrnthis made for a very different texture of life—a texture utterlyrndissimilar from our own.rnThe hazards of life were no different in nearby Nebraska ofrnthe same period. In his biography of Loren Eiseley, Cale E.rnChristianson documents the disasters that struck the grandfatherrnof this Nebraska-born naturalist, essayist, and poet: thernarrival of the financial panic of 1893, drought, the collapse ofrna sugar beet business, bankruptcy, and the consequent necessityrnto eke out a meager existence on a $22.50 monthly CivilrnWar pension.rnThough the promise of the 20th century fired the imaginationrnof those who were adults at the turn of the centuryrn—particularly with the arrival of the automobile, which radicallyrnaltered both rural and urban life—it was not a time ofrnunalloyed blessings for the people of the Plains states. Inrnmany ways, economic life seemed much less free than in thern1880’s. There was a keen awareness of the harsh dominance ofrnEastern capital, which produced severe political fallout. Therernwas a growing belief that the agriculturists of the Plains werernbeholden to or the victims of bankers, railroad magnates, andrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn