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Produced by Annie McGuire








THE AMERICAN COUNTRY GIRL


[Illustration: The American Country Girl. An abundance of sunshine,
fresh air, good water, and healthful exercise in the open permit
wonderful young life to reach its highest development.]




THE AMERICAN

COUNTRY GIRL


BY

MARTHA FOOTE CROW

AUTHOR OF
"ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING," "HARRIET BEECHER STOWE," ETC.


_WITH FIFTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS_


NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
PUBLISHERS


_Copyright, 1915, by_
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY


TO THE
SEVEN MILLION COUNTRY LIFE GIRLS
OF AMERICA
WITH THE HOPE THAT THEY
MAY SEE THEIR GREAT PRIVILEGE
AND DO THEIR HONORABLE
PART IN THE NEW
COUNTRY LIFE ERA




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE
I THE COUNTRY GIRL - WHERE IS SHE? 1
II THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM 13
III IS THE COUNTRY GIRL HAPPY ON THE FARM? 23
IV A CALENDAR OF DAYS 31
V WHAT ONE COUNTRY GIRL DID 45
VI STORIES OF OTHER COUNTRY GIRLS 59
VII THE OTHER SIDE 73
VIII THE INHERITANCE 83
IX THE DAUGHTER'S SHARE OF THE WORK 97
X THE HOMESTEADER 107
XI THE NEW ERA 121
XII THE HOUSEHOLD LABORATORY 135
XIII EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION 145
XIV AN OLD-FASHIONED VIRTUE 155
XV HEALTH AND A DAY 167
XVI THE COUNTRY GIRL'S WAGE 179
XVII THE DRESS BUDGET 193
XVIII FOUNDING A HOME 205
XIX THE FARM PARTNER 219
XX THE COUNTRY GIRL'S TRAINING 231
XXI A GREAT OPPORTUNITY 241
XXII THE ILLS OF ISOLATION 253
XXIII THE SOLACE OF READING 265
XXIV THE SERVICE OF MUSIC TO THE COUNTRYSIDE 277
XXV THE PLAY IN THE HOME 289
XXVI PAGEANTRY AS A COMMUNITY RESOURCE 303
XXVII ASSOCIATIONS, ESPECIALLY THE YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN
ASSOCIATION 315
XXVIII THE CAMP FIRE 329
XXIX THE COUNTRY GIRL'S DUTY TO THE COUNTRY 341
XXX THE COUNTRY GIRL'S SCORE CARD 349
INDEX 359
BIBLIOGRAPHY 363




ILLUSTRATIONS


The American Country Girl. An abundance of sunshine,
fresh air, good water, and healthful exercise in the open
permit wonderful young life to reach its highest
development _Frontispiece_

The Country Girl is the life of the home. She is a companion
for the parents and a playmate for the little brothers and
sisters 26

The Country Girl and Her Pets. "The quietness of the country
permits a greater spiritual and mental growth, with its
abundance of life, plant and animal, which challenges the
mind to discover its secrets" 27

The Country Girl takes a pride in her chickens that makes
their care a pleasure to her 86

The Inheritance. The Country Girl, working cheerfully beside
her mother, will learn much that will be of value to her in
her effort to make the housework of to-day a joy and not a
burden 87

A happy homesteader in front of her "soddy." The vastness
of the country does not daunt her. She learns to love the
quiet, broken only by the roar of a river at the bottom of a
canyon or the howl of a coyote on the great sandy flats 118

A Knitting Class at an Agricultural School. Note the splendid
poise of the Country Girl in the background - how naturally
and yet perfectly she is holding herself 119

This Tennessee girl is a member of a Gardening and Canning
Club. She won the cow and calves as premiums for having
the best exhibit at the State Fair 190

Springtime in the country. City children may well envy their
little country cousins the free life in the open and the
companionship with animals 191

A lesson in household economics, at Cornell University 236

Children in a country school scoring corn. Everywhere the
country is responding to the call of Progress, and these
members of a new generation are striving to reach the best 237

The swiftly awakening artistic energies of the Country Girl
are finding an outlet in the new national interest in
pageantry. The farm, meadow or field makes an ideal
stage 306

One of the many Eight Weeks Clubs organized throughout
the country by the Y. W. C. A. 307

This photograph of a Camp Fire Girl shows the opportunity
country life affords for good sport 336

A school garden where the children are taught to love and
understand the growing things as well as to cultivate
them 337




NOTE


The author acknowledges with gratitude the kindness of her friends among
the members of her fraternity, and among the graduates of Wellesley
College, of Northwestern, Syracuse, and Chicago Universities, and of
Grinnell College, who carefully found Country Girl correspondents for
her in all parts of the country; and especially of Professor Martha Van
Rensselaer of Cornell University who generously shared with her some of
the results of a questionnaire on _The Young Woman on the Farm_, which
was sent out by the Home Economics Department of that University.

It would be impossible to name here all the helpers that this book has
the honor to claim; the many specialists who have been good enough to
advise the author; the enthusiasts whose fire has sustained her courage;
and above all the many friends who have entertained her in their country
homes and talked over with her their problems. The author would,
however, acknowledge her special indebtedness to the Honorable John T.
Roberts, the well known lover and sympathetic critic of country life,
who gave valuable time to reading her manuscript and made some vital
suggestions; and to Miss Mary L. Read, head of the School of
Mothercraft, who gave some of the chapters a studious criticism.

While acknowledging many sources of inspiration the author alone is
responsible for the opinions expressed in the book, opinions sometimes
maintained against valued authority. All quotations from Country Girl
experiences are made with direct personal permission of the writers; the
kindness of the girls, who for the sake of other girls have given these
permissions, is here mentioned with special appreciation.

For illustrations the author is indebted to the Home Economics and other
Departments of the Agricultural College at Cornell University and to the
Home Economics Department of the School of Agriculture at Alfred, N. Y.;
also to Mr. S. H. Dadisman of the Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa; to
Mr. O. H. Benson of the United States Department of Agriculture; to Mr.
A. A. Allen of the Cayuga Bird Club, and to Mr. James M. Pierce of the
_Iowa Homestead_ of Des Moines, Iowa. The list should also include Mr.
R. M. Rosbrugh of Syracuse, N. Y., and Mrs. Mabel Stuart Lewis,
efficient homesteader, of Fladmoe, South Dakota. Other names are
mentioned in the text and need not be repeated here. To these and other
helpers, great thanks are due.

This book has been written about the Country Girl and for the Country
Girl; for her mother and father, and for everybody else as well; but
especially for the Country Girl herself. It will reach its aim if some
father says, "Why, here now, somebody has written a book about my little
gal there. I should not have thought it was worth while to make a book
about her. Well, now, perhaps she is of some account. Guess I'll give
her a little more schooling; guess I'll let her go to that institute she
was asking to go to; guess I'll let her have some music lessons, or buy
her a piano, or send her to college." Or if some mother says wistfully,
"My daughter is going to have a better chance than I had!" Or if the
Country Girl herself should say, "I see my opportunity and I will arise
and fulfil my mission."

The book will reach its aim, too, if another thing should happen. This
is the first book about the Country Girl. There have been tons of paper
devoted to the farmer; reams filled on the farm woman; not a line for
the girl. May this first book be followed by many, correcting its
misconceptions, rectifying its mistakes, directing its enthusiasms into
the best channels for the welfare of the six and three-quarters
millions of Country Girls of this land! By that time there will be seven
millions - unless in fact these six millions shall have run away to build
their homes and rear their children in the hot, stuffy, unsocialized
atmosphere of the town, leaving the happy gardens without the joyous
voices of children, the fields without sturdy boys to work them, the
farm homes without capable young women to - shall I say, to _man_ them?
No, let us say to _woman_ them, to _lady_ them, to _mother_ them, and so
to make them centers of wholesome interesting life that, if the girls do
their part, shall be the very heart and fiber of the nation.

The author is sorry that she cannot write to all the Country Girls who
have written her either through the questionnaire or through other means
of communication in the groups with which she has been so happily
associated; but she wishes that every Country Girl who reads this book
would write to her (using the address below) and tell her where she
thinks the book has spoken truly and where mistakenly. She trusts the
judgment of the Country Girls of America absolutely, if they can but be
induced to speak in unison and after careful thought.

MARTHA FOOTE CROW.
Tuckahoe, New York City
August, 1915.




CHAPTER I

THE COUNTRY GIRL - WHERE IS SHE?


Woman will bless and brighten every place she enters, and she will
enter every place on this round earth.

_Frances E. Willard._


_O Woman, what is the thing you do, and what is the thing you cry?_
_Is your house not warm and enclosed from harm, that you thrust the
curtain by?_
_And have we not toiled to build for you a peace from the winds
outside,_
_That you seek to know how the battles go and ride where the fighters
ride?_

You have taken my spindle away from me, you have taken away my loom;
You bid me sit in the dust of it, at peace without cloth or broom;
You have shut me still with a sleepy will, with nor evil nor good
to do,
While our house the World that we keep for God should be garnished and
swept anew.

The evil things that have waxed and grown while I sat with my white
hands still,
They have meshed our world till they twined and curled through my very
window sill;
Shall I sit and smile at my ease the while that my house is wrongly
kept?
It is mine to see that the house of me is straightened and cleansed
and swept!

_Margaret Widdemer._




CHAPTER I

THE COUNTRY GIRL - WHERE IS SHE?


The clarion of the country life movement has by this time been blown
with such loudness and insistence that no hearing ear in our land can
have escaped its announcement. The distant echoes of brutal warfare have
not drowned it: above all possible rude and cruel sounds this peaceful
piping still makes itself heard.

It has reached the ears of the farmer and has stirred his mind and heart
to look his problems in the face, to realize their gigantic
implications, and to shoulder the responsibility of their solution. It
has penetrated to the thoughts of teachers and educators everywhere and
awakened them to the necessities of the minute, so that they have
declared that the countryside must have educational schemes adapted to
the needs of the countryside people, and that they must have teachers
whose heads are not in the clouds. It has aroused easy-going preachers
in the midst of their comfortable dreams and has caused here and there
one among them to bestir himself and to make hitherto unheard-of claims
as to what the church might do - if it would - for the betterment of
country life.

And all of these have given hints to philanthropists and reformers, and
these to organizations and societies; these again have suggested
theories and projects to legislators, senators, and presidents; the
snowball has been rolled larger and larger; commissions have sat,
investigations have been made, documents have been attested, reports
handed in, bills drafted and, what is better, passed by courageous
legislation; so that now great schemes are being not only dreamed of but
put into actual fulfilment. Moreover, lecturers have talked and writers
have issued bulletins and books, until there has accumulated a library
of vast proportions on the many phases of duty, activity, and outlook
that may be included under the title, "A Country Life Movement."

In all this stirring field of new interest, the farmer and his business
hold the center of attention. Beside him, however, stands a dim little
figure hitherto kept much in the background, the farmer's wife, who at
last seems to be on the point of finding a voice also; for a chapter is
now assigned to her in every book on rural conditions and a little
corner under a scroll work design is given to her tatting and her
chickens in the weekly farm paper. Cuddled about her are the children,
and they, the little farm boys and girls, have now a book that has been
written just about them alone - their psychology and their needs. Also,
the tall strong youth, her grown-up son, has his own paper as an
acknowledged citizen of the rural commonwealth. But where is the tall
young daughter, and where are the papers for her and the books about her
needs? It seems that she has not as yet found a voice. She has failed to
impress the makers of books as a subject for description and
investigation. In the nation-wide effort to find a solution to the great
rural problems, the farmer is working heroically; the son is putting his
shoulder to the wheel; the wife and mother is in sympathy with their
efforts. Is the daughter not doing her share? Where is the Country Girl
and what is happening in her department?

It is easier on the whole to discover the rural young man than to find
the typical Country Girl. Since the days of Mother Eve the woman young
and old has been adapting herself and readapting herself, until, after
all these centuries of constant practise, she has become a past master
in the art of adaptation. Like the cat in the story of Alice, she
disappears in the intricacy of the wilderness about her and nothing
remains of her but a smile.

There are some perfectly sound reasons why American country girls as a
class cannot be distinguished from other girls. Chief among these is the
fact that no group of people in this country is to be distinguished as a
class from any other group. It is one of the charms of life in this
country that you never can place anybody. No one can distinguish between
a shop girl and a lady of fashion; nor is any school teacher known by
her poise, primness, or imperative gesture. The fashion paper,
penetrating to the remotest dug-out, and the railway engine indulging us
in our national passion for travel see to these things. Moreover, the
pioneering period is still with us and the western nephews must visit
the cousins in the old home in New Hampshire, while the aunts and uncles
left behind must go out to see the new Nebraska or Wyoming lands on
which the young folks have settled. We do not stay still long enough
anywhere in the republic for a class of any sort to harden into
recognizable form.

New inhabitants may come here already hardened into the mold of some
class; but they or their children usually soften soon into the
quicksilver-like consistency of their surroundings.

There is also no subdividing of notions on the basis of residence,
whether as townsman or as rural citizen. The wind bloweth where it
listeth in this land. It whispers its free secrets into the ears of the
city dweller in the flat and of the rural worker of the cornfield or the
vine-screened kitchen. The rain also falls on the just and the unjust
whether suburbanated or countrified. There is no rural mind in America.
There has indeed been a great deal of pother of late over the virtue and
temper of "rural-minded people." This debate has been conscientiously
made in the effort to discern reasons why commissions should sit on a
rural problem. Reasons enough are discernible why commissions should
sit, but they lie rather in the unrural mind of the rural people, as the
words are generally understood, than in some supposed qualities imposed
or produced in the life of sun and rain, in that vocation that is
nearest to the creative activities of the Divine.

And if there is no rural mind, there is no distinctive rural
personality. If the man that ought to exemplify it is found walking up
Fifth Avenue or on Halstead Street or along El Camino Real, he cannot be
discovered as a farmer. He may be discovered as an ignorant person, or
he may be found to be a college-bred man; but in neither case would the
fact be logically inclusive or uninclusive of his function as farmer.

The same is almost as exactly true for his wife and his daughter. If one
should ask in any group of average people whether the farmer's daughter
as they have known her is a poor little undeveloped child, silent and
shy, or a hearty buxom lass, healthy and strong and up to date, some in
the group would say the latter and some the former. Both varieties exist
and can by searching be found along the countryside. But it is nothing
essentially rural that has developed either the one set of
characteristics or the other. To be convinced of this, one who knows
this country well has but to read a book like "Folk of the Furrow," by
Christopher Holdenby, a picture of rural life in England. In such a book
as that one realizes the full meaning of the phrase, "the rural mind,"
and one sees how far the men and women that live on the farms in the
United States have yet to go, how much they will have to coagulate, how
many centuries they will have to sit still in their places with wax in
their ears and weights on their eyelids, before they will have acquired
psychological features such as Mr. Holdenby gives to the folk of the
English furrow.

A traveler in the Old World frequently sees illustrations of this. For
instance, in passing through some European picture gallery, he may meet
a woman of extraordinary strength and beauty, dressed in a style
representing the rural life in that vicinity. She will wear the peasant
skirt and bodice, and will be without gloves or hat. A second look will
reveal that the skirt is made of satin so stiff that it could stand
alone; the velvet bodice will be covered with rich embroidery; and heavy
chains of silver of quaint workmanship will be suspended around the
neck.

On inquiry one may learn that this stately woman was of what would be
called in this country a farmer family, that had now become very
wealthy; that she did not consider herself above her "class" - so they
would describe it - no, that she gloried in it instead. It was from
preference only that she dressed in the fashion of that "class."

Now, whether desirable or not, such a thing as this would never be seen
in America. No woman (unless it were a deaconess or a Salvation Army
lassie or a nun) would pass through the general crowd showing her rank
or profession in life by her style of dress. And that is how it happens
that neither by hat nor by hatlessness would the country woman here make
known her pride in the possession of acres or in her relation to that
profession that forms the real basis of national prosperity. Hence no
country girl counts such a pride among her inheritances. Therefore if it
is not easy to find and understand the country girl as a type, it is not
because she is consciously or unconsciously hiding herself away from us;
she is not even sufficiently conscious of herself as a member of a
social group to pose in the attitude of an interesting mystery. She is
just a human being happening to live in the country (not always finding
it the best place for her proper welfare), just a single one in the
great shifting mass.

Although it may be difficult to find what we may think are typical
examples of the Country Girl as a social group, yet certain it is that
she exists. Of young women between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine,
there are in the United States six and a half million (6,694,184, to be
exact) who reside in the open country or in small villages. This we are
assured is so by the latest Census Report.

By starting a little further down in the scale of girlhood and advancing
a trifle further into maturity this number could be doubled. It would be
quite justifiable to do this, because some farmers' daughters become
responsible for a considerable amount of labor value well before the age
of fifteen; and on the other hand the energy of these young rural women
is abundantly extended beyond the gateway of womanhood, far indeed into
the period that used to be called old-maidism, but which is to be so
designated no more; the breezy, executive, free-handed period when the
country girl is of greatest use as a labor unit and gives herself
without stint (and often without pay) to the welfare of the whole
farmstead. The American Country Girl is not by any means behind her city
sister in her ability to make the bounds of her youth elastic, though
the girl on the farm may go at it in a somewhat different way. Then,
perhaps, too, the word "youth" may, alas! have another connotation in
the mind of one from what it has in the dreams of the other.

If we should, however, thus enlarge the scope of our inquiry, we should
increase but not clarify our problems. Moreover it is the Country Girl
that interests us, the promise and hope of her dawn, the delicate
swiftly changing years of her growth, the miracle of her blossoming.
There is something about the kaleidoscope of her moods and the
inconsistencies of her biography that fascinates us. The moment when she
awakes, when the sparkle begins to show in her eyes, when we know that a
conception of her mission and of her supreme value to life is beginning
to glow before her imagination - that is the crisis to work for and to be
happy over when it comes. As for us, we ask no greater happiness than
once or twice to catch a glimpse of that.

That great host of six million country girls is scattered far and wide;
they are everywhere present. A certain number of millions of them are
working industriously in myriads of unabandoned farms all over the
Appalachian plateau, and on the wide prairies to the Rockies, and
beyond. In thousands of farmsteads they are helping their mothers wash
dishes three times a day three hundred and sixty-five days in the year,
not counting the steps as they go back and forth between dining-room and
kitchen. They are carrying heavy pails of spring water into the house
and throwing out big dishpanfuls of waste water, regardless of the
strain in the small of the back. They are picking berries and canning
them for the home table in the winter; they are raising tomatoes and
canning them for the market; they are managing the younger children;
they are baking and sewing and reading and singing; they are caring for


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