The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

May 5, 2014

Fifth-graders learn about pioneer life

OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa fifth-graders got a taste of pioneer life Friday when they took a day-long field trip to the Nelson Pioneer Farm.

Eight fifth-grade classes toured 15 stations set up around the Nelson Pioneer Farm grounds to experience pioneer life.

Their experiences ranged from making sauerkraut to watching a blacksmith ply his trade.

“This is the annual school tour,” Mahaska County Historical Society Past President Larry Linsley said. “All of the fifth-graders from the Oskaloosa school system came out today.”

Linsley said many volunteers gave their time Friday to man the stations around the farm.

“I talked about the hay business,” Linsley said. “How it went from hand labor to mechanization.”

Linsley said he also talked about the Vermeer bailer that was made in Pella.

“It's a beautiful day for a change,” he said of the pleasing weather Friday.

The students went from station to station to see the volunteers in action. In all, there were 17 adults and eight children who volunteered to show pioneer-era crafts and products.

Kelly Simmons dressed in pioneer-era garb to show students how to make sauerkraut. She said it takes anywhere from two weeks to a month to make.

Blacksmith Dave Gordy fired up his furnace and made some small iron objects while students looked on.

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert showed students how to make corn husk dolls.

At other stations, students learned about games children played, corn grinding, preserving meat, how to do laundry, how to make toys, spinning and coal mining, Halbert said.

“This was the first school program of the year,” Halbert said. There will be more field trip programs in May, she added.

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