2021-07-08 18:14:45 UTC
during the 1800s really like what they show in the
‘Wild west’ themed movies?
by Jon Mixon (over 13,000 movies by now) May 14, 2021
Not even close.
Most towns were small & crowded - Construction materials
were scarce and thus valuable. Additionally water & sewage
infrastructure was extremely limited into the early 20th
century meaning that they could only be so big.
There were few doctors & fewer hospitals - If you grew ill,
then unless you “got better” it was going to a rough road
until you died. Treatable chronic illnesses like diabetes &
rheumatoid arthritis were death sentences, as was diarrhea
if laudanum (alcohol laced with opium) wasn’t available to
stop it. Basically until the early to mid 20th century
living in a Western town was an exercise fraught with peril.
Unemployment meant leaving or growing ill & potentially
dying - If you lost your job, then you probably had to
leave as all of the available work was “spoken for”.
Additionally given the nature of the times, in many cases
if you were fired, then no one would hire as to do so
might threaten business or personal relationships that
existed at the time. If you couldn’t find work, you had
to leave or prepare yourself for grim times
You weren’t gonna get too old - The avg life expectancy in
1890 was 42 years. While graves can be found with people
who lived into their 50s, 60s, or even 80s, they represent
a tiny fraction of the people who lived at that time. The
“old people” who you might see in a Western film are actually
in their late 30s or early 40s as they were reaching the
end of their lives.
There were more minorities, esp. following the Civil War -
Basically minorities handled the sh*t jobs in the Old West
& so they lived nearly everywhere for a number of decades.
Unfortunately a series of pogroms which began in the 1870s
& extended into the early 20s began the exodus of minorities
from many rural areas & smaller towns into cities. Most
Westerns are far “Whiter” than historical reality states
that they would be.