Glimpses of Pioneer Life

Early photos of farms give us a glimpse of life in pioneer days. Here we see Patrick Dunn, a central Iowa farmer, feeding his horses and cattle. The photo, taken by an itinerant photographer circa 1895, portrays not only the family but also their livestock and a way of life.

Winters around the turn of the 20th century were colder and more snowy than winters today, and the cattle and horses in this photo would have required a lot of corn and hay. The sheds and barn do not look very substantial, even though Patrick Dunn had been in America on this farm over 30 years. He had immigrated from Ireland, settling on this farm in Marshall County in the mid-1860s.

A close-up view of the center section of the photo below portrays his wife Catherine, their children, and the family dog. Catherine died in 1911 and Patrick in 1913. These buildings have been gone for decades, but the heritage of the family remains today.

Do you have an early photo whose image had faded and is barely visible? This photo is extracted from the farm scene above, enlarging the family enough that individuals can be recognized. Photos deteriorate over time, as did the original, but restoration may achieve dramatic results.