Colonial Life

Learning How to Survive by Hand

By: Lindsey Cain


"He that will not work shall not eat." That is what John Smith said to his colonists in Jamestown, Virginia. Which was first colony in America that survived. That is what it was like in Colonial America. You had to work to live. The colonists had to do everything by hand from building their houses to getting their food. They did all of it in their daily life. They had to build houses by hand and with any sticks, wood, mud, and clay they could find. The colonists had to grow, find, or kill all their food. Their daily life stayed the same all week other than Sunday which was Lord's day. From back then to now their are many differences and similarities in their and our lives.


Most homes were built the same in the poor, wealthy, or middle class and were built by hand. There are two ways middle class people built their homes. One way is with clapboards which are overlapped boards and the other way is with wattle which is weaved wood packed in with a mix of mud, wood, straw, and clay. Either way they each had straw roofs. The wealthy 's houses were the only houses with more than one room unlike the houses that the poor and middle class people lived in which were only one room. The poor colonists lived in dugouts and wealthy colonists lived in a big house in the south on a farm with slaves. There wasn't many different ways to build a house back then. They had to do it all by hand.

Daily Life

In colonial times everyone had something to do everyday of the week whether it was a weekday, Saturday, or Sunday. Sunday was Lord's day so no one went to work or school. They got up and went to the meeting house for Church. On the other six days men worked, women and daughters would stay home and run the household, and boys went to school. Men could make money by fishing, farming, and trading or could be a craftsman, blacksmith, basket maker, cooper, wig maker, shoe maker, or silversmith. Most of their life included working and they rarely rested.


The colonists had to work hard to have enough food. Some men hunted turkeys, geese, and quail and fished cod, tuna, salmon, and trout.They hunted with spears and sometimes their bare hands. To preserve it they hung the meat up. The colonists brought seeds with them from England and the Indians taught them how to plant veggies and fruits like wheat, rice, oats, indigo, corn, pumpkins, squash, sugarcane, and apples. With the food they grew they made cornbread, corn pudding, sugar, maple syrup, and bread. They cooked over a fire inside their house. The colonists had a big selection of food but had to work hard and together to get it


The colonists did everything by hand. They had to make or get everything they needed. They had to build houses, plant and shot their food, and work to get the things they wanted. To build their houses they had to find trees to chop down. They always had to find ways to plant their food. They had to make tools to shot their meat. They had to find ways to make their baskets, shoes, clothing, furniture, and anything else they wanted. In other words, they had to work to live.