Welcome to the Blackacre Historical Learning Experience! Have you ever wondered what life was like for the families that settled in Kentucky over 200 years ago? Blackacre’s own pioneer family, the Tyler’s, left many clues to the past that have been preserved over the years on our Historic Homestead and Nature Preserve.
Are you ready to explore the clues and discover evidence from the past?
Let’s get started!
1. First, make a list of all the things you already know about pioneer families. Set a timer for 3 minutes and jot down all your ideas.
2. Share your list with a classmate. Did you have the same ideas? Did your classmate think of something you didn’t already know?
3. Next, talk with your partner, what are some things that you wonder about the pioneer families?
Now you’re ready for some historical research, do you think you can use some of the clues about the Tyler’s to answer the questions that you have asked?
- Who are the Tyler’s?
- Why did the Tyler family choose to settle at Blackacre?
- What structures exist at Blackacre that can provide evidence of the past life on the Homestead?
Ready to dive in a little deeper? Historians often use primary sources to gather evidence about the past. Use the tabs below to access the primary sources belonging to the Tyler family.
Commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services. The Tyler family, like other Kentucky pioneer families of this time, farmed to make their living. They raised crops to feed their livestock, planted and harvested gardens to feed themselves and their slaves, and distilled whiskey to sell to others. In addition, they had to buy, trade, or barter for the items they could not produce themselves, such as iron, coffee, and cotton or muslin cloth to make clothing.
The documents you’ll read in this section will help you to understand how agriculture (farming) was the basis of the early Kentucky pioneer economy. As you’re reading, notice the items that the Tylers sold or traded and consider these questions.
- How do you know these are agricultural (farming) products?
- What kinds of items did the Tylers buy, and why could they not make these for themselves?
- Compare what the Tylers bought with items your family buy today. Are there any similarities or differences?
- How does the commerce of the Tyler family differ from that of your family?
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Government is a system of ruling or controlling people who live in a certain area, such as in a county, state, or country. The functions of government include making and enforcing laws to control people, property, and things. Government is funded through taxes that people pay on income and property (land and possessions).
The documents you’ll read in this section show the involvement of government in the Tylers’ lives. As you examine the documents in this section, notice the dates and consider these questions.
- How did the Tylers participate in local government?
- What functions of government are shown in these documents?
The Tylers farmed and lived at Blackacre from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s. During this time, Kentucky had an economy based on agriculture (farming), but there was no mechanical farming equipment, such as tractors. All work — including plowing, planting, harvesting, gardening, household tasks, caring for livestock, etc. – had to be done by hand and with hand tools, such as axes. To accomplish this, the Tylers owned slaves, as did similar families in Kentucky at this time. Owning slaves was an economic necessity in an economy based on agriculture before the development of farming machinery.
The documents you’ll read in this section are evidence that the Tyler family owned and used slaves. As you’re reading, consider these questions.
- What are the various ways in which ownership of a slave passed from one person to another?
- Besides ownership, in what other ways did a landowner obtain the work of a slave?
Before telephones, text messages, and social media, people communicated by speaking and writing letters. The personal letters written by and to members of the Tyler family provide a fascinating glimpse into family life in Kentucky during the late 1700s to mid 1800s.
The documents you’ll read in this section will help you to understand the concerns of members of the Tyler family. As
you’re reading, consider these questions.
- What are the interests of the young female cousins, Laura Virginia Marmaduke and Francis Catherine (“Kate”) Tyler?
-How does the content of the letter from James Mickelborough to Presley Tyler differ from that of the female cousins?
- What concerns are shared in these letters? Do families have any of these same concerns today, and how do we share these?