History: Early Life in Lincoln County

Panaca was established in 1864. Henry Sharp came to the Pahranagat Valley in 1865, and Pioche and Delamar were started in the 1870s.

Three or four generations back or more, the ancestors of many who live in Lincoln County today did not have nearly any of the modern conveniences which are so common to us today. These are creature comforts, as we like to call them, and we might feel we could not live at all without them. However, those distant ancestors of ours did live without them.

Take, for example, sources of light after dark. In most of our lifetimes, we cannot remember ever having to go on a regular daily basis without being able to just flip the switch and have the lights in the house turn on.

Yet, think what Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma, say, maybe over a little over 100 years ago or so, had to do. Life in Lincoln County was tough to Great-Grandma. Her never-ending tasks of cleaning, cooking, weaving, sewing, gardening, tending the children and maybe a few head of cows accounted for a full day’s work, seven days a week.

It is often hard here in the 21st century to think back to how people in all parts of the county managed to get along without the many modern time- and effort-saving devices we have today. But, to their credit, they did.

The obvious question is, how would any of us today fare if we had to live in the same conditions from those of many decades ago?

Even some of the oldest residents of the county are amazed at the progress they have witnessed in their own lifetimes. Just ask them sometime.

The list of the modern conveniences which Great-Grandma and Grandpa did not have, and their parents before them, would be long if we could name them all.

However, here is just a short list of what Lincoln County did not have in, for instance, 1912. Very few folks had in-home hot and cold running water. Consider also indoor plumbing or even a toilet. The old wooden outhouse down the path out the back door served for a long time, and it was used in winter time, too.

There were no cars, no paved roads, no trucks, no airplanes, (certainly no Nellis Air Base), no city sewer system, no radios, no TV, no satellite dishes, no Wi-Fi, no VCRs, DVDs, no walkmans, no iPhones, no stereo headphones, no cell phones, no telephones, no fax machines, no answering machines, no computers, no online anything, and horror of horrors, no handheld video games and no texting! How did those poor souls exist?

And it took time to travel around to the various communities in the county. For example, going on horseback from Alamo to Caliente, Panaca or Pioche, or vice-versa, was nearly a three-day trip, so it wasn’t done very often. Today, of course, you can make the same trip by car in just over an hour (or less).

What was likely the most important convenience we have today that did not exist in the county at the time was electricity.

Just think of it. There was no electricity for public use anywhere in Lincoln County in those days. As time progressed, maybe a little generator here and there existed that supplied electric power to a few homes nearby, but certainly there was no large-scale operation. The Lincoln County Power District started in 1936, but that was only in the northern part. Electric power did not come into widespread use in Alamo, for example, until 1944.

Most of those who went off to WWII from a town that did not have electricity came back from overseas to a town that did have electricity. A modern marvel! But even that was not like we know it today.

There are so many differences in the way of life in Lincoln County now, as compared to life in yesteryear. It is important, then, to give credit where credit is due. The people then, many our ancestors, did the best they could with what they had, and they were the ones who brought about the progress that has resulted in the way of life we enjoy today. They faced the hardships, endured the difficulties, saw the future, and went for it.

Today, therefore, we must be thankful for what they did, for without it, there just might not be the communities we now know and love.

 

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