In this day and age when drinking water is so accessible in most areas of the world, it’s a simple turn or flip of a faucet to fill a glass. But back in the 1800’s running water was a luxury many didn’t have and others went through great toil and hardship to gain.

In Under Moonlit Skies, my hero, Stewart Brant, gets hooked into helping his friend Chad dig a well. Originally, I intended the project to be just a slight incident in the novel. But as I researched the process, it started taking on a life of its own, and I couldn’t resist incorporating some of what I learned into the story.

Digging a well was not for the faint of heart back in the nineteenth century. Everything was dug by hand with picks and shovels. Often a tire band from a wagon wheel was placed on the ground over the spot where the well was to be dug as a guide.

As digging progressed, a windlass–a post on either side of the hole connected by a roller log to use as a winch–was generally built around the hole. The loose top soil soon turned to hardened clay and rock, slowing progress. Flat rocks were collected from creek beds and used to line the walls of the well to keep the sides from caving in.

Often, homesteaders had to dig fifteen, twenty, sometimes thirty feet before reaching water. Occasionally, they’d hit a dry hole and would have to repeat the process elsewhere. How exhausting!

Well digging was slow, grueling, often dangerous work. But what a joy for nineteenth century women who no longer had to make long, tiring trips to the creek for drinking water and washing clothes!

Below, is a photo of me standing by a replica of a well from Abraham Lincoln’s time at New Salem State Park built in the late 1830’s..

While homesteaders longed for the luxury of well water, I’m so thankful we have access to the Living Water — Jesus Christ. His love for us never runs dry.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)

Though we may not be able to celebrate Resurrection Sunday in the way we would like this year, with church family and loved ones near, I pray you’ll know the hope and peace only Christ’s presence in our hearts can bring.


Cynthia Roemer’s PRAIRIE SKY SERIES: Stories of faith and resilience on the Midwest prairie Inspirational Historical Romance


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