Florida summers must have been brutal for pioneers. I think about that when the temperature zooms into the high 90s as it did last week. Did newcomers know ahead of time what they'd face in a Florida July and August? Probably not. Advertising of the era used words like salubrious to extoll the climate.
Yet, I can't assess the matter as though my 21st century self were plopped back into the 1880s. More than one resource relates how 19th century folks were a bit hardier than their modern counterparts when it came to weather. In the North, chilly interior rooms were the norm in winter. Conversely, extreme warmth was just a part of life in the South. People adjusted their lifestyles the way I adjust a thermostat.
- Sat on the porch. That line has become cliché, but it's true. I briefly experienced Florida without air-conditioning, when I lived in a 19th century house that had been subdivided into apartments. Trust me, one goes outside.
- Built houses to catch breezes and provide shelter from sun. That meant large - very tall - windows, shutters, overhangs, and sleeping porches. Some settlers built homes with breezeways, also called dogtrot houses. The Seminoles built open-sided structures called chickees.
- Slowed down. Today's frenetic pace of life would likely surprise even the most work-oriented pioneer. Settlers had to work hard to survive. But they knew when to bow to the weather.