If you fancy yourself a history buff, perhaps you'd give it a go, but people used to be more matter-of-fact about such things. Maybe you'd start talking about the guns and the hunting, but they'd probably wonder why you'd bring up something so mundane. Might as well talk to a mermaid about water.
You're educated if you're reading this, but what do you know, really? These men learned the 3 Rs painstakingly for a short time, and then had to get on with life. But if they had a mind to read things, they generally were very serious things, things that make today's best seller list look like comic books. Oops. I mean "graphic novels."
Maybe you'd sit by the fire and they'd ask you about Dante Alighieri, or Emerson, or Pope, or Swift. Sir Walter Scott was lightweight reading then. If you got to quoting Shakespeare, are you sure you could keep up? Never mind the Bible. You've got no shot there. And telling a joke? They were accustomed to hearing a story, a real fleshed out anecedote, told in a humorous and compelling way. They listened to Artemus Ward. I wouldn't try any King of Queens on them if I were you.
Mark Twain could talk to those sorts of men, and did. He was pretty smart. Could you?