The pioneers were the first people to settle in the frontiers of North America. Many of the pioneers were farmers. Others moved west, wanting to establish a business. There were doctors, blacksmiths, ministers, shop owners, lawyers, veterinarians, and many others. They went to Oregon, Texas, and other areas of the frontier for the land. This land was available for homesteading, and much of it was free or very cheap. The farmland was rich and fertile.
REASONS FOR THE WESTWARD MOVEMENT
Pioneers began making the 2,000-mile journey to take advantage of the United States government’s offer to homestead the land. The trail started in Independence, Missouri and went past Chimney Rock, Nebraska. Some went to the frontier in order to prospect for gold, others to hunt and trade fur pelts. Many were looking for adventure or just the possibility of improving their lives. Like many American and European immigrants, such a movement was for political freedom and economic opportunities.
LIFE OF PIONEERS
People left their families and friends, and many knew it would a long time, if ever, before they saw them again. The trip was a long, hard, and dangerous one. The trail was wooded and rocky. Raging rivers had to be crossed.
All of this was done with horses, oxen or mules pulling all of their earthly belongings and supplies in a covered wagon. The Native Americans were also a threat. They were angry these new settlers were moving onto tribal lands.
In the 1840s, the most famous trail that was used by the pioneers was the Oregon Trail. England and America were racing to settle Oregon because the two countries had decided the first one to settle it would own it.
From Nebraska, Pioneers crossed the southwest tip of Wyoming and into the southern part of Idaho. The trail ended up in the northwest corner of Oregon. The entire trip took them six months.
The other famous trail was the Natchez Trace. Pioneers used this trail to travel to the frontiers of Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. The Natchez Trace ran from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.
Before leaving their homes, the pioneers had to acquire money for their trip. They either had to save the money, borrow it, or sell whatever land and possessions they had. Some worked their way across the country.
The safest way for the pioneers to travel was with a wagon train. They would pack their most treasured belongings, furniture, and what they needed for the journey into a covered wagon. The wealthiest people brought two wagons with them, which allowed one to act as a moving van and the other as a camper.
Wagonmasters led the train, cowboys rode along and helped the wagons as they crossed tough terrain and rivers. Scouts rode ahead to see what challenges they would be facing.
Many did not make it to their final destination. Disease caused a big problem, as well as accidents and raids by Native Americans. All along the trails that these wagons traveled, grave markers could be found to show where those who lost their lives had been buried.
The weather offered many challenges too. The pioneers moving west planned their journeys, so they were not traveling in winter. The snow and cold were challenging for the pioneers to deal with.
The pioneers would take with them as many supplies as possible. They took cornmeal, bacon, eggs, potatoes, rice, beans, yeast, dried fruit, crackers, dried meat, and a large barrel of water that was tied to the side of the wagon. If the pioneers could take a cow, they would. The cow was used for milk and meat if they ran out of food.
By the time many of the pioneers reached their final destination, they had many stories to tell. Very few made it all the way without losing or leaving personal belongings along the trail. One of the first things the Pioneers did when they got to their new homes was purchase land. An acre of land cost about $2.00. Today that seems like a fantastic deal, but to these pioneers, it was a lot of money.
Once they moved onto their lands, they had to clear the land to plant their crops. Many didn’t have time to build their homes, so they lived in a lean-to, tents, or their wagons. The pioneers tried to purchase land by a river or stream because the water was so important to their daily life. If they weren’t near water, they had to dig a well. If a group of pioneers lived close to one another, they would often build a small fort to protect themselves from attacks by Native Americans and outlaws.
Think how easy it would have been if Pioneers would have found a warm and comfortable hotel at their destination … a place where they could feel safe, cared for, with a super comfortable bed, bathroom with hot shower and modern amenities for making a light meal!
We welcome families, business travelers, group stays … and pioneers!