Who were the pioneers?


Pioneers were the first people to settle in the frontiers of North America. Although many of the pioneers were farmers, others were doctors, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, missionaries, lawyers and so on.They came from many places in the United States to start their new lives. The majority of their ancestors came from European countries such as England, Germany, and Scotland. Before leaving their homes they either saved money for the trip, sold their land and other possessions or agreed to work for others on the trip.
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Why did they travel to the frontier?


Although the pioneers travelled to the frontier for many different reasons, they all wanted an opportunity to start new lives. Many of the pioneers were farmers. They went to Oregon, Texas, and other areas of the frontier for the inexpensive or even possibly free land. This land was available for homesteading. They wanted the rich, fertile land for their crops. Other people came to the frontier because they had heard stories that made the new lands sound like magical places. Some went to the frontier in order to prospect for gold, to hunt and trade fur pelts, and for many other reasons
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Where did the pioneers travel to?


The pioneers travelled to the frontiers of North America. In the 1700s the frontiers were the Appalachian Mountains. Later they travelled west across the Mississippi River. The settlers had moved into the Appalachian Mountains by the 1760s. The settlement had reached as far as the Mississippi River by 1783.During the early 1800s pioneers began claiming fertile areas of land beyond the Mississippi
River.During the mid-1800s Americans started settling in the Great Plains, Pacific Coast, and Texas.
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What are some of the trails they used?


In the early 1800s the Natchez Road, later called the Natchez Trace, was developed. There were two major Indian tribes that lived in the area of the Natchez Trace, the Choctaw and the Chickasaw. In the early 1800s many Tennessee and Kentucky farmers would take their farm goods to sell or trade to the New Orleans Market. They would arrive at Kentucky via a trail called the "Wilderness Road." When they reached Nashville they continued on the Natchez Trace. Then later the Natchez Trace became the trail the pioneers used to travel to the frontiers of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. The Natchez Trace went from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail was one of the most famous trails ever. It was a series of trails that were used by the first explorers and fur traders. It was the longest Overland Trail in North America. In the 1840s America and England agreed that Oregon would belong to the first country to settle the most people in that area. The United States encouraged people to move to Oregon by offering land for homesteading. In 1843 the "Great Migration" to Oregon began. These pioneers who travelled to the area used the Oregon Trail. The trail started in Independence, Missouri and went past Chimney Rock, Nebraska. From there it crossed the Southwest tip of Wyoming and into the southern part of Idaho. The trail ended up in the Northwest corner of Oregon. It took them approximately six months to travel the 2000 miles from Independence, Missouri to their final destination in the Oregon territory.
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Map Of The Pioneer Trail




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Nauvoo, Illinois: 1839-1846
As the Latter-day Saints fled Missouri during the winter of 1838–1839, having been threatened by the governor of that state with extermination, they crossed into Illinois and settled in a swampy area along the Mississippi River that they named Nauvoo. Over the next few years, an estimated 16,000 Latter-day Saints took up residence in the city and its surrounding communities. It became one of the largest cities in Illinois at the time and an important commercial center on the upper Mississippi.
Many in the surrounding communities continued to harass the Latter-day Saints, and on 27 June 1844, a painted mob shot to death the Latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum. Despite the rapidly escalating tension in the area, the Latter-day Saints continued at great sacrifice to complete a temple in the city, even while they prepared for a mass exodus to the West. Between February and September 1846, most of the Latter-day Saints took up their march to the West, leaving their homes, their city, and their temple to the hands of those who had not built and the hearts of those who did not care.
Today Nauvoo is a significant historic district, with many of the buildings in the original townsite rebuilt or restored and open for the public to visit.
Cities Abandoned
In all of United States history, few people have suffered for their religious convictions as did the early Latter-day Saints. Because of the rapid growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what many contemporary religionists viewed as the heretical doctrine of living prophets and modern revelation, many outsiders viewed Latter-day Saints with suspicion and contempt. During the first two decades of the Church's existence, Latter-day Saints repeatedly experienced the cycle of migration, settlement (including purchasing the lands they settled in), and expulsion. Within the span of 17 years, the fast-growing body of Latter-day Saints moved en masse from the Finger Lakes region of western New York state (1830-1831), to Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838), Jackson County, Missouri (1831-1839) and Commerce/Nauvoo, Illinois (1839-1848), where their prophet, Joseph Smith, was murdered by a mob. In the dead of winter 1846, the Latter-day Saints once again abandoned their homes and began the long, hard trek to the Rocky Mountains, where they would at last find welcome refuge.
Extermination Order
Following eight years of convergence and settlement by thousands of Latter-day Saint converts in northern Missouri, tensions with neighboring communities reached a climax. On 27 October 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs signed one of the most heinous documents in American history, his Mormon "extermination order," declaring, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace" (quoted in History of the Church, 3:175). This military directive called for the forced mid-winter exodus from Missouri of approximately 10,000 men, women and children from their own farms, homes, and lands.
On 25 June 1976, Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond issued an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order, noting its legal invalidity and formally apologizing in behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused the Latter-day Saints.
Nauvoo, Illinois: From Ecstasy to Exodus
In all of Church history, perhaps nothing symbolizes the pragmatic nature of Latter-day Saint religion as does the city of Nauvoo. On the very hem of the western frontier, the Latter-day Saints drained the swamps, wrote an ambitious city charter, established a university, mounted a city militia, and built a temple.
To Nauvoo and its vicinity came the great majority of all Latter-day Saint converts for the next seven years, swelling the population to about 20,000 by 1846. At its height it rivaled Chicago as the largest city in the state. A vibrant, culturally eclectic place, it came to be known as "Nauvoo, the Beautiful."
Death of Joseph Smith
The relative peace and prosperity of the Nauvoo period was short-lived. Political maneuvering for the "Mormon vote" at the state level had granted the municipality perhaps the most liberal city charter in the state, and Nauvoo was seen as both a political and economic threat by many in the older, neighboring communities. At the height of tensions, a local opposition newspaper called for mob action against the Saints, to which the city council responded by destroying the offending printing press. Amidst growing regional clamor for, once again, the Saints' extermination, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were jailed. On 27 June 1844, a mob stormed Carthage jail and shot the brothers to death in their prison cell.
The American Exodus
Following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, ire against the Saints rose rapidly. In 1845, the repeal of the Nauvoo City charter, which among other things granted the Latter-day Saints the right to keep a standing militia for their own protection, signaled the effective end of their sojourn in Illinois. These events, however, merely catalyzed a move contemplated by Church leaders for a number of years. As early as 1840 Joseph Smith had taught there was "a place of safety preparing for [the Saints] away towards the Rocky Mountains" (quoted in Ronald K. Esplin, "'A Place Prepared': Joseph, Brigham and the Quest for Promised Refuge in the West," Journal of Mormon History vol.9 [1982], 90). By the fall of 1845, preparations for the exodus were well under way; the proposed departure date would be, in the words of Brigham Young, "as soon as the grass grows" (quoted in Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, [1964], 38) in the following spring. But the mobs wouldn't rest. On 4 February 1846, in the heart of a Midwestern winter so cold and bitter the Mississippi River froze over, the Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes and lands down a street which came to be known as the "Street of Tears" and into the unknown mystery of the western frontier.
Religious Freedom
Although the body of Latter-day Saints grew rapidly, swelling the population of a number of frontier communities, the Saints were no theocratic usurpers: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may" (Articles of Faith 1:11). But as they gathered converts, they gathered enemies, leaving themselves, ultimately, no choice but departure. In a letter addressed to U.S. President James K. Polk in 1846, Brigham Young gave notice of the farewell:
"We would esteem a territorial government of our own as one of the richest boons of earth, and while we appreciate the Constitution of the United States as the most precious among the nations, we feel that we had rather retreat to the deserts, islands or mountain caves than consent to be ruled by governors and judges whose hands are drenched in the blood of innocence and virtue, who delight in injustice and oppression." Thus, they walked (quoted in B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:89-90).
Value of the Exodus
"For Brigham Young and his associates, the 1846 exodus from Nauvoo, far from being a disaster imposed by enemies, was foretold and foreordained—a key to understanding LDS history and a necessary prelude for greater things to come. From a later perspective too, scholars of the Mormon experience have come to see the exodus and colonization of the Great Basin as the single most important influence in molding the Latter-day Saints into a distinctive people" (Reed C. Durham Jr., "Westward Migration, Planning and Prophecy," in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 4:1563).
Mississippi River Crossing
From February through September of 1846, thousands of Latter-day Saints abandoned Nauvoo, fleeing to the West in barges and ferries across the Mississippi River. Some of those who crossed in late February did so on ice, as the wide river froze solid in sub-zero temperatures. A number of diarists refer to the freezing as a miracle, even though, notes one commentator, "it was a miracle that nearly froze a couple of thousand Saints" (Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion, 44). The majority, some 7,000 or more, left between March and May. By September only six or seven hundred remained in Nauvoo. Known as the "poor Saints," they were either physically or financially incapable of traveling west by themselves to join the main body of the Saints now near the western edge of Iowa. Mobs forced this last group from the city in mid-September, 1846, in what came to be known as "the battle of Nauvoo."
Iowa: Bitter Beginning
Of the entire trek to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, it was the first 300 miles across Iowa that most tried the stamina and courage of the Latter-day Saint pioneers. Mere weeks into the journey—through sleet, blizzard, and mud—it became apparent to Brigham Young that his people would never reach the Rocky Mountains in the time or in the manner that most had hoped for. So throughout the spring of 1846, thousands of refugees trudged across the windswept Iowa prairies, preparing the way for those yet to come: building bridges, erecting cabins, planting and fencing crops. By mid-June, nearly 12,000 Saints were still scattered across Iowa. The Rocky Mountain entry would be postponed.

What did they take with them?

They would take as many supplies as they could with them. Some of the food they would take included: yeast for baking, crackers, cornmeal, bacon, eggs, dried meat, potatoes, rice, beans, and a big barrel of water. The pioneers might even take some chocolate for special occasions. They would also take a cow if they had one. They would use it for milk and meat. Pioneers made their own clothing so they brought cloth to sew, needles, thread, pins, scissors, and leather to fix worn-out shoes. They had to make their own repairs so they brought saws, hammers, axes, nails, string and knives.
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How did they travel?

Most pioneers travelled in a Conestoga wagon or a spring wagon. Many of the pioneers chose oxen instead of mules or horses because the oxen were a lot stronger. They would buy up to 4 oxen per wagon. The father would drive the oxen by walking beside the wagon. The children would walk behind of the wagon much of the time.
What their wagons were like
The Pioneers travelled in a wagon called a covered wagon. The wagon was usually a wooden wagon made of hickory, oak, or maple. A wooden piece made from hickory stuck out from the front of the wagon. This piece called a tongue was connected to the yoke of the oxen, mules, or horses.
The wagon could not carry more than 2,000 pounds. It had big wooden hoops, called bows that were bent from side to side. There would be 4 to 7 wooden hoops on one wagon. There was a canvas pulled across the hoops that would keep out the rain, wind, and the hot sunshine. Pioneers would rub oil on the canvas to make it waterproof. Inside the wagon there were many hooks that hung from the wooden hoops. They could hang weapons, clothes, milk cans, and anything there was room for. The front wheels of the wagon were smaller than the back wheels. This helped the wagon turn. Underneath the back wheels there was a bucket full of grease hanging from the axle This was used to make the wheels run smoothly. The Conestoga wagons were called Prairie schooners because from a distance the Conestoga wagon looked like a ship sailing slowly across the green prairie. Travelling in a wagon was not an easy trip. There were many things that could go wrong. For example some wagon wheels would break or there would be no water. If they ran out of food they would need to hunt. When they were on the trail it was very noisy because all the pots and pans hanging off the wagons were clanging against each other.
What was a wagon trail?
The Pioneers travelled in a wagon called a covered wagon. The wagon was usually a wooden wagon made of hickory, oak, or maple. A wooden piece made from hickory stuck out from the front of the wagon. This piece called a tongue was connected to the yoke of the oxen, mules, or horses.
The wagon could not carry more than 2,000 pounds. It had big wooden hoops, called bows that were bent from side to side. There would be 4 to 7 wooden hoops on one wagon. There was a canvas pulled across the hoops that would keep out the rain, wind, and the hot sunshine. Pioneers would rub oil on the canvas to make it waterproof. Inside the wagon there were many hooks that hung from the wooden hoops. They could hang weapons, clothes, milk cans, and anything there was room for. The front wheels of the wagon were smaller than the back wheels. This helped the wagon turn. Underneath the back wheels there was a bucket full of grease hanging from the axle This was used to make the wheels run smoothly. The Conestoga wagons were called Prairie schooners because from a distance the Conestoga wagon looked like a ship sailing slowly across the green prairie. Travelling in a wagon was not an easy trip. There were many things that could go wrong. For example some wagon wheels would break or there would be no water. If they ran out of food they would need to hunt. When they were on the trail it was very noisy because all the pots and pans hanging off the wagons were clanging against each other.

What was a wagon train?

A wagon train was a group of covered wagons that went west. The wagons would travel in a straight single line. The wagon train looked like a slow-moving train. If the trail was wide enough they would spread out to get away from the dust. At night the wagon master would have the wagons form a big circle for protection from hostile Indians, marauders and other dangers. Sometimes the children would play inside the wagon circle after dinner and just before bedtime.
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Who led the wagon trail?

Captains
The captain, also known as the wagon master led the caravan down the trail and made any decisions that affected the whole caravan. He made decisions like when and where they were going to camp for the night. If there was a river nearby, the captain would decide when and how they would cross the river. Captains were also in charge of waking up the members of the wagon train, deciding when they would stop for lunch, and making sure everything ran smoothly on the trail.

Scouts
The scouts or trail guides usually had been fur traders or trappers. They knew the routes for the destination of the wagon trains. The scouts knew where to cross-rivers, how to get through dangerous mountain passes, and how far the caravan should travel each day. They also helped the captain take care of the members of the wagon train. A famous scout was Jim Bridger.
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What were their lives like on the trail?


When Was the Best Time to Leave?
When the pioneers decided the time of year to leave on their journey, they needed to consider several things. They had to plan ahead. Some of the things they had to consider were possible bad weather along the trail, food for their livestock, and a supply of water.

How Far Would a Wagon Train Travel in One Day?
On many days the caravan would only travel ten to fifteen miles. On rainy and muddy days they might only travel one mile! It would take them five to seven days just to travel the distance we can drive a car in a single hour.
The people would have to get up very early each morning in order to prepare for their daily travels. It was usually dark on these mornings. They would have to start the fire, prepare breakfast, gather the livestock, reload the wagon, and hitch the oxen or mules before getting started.

What Did They Do Each Day On the Trail?
Each morning the pioneers would get up before daylight and gather their livestock and cook breakfast. Many times they would go ahead and prepare lunch as well. After breakfast around 7:00 a.m. they hitched up the oxen and started down the trail. Since the wagon was so bumpy the pioneers who were not driving the wagon would walk behind or next to it much of the time. They would stop at lunchtime and rest for an hour or two. After a rest period they would travel down the trail until about four or five p.m. At night they would circle the wagons for protection. The women would fix the dinner and the men would prepare the livestock for the night. After supper they would gather around the campfires and sing songs, dance, tell stories and visit. Sometimes they slept inside the wagon but they also slept under the wagon, in a tent, and sometimes under the stars.

What Types of Chores Did Children Do?
Children had lots of chores that included milking their cows, fetching water from a stream or a river that was nearby, helping their parents cook food, washing dishes, collecting buffalo chips or wood for the fire, shaking out dusty blankets and quilts, and hanging beef jerky to dry in the sun.
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What did they do after reaching their new homes?


One of the first things the pioneers did when they got to their new homes was buy land. Although land cost about two dollars an acre in many areas, that was very expensive to some pioneers. After they bought their land they had to clear the rocks and tree stumps so they could build their houses and plant crops. The first spring and summer they did little, other than working the land. Their first home was a lean-to. It looked like an open shed that faced the fire. Most of the pioneer women and children made quilts for the beds. If they didn't buy land where there was a stream, the men would build a well. When a group of pioneers lived near each other they would often build a stockade, or fort to protect themselves from Indians.
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Travelling by wagon in the American West