Learning From the Pioneers

1844_1877_1Many know that Utah was originally settled by Mormon Pioneers, I’m a descendant of those pioneers from 8 different family lines on my Mother’s side.  The Mormon Pioneers crossed the plains from Missouri to Utah in covered wagons, handcarts and many on foot.  Most of them buried family and loved ones under a pile of rocks on their way here.  It was a harrowing experience the like of which will hopefully never be repeated.

1844_1877_1Many know that Utah was originally settled by Mormon Pioneers, I’m a descendant of those pioneers from 8 different family lines on my Mother’s side.  The Mormon Pioneers crossed the plains from Illinois to Utah in covered wagons, handcarts and many on foot.  Many of them buried family and loved ones under a pile of rocks on their way here.  It was a harrowing experience the like of which will hopefully never be repeated.

We can however learn much from them and their experiences, especially from a Prepper’s perspective.  I was recently pointed to this list called a “Bill of Particulars”  by a friend, it is an article that ran in the “Nauvoo Neighbor” on October 29, 1845.  The list contains items that the pioneers were advised to take with them as they left on their journey across the plains.  I find it very interesting to review it.

BILL OF PARTICULARS

For the emigrants leaving this government next spring.
Each family consisting of five persons, to be provided with—

1 good strong wagon well covered with a light box.
2 or 3 good yoke of oxen between the age of 4 and 10 years.
2 or more milch cows.
1 or more good beefs.
3 sheep if they can be obtained.
1000 lbs. of flour or other bread, or bread stuffs in good sacks.
1 good musket or rifle to each male over the age of twelve years.
1 lb. powder.
4 lbs. lead.
1 do. Tea.
5 do. coffee.
100 do. sugar.
1 do. cayenne pepper.
2 do. black do.
1/2 lb. mustard.
10 do. rice for each family.
1 do. cinnamon.
1/2 do. cloves.
1 doz. nutmegs.
25 lbs. salt.
5 lbs. saleratus.
10 do. dried apples.
1 bush. of beans.
A few lbs. of dried beef or bacon.
5 lbs. dried peaches.
20 do. do. pumpkin.
25 do. seed grain.
1 gal. alcohol.
20 lbs. of soap each family.
4 or 5 fish hooks and lines.
15 lbs. iron and steel.
A few lbs. of wrought nails.
One or more sets of saw or grist mill irons to company of 100 families.
1 good seine and hook for each company.
2 sets of pulley blocks and ropes to each company for crossing rivers.
From 25 to 100 lbs. of farming and mechanical tools.
Cooking utensils to consist of bake kettle, frying pan. coffee pot, and tea kettle.
Tin cups, plates. knives, forks, spoons, and pans as few as will do.
A good tent and furniture to each 2 families.
Clothing and bedding to each family, not to exceed 500 pounds.
Ten extra teams for each company of 100 families.

N. B.—In addition to the above list, horse and mule teams can be used as well as oxen. Many items of comfort and convenience will suggest themselves to a wise and provident people, and can be laid, in in season; but none should start without filling the original bill.23

We’re not 100% sure, but some friends and I determined that do. is an abbreviation for dozen.  This list is the recommendation for a family of five for what was a several month journey.  It seems like a well thought out list, I would personally make only a few changes to it.  Not only was this to get them across the plains, but once they got to Utah they had to get established and survive.

Let’s take a look at what they were bringing, I’ll attempt to convert things to a more modern list.

  • A strong 4 wheel drive with a large trailer attached
  • 100 pounds of powdered milk (I’m attempting guess how much they would need in the time it took them to travel and considering that today most people can’t keep a milk cow)
  • 300 – 400 pounds of preserved beef (again, trying to estimate considering most people can’t keep beef cattle
  • 150 – 200 pounds of preserved mutton
  • 1,000 pounds of flour, wheat, or bread
  • 1/2 lbs mustard
  • 600 lbs of rice (I’m assuming that they are referring to a dozen 50 pound bags of rice)
  • 12 sticks of cinnamon? I’m not sure about cinnamon at all, never used it
  • 6 cloves? Again, I’m not sure how to convert this
  • 12 nutmegs? I’m going to assume for these spices that one spice bottle from the grocery store would be sufficient
  • 25 lbs salt
  • 5 lbs baking powder (saleratus)
  • 5 #10 cans of dried apples
  • 50 lbs of beans
  • 5 lbs dried bacon (bacon bits?)
  • 2 #10 cans of dried peaches
  • 20 cans of pumpkin (I think this may have been to make pies with regularly but I’m really not sure, maybe replace it with cans of pie filling?)
  • 25 lbs of seed for planting
  • 1 gal 91% isopropal alcohol
  • 40 bars of soap (I think a bar is about 1/2 pound or so)
  • fishing poles, hooks, line and other tackle
  • Iron and Steel tools i.e. hammers, saws, drills, etc (I think carrying raw steel was to forge tools with which we don’t really do these days)
  • 5 pounds of nails, 8, 10 and 16 penny
  • Wheat grinder
  • 1 good rifle per person (we won’t exclude the women)
  • 250 bullets per rifle
  • 24 lbs powdered drink mix (kool-aid, coffee, tea, etc)
  • 100 lbs sugar
  • 3 bottles of cayenne pepper (Cayenne pepper is a very good herbal treatment as well as a flavoring)
  • 1 Heavy Duty Pulley block with hook or possibly a powered winch on your 4×4
  • 2 good pulley blocks
  • Shovels, rakes, hoes, other gardening tools – as well as a tiller and gas
  • Outdoor Cookware – dutch ovens, frying pans, cooking pots, kettles, etc
  • Eating Utensiles, forks, spoons, knives, plates, bowls, cups
  • A good tent, collapsible chairs, tables, cots etc as desired
  • Several changes of clothes per person
  • 1 Good sleeping bag per person
  • More gas than you need to get where you’re going, spare hoses, fuses, various vehicle parts, tools to repair vehicles

I’m not sure how accurately I’ve converted things but this list makes a lot more sense to me as a baseline than the original one.  It’s not really very accurate to replace animal transportation with modern, we’ll assume that we have to travel slowly or that we’re heading to a camp of some sort for a period of time.

What do you think?  Would you make changes to it?  Is this a helpful list at least to get your mind rolling?

24 thoughts on “Learning From the Pioneers”

  1. Honey wasn’t in the pioneer list, but I think it should have been, perhaps as a substitute for sugar. Like Cayenne, honey has many medicinal uses.

    When are you reproducing this for us, complete with pictures and detailed how to :)

  2. Honey wasn’t in the pioneer list, but I think it should have been, perhaps as a substitute for sugar. Like Cayenne, honey has many medicinal uses.

    When are you reproducing this for us, complete with pictures and detailed how to :)

  3. I don’t have specific modifications to suggestions to make on the list, but when converting it to modern terms we should consider the purposes of the items. Their guns were not only for protection, but also for hunting. In our preparedness do we plan to hunt some of our food? If not we might need to keep more meat than they did and less ammunition.

    Like I said, it’s something to think about.

  4. I don’t have specific modifications to suggestions to make on the list, but when converting it to modern terms we should consider the purposes of the items. Their guns were not only for protection, but also for hunting. In our preparedness do we plan to hunt some of our food? If not we might need to keep more meat than they did and less ammunition.

    Like I said, it’s something to think about.

  5. @ekim – good point on the honey – my father keeps 3 hives and provides us with tons of honey!

    @david – Good point David, in most scenarios I would expect we would be hunting for food. To accommodate this I would be sure to bring my butchering kit as well.

    I see the ammo requirements here as far too few, my personal requirements are 2,000 – 5,000 rounds per caliber weapon, depending on its purpose.

    I think you’re very correct that in this list we need to consider their situation, their time and their purpose for each item.

  6. @ekim – good point on the honey – my father keeps 3 hives and provides us with tons of honey!

    @david – Good point David, in most scenarios I would expect we would be hunting for food. To accommodate this I would be sure to bring my butchering kit as well.

    I see the ammo requirements here as far too few, my personal requirements are 2,000 – 5,000 rounds per caliber weapon, depending on its purpose.

    I think you’re very correct that in this list we need to consider their situation, their time and their purpose for each item.

  7. I think ‘do’ is actually: ditto. You see it all the time in family history records. So it would be 10 lbs of rice, 1 lb cinnamon, 1/2 lb cloves, etc.
    Thanks for all your good info!

  8. I think ‘do’ is actually: ditto. You see it all the time in family history records. So it would be 10 lbs of rice, 1 lb cinnamon, 1/2 lb cloves, etc.
    Thanks for all your good info!

  9. I think your rubbing alcohol substitution entirely misses the point of why the pioneers carried alcohol. 1 gal of alcohol would have had many medicinal purposes. Folks would have used it to prepare herbal tinctures, cough syrups and other medicines from foraged plants. It would have been used as a muscle relaxant, to calm teething children and as an emergency anesthetic before surgery or dental extraction. Rubbing alcohol is only useful as a disinfectant, but poisonous when injested. It’s dangerous to consider them interchangeable.

  10. I think your rubbing alcohol substitution entirely misses the point of why the pioneers carried alcohol. 1 gal of alcohol would have had many medicinal purposes. Folks would have used it to prepare herbal tinctures, cough syrups and other medicines from foraged plants. It would have been used as a muscle relaxant, to calm teething children and as an emergency anesthetic before surgery or dental extraction. Rubbing alcohol is only useful as a disinfectant, but poisonous when injested. It’s dangerous to consider them interchangeable.

  11. One little talked about item that I haven’t seen on any preparedness blog is cloth diapers. I think that cloth diapers will be extremely valuable to families with small children, unless you have a couple years worth of disposables. Without the availability of disposable diapers a lot of people are going to be forced to use old t-shirts and chopped up towels as diapers. I think that real cloth diapers not the cheap Gerber ones will save a lot of pain and trouble for families with infants and small children.

  12. One little talked about item that I haven’t seen on any preparedness blog is cloth diapers. I think that cloth diapers will be extremely valuable to families with small children, unless you have a couple years worth of disposables. Without the availability of disposable diapers a lot of people are going to be forced to use old t-shirts and chopped up towels as diapers. I think that real cloth diapers not the cheap Gerber ones will save a lot of pain and trouble for families with infants and small children.

  13. Do. as “ditto” makes sense, because that makes “20 do. do. pumpkin” read “20 lbs. dried pumpkin.”

    Perhaps one could replace the gallon of alcohol with a first aid kit, then?

  14. Do. as “ditto” makes sense, because that makes “20 do. do. pumpkin” read “20 lbs. dried pumpkin.”

    Perhaps one could replace the gallon of alcohol with a first aid kit, then?

  15. I really enjoyed this post and all of the comments! I have copied both the original list and your updated list – gonna sit down with a cup of tea and re-read both and then make some of my own personal changes! Thanks for updating it as it makes it easier to see what preps we should have on hand. And that’s a mighty fine lineage/ancestry you have there friend!

  16. I really enjoyed this post and all of the comments! I have copied both the original list and your updated list – gonna sit down with a cup of tea and re-read both and then make some of my own personal changes! Thanks for updating it as it makes it easier to see what preps we should have on hand. And that’s a mighty fine lineage/ancestry you have there friend!

  17. Kathi I think you’re right, do. probably does mean ditto! That actually makes a lot more sense.

    Anon – I agree with your assessment of the usage of alcohol. Especially for use as a tincture. The other uses for it can be perhaps better replaced with modern means, but making tinctures still requires alcohol. Thanks for you input.

    Thanks to everyone for the great input so far, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the list!

    Oh, and Dave – you’ve given me a great idea for a new post – we’ve been using cloth diapers for many years.

  18. Kathi I think you’re right, do. probably does mean ditto! That actually makes a lot more sense.

    Anon – I agree with your assessment of the usage of alcohol. Especially for use as a tincture. The other uses for it can be perhaps better replaced with modern means, but making tinctures still requires alcohol. Thanks for you input.

    Thanks to everyone for the great input so far, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the list!

    Oh, and Dave – you’ve given me a great idea for a new post – we’ve been using cloth diapers for many years.

  19. Using alcohol for tinctures is often one of the few ways to obtain what is necessary out of the base ingredient. Use something like a plain cheap vodka, remember to shake it daily and keep it out of the light while making the tincture.

    “Do” for ditto is probably your best guess, as the spices mentioned would have been sold in pounds, not jars. You’ve also got the example of cayenne pepper and what is obviously black pepper, but listed as 2 do. black do. *smile* The nutmegs themselves would often be sold individually, and then carefully grated as needed. (I’m not as current on pioneer records, but I do know my medieval ones.)

    Note, cloves (oil or the actual bud) are good for numbing toothaches, teething gums, or other anesthetic purposes. Tea Tree or Lavender oils are good anti-fungals/antiseptics and a wormwood tincture can really help ease a bruise.

    Knowing alternative uses for many of your herbs and spices, or flowers can allow you more use out of your gardens AND give pleasure/comfort to the senses. Looking up some of the alternative medicine references or even gleaning one or two from the Llewellyn Press books could be a useful addition to that library of preparedness. *grin*

    Stepping off the box now.

  20. Using alcohol for tinctures is often one of the few ways to obtain what is necessary out of the base ingredient. Use something like a plain cheap vodka, remember to shake it daily and keep it out of the light while making the tincture.

    “Do” for ditto is probably your best guess, as the spices mentioned would have been sold in pounds, not jars. You’ve also got the example of cayenne pepper and what is obviously black pepper, but listed as 2 do. black do. *smile* The nutmegs themselves would often be sold individually, and then carefully grated as needed. (I’m not as current on pioneer records, but I do know my medieval ones.)

    Note, cloves (oil or the actual bud) are good for numbing toothaches, teething gums, or other anesthetic purposes. Tea Tree or Lavender oils are good anti-fungals/antiseptics and a wormwood tincture can really help ease a bruise.

    Knowing alternative uses for many of your herbs and spices, or flowers can allow you more use out of your gardens AND give pleasure/comfort to the senses. Looking up some of the alternative medicine references or even gleaning one or two from the Llewellyn Press books could be a useful addition to that library of preparedness. *grin*

    Stepping off the box now.

  21. The alcohol in the 1845 version was most certainly not isopropyl. It was a consumable. And a gal of Vodka, will serve you better than isopropyl. 1. as a solvent, to manufacture tinctures 2. as a relaxant,3. as a cleaner. My family was in the Territory in the 1840’s, and alcohol was not just to wipe the skin. My family made the good stuff for your family, until BY’s son took over the manufacture in after Oct. Conference, in late 1861.

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