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Friday, February 6, 2009

Learning From the Pioneers

1844_1877_1-304x211-custom Learning From the PioneersMany 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.


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?


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