Pioneers Travel in Groups

Time Frame: Early 1800's

In the early 1800s people traveling to Iowa to settle often came in caravans. They relied on farmer families along the way to provide them with fresh food.
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“The Prairie Pioneers,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 4, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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The basic traveling unit was the family. Hardly anyone traveled alone. They were coming to open farms and farming has always been a family activity. Some families, or groups of relatives, formed informal parties for the move. Others banded together into associations, organizing a collective migration complete with officers, business managers, advanced men and scouts. The journey was long and hard. Up at daybreak, families spent the next 10-14 hours winding through the rough terrain. And when they stopped for evening, their work had just begun.

When we wanted vegetables or horse feed, we would begin to look for some farmhouse along toward evening and get a head of cabbage, potatoes, a dozen eggs or a pound of butter. Where there were farms old enough to raise anything to spare, they were glad to exchange their produce for a few dimes.

The pioneers relied upon those settlers who were there before them. They were eager to encourage these newcomers. They had already experienced a taste of life on the prairie and were hopeful for these hardy souls who ventured into the unknown.


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