Westward Expansion Pioneers

McMullen's 2nd Period Class Go West Book Project

By Kaley Settle

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The American Progress by John GAst

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THE FOCUS QUESTION : What does it mean to be an American as a pioneer during Westward Expansion?

What it means to be American, HOw pioneers were American

To be American means to have fortitude, strength, and be a risk taker. The pioneers that made the journey had all of these qualities. Pioneers had to have fortitude to survive through all obstacles and difficulties, strength to be able to get through mental and physical predicaments, and be risk takers to leave a lot behind and take a big risk to make a long journey to create a better life.


PIoneers had a lot of fortitude according to WyomingLivestockRoundup, "hand-stitched period clothing, which was hand-stitched by them." They had hand stitched all their clothing to keep warm during cold times. Another example of fortitude, according to PioneersWest.com is , "There was limited firewood along much of the trail, so the only alternative was dried buffalo dung. Even though the pioneers were hardy, they didn't much enjoy gathering up bushels of chips every night. The chips burned surprisingly well, and produced an odor-free flame. Usually, each family had its own campfire, but sometimes everyone contributed their chips for one big bonfire."


The pioneers had strength because they had to fix wagon trains, carry supplies, and other work. PioneersWest.com quotes "To enjoy such a trip ... a man must be able to endure heat like a Salamander, mud and water like a muskrat, dust like a toad, and labor like a soldier. He must learn to eat with his unwashed fingers, drink out of the same vessel as his mules, sleep on the ground when it rains, and share his blanket with vermin, and have patience with mosquitoes ... he must cease to think, except of where he may find grass and water and a good camping place. It is hardship without glory."


The pioneers were risk takers because they left everything behind to head west not knowing for sure if it would be good thing. According to HIstory.com, "In 1843, some 1,000 men, women, and children climbed aboard their wagons and steered their horses west out of the small town of Elm Grove, Missouri." This was a very risky thing to do and they did it.
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What is the westward expansion?

The Westward Expansion occurred when settlers headed west from east. Settlers were migrating westward into what are now the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as parts of the Ohio Valley and the Deep South. Westward expansion was greatly aided in the early 19th century by the Louisiana Purchase (1803), which was followed by the the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This expansion made the Manifest Destiny possible. The Manifest Destiny was a belief during the 19th century that the United States not only could, but was destined to stretch from coast to coast, "sea to shining sea."
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Maps And Routes


Wagon Trains had many different shapes, sizes and colors. Wagon Trains did not have brakes and that was a problem going downhill. The wheels were made out of wood. Wagon Trains had water-proof tops. Wagon Trains were usually cost one-thousand dollars! Pioneers had to carry many things on the long hard journey west. The wagon trains had to carry food, shovels and blankets. The wagon trains crossed through the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia River. Wagon trains carried a few family members while the rest of the family members walked on the journey west.

The Native AMericans

The Indians were a big part of the Westward Expansion as they made it possible. The Native American tribes all lived all over the USA, including the west. Once the settlers came it the Indians were driven out of their land, homes, and shelters.

Hardships and Obstacles

Major threats to pioneer life and limb came from accidents, exhaustion, and disease. Crossing rivers were probably the most dangerous thing pioneers did. Swollen rivers could tip over and drown both people and oxen. These accidents could cause the loss of life and most or all of valuable supplies. Animals could panic when wading through deep, swift water, causing wagons to tip over. Animals could cause very serious injury to their owners. People could be crushed by wagons or animals, thrown by horses.

Quotes from readings about pioneers

"Our cattle recrossed in the night and went back to their winter quarters. This caused delay in recovering them and a weary, forced march to rejoin the train" - Chapter 1, On The Plains in 1844.

"Our cattle recrossed in the night and went back to their winter quarters. This caused delay in recovering them and a weary, forced march to rejoin the train. This was divided into companies, and we were in that commanded by WIlliam Shaw. Soon after starting, Indians raided out camp one night and drove off a number of cattle. They were pursued, but never recovered." - Chapter 1, On The Plains in 1844.

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Works Cited

Hemken, Christy. “Pioneer women: examples of fortitude on the West’s early trails” <http://www.wylr.net/the-roundup/archives/174-wyoming-people/history/1587-pioneer-women-examples-of-fortitude-on-the-wests-early-trails>


Pioneerswest.com. “Hardships.” <http://www.pioneerswest.com/hardships.html>


History.com Staff. “A thousand pioneers head West on the Oregon Trail.” 2009, A+E Networks <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/a-thousand-pioneers-head-west-on-the-oregon-trail>