Cost of Emigration

Foodstuffs were assembled at the start of the journey. The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California, in 1845, recommended that each emigrant supply himself with 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon, 10 pounds of coffee, 20 pounds of sugar, and 10 pounds of salt. Additional supplies included chipped beef, rice, tea, dried beans, dried fruit, saleratus (baking soda), vinegar, pickles, mustard, and tallow. The basic kitchenware was a kettle, fry pan, coffee pot, tin plates, cups, knives, and forks.

Provisions for the journey could cost from three to six hundred dollars, depending on how much the family brought from home. In addition, each family needed a supply of powder, lead, and shot. It needed rifles, too, for an additional sixty or seventy dollars. Thus the basic outfitting cost was between five hundred and one thousand dollars, and emigrants starting east of the Missouri River incurred additional expenses in getting to the jumping-off places from homes in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Then there was always the need for cash to have on hand through the course of the journey itself: to replace stores that were used up; to pay for the charges of the ferrymen at river crossings; to buy replacements for wagons that had broken or oxen that had gone lame; to buy food through the first winter in the new lands.