Emigrants of the 1850s

To the observer with a discerning eye, significant changes had come about in the emigrant parties that assembled along the Missouri River towns of 1852 and 1853. In all the activity of those “jumping-off places” . . . certain changes could be observed. Wagon trains seemed to be made up of larger family units. There were now herds of cattle and sheep, and extra wagons packed with provisions. The companies and their outfits were grander. . . .

These families were more than farmers. They were ready to run a business, raise and sell a herd of sheep, manage a hotel, open a carpentry shop, trade a horse, sell a farm. Their knowledge and their skills were not only those needed for breaking ground, but for trading and selling and relocating. These families were comfortable in the towns as well as on the farms. They had waited prudently before they sold their farms and set out for Oregon or California. No acting from quick enthusiasm here, just the careful determination that the right time had come.