Posted by Jamie Canterbury on June 18, 2018
In the late 19th Century the government passed the homesteading act and really fueled the desire for Americans to get their own little piece of this nation. So, families packed up important tools, like their guns, tools, flint and steel all began migrating west.
Most Used Tools
As you can imagine the hammer was worth its weight in gold. This metal, bludgeoning tool was used to do all sorts of things from fixing the wagons to plunging stakes. Without a quality hammer, it was back to putting in nails with rocks.
It is said that a pioneer wouldn’t go a day without using his hammer for at least one task. To limit the weight in the wagon, pioneers would often remove the handles of their tools and make new ones when the stopped at their next camp.
Flint and Steel
A frequently used fire starter was flint and steel. These pioneers would have likely had a fire every day if not several times a day when they were on the trail. This fire would be integral to sanitizing water and cooking food. It might also be a means of keeping warm, depending on the time of year.
The interesting part about the pioneer’s fires was that they used brush, cow pies and fat to sustain fires because parts of the trail were very low on wood. Still, without that flint and steel they weren’t getting a spark! They also were big proponents of the cotton-based char cloth to start fires.
Just like in survival today, the pioneer's knife was an important part of daily life. While most would assume that this knife was used for all sorts of activities, it was primarily used to slice meats and cut things that required the finesse of a sharp blade. They might have also kept a couple knives for different tasks. In most cases they would have had a knife for working wood and surely a knife, that was kept razor sharp, for cutting meats and slicing. Additionally, while flint and steel were ideal for starting fires, knives would also spark a flame for these settlers.
The shotgun protected the pioneers and their families. This was also the best way they could provide viable fresh meat for their party. The shotgun would be their best method for hunting big game like bison and deer. They would then be able to cook this big game using flint and steel to spark a fire; any remaining parts animal, such as the fur, would be used for clothes or other necessities.
Our ancestral pioneers were promised land and some even gold if they picked the right plot of land. Not to mention the incredible gift of solitude surrounded by some of the most beautiful surroundings on the planet. With little more than a few tools, such as flint and steel, they undertook the most incredible journey. There is a lot for us to learn from these early settlers of the west as survivalists hone their skills today.