T.H. Jefferson printed a map for use by emigrants following his 1846 trip to California. His map was based on the map produced by John Fremont’s cartographer, Charles Preuss. To the map Jefferson added important information and advice for emigrants some of which is below.
An interesting part of this map and its route is that Jefferson arrived in California as part of Lansford Hastings’ wagon train somewhat ahead of the Donners in 1846. Hastings was the fellow who gave the Donner Party the idea to take a “shortcut” that he advocated. That advice was seconded by men at Fort Bridger and the Donners did not get a letter that warned against taking the shortcut. Hastings’ party, with Jefferson, initially took the same route and were a bit ahead of the Donner Party. They got over the Sierra before winter set in. The Donner Party started using the "shortcut" but on advice from Hastings, via a letter posted to a board, diverged from the route in the Wasatch Mountains.
T.H. Jefferson traveled to Californiais an “accompaniment” to the map which is a booklet of advice to emigrants heading for california. It starts off with advice, “The journey is not entirely a pleasure trip. It is attended with some hardships and privation - nothing, however, but that cannot be overcome by those of stout heart and good constitution.”
The first bit of advice is that there are two ways to go across country. One is with a wagon and that takes four to six months. The second is “packing” or going only with horses or mules. That takes sixty to ninety days. Jefferson recommended packing even for women and children. Women should wear, while packing, hunting-frocks, loose pantaloons, men’s hats and shoes, and ride just like men – no side saddles.
Take enough food. You can’t count on game.
Carry nothing but provisions and what’s absolutely necessary
Packers Should Take:
Bring a stake that “will hold the wildest horse”
You can get horses shod at Ft. Laramie or Ft. Bridger for $5
Take a sleeping tent 7’ x 4’ x 5’ Don’t paint it.
Oil cloth the floor of the tent – dip in water and paint with linseed oil.
Take an umbrella for desert sun.
Wagoneers Should Take:
Take a “farmer’s wagon” of seasoned wood – he gives a lot of design considerations
Don’t paint it.
Take a spare cotton cloth to use as an awning. It provides “agreeable shade for a lunch or siesta…”
Mackinaw blankets – the very best, thick and heavy
Sack coat and pantaloons
Deer skin hunting shirt and pants
Striped twilled cotton or hickory shirts Red flannel shirts,
Cotton socks Stout pegged shoes or brogans – broad soled and large
Stout white felt hat
One should not start with wheels about which there is a “particle of doubt” or he’ll “meet with trouble and vexation.” Wheels must be made of the very best seasoned wood, by a superior workman, and ironed in the driest weather.”
Do not take more than 1,000 or 1,500 lbs of weight.
Two oxen is good but three is better.
Don’t take loose cattle except a milk cow. If she becomes troublesome kill her and eat her.
Drive everything before your wagon. Following in the dust causes an animal to fail rapidly.
Wash your oxen’s necks with water and sometimes soap each day. Don’t grease their necks.
If the ox’s neck gets sore wash with urine and powder.
Oxen go 2 mph and 15 miles per day or so.
It’s better to travel every day.
Start after breakfast. Stop an hour at noon. Camp at 4 PM.
Take lots of bread stuff. “this is the staff of life”
Don’t take just fine flour. It’s not good for the bowels and is unwholesome. Take “unbolted wheat flour and Indian corn meal.”
Take 200 lbs of bread per man (packers take 100 lbs.) Take more if you can. “it becomes valuable as gold during the latter part of the journey.”
Don’t take fat bacon. Take lean ham and smoked beef (“bagged and limed)
Food to Take:
Smoked salmon, herring, sardines, preserved meats, and soups in tin.
Cheese A little olive oil and butter.
Meat and grease packed in tin.
Rice, beans, peas, butter crackers, soda biscuits, ship bread, dried fruit, …
Sugar house syrup (in tin can), sugar, vinegar, pickles, pepper, salt.
Tea, ground coffee
“Those determined to annoy themselves preparing coffee, want a coffee-mill screwed to the body of the wagon. A water drinker fares the best, and is saved a great deal of trouble; cooking is an annoyance.”
“Buffalo meat is sweet and wholesome; cow meat is the most tender.” The best way to cook it is to run a stick through the meat, plant the stick in the ground at and angle to the fire and “mountain roast” it. Cut slices and hang the slices over the fire. The meat will keep the entire journey.
“Good bread is the most important and best food to be had upon the journey –“ Few know how to make it though. Don’t use grease.
Bake bread, after kneading it well, in the form of a biscuit.
Packers should carry bread in goat-skin sacks which can be used for water later.
Wagoners should carry bread in cotton canvas sacks with circular bottoms 2’ x 2’. They stand upright.
Use buffalo chips for fires.
Bring a single-barrelled rifle $25 and a brace of U.S. holster-pistols
One to five pounds of powder Split and ribbed percussion caps Bullets
Bullet screw, ladle, lead, friction matches, tin cans, powder-flask; oil-cloth gun-case
Patent leather drinking cup
Various useful articles to take:
Knife, whetstone, axes, hatchet, sickle, spade, saw, nails, tacks, needles, pins, thread, thimble, scissors, wax, sail needles, twine, palm, shoe leather, pegs, awls, hammer, king bolt, linch pins, staples, iron ring. Rope, cotton cloth, camp stool, bee’s-wax, tallow, spare chain, soap, sperm candles, tin lantern, camp-kettle. Tin ware – pail, plate pan, mug, washbowl, coffee-pot small water-keg iron spoon, knife and fork, herbs, “ a few simple, useful medicines”
Some General Emigrant Advice from T.H. Jefferson, 1849
“Upon this journey the bad passions of men are apt to show themselves. Avoid all partnerships if possible.. Provide your own outfit and expect to take care of yourself….. Appoint no captain – make no by-laws. Be quiet; attend to your own business; make no promises.”
You will stay together only as long as you have common interests and no longer. You can stop and join another party any time (not a quote) “It is much better for the emigrants to scatter themselves along the road in small parties, a day’s journey or so apart, than to undertake to travel in a large body. Try to go in company with quiet, peaceable men – avoid braggarts; …Start in April,… but not later than the first of May. Those who go ahead get the best grass and clean camp grounds.”
He explains how to get up a hill if it’s too steep, that one should test out the wagons ahead of time and be practiced with oxen.
Always be on the guard against Indians and take a few “articles of trade.” “The less you have to do with the Indians the better. That said, "Indians like Mackinaw blankets, flint lock guns, powder and ball, knives, hatchets, squaw awls, whiskey, tobacco, beads, vermillion, flints.”