a group of 5th graders making decisions
on what to purchase for their trip west
Oxen or horses,
bacon or a rifle,
an axe or a shovel?
These were some of the decisions Mrs. Hjerleid's fifth graders had to make as part of a history simulation game brought to their classroom by the museum.
After listening to some background information about settlement in the county, the students imagined they were part of a pioneer family in 1868 moving west to Pocahontas County. The students used reasoning skills to choose what items to purchase for their trip. Then they listened to a story about their trip and received points for choosing items that were necessary for success. This activity was part of their year-long study of Iowa history.
Here's a true story of pioneers who journeyed to Pocahontas County in 1868 and settled just north of present day Fonda.The following excerpt is from The Pioneer History of Pocahontas County by Rev. Robert E. Flickinger.
"Elijah Chase, his wife Elizabeth and five children, Marquis, Alfretta, Converse, Frederick and Thomas...came from Buchanan County with an outfit that consisted of four loaded wagons drawn by fourteen yoke of oxen, and ten head of cattle. They were accompanied from the same place by Geo. Spragg, a brother of Mrs. Chase whose outfit consisted of two wagons drawn by four yoke of oxen and four head of cattle. These were the first settlers of Cedar Township."
Do you wonder why they needed so many oxen? Rev. Flickinger explains that all eighteen yoke of oxen were needed to pull a single wagon through the mud of the sloughs. He recounts the story of Chase's eighteen year-old son, Marquis, who went for a load of supplies to Fort Dodge the following year. On the way home his eight head of oxen were drowned in Purgatory Slough (northeast of Pomeroy) after being mired in the mud.