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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
John Millard Hunting

Travel and hunting in pioneer times


This picture of John Millard Charlesworth, taken prior to 1917, was probably taken on a hunting trip but it illustrates one of the primary methods of travel used by our ancestors at the time. There would have been a team of two horses to pull a light wagon or a team of four horses to pull a heavily loaded wagon. Riding horses would be led along at the rear or ridden by other members of the party. People often preferred to ride a horse, or even walk, rather than ride the hard seat on a lurching, jarring, wagon.

When our Morgan ancestors moved from Leamington, Utah to Neeleyville, Idaho in 1881 they would have used farm wagons like the one above but fitted with a canvas cover over the top to keep their belongings dry. They could live out of the wagon box while traveling, sleeping either in the wagon box, in tents, or under the wagon. These wagons, and teams of horses to pull them, were essential items in the lives of our ancestors in the pioneering and homesteading period.


In the picture above John Millard is swinging a sledge hammer. It appears he is either setting up a tent or taking it down. This picture was taken on one of his hunting expeditions, as evidenced by the game hanging in the trees. John Millard appears to have been a capable and competent frontiersman, well able to handle the challenges of homesteading and providing for his family by procuring wild game.

Wild game was a significant, if sometimes unreliable, source of food for our Morgan ancestors as they pioneered in the American West. The ability to hunt and bring home food was an essential survival skill for most men. This tradition was so deeply ingrained into our Morgan family that it persisted in it's "Bringing home the bacon" form (As opposed to the now more common recreational form) into the 1970's. Morgans living on Idaho farms commonly made trips to the nearby mountains to bring home deer, elk, antelope, moose, and various other animals and birds which were brought home and stored for winter food. It was not recreation. It was food gathering, just as harvesting crops was.

The ability to hunt was a valuable skill that was learned by boys at an early age. It was, in the authors experience, one of the primary means by which fathers bonded with their sons. The constant hard work on the farm was wearying, numbing, and often a source of irritation and friction between a father and his sons as the demands weighed heavily on both. But hunting was exhilaratingly different. Hunting, while hard work in it's own right, was a chance to get away from the daily drudge of farm work. Hunting was the father leading and teaching and the sons enjoying the chance to prove themselves as hunters. There was a shared excitement in hunting that brought father and son closer together. In the author's experience hunting was a time that father and son could enjoy together while still fulfilling the important task of bringing home meat for the table. The shared hardships of the hunt were given an affectionate dimension by the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of bringing home wild game. The author, raised on a farm in Idaho in the 1940's and 1950's, does not look back with fondness on the daily grind of chores and the weeks and months spent working in the fields with his father, but there is great fondness in the memories of the time father and son spent hunting together.


John Millard Charlesworth in an Idaho hunting camp eating a chunk of bread (Undoubtably home made by his wife Sarah Jane) and drinking a cup of coffee. The Mule Deer head and hide would have been taken home, the hide sold, tanned or traded, and the horns perhaps nailed up on the barn. Sometimes unusual or very large horns were put up on the wall in the house. The total lack of amenities in this camp was not unusual. The fire was built in a pit or a circle of rocks to contain it. The two lever action hunting rifles leaned against a nearby bush. The cooking utensils on the ground. This picture, even though taken in a temporary hunting camp, was similar to much wagon travel, and illustrates well the starkness of pioneering and homesteading life.

Jane Holden Morgan

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