The early American pioneer movement and settlement started first with fur trappers, explorers and frontiersmen who would discover and map the territory. Small bands of settlers would then follow behind. Farmers cleared the land and eventually permanent settlers would organize communities which evolved into towns. America was pioneered primarily through this pattern of exploration, vigorous farming and community-building.
Two great migrations of American pioneers occurred between the year 1760 and 1850. The first migration concerned the land beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The second was the pioneering of the American west and northwest. It was during this second migration that the famous horse-drawn covered wagons were driven across the Oregon and Santa Fe Trail. The Homestead Act in 1862 encouraged Americans to purchase and work the land, increasing settlement in the western part of America.
Pioneers lived off the land. The men hunted, fished, and trapped for meat. Other sustenance came
from the crops grown on the farm, most often corn. Homes were built from wood cut from the forests. The women took care of the children, helped with the farming, spun yarn, and cooked the food. Families were reliant on themselves unless a community was formed nearby, which meant life was very dangerous and difficult for early pioneers.