Cooking on a Campfire (1800s)

by LaDonna Gunn

In the western territories of the United States, when men set out to travel, they would attempt to buy enough grocery supplies to last them for the entire trip or until the next supply town or fort. Among the most common provisions acquired before a cross-country trip were: "flour; bacon; coffee; sugar; and salt and pepper." If available, the men would buy "potatoes and dried apples." Besides the grocery items, the men also had to pack a "water bucket; camp kettle; frying pans; an oven for baking bread; coffee pot; tin cups and plates; and iron knives, forks and spoons." The travelers made their bread with cream of tartar and soda. Rather than buy coffee already ground, the men would buy coffee beans and carry them in a buckskin bag, pounding the bag on a rock until the coffee was ground. When the travelers needed clean clothes, the men washed their clothes in one of the cooking pans, usually the bread pan.