Pack Saddles


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Southwest Virginia Project

From:Source:Dunbar, 1915:136

The pack-saddles used at the time were made from the forked branches of trees, and were hound to the animals by broad strips of deerskin. In order to fit a horse's back the forked branches had to be of a certain peculiar shape. It is related that on one occassion an early preacher, while exhorting his people in a grove, stopped abruptly in the middle of his appeal to call the attention of tne congregation to such a suitable fork in a near-by tree.


Source:Dunbar, 1915:139

The animals burden was conveyedd in baskets made of woven willow or bark. Babies were also carried in such receptacles during journeys


Source:Dunbar, 1915:127

The younger children swung in wicker baskets made from hickory withes, and two or three horses were thus loaded with the next generation, whose members had nothing to do but eat hoe-cake and count the trees.


Source:Dunbar, 1915:141

His companions were twenty-six men, four women, half a dozen children in baskets and the usual live stock. At the head of this cavalcade..of...picturesque appearance...he travelled safely through the forests, and at last the voices of white women, the laughter of children, the melancholy call of cattle and the squealing of pigs were heard in the promised land.


Source:Dunbar, 1915:141 an address delivered by Chief Justice Robertson of Kentucky, in 1843. He was describing what had been told to him by his father and mother, who had made the journey

in 1779. He said: [They] "...came like pilgrims to a wilderness to be made secure by their arms and habitable by the toil of their lives. Through privations incredible and perils thick, thousands of men, women, and children came in successive caravans, forming continuous streams of human beings, horses, cattle and other domestic animals, all moving onward along a lonely and houseless path to a wild and cheerless land. Cast your eyes back on that long procession, . . . behold the men on foot with their trusty guns on their shoulders, driving stock and leading packhorses: and the women, some walking with pails on their heads, others riding with children in their laps, and other children swung in baskets on horses, fastened to the tails of others going before: see them encamped at night, expecting to be massacred by Indians: behold them in the month of December, in that ever-memorable season of unprecedented cold called the 'hard winter three miles a day, frequently in danger of being frozen or killed by the falling of horses on the icy and almost impassable trace, and subsisting on stinted allowances of stale bread and meat ; but now lastly look at them at the destined fort, perhaps on the eve of merry Christmas, when met by the hearty welcome of friends who had come before, and cheered by fresh buffalo meat and parched corn, they rejoice at their deliverance, and resolve to be contented with their lot." '