Saturday, March 23, 1850

Beginning in early February, 1850 John App started accumulating the supplies and provisions he knew were necessary for him to successfully complete the journey to California. All pioneers destined for California or Oregon who traveled along the California-Oregon Trail had, of course, the same expectations of a successful journey. Travel light, make good time, and be well provisioned were the goals John had set for himself as he made his preparations. Being ahead meant more grass for his mules to graze, and gave the travelers a better chance to avoid the deadly disease, cholera. With cholera a person could feel symptoms in the morning and be dead and buried along the trail by evening.

The following items were listed in his diary, but are probably not an exhaustive list. There are times when an item was purchased at several points in time in order to have enough, and the prices listed are representative of the era. Even though 465 pounds of dried hams, and 412 pounds of crackers may seem like a lot to take along, John knew that’s what he needed to avoid the shortages that some of the other pioneers would suffer later on the trail. You’ll smile at many of the supplies he packed – some of THEM would probably kill you!

You will notice that John is very accurate with his mileages. How did he do it? There was a device that had recently been invented called a “Frontier Odometer.” It may have been referred to by other names, but you can see and read about it here.

Notes about the list: the spelling is his, uninterpreted words have underlines where they should be, and explanations are in [ ] brackets.


x lbs[Epsom] E. salts10¢
1/4 lbsRubarb25¢
1 ozCalomel20¢
4 ozJallop 
1 dozBoxes pills 
1 qtCastor oil 
1/4 lbsCyan pepper25¢
1 dozBoxes mustard10¢
1/2 lbCampher10¢
8 ozLaudnum 
4 ozExtract of gum cyno 
2 ozPowdered opium 
4 ozOil of peppermint 
2 gall4th proof brandy 
6 grainsBlue moss 
1 lbsSaltpeter 
 Quicksilver ointment 
1/4 reamLetter paper 
1 __Steelpens 
1 dozBottles ink 
1Paper sand 
1/4 lbsWafers 
3 dozof envelops (large & small) 
 Small buttons 
 Thread & needles 
1 hankYarn 
4 prSocks 
 [handkerchiefs] Hdkfs 
1 prShoes 
 Dried apples25¢
 Parched corn50¢
15 gall kegPickles & onions 
3 lbsGunpowder 
 Salt & pepper 
 1/2 inch auger 
 3/4 inch auger 
 1 inch auger 
 1 1/2 inch auger 
1Hand saw 
 1/2 inch chisel 
 1 inch chisel 
1Hatchet & axe 
4 lbs3 penney nails 
4 lbs4 penney nails 
4 lbs20 penney nails 
1King bolt – extra 
1Coupling bolt – extra 
1/2 kegPowder (blasting) 
1Drill needle 
 Powder shot & [percussion] P. caps – lead 
3Pick axes 
3___ fine ___ [sieve] sive 
1Gum elastic bag for water (1 gall) 
1Tea kettle$1.30
1Frying pan75¢
4 dozTin plates50¢
3 dozTin cups30¢
1Small coffee mill35¢
1Tin pan [large] larg 
1/4 dozKnives & forks35¢
1/2 doz___ spoons ___15¢
1Tin bucket40¢
 [rope] Roap65¢
2 lbs___ Nails25¢
 Butts & screws13¢
 Clasp & staples10¢
1Paint brush25¢
 Paint & litherage20¢
 Shoe thread10¢
 Mule expence$45.00
 ___ Chains$1.00
 Hoop iron30¢
 Horse rasp50¢
 ___ Spillinan hoop keg40¢
1 1/2 galOil$1.75
1 lbsLitherage25¢
2 lbsNails25¢
1 gallOil$1.25
2 gallBrandy$4.00
1 bunchCard25¢
 Tin pan [large] larg35¢
1 lbsPowder50¢
12 lbsTallow$1.20
5 lbsBlack lead25¢
10 lbsSoap70¢
 Lamp & wick30¢
2 1/2 lbsSalatarus25¢
1/2 bushSalt25¢
1/2 gallOil60¢
100 ftRope$1.55
1Wood bucket25¢
2 lbsTea$1.80
125 lbsSugar$7.50
50 lbsCoffee$7.50
465 lbsMeat – hams & venison ham 
412 lbsCrackers 
50 lbsFlour 
30 lbsBeans$1.50
15 lbsRice$1.00
75 lbsPickells 
60 lbsVinegar 

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