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Firearms at Pioneer Village: A Big Bang

Noah Edwards
On January 19, 2022

Within the fascinating collections of antiques that tell time at Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, the firearms are no different in showing the pioneers’ way of life. These guns help us to understand the methods in which pioneers actively protected themselves, collected their food, and just how far we have come technologically in the scope of firearms.

 

Included within the collection are a variety of long guns and handheld firearms. What is intriguing about the collection is that these firearms possess different uses.  For example, some handheld guns simply lack the power to kill a large animal, such as a buffalo. If you fail to kill a buffalo, chances are, it will become mad at you and start to charge you, which could result in a great deal of pain or even death for the pioneer. Therefore, it is important to use the right firearm for the job. Shown in the photo included are a variety of these long guns that differ in use. The guns on display are accurate in showing the audience what these guns that pioneers relied on looked like.

What some may forget to remember is that pioneers were always carrying their firearms with them, and these guns were likely the most important tool to them. According to Outdoor Revival, “hardly any pioneer families were without [a gun].” These guns were how people heading westward and living in isolation would protect themselves, their families, and other groups from attacks from wild animals including bears, snakes, coyotes, and more. Guns allowed a massive advantage for settlers over their attackers, as they bared a trusty ranged weapon that carried the fatal capability to stop oncoming attacks. Pioneers would also use their guns to hunt for food and other materials. For example, the buffalo was such an important animal to pioneers. The buffalo would provide a variety of different useful items to pioneers, namely items made with their skin and tongue, such as blankets and clothing. In certain years, the weather was bad for crops. This meant that if crops, the main source of food for pioneers, were destroyed, settlers would be left without a sustainable source of food, increasing the urgency to hunt for food to eat. Animals used for food, such as deer, are too big to trap and too fast for handheld combat, making it important that settlers had guns to hunt with.

These firearms also show just how far technology in the scope of firearms has come. Shown in the picture is a variety of firearms from long guns and handheld guns to bows and arrows. These guns help us understand the scope of how firearms were made and used in times past.  Compared to today, guns were a necessity for pioneer families in the past. This meant that firearms were made in abundance, meaning you were able to purchase a trusty firearm for relatively cheap. Compared to guns of today, shotguns in the day could outrange a handheld gun, making the 12-gauge shotgun the go-to firearm when it comes to protecting your family and hunting.

References:
  • TripAdvisor
  • Outdoor RevivalWilliams, D. (2018, February 14). Tools Used by the Pioneers to Tame the Wilderness – Outdoor Revival. Outdoor Revival. Retrieved October 28, 2021
Noah Edwards
A student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

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