Skip to main content

Handcart pioneers

  • ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS A "chimney" is used to pre-heat the charcoal.
    ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS A "chimney" is used to pre-heat the charcoal.
Published August 08. 2014 04:00PM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a summer picnic near Lehighton in conjunction with its annual Pioneer Day.

Carrying out the pioneer theme, which celebrates the move to Utah when the Mormons were persecuted in Illinois, cooking was done in Dutch ovens.

The event also celebrated the 35th anniversary of the branch (church).

Gary Schoenberger, who was taking a turn cooking the hot dogs and hamburgers over an open fire, said heat can be controlled in the Dutch ovens by how many pieces of charcoal are used both under and on top of the oven.

Two stews, one including modern tater tots and one made from scratch, were bubbling in the Dutch ovens. There were blueberry and cherry cobblers in addition to many potluck foods.

A "chimney," a container approximately the size in diameter of a Number 10 can and which can be substituted for a commercial chimney with air holes in the bottom, is used to heat the charcoal to a char stage. It needs only some crumbled paper in the bottom to preheat the charcoal.

The 12 charcoal briquettes on top of the Dutch oven and 12 on the bottom, as used when making cobblers, produced a heat equal to 350 degrees in a household oven.

After everyone was considering themselves well fed, Patrick Eyler, a church missionary, told the story of two handcart companies, Martin's and Willie's, on their way to Utah that got caught by winter while still in Wyoming. Between the two companies there were 1,075 people.

Handcarts were used to carry a family's possessions. The people walked along the trail.

Brigham Young, a church leader, said, "This is my text. Go out and rescue the people on the plains."

Some of the people had to be carried across Sweet Water River. Fourteen were buried before they reached Utah. One 9-year-old girl, Bodil Mortensen, went out to collect material for a fire and didn't return.

Families that were involved with the second rescue were told to research their families because work in the temples involves binding the families together.

The third rescue is for loved ones who have passed away. Ordinances are performed in the temple to guarantee they remain part of the family.

About the local church, he said, "We want to build our branch into a ward."

"Let's pioneer," he said as church members portraying the handcart pioneers walked to the campground.

After dinner Doug DeVore gave a talk on genealogy and said the many records collected by the Mormon church are open to everyone.

The lessons in the use of cast-iron continued.

Eyler demonstrated how a cast-iron pan can be renewed using salt and oil. To show the results, he had a pan that was half covered with rust and half that had been cleaned. Small portions of salt and oil were mixed in the pan course salt works better but plain table salt will do. Taking a washcloth, Eyler suggested a throw-away one, he began to scrub. The first half had taken 20 minutes but during the demonstration another quarter was cleaned in five minutes.

To season a pan it should be coated with oil inside and out and baked for 1 hour at 300 degrees. For Dutch ovens, he prefers to use 1-1/2 inches of oil and then use it to fry doughnuts. Eyler said you just have to wipe it when the doughnuts are all cooked.

Tater Tot Stew

Recipe from Patty Blose

2 pounds ground beef

2 16-ounce packages frozen tater tots

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 onion, chopped

2 cans green beans, one drained, one with the water

Brown beef and onion. Stir in soup. Top with beans and tater tots.

Use 14 charcoal briquettes on bottom and 12 on top. Cook for one hour.


Recipe from Patty Blose

3 cans pie filling

Combine a box of cake mix with 1- cup water and 1/2 cup oil.

Place the cake on top of the pie filling.

Use 12 charcoal briquettes on bottom and 12 on top. Bake till the cake is cooked.


Recipe from Kevin and Kristie Bake

1 pound ground beef

1 pound stew meat, cut small and dredged in flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meats

1 large onion

4-5 cloves garlic finely diced

4 medium carrots, sliced thin

8-9 small potatoes, diced

2 packages onion soup mix

2 cans zesty tomatoes with chilies

Water to nearly cover.

Use 14 briquettes on the bottom and 12 on top. Cook 1-1/2 hours or till potatoes are soft.

It was the first time the Bakes made the stew and they made up the recipe as they went along. It disappeared quickly so it must have been good.

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2017


Upcoming Events

Twitter Feed


Bombers get creative with parade floats

40.8014826, -75.6101867

Some of Palmerton’...

Man faces charges for shooting his dog

40.8014826, -75.6101867

Charges have been...

Extension hosts annual dinner

40.7986942, -75.8104747

The Carbon County Ex...

Reader Photo Galleries