Catherine Haun travelled west in a group of around twenty-five, comprising "some half dozen families" who had all been lured by rumors of the wealth to be found in the American West. This was in 1849, at the height of the California Gold Rush.
Haun describes how the women took responsibility on the journey for organizing the group, altering schedules to ensure trains would not be delayed by having to get children ready in the mornings. Instead, mothers allowed small children to sleep in the wagons until the trains were well underway. Haun also states that, while the significant proportion of women and children in her caravan probably meant that the journey took longer, they also made the journey safer. This was partly because their presence dissuaded the men from engaging in needless skirmishes with Indians, and partly because women took greater pains about ensuring that everything was clean--meaning fewer deaths from sickness or ill hygiene. Women's skill in the kitchen also prevented deaths from badly cooked food, and meant that the food was better used, to minimize waste.
The members of the train, when camped, were all appointed different jobs: the women washed clothes, made the food, mended clothes, and did household chores. Haun also indicates that women sometimes had to do "man's work" if the company was small: one woman, whose husband had been bitten by a snake, had to take on more and more of his tasks--mending wagons and seeing to the horses--when he was unable to do them.
When they were not working or assisting the caravan, Haun describes how the women would pay each other visits during the day, planning for the future, knitting, crocheting, exchanging recipes, and so on. In this way, the women were able to keep each other's spirits high; Haun noted that "the men seemed more tired and hungry than were the women," who were better able to support each other emotionally.