As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, let’s take some time to think about our founding fathers.
Traditionally, when we speak of the founding fathers, we’re referring to the founding fathers of our country.
We do owe them a great many thanks, but today we’re focusing on the innovative, self-reliant men who introduced survival skills and emergency preparedness to Americans (aka the founding fathers of American survival).
We owe these men a debt of gratitude for the survival techniques they demonstrated and the tools they created.
Today, let’s take some time to reflect on some of the groundbreaking fathers in American history.
10. Tim Ralston
You may have seen Tim Ralston on the show Doomsday Preppers, but his real claim to fame is being an “inventor prepper.”
Tim Ralston has invented several survival products, including the popular “Crovel” in 2012. The Crovel is a combination of crowbar and shovel, which serves a multitude of survival purposes: weapon and tool.
In addition to the Crovel, Ralston has invented the “X-Caliber” shotgun system, which allows you to shoot 11 different caliber rounds from a single-shot 12 gauge shotgun using rifled adapters.
He continues to work on new survival innovations.
9. Tim Leatherman
Survival experts all agree that a multi-tool is a must-have piece of gear. The most common one is the Leatherman multi-tool, which includes a knife, pliers, files, and more (depending on the style).
We can thank Tim Leatherman for this handy tool. He invented this pocket survival tool out of a desire to have a Boy Scout knife with pliers.
He created and patented his idea in 1980, but it took an effort to introduce it to the masses.
According to Men’s Journal, “Tim eventually patented his idea and tried to sell it to knife companies (which dismissed it as more of a tool), then to tool companies (which believed it was a gadget that wouldn’t sell). After getting the brush-off from potential buyers including AT&T and the U.S. military, Leatherman realized he’d need to manufacture the thing himself.”
Today, Tim’s company is worth more than $100 million, and his name is synonymous with survival gear.
8. Kenneth Deardorff
Ken Deardorff is considered America’s last homesteader.
The Vietnam veteran made his way to Alaska in 1974 and became a homesteader in a remote area of Alaska (nearly 90 air miles south of McGrath, the closest village).
He filed a homestead claim for a 50-acre spot by the Stony River in 1979, but it would take years before the patent was official.
As he awaited the patent, he lived in a tent and survived off the land and the minimal provisions he could get to the remote area while he built a cabin for his family.
7. George Washington Carver
When you think of prepping, the last person you may think of is George Washington Carver.
Carver was much more than just the peanut man. He brought us his crop rotation method and revolutionized agriculture. And, as preppers, his crop rotation method continues to be helpful for those of us growing our own food.
According to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, “At Tuskegee, Carver developed his crop rotation method, which alternated nitrate-producing legumes such as peanuts and peas with cotton, which depletes soil of its nutrients. Following Carver's lead, southern farmers began planting peanuts one year and cotton the next.”
6. Samuel Morse
We owe much to Samuel Morse, the creator of the Morse Code.
An artist and inventor, Morse created the “Morse code” system of communication in the 1830s. His invention used electrical telegraphy (the telegraph) for the transmission of a coded message.
In 1838, Morse began working with Alfred Vail, and the two men developed the system of dots and dashes for sending electrical signals via telegraph that became known as the Morse Code.
With the rise of satellite and mobile communication, many people believe Morse code is a thing of the past. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Morse code is still useful today in disaster or survival situations and to help get your message out there as Big Tech and the government continue to ban free speech online.
5. Jim Bowie
The life history of the namesake of the “Bowie” knife, Jim Bowie, is a little unclear.
Much of the myth about Jim Bowie is tied to his fighting nature – a duelist who once disemboweled his competitor with a knife and survived his own serious fight injuries.
Here are some of the stories about Bowie as shared in Field and Stream:
“After the Vidalia Sandbar Fight, Bowie may have decided that carrying a social knife full-time was prudent, and may have had the knife that bears his name forged by an Arkansas blacksmith named James Black, and may have used it in a duel with a gambler named Jack Sturdivant, in which he crippled Sturdivant, and may have used it to butcher the three assassins Sturdivant sent after him.”
At some point, someone picked up Bowie’s knife and copies to be made. The Bowie knife became so popular that many Confederate soldiers wore them on their belts just for photographs.
4. Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone’s advanced survival skills led to his becoming one of America’s first folk heroes.
He learned from an early age how to track, trap, and hunt.
He was comfortable and confident in the wilderness and knew ways to navigate new terrains, which is how he ended up discovering the Cumberland Gap.
For example, according to Steven Rinella, “When you read Daniel Boone’s descriptions of his travels, he is usually describing them in terms of creeks and drainages. Follow this creek to that creek. Follow this drainage to that drainage. Early maps were generally big flat landscapes with few internal features but all the waterways were marked on them. People knew to pay close attention to that, because that is how they could figure out where they were and where they were going.”
During his expeditions, he was known for performing extreme survival tasks, such as chopping down trees to build bridges for wagons to pass over and killing 155 black bears in one fall.
His survival skills also enabled him to escape and defend himself against Native Americans on several occasions.
3. John Colter
John Colter was part of Lewis and Clark’s famed Corps of Discovery… but he was also the man who chose to stay behind as the others made their way home.
According to The History Channel, “Colter decided to shun civilization and strike out on a career as a fur trapper. He soon established himself as one of America’s original mountain men, and may have been the first white man to lay eyes on Yellowstone National Park.”
But how Colter survived as a fur trapper is the stuff of legends. He once survived a human hunt (he was the human being hunted).
Legends of America recounts, “Turning and facing the Indian, Colter killed him with his own spear, took his blanket, and by hiding in the river under a pile of logs, was able to escape. For the next eleven days, he walked 200 miles back to Fort Raymond with only the blanket for warmth and survived on bark and roots to eat.”
2. George Washington
While much is attributed to George Washington’s status as America’s first president, he should also be recognized as one of America’s earliest survivalists.
As Washington led his army in Valley Forge, he had to think about survival in new ways. For one, the army was facing extremely cold temperatures, medical issues, and a lack of food.
To battle the cold, Washington instructed his army to build log huts to house soldiers and families. Soldiers were also instructed to use straws for warm bedding.
To battle medical issues, Washington created a primitive hospital system focusing on basic first aid.
To battle the lack of food, Washington implored Congress to send more supplies. Washington appointed General Nathanael Greene to create a system of supply depots, purchasing agents, and wagon trains to haul food supplies into Valley Forge.
George Washington recognized the importance of shelter, first aid, and food – and America defeated the British, in part, for this very reason.
Americans owe a great bit of thanks to Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrim settlers navigate the New World.
He acted as an interpreter between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, and he also taught them native methods of planting the land and fishing. In fact, historians claim that the success of the first Thanksgiving was largely due to Squanto’s involvement and was a celebration in his honor.
Thank the dads who taught you survival skills today, friends. Stay alert - times are interesting for sure.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply