Any history buffs out there who could shed some light and recommend resources on how Wagon Trains were formed in the American Old West colonization period?
What sort of financial arrangements were made to hire expert guides?
How did they sort out skills to cover necessities?
Did the majority of Wagon Train groups settle in one place as a community, or did they split up upon reaching their destinations?
What parallels can we draw from this period of colonization which would apply to groups of (reasonably) like-minded individuals who want to band together for safety, specialization/division of labour, and financial purposes?
Characteristics of the social make-up of successful vs unsuccessful trips (Donner Party)?
Primary sources on information are always good, as well as commentary and conclusions.