This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 15, 1852
“Our men were up, ambitious to get started. We get milk often it seems good to have it for coffee. A drover came along & saw some hog [wort?] drying. The Dr. called me out to tell them how it was made. I told him & he offered me some mutton & called one of the boys & sent me a sheep. We went on until we came to the end of the road where we had to cross the Platte River. Had to raise the bed of our wagons, but got over safely but were somewhat frightened when we saw them go into the water. The Dr. was thrown from his horse. We were very much frightened but were very thankfull to get over safely. We got everything ready for supper for the men when they got the goods all over.” – Mary Stuart Bailey. Mary’s partial handwritten diary can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-of-mary-stewart-bailey.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 16, 1850
“Thls morning one of our Horses died leaving us only 3 to our wagon. The road to day is sandy. The ground in places incrusted with salaratus or soda; in tbe afternoon some of our company thought they Saw Buffalo ahead of us and left the wagons to get a shot at them, when they came near they found the supposed Buffalo to be the Horses belonging to the company who had gone ahead of us at the crossing of Wood river the same that had first organized with us and left us at Council Bluffs, we came up and camped near them by a small Lake. Traveled 22 miles to day.” – William Edmundson. William’s diary was published in 1908 in The Annals of Iowa, volume 8 and can be downloaded at https://ir.uiowa.edu/annals-of-iowa/vol8/iss7/5/. His picture comes from that publication.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 17, 1850
“Went 16 miles. Part of the road was in a ravine and the rest very hilly and stony. Hard on cattle feet. We are now among what they call the Black Hills. They look, at a distance, very black, with scattering trees and bushes on them. We are opposite Laramie Peak. It is a very high hill 6 or 8 thousand feet above the sea. It was named by Col. Freemont. It was white with snow. Camped on Horse Creek. One man died with cholera next camp, and left a wife and 4 children here on the plains. Two men have cholera a few miles back and some all along the road.” – Robert Chalmers. Robert’s diary can be viewed and downloaded at https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/volume_20_1952. The drawing “Death on the Trail” is from one edition of Virginia Reed’s published memoir and was downloaded from https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/cholera-a-trail-epidemic.htm.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 18, 1849
“Startd late. Travled all the fore noon with out coming to any water. Turned of the rode about 1 1/4 miles to noon. Here agen we found the Platte. The rode pretty good but tremendous hot weathere. Plenty of Alkiline water in this vicinity. Have to be very careful in watering stock. The rode on the oposite side runs very near the river. Teams passing nearly all the time. While writing, can see a train about 50 rods long. See but little game. Seen no buffalow for 3 or 4 days. One prairie wolf today; one prarie chicken. First one seen for nearly 2 weeks. Camped on Crab Creek about 1/2 mile from the rode. Small creek but very good watter & grass. Here the bluffs present a rough & rugged aperence.” – Belle Redman Somers. Belle’s diary is accompanied by the 1859 musings of Charles J. Cummings and the 1852 guide written by John Clark. They can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/a-pretty-fair-view-of-the-eliphent-charles-g-hinman-1849. The painting is from the Fort Churchill California Trail Wayside Exhibit in Nevada.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 19, 1865
“We traded the old oxen to a trader this morning for a yoke of steer and forty dollars … We passed two ranches today and are camped close to a ranch and soldier post. The news came in this evening that there had been a coach captured on Big Blue a few days since, also that a heavy body of the same were close to us. Twenty one miles today.” – James McNabb Colwell. Colwell’s diary was published in four parts in the newsletter of the Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society, vol. 25 no. 3-4 and vol. 26 no. 1-2. This diary excerpt can be downloaded from http://community.gorge.net/genealogy/newsletter/v25n4.pdf. The painting “Rock Creek” by William Henry Jackson was downloaded from http://www.whjcollection.com/show_more.asp?ind=19.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 20, 1845
“Wee passed the Company this morning before they got reddy to start. About 6 miles from the creek wee camped on last nite wee struck the North fork again. It comes down in a verry narrow place between two rockey hills then runs thrugh a small bottom and makes an elbow. The rode runs up to the point of the elbow then leaves the river and in about 4 miles wee struck it again and camped at another bend. The rode is verry good today; grass here. Wee had some rain this evening. Wood plenty at both plates; still pine and seder timber on the bluffs. After part of the Company had went to bed the balance of them called a meeting and elected L. Thompson Captain which is the first offiter [officer] that wee have had in our Company.” – Eli Casey Cooley. Cooley’s diary can be viewed at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/CooleyDiary.htm. The photograph is ca. 1870 and shows Eli and Lydia Ann Cooley with their three adult children.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 21, 1852
“We lay by to rest & fill the cattle as they begin to look thin & hollow. About noon we saw afar off two Buffalo coming towards the branch. Although many teams were on the road the two Bison never turned their course until they were fired upon, when they wheeld in a run up the line of moving people five or six miles; then crosing the train & came right back again on the other side with twenty or thirty horesemen in full chase giving them as they ran, one shot after another until one, a large bull fell. Price & myself was the first to nife & claim him, while the mounted men pursued the other several miles north & was lost in the chase. Young Thomson, Price & me took the hide from ours, divided a part of the meat with others. Skind the head for saddle cover. Took what we could carry & left the balance.” – John Clark of Virginia. John’s guide to California is accompanied by the 1859 musings of Charles J. Cummings and the 1849 diary written by Belle Redman Somers. They can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/a-pretty-fair-view-of-the-eliphent-charles-g-hinman-1849. The 1862 painting “Life on the Prairie. The ‘Buffalo Hunt'” by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was downloaded from https://www.cartermuseum.org/collection/life-prairie-buffalo-hunt-1970222.