This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 22, 1839
“During my absence [hunting], one of those petty bickerings, so common among men released from the restraints of society and law, had arisen between two of the most quarrelsome of the company, terminating in the accidental wounding of one of them. It occurred, as I learned in the following manner: a dispute arose between the parties as to their relative moral honesty in some matter, thing, or act in the past. And as this was a question of great perplexity in their own minds, and doubt in those of others, words ran high and abusive, till some of the men, more regardful of their duty than these warriors, began preparations to strike the tent. The redoubtable combatants were within it; and as the cords were loosed, and its folds began to swing upon the centre pole, the younger of the braves, filled with wrath at his opponent, attempted to show how terrible his ire would be if once let loose among his muscles. For this purpose, it would seem he seized the muzzle of his rifle with every demonstration of might, &c, and attempted to drag it from among the baggage. The hammer of the lock caught, and sent the contents of the barrel into his side. Every thing was done for the wounded man that his condition required, and our circumstances permitted. Doctor Walworth, of the Santa Fe caravan, then eight miles in advance, returned, examined, and dressed the wound, and furnished a carriage for the invalid…. To remain, therefore, in our present encampment, until Smith could travel without pain and danger, was deemed certain death to all. To travel on in a manner as comfortable to the invalid, as our condition would permit — painful to him and tedious to us though it should be — appeared therefore the only means of safety to all, or any of us. We accordingly covered the bottom of the carriole with grass and blankets, laid Smith upon them, and with other blankets bolstered him in such manner that the jolting of the carriage would not roll him.” – Thomas Jefferson Farnham. Farnham was traveling the Oregon Trail before the opening of the California Trail. His book can be viewed at https://archive.org/details/farnhamstravelsi00farnrich/page/90/mode/2up. The camp illustration was downloaded from https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/File:Humboldt_River_camp_drawing_1859.jpg.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 23, 1853
“We crossed Laramie to day about noon. The horses etc by swimming and the wagons being taken over on a flat-boat. We stopped at the fort for some hours to get some of Mr. Bowman’s horses shod. I bought a common pencil such as in the states would have cost about 2 cts for which I paid 20 cts. We left the fort about 3 and leaving the river ascended the bluffs or “Black hills” passing over a rough country and over through a beautiful valley about three miles wide and in twelve miles came to the warm spring which flows out of the ground at the foot of a bluff in several places making quite a stream. The water is nearly at blood heat and to warm to drink but when it is cooled by standing through the night it is very fine. Our road just before this wound round among the rocks & cliffs and after crossing the rim of the spring we passed up a kanyon about a mile & encamped where the grass was poor but wood in abundance. We had more of this than we had found before in the dry pines which had been blown down from the bluffs. We had a small stampede in the evening caused by a mule running through the horses with a bush tied to the end of his rope to which it had been tied and which it had pulled up but it was stopped without trouble. There being a blacksmith shop at the spring Mr. Handy left his wagon there to get repaired…. I had a violent head-ache all the afternoon but it wore off in the evening. We had a fine Supper of beef-steak having got some beef at the fort.” – James Woodworth. Woodworth’s diary can be downloaded from http://www.woodworth-ancestors.com/resources/JamesWDiary.pdf. The drawing of Fort Laramie by James F. Wilkins was downloaded from https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Image/IM3935 and is also displayed in the Great Plains Room of the California Trail Interpretive Center.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 24, 1841
“Left the Fort [Laramie] this morning and soon began to wind among the Black Hills. Two of our men stopped at the Fort, (Simpson and Mast), but two other men, with an Indian and his family, joined us to travel to Green River. Encamped, having made about seventeen miles. Hills here sandy, many wild pears, likewise an abundance of peas (wild, though the bush was dissimilar to ours, yet the pods bore an exact similarity, taste the same).” – John Bidwell. Bidwell’s diary is included as part of the Addresses, Reminiscences, etc. of John Bidwell in the Library of Congress. You can download it at https://www.loc.gov/item/10005282/. The watercolor of the Wild Pea was painted by Mary Vaux Walcott in 1938 and was downloaded from https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/wild-pea-lathyrus-decaphyllus-26572.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 25, 1853
“Came 4 Miles & crossed Prairie creek in crossing Bro McIntosh’ Wagon ran off the Bridge & upset—his wife being in the Wagon was Some what injured & badly frightened—Wagon not broken nor goods much injured—Came 4 Miles further & Crossed a Small Creek & Camped—this creek very miry—Making 8 Miles this day—Bro Perse [Pierce or Peirce] tried for Swearing & cut off” – Elijah Mayhew. Elijah’s diary can be viewed at https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/sources/65023183456588691520-eng/mayhew-elijah-diary-1853-june-sept?firstName=Elijah&surname=Mayhew. The camp illustration was downloaded from https://historytogo.utah.gov/mormon-trail-exhibit/.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 26, 1849
“Morning beautiful. We left camp at six o’clock. Saw three fine deer. Traveled twelve miles this morning, over a light, sandy road, and halted on the river until two, then crossed a dry, sandy creek and went ten miles farther, which brought us to the river at six o’clock. There is no wood, but we have fine grass for the mules. Passed the grave of J.G. Kendall, of Michigan, also that of a boy twelve years old. Passed a wagon and party bound on a trading expedition to the mountains; also, a lone tree with a dead Indian sleeping among its topmost branches.” – Joseph Sedgley. Sedgley’s diary can be viewed at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101074863992&view=1up&seq=34. The painting “Westward America” by William Henry Jackson was downloaded from http://www.whjcollection.com/show_more.asp?ind=35.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 27, 1846
“I have been very sick, rode on bed the last 2 days—sis. Sess. Lucina & sis. Leonard came to the wagon—the pow’r of God rested on me—my disease was rebuk’d, & I prais’d the name of the Most High. The wagons are crossing the stream thro’ the day—In the eve br. Lawson, sis. T. &c came to our place & we had another refreshing from the Lord—Praise Him, all ye Saints.” – Eliza R. Snow. Eliza’s diary can be viewed at https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/sources/41018088811631206200-eng/eliza-r-snow-journals-1846-1951?firstName=Phebe&surname=Chase. The illustration was downloaded from https://oregontrailcenter.org/day-on-the-trail.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 28, 1850
“we nooned near scots bluffs and traveled eighteen miles and then crost the bluffs we crost the bluffs near an Indian viledge they war siouse indians and some french men among them they had a store and a blacksmith sop their ware plenty of them they war expecting a fight every night from the crow Indians they insisted on our stain with them that night but we did not like to so we went on three miles and camped.” – Sarah Green Davis. Sarah’s handwritten diary can be viewed at https://collections.library.yale.edu/catalog/10001144. This entry is found on pages 20 and 21 and are partially shown in the picture.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 29, 1847
“This morning eight of our largest and best work oxen were missing, besides two yoke of Welch’s, three yoke of Adam Polk’s, and about thirty-nine head belonging to the company. Here we are, thousands of miles from any inhabitants, and thus deprived of teams – an appalling situation. We had only one yoke left. We hunted in every direction without success.” – Elizabeth Dixon Smith. Elizabeth’s diary is included as part of the book “Fifty Years in Oregon” by T.T. Geer, a former governor, published in 1912. It can be viewed at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101079825590&view=1up&seq=146. The broadsheet containing the illustration was downloaded from https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf0z09p08h/?brand=oac4.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – June 30, 1857
“As the man did not return with the ox, we remained at the nooning place until this morning, making a late start as we did not want to get too far ahead of him. This afternoon passed a trading post kept by a Pennsylvanian with a squaw wife. He had quite an assortment of things to dispose of to the emigrants. Buffalo robes, moccasins, bows and arrows, etc. I got a very pretty pair of moccasins with a bit of scarlet broadcloth on the instep, bordered with white beads – price $1.00, we were told that they were made by the Snake Indians. Father got a large partially worn buffalo robe for $3.00. One that was very much smaller but fresh and new, with nice long hair and as white inside as unbleached muslin, suited me but $10.00 was more than I would pay for it. Still I was tempted. Paid 75 cents for a pound of candy. The trader was anxious to get sugar and as we have more than we think will be required for the trip, we sold some.” – Helen Carpenter. Helen’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/a-trip-across-the-plains-in-an-ox-wagon-helen-carpenter-1857. The photograph was downloaded from https://whiteoakhistoricalsociety.org/historical-library/fur-trade/time-line-a-brief-history-of-the-fur-trade/.