This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 8, 1852
“In the valley of the Sweet water, between snow covered mountains, and so cold that one freezes in winter clothes. Much alkali water, and therefore a great number of dead cattle. Added to this a second and best ox of ours went lame. Grass has been growing here previously, but now no more. Before us snow capped mountains in sight.” – Charles G. Schneider. Schneider’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/charles-g-schneider-1852. The painting of emigrants on the Sweetwater River was downloaded from https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/trek/sweetwater-river?lang=eng.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 9, 1854
“Started across Green River Desert, west to the ten mile Spring, found good grass about 8 miles from the Spring and nooned. It is a clear cold sulphur spring. Stopped about 2 hours, then hitched up & drove all night.” – Harvey H. Jones. Harvey’s diary can be downloaded from the OCTA collection at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/diary-harvey-h-jones-1854. The photograph of Sublette’s Cutoff was downloaded at https://blog.storiesretold.com/sublettes-cutoff-and-the-parting-of-the-ways/.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 10, 1850
“remained in camp – to recruit my team – took another look for my lost cattle – no sign of them – threw away my bed, yokes, chains, lead, hammer, salt &c. to lighten my load.” – Jacob Bartholomew. Jacob was apparently a doctor as he is called upon numerous times to care for others in his group. He has been camped here at the Green River crossing for several days. He also describes frequent arguments between his two hired hands which lead to their dismissal, and also enigmatically describes having a buffalo as part of his yoke which becomes sick and dies. I don’t know if that’s an actual buffalo or an ox that he named “Buffalo”. His diary can be downloaded from the OCTA website at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/overland-diary-to-california-jacob-bartholomew-1850. Information about the ferries across Green River (and this photo) can be viewed at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/lombard-ferry-green-river.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 11, 1849
“We were aroused this morning (as we all thought) in midst of a sweet sleep. It was a beautiful moonlight night, & everything was tranquil, in deep repose. By taking a cut, three miles brought us upon the road, which ran in a beautiful valley, skirted on each side by beautiful rolling mountains, the verdure extending up to the very tops without a rock or a shrub to break the velvety surface. Twelve miles brought us again to the river, & to the well-renowned ‘Soda Springs,’ by some called ‘Beer Springs.’ We arrived here at day break and coralled. The teams that we had been with for several days, expressed very great surprise, in passing all this morning, to find us before them & snugly & pleasantly layed up in this delightful spot. The whole surface of the earth for miles around shows the effects of an immense [volcano] or many volcanoes. Along this, as we named it, ‘Lava Spring Valley,’ the earth is covered with charred irruptive stones. In many places the earth is bursted up as with an irruption very lately. In other places the rocks & earth are completely split open, & you can look as deep down as the eye can penetrate. Down many of them you can distinctly hear running water, all showing that some day [a] ‘long time ago’ there was at least a great commotion in these parts. I cannot attempt to account for the many different freaks, irregularities, & the remains of departed times that we saw at this place. I will only tell it you, & you can form your own opinions. The whole valley, however, is the most interesting spot of earth that I ever beheld. Here is a grand field for the geologist, minerologist, naturalist, & any other kind of “ist” that you can conceive.” – Wakeman Bryarly. The diary of Vincent Geiger and Wakeman Bryarly can be viewed and downloaded at https://archive.org/details/trailtocaliforni000849mbp/page/n163/mode/2up?view=theater. His picture is found in the front of that book.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 12, 1849
“Last night we had a freeze which is a very common thing for this country. We started early in the morning, left the [Bear] river and clim a high mountain to get apast a canyen in R. We had to descend again into the valley. The descent was 1 ½ miles altitude ¾ of a mile grass and wood still plenty Here we met with a large quantity of Snake Indians, they begged us for something to eat. They were very friendly with us. We encamped at 4 in the evening at the foot of a high hill on a little creek that ought to be called Musketoe Creek for I never saw so many in my life.” – Dr. Bonine, Esq. Bonine’s diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/journey-to-california-esq-bonines-1849. The 1837 painting titled “Snake Indians” by Alfred Jacob Miller was downloaded from https://www.alfredjacobmiller.com/artworks/snake-indians-2/.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 13, 1852
“This morning started again on our journey over a very hilly road for some miles. Came to the junction of Sublett’s and Kinney’s cutoffs. Traveled 17 miles and encamped at 3 o’clock on Hamms Fork of Green River. Went fishing and caught a number of fine trout. This evening had one of the hardest hail storms I ever saw. Grass, water and wood abundant.” – J. H. Beresford. Beresford had written just a few days earlier about taking a new cutoff (Kinney’s) designed to bypass the more difficult desert encountered on Sublette’s cutoff. His diary is part of the OCTA collection and can be downloaded at https://www.octa-journals.org/merrill-mattes-collection/overland-diary-j-h-beresford-1852. The photograph of emigrant names carved near a spring on the Kinney/Slate Creek cutoff was downloaded from https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/emigrant-spring-slate-creek-cutoff.
This day in Trail history – A composite journey along the California Trail – July 14, 1842
MC: “Buried Baily near Independence Rock 1/2 mile from camp. My feelings on this occasion can hardly be described. A young man in the vigor of youth and health taken from our company wraped in a Buffalo Robe & and buried in this dismal Prairie. What sad tidings for his Parents & friends who like my own are far from here.” HB: He, poor fellow [said White], died in thirty minutes. He was a useful man, and it gave a dreadful shock to us all. The next day at eight o’clock, as there was no clergyman, I was called upon to deliver a funeral discourse, near Independence Rock, in the midst of the mountains. While I talked to all the company, who went on foot a mile to the grave, a general weeping prevailed among us. When, in the course of my brief solemn lecture, I said, `Let us pray,’ to my astonishment nearly every man, woman and child dropped upon their knees to implore the divine blessing and protection. It was the most solemn funeral by far that any of us ever attended or probably ever will.” – Medorem Crawford and Hubert Howe Bancroft. Crawford’s and Bancroft’s memoirs can be viewed at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/1842trip.htm. The 1848 painting “Prairie Burial” by William Tylee Ranney was downloaded from https://centerofthewest.org/2015/07/05/points-west-portrayal-of-sorrow-william-ranney/ and can also be viewed on one of the display panels in the California Trail Interpretive Center.