OREGON TRAIL SESQUICENTENNIAL
CALENDAR OF TRAVEL
Celinda E. Hines (1853) and her party were camped near "the Mission-Indian Territory- (present-day eastern Kansas). . . (and) found the country delightful", particularly since they had "slept much better the night before for having our beds and mattresses, than we did on our bed of leaves."
Having crossed the Mississippi at Fort Madison three days earlier, Henry Allyn (1853) "Started rather late this morning, being detained some by greasing wagons and partly by awkwardness in doing up things; not having as yet got broke to the journey."
Having left Rensselaer, Indiana on March 15, John T. Kearns (1852) rhetorically asked himself "We going to Oregon? I guess we are."
Since it was Sunday, Celinda Hines' (1853) uncles "went to the Wyandotte Mission to hold meeting" while she stayed at home because "Lucy Anna was sick all day."
"Ten miles without a house, and through prairie again," complained John T. Kerns (1852), adding that this is "poor country along here and the people as ugly as the crocodile himself."
On this day in 1853, Henry Allyn passed through Ottumwa, Iowa, which he described as "a beautiful thriving village on the Des Moines."
Having already made the trip to Oregon in 1850 and returned home, three years later Orange Gaylord undertook a second trip. On this day he "Drove three miles and stayed two miles from St. Joseph and walked down to town to see the place and prospects."
"Wednesday, April 6--Pleasant weather. I sewed on the tent nearly all day" reported Celinda Hines (1853), encamped in eastern Kansas.
Henry Allyn (1853) crossed the Des Moines River at a rope ferry "at Belle Fountain, the beginning of a town standing on a beautiful site on the west side of the Des Moines, on an elevated bank of limestone rock. . ."
Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) "arrived at our present encampment (in Illinois) about dark, very tired and not a little fretful. Hope our patience may increase with the toils of our journey."
Celinda Hines (1853) and her Aunt Lydia, having received some material as a gift "busied ourselves in making" sunbonnets.
Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) and her party arrived at the Mississippi River, stopping "at a good camping ground about half a mile from Fulton. . .(which) was on the east side and (the village) of Lyons on the west side. The river here was over a mile wide and quite clear."
John T. Kerns (1852) ferried the Mississippi at Fort Madison, which he reported as being "not such a place as Peoria. They are building a large penitentiary at this place. They have seven men to work in it as animals." Noticing the large steamboats on the river, Kerns wished he "could take one of these boats and go it to the land of my destination."
On this Sabbath in 1853, Henry Allyn attended worship services "where so recently the savage revelings of the Indian Powow, and the horrid war whoop of the aborigines echoed among the beautiful groves. . ." He went on to note that the Indians had been removed only eight years earlier, but concluded that he could not "rejoice in the circumstances as I could do if justice and equity had been exercised towards this people by our government."
The same year of 1853, the party of Mrs. Velina A. Williams ferried the Mississippi: "The waters glided gently and peacefully along; they seemed to reproach us for disturbing them on this holy day."
John T. Kearns (1852) "only drove six miles. . . Saw the great Mormon city, called Nauvoo, today.
Polly Coon (1852) bid a tearful farewell to her brother Ray as they crossed the Mississippi at Dubuque and prepared to begin the trek across Iowa. "We feel sad that we leave him behind," she wrote "but hope another year will bring him to Oregon."
After having visited with his wife and daughter, Celinda Hines (1853) reported that "Mr. P's family is a sad representative of the folly of cousins intermarrying."
A spring storm in 1853 caused a creek to rise. A member of Henry Allyn's party, attempting to ford it on horseback, was thrown. The horse made for the shore while its rider grasped for one of the reins to assist himself. In so doing, he "whirled (the horse) suddenly about and the bank being steep and slippery she fell back against him and knocked him back into the stream, but after various evolutions they both got safe out, thank God."
Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) "Crossed the Wapsepinnica (in Iowa) in a small flatboat; swam all the cattle, but one yoke of oxen attached to each wagon."
John T. Kerns (1852) "Ferried the Des Moines River at Farmington", which he described as "a very pretty little town of about five hundred inhabitants." "The Des Moines is a very pretty stream, nearly as large as the Wabash River here", but he observed he was "Not to Oregon yet."
Hearing that the Chariton (Iowa) River was high, Henry Allyn (1853) "took a round about road. . .in order to cross higher up where the stream was smaller. In crossing a ravine, the mules of the foremost wagon sunk in the mud, and the two forward ones fell and got scared, so that we had to take them off, hitch behind and back out and grease."
Crossing over into Iowa in the afternoon, John T. Kerns (1852) passed a place called Dogtown, which in his opinion was well named. "Dogtown it is certain," he wrote, "not fit for anything but dogs to live in;."
"On April 15, 1844, we landed on the bank of the Missouri River on the way to Oregon" wrote the Reverend Edward Evans Parrish.
On Friday, April 15, 1853, Celinda Hines noted in her diary that "Our preparations. . .being completed, about noon we commenced our journey, that is the overland part of it." Unfortunately, her father was involved in a wagon accident "bruising him very much."
". . .on the 16th (April, 1844)", Reverend E.E. Parrish and his party "crossed all over safely and camped in the Indian Territory. . ." Reverend Parrish began a new diary to replace an earlier one which had been lost. The group remained near the Missouri river "until the 9th of May, when we left for the United States Agency."
On this Saturday, seventeen year-old Eliza Ann McAuley (1852) "Spent the day in camp, washing and baking."
This Sabbath Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) "laid by our things in the bottom of the box; quite damp; took them out and aired them; packed them all over; baked two loaves of bread and some cake."
"Iowa is rather a poor country in my estimation," wrote John T. Kerns (1852) in his diary, "and oh! the homely mortals we see along here-they are indescribable."
Eliza Ann Mcauley (1852): "Sunday, April 18th. Today we keep Sunday and write letters home. The cattle have fine grass and are doing well."
In 1853, Celinda Hines (1853) experienced a storm which "proved to be more wind than rain", but it tore up several tents which "had to be taken down and mended."
On this Wednesday Keturah Belknap (1848) reported that one of their cows ate some Jimpson weeds, got sick and was knocked overboard as the cattle were being ferried across the Missouri River. The animal was rescued, but was too sick to travel. When Mrs. Belknap last saw the animal it was before a fire, wrapped warmly in a blanket and a woman was trying to "pour milk and lard down her".
Eliza Ann Mcauley's (1852) older brother, Tom, made her practice shooting his pistol. She reported, however, that she "was very expert at missing the mark, but managed to hit the tree three times out of five."
In 1851, John S. Zeiber "Started from Peoria, Ill., for Oregon City, O.T., this day at 1/2 past 11 A.M."
In 1852, John T. Kerns "passed one town called Unionville". He wrote that "There is some union here certain,--homely people, homely houses and mud all united."
Eliza Ann Mcauley (1852) acquired a pet squirrel, a present from her brother and some of his hunting companions, while Celinda Hines (1853) and her aunt spent the morning doing the washing.
Henry Allyn (1853) reported "I was taken last night with a diarrhoea and am sick today. Thus affliction seems to be my lot, O! that it may work for my good."
"It rained very hard in the night," reported Celinda Hines (1853), though "It cleared up about noon and then we had a real time drying our things."
In 1847, Mrs. Elizabeth Dixon Smith and her family "Commenced our journey from LaPorte, Indiana, to Oregon. Made fourteen miles."
On this Saturday in 1854, Sarah Sutton and her party came into St. Joseph during the morning, proposing "to cross the river with about 100 head of loose cattle, nine wagons and 10 head of horses, and 36 souls. . ." A year earlier, Celinda Hines experienced "the hardest thunder storm I ever witnessed . . . Thunder and lightning played in all their awful sublimity just above our heads."
Orange Gaylord (1853) "Crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph and drove six miles to the bluff and camped."
Moving through Iowa in 1853, Henry Allyn reported that "Oregon and California emigrants are scattered all over the country. They leave the main traveled road, I suppose, on account of getting corn cheaper. James saw a drove of 350 cattle yesterday."
"Started on our journey for Oregon," wrote Orange Gaylord (1853), "Drove to Mosquito creek and camped."
John S. Zeiber (1851) "Arrived at the Burlington (Illinois) ferry a little after ten o'clock A.M., but the ferry boat makes but two trips a day-at 8 and 4 o'clock, so we camped and cooked dinner, having several fine prairie chickens shot yesterday. The landing for the ferry boat is 6 miles below Burlington. Consequently we were obliged to drive that distance down the river to be ferried up which would not have been the case if the river had not been over the bottom opposite Burlington."
". . .encamped on Grand River," John T. Kerns (1852) recalled passing Mt. Pisgah where he saw "quite a settlement of Mormons, but all going to Salt Lake this summer". He also noted seeing "quite a number of emigrants bound for Oregon and California."
John S. Zeiber reported a common experience. "The cooking stove which was made and highly recommended by Mr. Hudson, tinner of Peoria, turned out just as was expected by me. It proved to our full satisfaction that it was not worth carrying with us." The solution to this problem? Knowing that the stove was worthless for trail use, Zeiber was unwilling to attempt to sell it; consequently, he "left it standing on the bank of the little creek where we had spent that night."
Crossing the Grand River on Crosses' ferry, Virgil Pringle (1846) complained he had had to pay "the extravagant price of $2.50 for two teams and 5 head of loose stock."
Her sister's dog was so badly bitten by another animal belonging to a member of the party, Celinda Hines (1853) reported, it died that night.
"Saw some of the settlers to-day and they were so ugly I couldn't look them in the face. Thank fortune, there are but few of them." Thus did John T. Kerns (1852) react to some of his fellow travelers. Hoping that "there is no such looking critters in Oregon as I saw to-day," he concluded that he didn't know exactly what he would do if there were, "but I won't give any of them gals a quarter-section near me."
In 1849, Sallie Hester reported being "at last, safe and sound" in St. Joseph where she and her parents planned to stopover for several days while they laid in supplies. Waiting for the ferry across the Missouri, Miss Hester described St. Joseph as presenting "a striking appearance - a vast army on wheels - crowds of men, women and lots of children and last but not least the cattle and horses upon which our lives depend."
The party to which Mrs. Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) belonged "Encamped on the bank of the Ill. River. A beautiful place."
After purchasing "lard, butter and beeswax, at 5, 10, 20 cnts per lb." in "a small town called Winchester", John S. Zeiber (1851) "drove on to Libertyville, where we made our noon half. There is nothing remarkable about this town excepting a tall, square brick chimney which reminded me of Paul Bede's shot tower in Philadelphia, though the chimney is only 75 ft. high but looks very conspicuous in a prairie village of small houses."
"A woman near was taken sick and sent to our camp for assistance," wrote Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853). "Fidelia, Dorcas and Charlotte went," she reported, and "found her in hard convulsions; administered such remedies as suggested themselves to them." "F. returned," she continued, "leaving her somewhat relieved. I went to take her place as watch with C. for the night. Applied mustard to her stomach and feet. In the course of an hour she became quite easy. We returned to the camp."
Jesse Harritt (1845) and his party started west, leaving "the place of rendezvous on the Missouri River" and proceeding about five miles before camping for the night. The remained in place two more days, "waiting for the cattle to be herded together."
On this day in 1851, John S. Zeiber "reached Ottumwa (Iowa) and continued our journey, the storm of snow still kept on."
In 1846, Virgil Pringle made the following entry in his diary: "Wednesday, April 29, 30 and 1st of May--Remained at M. Brown's and put new tongues in both wagons and made two new yoke and employed ourselves at other arrangements for our trip"
"Hoyts and Bynons started first; all off in good season" Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) noted in her diary, concluding the entry with the worrisome comment "Have seen nothing of Hoyt's and Bynon's teams and fear we shall not till we get to the bluffs." In fact, they were not seen again during the remainder of the journey for they took the Soda Springs-Fort Hall route while the others took the route into Northern California and Southern Oregon. It was nearly a year before the families once again learned of each other's whereabouts.
"One of John's mules gets loose in the night and absconded" reported Henry Allyn (1853), "he follows on after him on his track about 6 miles before he overtook him."
John T. Kerns (1852) "Drove fifteen miles and encamped on Silver Creek with some 45 other wagons. Here are Mormons by the 'hullsale,' as the Yankee would term it, all preparing to emigrate to Salt Lake. There is some as handsome country here as I have seen on the road."
Copyright Robert Munkres 1981-2009 All Rights Reserved