Table of Content


August 1

Having camped one mile past Fort Laramie the night before, the Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) "rested here one day. The Indians, men, women and children, visited our camp. They are the nicest looking and best behaved Indians we have seen."

Arriving at the American Falls in 1845, Jesse Harritt was "sorry to record a difficulty that occurred in our company, in consequence of some dispute about the loss of some stock; two families with a wagon left our company, leaving us twenty wagons."

On this Sunday, Mrs. Cecelia Adams (1852) " left the waters that flow into the Atlantic and proceed to those of the Pacific. We let our cattle feed till about noon and then started on for the South Pass, ten miles distant. It ill comports with the ideas we had formed of a pass through the Rocky mountains, being merely a vast level and sandy plain, sloping a little each way from the summit. . ."

"Pleasant. Camped at noon on Raft River", wrote Celinda Hines (1853). . .Saw no trees except on the mountains and no shrub but sage only on Raft River. . .On Raft River the last California trail leaves the Oregon road."

Traveling between Scotts Bluff and Fort Laramie, Mary Elizabeth Ligntner (1863) "Camped in dust as if in the middle of the street in the States. Baked a shortcake, fried some bacon and had tea for supper after dark. Tired almost to death-lost the children's pet rabbit today."


August 2

"The bluffs on Horse Creek with their sides and tops covered by dark pines and the castellated range of sandstone rocks to the north, give" according to Theodore Talbot (1843) "a singular air of wildness and beauty to the scene. It requires but a slight effort of imagination to transform these art-imitating rocks into the venerable and magnificent structures of antiquity."

Several days before reaching Fort Hall, Elizabeth Wood (1851) reported "Cold weather; the leaves on the trees are killed with frost."

On this day in 1852 Mrs. Cecelia Adams "Came about noon to the forks of the old Oregon and Salt Lake road", James Akin, Jr. crossed the Snake River after taking "an Indian cut-off" and in 1853, Orange Gaylord "Left Grand Ronde and commenced the ascent of the Blue Mountains."


August 3

Leaving camp "and passing through a sort of gap in it, into the Valley of Goshen which is some 20 miles broad," Theodore Talbot (1843) was "caught out on the prairie in the evg. by a great rain and hail-storm. We were obliged to stop and just bide its merciless pelting, which from the first hailstone that hits you on the nose, to the last creek meandering down your unfortunate back is any and everything but pleasant."

"Intending to go to the Port Neuf", Virgil K. Pringle (1846) "Made an early start . . .but was stopped by an awful calamity in 3 1/2 miles. Mrs. Collin's son George, about 6 years old, fell from the wagon, and the wheels ran over his head killing him instantly, the remainder of the day occupied in burying him."

"Encamped on the Little Sandy River" Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) observed that her party was "two days' journey into the Territory of Oregon and have found no timber except on streams, since we left the Missouri."

Stopping for a day to let their animals rest, women and men each had work to be attended to according to Lucena Parsons (1850). ". . .the men went to work & burnt coal to doe their own blacksmithing. They have a bellows & anvill & are not busy preparing to shoe the cattle as their hoofs are wearing out with driving over the gravelly roads. The women are baking, washing, cleaning & repacking waggons as they do when we stop."

Henry Allyn (1853) and his party traded with two Indians for "three very large salmon fresh caught (that. . .would probably weigh 35 or 40 lbs." Allyn went on to observe that "these Indians have shown themselves to be honest, courteous and sincere in their friendship and have not much doubt that the thefts that are laid to their charge ought to be transferred to the Anglo and French-Americans that live among them."


August 4

William Thompson Newby (1843) "camped on top of the Rockey Mountain on a spring branch." In addition to cold nights and perhaps three hours of relatively warm temperatures during the day, he observed a peculiar phenomenon in South Pass. At noon "Thare was a very curious explosion". Something resembling a ball of fire passed over him, followed by a zig-zag streak of blue smoke perhaps two hundred yards long, "Then followed it a very tremendious report as if it had bin large guns firing."

James Akin, Jr. (1852) camped "on Raft river at the forks of the Oregon and California road."

Mary Elizabeth Lightner (1863) reported that her party "Lost an ox. More sick from the cause. . . Passed sixteen dead cattle, from the other train. This is a heavy loss." On the positive side, "A child fell out of a wagon and the wheels passed over both limbs, but was not much hurt."


August 5

"This morning passed a company which camped in sight of us"wrote Susan Amelia Cranston (1851); "one of their men died about 1/2 an hour before of the iricipilus (sic.) and here was the grave of one of the men shot on Rock creek who had lingered to her was buried yesterday"

"Four miles brought us to Salmon Falls creek This is a clear stream with a rocky bottom and is about one hundred feet wide, and two one half feet deep" according to Abigail Jane Scott (1852), adding "We traded with the Indians this evening for salmon: they are the best fish I ever saw;: The Indians will take almost anything in exchange for them that the emigrants have to dispose of"

Two days after passing American Falls, Polly Coon (1852) reported that "Mr Preston found one of his oxen sick this morning & before noon he died. We have counted over 40 dead animals today near the road."

A man returning from the Willamette Valley to meet his family tells Henry Allyn (1853) and his party that "a new road is laid off and cut out that will make it 200 miles nearer to the valley than the old. He is notifying all the emigrants. We shall counsel with the emigrants about it. The new road intersects the old where we now are, viz., at the Malheur River ford." [Four days later, two other men from the Willamette Valley informed Allyn the "gentleman that met us at Malheur ford was an imposter" who wanted to get the emigrants into difficulty so they would be forced to dispose of their cattle very cheaply. This new information led Allyn to observe "Oregon emigrants are in ten times the danger from speculators, ferrymen and traders than the Indians."]


August 6

On this day Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) "Crossed Green River, a large and beautiful stream, bordered with considerable timber-quaking asp."

The day before reaching Salmon Falls creek, Mrs. Cornelia A. Sharp (1852) noted that the cattle had to be driven a distance for grass, but that they "Left our 'Rose' cow to die".

Celinda Hines (1853) "Camped for noon on Lewis River. . .Also on the river at night. . .Some rapids near. Wolves howl. Saw two scorpions and a rattlesnake."


August 7

On this day Jesse Harritt (1845) stopped for breakfast at "a stream at Snake River", then moved on to Salmon Fall Creek. "Four families with six wagons left our company, leaving us fourteen wagons", he reported.

"Encamped on Black's Fork, a small river bordered with willows." Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) was of the opinion that "This large waste of country. . .had once been a sea. My husband found on the top of a mountain sea shells petrified to stone. The crevices in the rocks show the different stages of the water."


August 8

On "A fine morning, though very windy", Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) reported "My health is a little improved." He added that "Hunters came in quite late, bringing buffalo, venison, sheep, and a little hen called 'black rouse' [grouse] head shaped like the quail, body resembling our domestic fowl."

James Akin, Jr. (1852) "Laid by all day" on Dry Creek with a "great many camped around." He also reported seeing a "great many dead cattle on this creek."

August 9

Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) "Encamped at Fort Bridger" which she described as "a pretty place to see in such a barren country. Perhaps there is a thousand acres of level land covered with grass, interspersed with beautiful stony brooks and plenty of timber, such as it is -quaking asp." Her party had been accompanied from Fort Laramie by "One of the superintendents of this place. . . He is a good and intelligent man. His name is Vascus." (Vasquez, Bridger's partner).

Recovering from sickness, Amelia Hadley (1851) resumed her diary as her party camped on the Columbia, "a pleasant river but. . .not as large here as I had supposed." Noting that "We are in the Walla Walla, nation", she assigned blame for the Whitman massacre thusly: ". . .that was a horrid murder, but the catholiks were the cause, they put the indians up to perpetrate the deed. . ." [Contemporary research clearly demonstrates that Roman Catholics were not involved in the deaths of the Whitmans; in fact, one priest probably saved Reverend Henry Spaulding's life.]

Encamped on Ham's Fork, Mrs. Cecelia Adams (1852) recorded the presence of "an Indian village consisting of some forty or fifty tents covered with buffalo skins. We have plenty of visitors tonight; they are very friendly."


August 10

Approaching Salmon Falls, Jesse Harritt (1845) reported "This morning we had a death in camp-an infant about eight or ten months old died with the whooping cough. . ."

"Saw at the ferry a horse that had been bitten by scorpions, dying" reported Celinda Hines (1853), "A short distance below the ferry is Salmon Falls."


August 11

Deep sand and steep hills made traveling difficult for Martha S. Read (1852) and her party before they camped on the Snake River. "Saw 20 head of dead cattle to day. Some of them we supposed were killed by drinking poison water."

On this day in 1853, Thomas Flint "Camped on Quaking Asp Creek, so called from the species of poplars on its banks, the leaves of which move in the slightest breeze." From this location, the "Snow peaks of Rocky Mountains" seemed "close by".


August 12

John Boardman (1843) reported that it was "Pleasant this morning. Ice half-inch thick." That day he had "Crossed Black's Fork, and passed Solomon's Temple (Church Butte); a singular mound of clay and stone of the shape of a large temple, and decorated with all kinds of images; gods and goddesses. . .a magnificent and striking sight. Camped on Black's Fork."

Laying over at Fort Bridger, Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) noted that "here we have a good time for washing which we women deem a great privildge."

On the Snake River in 1852, John T. Kerns reported that "Our train of twenty-two wagons divided off into three companies to-day, leaving us in a train of eight wagons. This was done so as to give our cattle a better chance to graze."

In the process of crossing Burnt River twice, Amelia Stewart Knight (1853) reported they "lost one of our oxen, we were traveling slowly along, when he dropt dead in the yoke unyoked and turned out the odd ox, and drove round the dead one, and so it is all along this road. . .I could hardly help shedding tears, when we drove round this poor ox who had helped us along thus far, and had even given us his very last step."


August 13

In his diary, Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) "forgot to note yesterday the birth of a fine son in Lieutenant Hoover's family. I believe the woman and child are doing well."

John S. Zeiber (1851) started early and, on the way to Fort Hall, " passed a trader's house which had a small patch fenced in and planted corn, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, turnips, parsnips and a few plants of tobacco." At the fort itself he also observed "a small field of grain, which looked very clean and ripe, and was guessed to be either wheat or oats."


August 14

It was cool and pleasant as Susan Amelia Cranston (1851) "encamped on the Eumatilla here we found plenty of indians who brought dried peas and potatoes for which we gave them a measure of flour for the same of peas or potatoes"

Two days before reaching Soda Springs, Mrs. Cecelia Adams (1852) and her party "met a man that had groceries and potatoes to sell at 12 1/2 cents per pound. Of course we bought some. The first we have seen since we left the States. They were brought from Salt Lake. He had butter to sell at 40 cents, and cheese at 50 cents, and whisky at 10 shillings a pint. the grasshoppers are so thick that they look like snow in the air, coming very fast."

Traveling along the Snake River, Abigail Jane Scott reported the loss of "another of our cattle from drinking too much water this makes 8 head we have lost out of our five teams which makes them rather light & in all probability we shall have to leave one of our waggons"


August 15

Dr. Elijah White wrote a letter home from Fort Hall dated August 15, 1842. In that letter he told of an incident which had taken place back down the trail at Independence Rock. Two members of the party, named Lovejoy and Hastings, had stayed behind to finish carving their names in the rock. They were accosted by a war party of Sioux who "stripped them of most of their effects, and made strong demonstrations of an intention to kill Lovejoy." For whatever reason, the Indians decided "to advance towards the company of whites with their prisoners." As they approached to within a quarter of a mile of the train, the guide "Mr. Fitzpatrick went forward to meet them" for the purpose of negotiations. The negotiations were successful and "After a short pause, Hastings and Lovejoy were liberated, and ran joyfully to their friends, the tears rolling down their cheeks as they recounted their escape." [The "Hastings" here referred to was Lansford Hastings, subsequently the "founder" of the "Hastings' Cut-off" which contributed so heavily to the tragedy of the Donner Party four years later. "Mr. Fitzpatrick" was the famous mountain man known to the Indians as "Broken-Hand" and/or "White Hair".]

Theodore Talbot (1843) "Reached 'Rock Independence' an immense isolated granite rock of similar composition to those of the Rocky Mountains. . . . It is customary for every traveller to enrol his name on this huge tablet. Many names noted in the annals of western America are to be found here."

Near Rocky Creek John S. Zeiber (1851) "saw a very large new grave, with an inscription on the head board, informing that Elizabeth and Hodgson Clark, mother and son, aged 67 and 23 years, lay buried there, and that they had been killed by Indians on the 8th of August, 1851. They were of Scott Co. Ills."[Zeiber also reported that a young woman was shot at this time, thrown over a precipice and left for dead by the Indians. Astonishingly, however, "She was still alive and in a fair way to recover when she passed Fort Boise]

"Several trains traveled near us," reported Celinda Hines (1853), and "in one was a lady who was recently married. her husband had near Pacific springs I hear set her out. . .Another Co took her in & like her very much The husband says she was ugly to his children she being his second wife."


August 16

"Travelled along Sweetwater a tributary of the Platte, so called from its sweet, limpid water" wrote Theodore Talbot (1843), adding that "We saw 'The Devil's Gate', a deep cleft, which the Sweetwater bursts through an opposing, lofty mountain . . . This is a place to contemplate the wonderous ways of the Deity.".

In 1853, Mrs. Velina A. Williams "Traveled about 14 miles; camped on the west branch of Raft River." According to her nephew, O.A. Stearns, "Uncle Avery caught a mess of fine trout here." The party also acquired a "dark brindle dog" who accompanied them as a watch dog for the remainder of the journey "to Oregon, where for many years he was a faithful servant."


August 17

On this day, John T. Kerns (1852) "Only traveled twelve miles, [along the Snake River] leaving three of our cattle on the way. A Mr. Stone's wife was taken sick last evening with cholera and died this evening after camping. Being the first death in our train on the way, we find our spirits daunted. . ." [Mrs. Stone was buried the next morning "in as decent manner as circumstances would allow, and after paying our due tributes of respect to her, we took up the line of march. . ."]

In the same year, James Akin, Jr. (1852) came to the Snake River crossing and reported "emigrants going down the river in wagon beds."


August 18

Camping on Goose Creek, John S. Zeiber's (1851) party lost ten horses to an Indian raiding party. The horses, grazing on the other side of the creek, were guarded by three men when "six mounted Indians rushed from the willows near the camp and galloped yelling toward the horses, and drove off ten of them towards the mountains. A number of guns were fired, but no one was injured that we know of."

Beyond Green River, Mary Elizabeth Lightner (1863) reported that "A bear was killed weighing near four hundred pounds, and was divided among our company of sixty persons. I could not stomach it. I don't believe they were made for man's food."


August 19

The day after passing Salmon Falls, Elizabeth Wood's party "expected a fuss with the Indians; one shot from across the river and killed a cow. . ." It seems that one of the emigrants had killed an Indian's dog; "This, in my opinion ought not to have been done. It is not always that the Indians are the aggressors. . ."

Mrs. Cecelia Adams (1852) described Fort Hall as "made of unburned bricks and . . .a little larger than a good-sized barn. It is not no occupied by soldiers, but is used for a trading station. Some fifty or 100 large wagons, marked 'U.S.' in large letters, stand there rotting."


August 20

On this day, Patty Sessions' (1847) party encountered "a big bull (that) came down the hill in the road"; they caught the animal and used it to replace "one of my team that had a sore neck". "we then went on killed two buffaloe. . .Mathews little girl went down to the river found a ten collar gold piece at the edge of the water."

The day before reaching Salmon Creek, Martha S. Read (1852) "found no water and very rough roads, stones without number and the rest deep sand and sage brush. Saw 30 dead cattle today. They drop right down dead in the road. Some are tired and some diseased.


August 21

Nearing Fort Boise, Mrs. Cornelia A. Sharp's (1852) party "turned our cattle on an island hard by, which was covered with good grass."

The same year, John T. Kerns (1852) "encamped on the Owyhee river, due south of Fort Boise five miles and on the opposite side of the river. Fort Boise is situated on the north side of Lewis or Snake river. . . and. . . belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company and is used as a trading post. We have several sick persons in the train this evening, mostly scurvy."

August 22

The Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) "Made an early start and nooned at the quaking asp grove. This is the first of this kind of timber that I have met with since I left Ohio, and it is the first grove of timber of any kind except willows we have met with since we left the Platte, a distance of between one and two hundred miles."

In 1847, Mrs. Elizabeth Dixon Smith recorded her impressions of Soda Springs: "They are not so good as has been represented. Only one or two of our company liked it. It tastes like weak vinegar with a little saleratus in it."

On this day, James Akin, Jr. (1852) made a poignantly brief entry in his diary: "Mother taken worse in the morning and died about 9 o'clock in the evening. We are now about 30 miles below Salmon Falls on the north side of Snake River." [The next day his "Mother was buried about 10 o'clock in the morning about 200 yards above the crossing of the river."]


August 23

Camping opposite Fort Boise, Jesse Harritt (1845) noted "This fort is situated on the north bank of Lewis or Snake River and is owned by the Hudson's Bay Co. . . .The river here is about three-fourths of a mile wide; the water is about four feet deep and runs with a gentle current."

This day Amelia Hadley (1851) ended her journey camping at an Oregon farm. "I could not walk strait after not being in a house for so long when I got up to go across the floor I was like an old sailor that had not been on land for a long time. . .I came from thence (the farm) to O. city and from there to Portland where I now remain,This is the end of a long and tedious journey."

On the Burnt River, E.W. Conyers (1852) encountered a truly terrible example of man's inhumanity to man. A family of six, their cattle dead and the father/husband completely incapacitated with illness, had been abandoned by the man with whom they were traveling in exchange for their labor. When the man became ill, most family possessions were discarded "and the mother periodically carried her youngest child while the others walked";their shoes having worn out, the children's feet, wrapped in rags, were "covered with sores, and swollen to near twice their natural size." "Nonetheless, the owner, still dissatisfied, abandoned them with two days provisions." Conyers' group offered assistance, but an old family friend in a train not far behind took the family in.

In 1858, Richard Thomas Ackley recorded a brief history of Fort Bridger, pointing out that it had been founded to service trappers and trade with Indians, then had become a major way station during the migrations to California and Oregon. "Then in 1857 when the Mormon War started . . .Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander of the Expedition, rented the fort of him (Bridger), and made a reserve there of 12 miles square, and put up very good log quarters for the troops, and since then, has always been kept as a military post."


August 24

Having crossed South Pass the day before, Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) noted "I am writing in 'Oregon' this morning." Later that day the officers of the train all resigned, with the Captain "offering as a reason that Captain Walker says there is no danger after this, so we need no guards, etc. Don't know how it will work."

Traveling from Sulphur Springs to Birch Creek, John T. Kerns (1852) reported that, though still sick, he was getting better. "Am able to ride on horseback myself, but am very weak from the effects of the bloody diarrhea."


August 25

Mrs. Velina A. Williams (1853) reported that "A reunion of companies took place this morning, having been separated in reality but four days. All quite please, as their society was very agreeable."

". . .merchandise of all kinds brings a good price here (Fort Bridger)," noted Richard Thomas Ackley (1858), "sugar and coffee $1.00 per pound, butter 75¢, potatoes $10.00, and flour $12.00 per hundred, eggs 60¢ per dozen and other things in proportion."


August 26

Covering only ten miles on the Burnt River, John T. Kerns (1852) "Saw some very sick persons afflicted with mountain fever and flux. We saw one man taking his 'last' moments in preparing for a journey to his home above. . .One of our company left a wagon, as his team was too near to give out to take. . .any further."

Celinda Hines (1853) recorded the death by drowning of her father as he attempted to swim cattle across the Boise River; his body was never found. "With hearts overflowing with sorrow we were under the necessity of pursuing our journey immediately, as there was no grass for the cattle where we were."


August 27

Making an early start, Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) "drove about twelve miles and nooned at different places, within, say three miles, on the Green River, one of the prettiest little rivers I ever saw. We had crossed the river before noon, then immediately we crossed again and went down the river three or four miles and camped on the same beautiful Green River, which we shall have to cross in the morning again."

On this day, Jesse Harritt (1845) "Commenced winding our way through the Blue Mountains; at noon we left the pleasant stream to the left, turning gradually to the northwest. . ."

Having gone there looking for work two days before, Orange Gaylord (1853) "Moved my family to Oregon City", the terminus of the Oregon Trail.

Going down the Columbia from The Dalles, Henry Allyn (1853) "Saw several seals today. They tell us they are numerous on the coast and they emigrate up the river many miles."







August 28 Passing Fort Hall, Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) observed that "Captain Grant (of the Hudson's Bay Company) is not that charitable gentleman that we expected to see, but a boasting, burlesquing, unfeeling man."


On this Sunday, Hannah Tapfield King (1853) reported that "One of the sisters strayed off & lost her way & fell in with them (Indians). They took her money & looked for earrings & jewels-but when the Chief heard of it he whipped them, and made them restore all they had taken & then saw her home himself to our Camp!-Good for him"


Camped on the Malheur River, Celinda Hines (1853) noted that "The new road (to) the Willamette Valley above Oregon City saving 150 miles distance, leaves the old trail near this place. But from all we can learn it is not at present a feasible route except for packers, because no wagons have been through."


August 29


Camping on the Snake River, Elizabeth Dixon Smith lamented the "very dusty roads. You in "The States" know nothing about dust. It will fly so that you can hardly see the horns of your tongue yoke of oxen. It often seems that the cattle must dies for the want of breath, and then in our wagons, such a spectacle-beds, clothes, victuals and children, all completely covered."


Somewhere between South Pass and Green River, Lucena Parsons (1850) noted that, in addition to sickness and death, the trip west was also attended by "a great loss of property. Since we left fort Larimee we daily pass much abandoned property such as waggons, horses, oxen, cows, chains of the best kind, & stoves, all destroyed."


August 30

In 1843 Theodore Talbot recorded information about an Indian horse-stealing raid some time earlier. A party of Cheyennes drove off the fort's horses as well as those belonging to "60 lodges of Snakes who were camped in the thick willows in the valley just below the fort." "They say it was a beautiful sight to see the Sheyennes, formed in the shape of a crescent driving the stolen horses at full speed before them. A party of skirmishers following close behind zig-zagging or as it is called 'making snake' along the line, which they endeavored to prevent the pursuers from breaking. There were in all six or eight killed. Only 1 of the Sheyennes was killed."

"We got an early start" wrote Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844) in his diary, "and drove till about half past three o'clock and camped near the Green River fort, known as Bridger's Fort. The water and grass are fine. We expect to stay here tomorrow. . . . We are camped among the Indians. They behave well so far as I know."

"Last night we guarded our cattle out three miles from camp on account of feed" wrote Mrs. Cecelia Adams (1852). "Had seven men out on guard with the cattle, and two at camp. The guard at camp shot an Indian dog and heard and saw other signs of Indians. Supposed they came to steal the captain's horse, but he was not there."


August 31

It was a day of "resting and trading" for Reverend Edward Evans Parish (1844). "Most of the owners of lame cattle are trying to put them off, but are getting almost nothing for them. Mitchell Gillman got a coarse hat in trade for Sam, one of his oxen, which had become lame."

"About 2 o'clock this morning one of the guard" belonging to Mrs. Velina A. William's (1853) party "discovered Indians lurking around the camp and fired at one." The result was a stampede of the train's cattle. Members of the train quickly turned out to pursue the cattle and "it was soon evident that the Indians were also in pursuit." By 11 o'clock in the morning, all of the cattle had been recovered. "Two of the footmen were fired upon by the Indians, but were unharmed. Another's horse was seized by the bridle and told to give up the horse"; the five Indians withdrew when the emigrant "drew his revolver".

Copyright Robert Munkres 1981-2009 All Rights Reserved