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Below are newspaper reports of the experiences of 111 Henderson Co., Illinois neighbors who went to California on two wagon trains from Oquawka, Illinois during the 1849 Gold Rush. Included are entries from a "journal" kept by a reporter for the Oquawka Spectator newspaper who traveled with one of the wagon trains, who apparently both departed from Oquawka on the 25th of March, 1850. The reporter's name was Edward H. N. Patterson, a nephew of the owner of the newspaper, and he was on the same wagon train with which Elisha Davis Jackson traveled, but a few days into the journey it appears the train was split into two sections, and Patterson continued his trip with the section in which E. D. Jackson and Capt. Pence were not members. The name of E. D. Jackson appeared in the first story in a list of members who were planning to make the trip from Oquawka using a wagon drawn by oxen. His name also appears as "A. D. Jackson" in a report published in the Oquawka Spectator concerning another newspaper report published in the "Deseret News of July 20 printed at Salt Lake City." The experiences of this other wagon train were probably very similar to those on the train with which Elisha Davis Jackson traveled, since it appears the two trains took nearly the same route and under the same weather conditions. No record was found in this account, however, of an "Indian massacre at Cherry Creek" outside of Salt Lake City as was stated in the Bunce Genealogy and History as being part of E. D. Jackson's experience. Mention was made of an attack made by the Utah Indian tribe on the Snake tribe, which could possibly be the episode remembered by E. D. Jackson. This record was kindly provided to me by Richard A. Pence, whose ancestor was Capt. Robert T. Pence, head of the wagon train with which E. D. Jackson traveled.

 

 

This is a transcript of Patterson's journal and a few other stories published in the Oquwaka Spectator in the summer and fall of 1850. The record was transcribed from microfilmed copies of the newspaper.

 


California Meeting

At a meeting of persons intending to emigrate to California, with Ox Teams, the coming spring, held at the Court House on Saturday, the 23d inst. [Feb.], Samuel Gordon, Esq. was called to the Chair and C. S. Cowan acted as Secretary.

On motion, Thirty six came forward, and enrolled their names for California.

On motion, Saml. W. Lynn, Joel Haines, & Robert T. Pence, were appointed a Committee to prepare an estimate of the outfit necessary for the trip; said committee to report at the next meeting to be held on Saturday the 2nd day of March next, at 2 o'clock p.m. at the Court House at which time an election will be held for officers.

On motion, Joel Haines, Robt. T. Pence, & Isaac Morris were appointed a committee to inspect teams.

 

Resolved, That those persons intending to go to the gold diggings with ox teams, meet at Jack's Mill on Tuesday the 5th day of March next with their teams, for the purpose of inspection.

Resolved, That the Editors of the Oquawka Spectator be requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting.

On motion, The meeting adjourned. Samuel Gordon,
Ch'n, C. S. Cowan, Sec'y

Ox Team Company

At an adjourned meeting of Californians by ox teams, held at the Court House, pursuant to notice, on Saturday the second day of March, 1850, J. W. Jones, Esq., was called to the Chair and C. S. Cowan officiated as Secretary.

The committee, appointed at the last meeting to prepare an estimate of the outfit necessary for the trip submitted the following (for each team four men to a team).

 

On motion, the meeting proceeded to elect officers, consisting of one Captain and two lieutenants, whereupon the following persons were elected. Robert T. Pence, Captain; Isaac L. Morris, 1st Lieutenant, and Joel Haines, 2nd Lieutenant.

On motion; W. L. Stockton, Saml. W. Lynn and David E. Roberts, were appointed a committee to prepare By-Laws and Regulations for the Company.

 

Resolved, That we meet at Oquawka, on Monday the 18th inst. to commence the journey.

Resolved, That the Editors of the Oquawka Spectator be requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.

T. I. A. Jones, Ch'n.
C. S. Cowan, Sec'y

California Emigrants

Below we give a list of the names of a number of our citizens from this town and neighborhood, who have started for the gold regions. We wish them a prosperous journey, and a realization in full fruition of all their golden dreams, and a safe return to their friends.

With Horse Teams

With Ox Teams

[Emphasis added.]


Overland Journal

We commence today the "Impressions" of our Junior, who is on his way to California. It is his intention to keep a daily journal of the trip, which will be laid before our readers as fast as received. To those who have friends in the train this journal will be very interesting.

"My Impressions"

by E. H. N. Patterson
Monday, March 25th, 1850
I spoke the last word with no tear and no sigh, But it came from the heart—Goodbye friends, goodbye.

That may be original, and it may not; at any rate, I adopt the sentiment, which makes it as good as my own.

For California! for the land of gold, where countless treasures yet by man untold, lie buried in the sands that skirt the shores of rolling rivers—in ravines where pours the mountain torrent where the hand of spring removes the seal from many a mountain spring; for El Dorado of the setting sun, where yellow-bedded brooklets rippling run; we haste away—we leave our homes behind, our youthful comrades and our friends so kind. We haste away, the golden dust to find, which will old friendships yet still stronger bind. Then on, companions let us "push it through" and gain the "tin"—our industry's just due. Who talks of hardships—volunteers to tell that many dangers in our pathway could well. We know the risk—anticipate each ill—but have resolved to conquer, and we will!

Tis much for the ideal—now for the practical. So much for the anticipations of warm and ardent hope—now for the dissipation or realization of Fancy's dream.

We left Oquawka this morning with a fresh cool breeze from the southwest which added buoyancy to the ardor of our hope. Passing over a good road until we reached the "bottom" opposite Burlington—which was "hard"—we arrived at Burlington, where most of the teams "camped" for the night. Tomorrow we shall "sneak out" for Kanesville. Distance made, 15 miles.

 

Tuesday, March 26
Last night we had "one of those" times. Taking lodging in the wagons, we slept well "considering" until about 4 o'clock, when we were aroused by the alarm of "Fire!" Hastily arising—or rather, descending—from our wagon beds some of us hastened to the scene of the disaster and found a cooper shop enveloped in flames. It soon fell in, and California—like, we hastened to the wagons and returned to the smouldering mass of coals with our coffee pots and long before the sun came up we were indulging in a cup of the refreshing beverage. About 9 a.m. we started fresh and though the road from Burlington to Lowell is bordered for about a mile by the "grading" intended for the Mt. Pleasant plank road, we found the road generally very good to Lowell, which point we reached about sunset, where we crossed the Skunk, having travelled 18 miles. Tonight we have made a regular encampment, and entered upon the performance of emigrant duties.

So far uniform good feeling has prevailed in the Company—only excepting a small amount of fighting in camp tonight—this however is not very much to be regretted as the combatants were only dogs.

 

Wednesday 27 March.
This morning our Company adopted a regulation that no person shall be permitted to carry a loaded gun in the wagons unless the cap be removed from the tube. Slight fall of snow gave place to a steady cool breeze from the west. Soon after we left camp today we passed over some of the worst roads imaginable—no, not that, for a little rain would make them impassable for our teams. We passed Washington this afternoon, and have encamped in Bratten's Grove at the junction of the North and south roads to the "Bluffs." We shall strike out at the former in the morning. For sake of variety I visited a neighboring farm house this evening and had a chat about the "Diggings" and learned that many persons are leaving this—Van Buren County for California. A great many horse teams have passed this point on both roads and I had the satisfaction of learning that none had gone by so well fitted out and consisting of so generally good horses as our own. Distance 23 miles.

 

Thursday, March 28
Left camp this morning in good season and travelled over a beautiful road passing through Winchester, Birmingham and Libertyville. After we left Libertyville we were deceived by a "cut-off" and leaving the main road we found ourselves in for it—completely taken in and done for. The road for eight miles was awful—hills, hollows, mud holes, wet prairie, bad bridges—everything that could render a road execrable. I hope the boys didn't curse it much but for my own part, I was much in the mood of old Deacon, whose hat flew off—"It's against my profession to swear, but, neighbor, you will greatly oblige me by damning that hat." At length, however, after traveling 28 miles we have encamped at Ashland, in Wapello County, all safe, except Aleck Henderson, who had an axletree broken on that road; it will be fixed in the morning and we will "grind" on—oats are worth 20 cts. here, corn the same, beans, 50 cts. The boys are all well. Good order prevails. The boys all appear pleased with Capt. Dan., and we may safely predict a prosperous journey.

 

Friday, March 29
We made a late start, this morning, and travelled only 19 miles passing through Agency City, Dahlonega and Kirksville. No one would take the last for a town, however, as I noticed only 3 or 4 houses. Today we passed Capt. Pence's Company encamped near Dahlonega. [This is first indication that the wagon train had split in to two sections, one headed by Capt. Robert T. Pence, possibly comprised solely of wagons drawn by oxen, and the other with which E.H.N. Patterson continued his journey.] They are all well, and were holding on awhile where they could procure grain cheap. Jacob Babcock's mess is encamped near us this evening.—People in this section of country have so many corn fields that they are compelled to number them; this may sound strange, but it is a fact that several miles east of the Agency I noticed a board, above a gateway, inscribed with the words—"Cornfield No. 2."

 

Saturday, March 30
Today we passed through Oskaloosa, the largest town we have seen since leaving Burlington, and made 25 miles. Roads anything but first rate. We have been travelling all day on the ridge between the Des Moines and Skunk Rivers; the bluffs and timber of both being nearly all the time in sight—neither stream being more than 2 to 6 miles distant. The country is good—I mean the soil—and is tolerably well settled; it cannot, however, be said to equal the land between the Mississippi and Illinois, so far as I have had opportunities of judging. Corn and oats are "coming up" the further we go west—the price now asked being 30 cents.

 

Sunday March 31
Passed the day in camp, to recruit the horses and rest the men. This morning, in company with Slone, Wykoff, and Tinker, I took a stroll of about 6 miles—to the Skunk River and back. The Skunk is here quite a large stream, but it is not skirted by much timber. The country is very broken and well watered. In returning from the river, I noticed a singular object at some distance on the side of a hollow in the prairie, which I at first took to be a large tent—then a small house—but, upon approaching it, I discovered it to be an immense rock protruding from the surface of the ground. But this, although somewhat remarkable for a prairie country, is nothing to what we will yet see in the rock line. Today we were joined by Chapin's and McElrea's teams. The day has been cloudy, and, as I write, a slight shower is falling. It is my luck to stand guard tonight, so I must lay aside the pen and take my station. Lest it may be thought that "standing guard" in the settlements is unnecessary, I will state that a watch is obliged to be kept over the horses, who have not yet become accustomed to so large a stable as we give them, and occasionally create some disturbance by slipping their halters. Our friends at home may rest assured, however, that we have no danger to apprehend from stampedes, for even now, if one of our horses is turned loose you can't drive him away from the train.

 

Monday, April 1
"All fools' day" has passed off without many tricks having been played by our Company, or upon them.—We "rolled out" from camp about 9 o'clock, and reached Toole's Point about 3, where we camped, having made about 20 miles. The rain last night made the roads very heavy. We paid, today, $1 for potatoes, 35 cents for oats and 50 cents per 100 lbs. for hay—but we are now in a section where we are charged 50 cts. for corn and oats. The land over which we passed today, I may safely assert, cannot be surpassed in fertility by any in the Union; it does a man good just to look at it—high and rolling, a spring branch running in every hollow, soil black, deep and mellow, while timber can be procured along the rivers on either side of the Dividing Ridge. Nor has this exuberance of nature's gifts been entirely overlooked, for a large colony of Dutch-Hollanders—have settled in and about a town called Pella, situated 6 miles northwest of last night's camp. These people appear to be enterprizing—at any rate we had cause to believe that they were—go-aheadative from the fact that while in their limits are found all the sloughs and small creeks bridged—something remarkable in this part of the country, where the people seem to think the roads in good condition if the mud be not more than hub-deep. The houses of these colonists are of different styles—some being small frames, others sod with thatched roofs, while the king or ruler of the colony, resides in a fine mansion, and is laying off extensive and beautiful grounds. Pella contains mechanics of all kinds, but the shoemakers bear about the proportion of three to one of any other trade. Some of the inhabitants speak English—some attempt to write it. One of the latter class has placed a sign on the road side which reads thus—"Clothes to resale, Kleeren to Koop, Zweat milk, butter."—This is certainly very satisfactory to travellers, and, we hope, brings the owner of the sign much custom. But I must haul in or many readers will begin to think the Dutch have taken me by storm. We are now encamped near the house of Mr. Toole, who formerly resided at Black Hawk in Louisa County. He intends laying off a town here next week, which, I have been told, will be named Toolesboro. It is again raining tonight but our tent keeps us dry and warm. We have found prairie chickens plenty along the road, so far, and the boys have "slain" a few.

 

Tuesday, April 9
We have been travelling all day across the plains. Roads good, except one crossing, our horses came over well, but a team crossing just after us stalled. Saw an ox that had given out and been left to get his own living as well as he could, but have not yet seen any used up horses. Prairies more rolling and broken than yesterday. Travelled 25 miles, and camped in a beautiful hickory grove, where we obtained the first vegetables of the season—wild onions. Haven't seen a house today.

 

Wednesday, April 10
Crossed the Nishnabotna River, a tributary of the Missouri, at noon. We lowered the loaded wagons with ropes and forded the river without any accident. Here we made the first use of our portable horse ferries—by sending over the extra horses several times to bring over the footmen. Soon after we came to the location of an old Indian town, where the Sacs & Foxes had quite a village a few years ago. For miles before reaching this place, our course was pointed out by an Indian trail running near the road; trails, indeed, abound over the prairie, in all directions, in the vicinity of the town and several, which evince much travel in times gone by lead off to the Missouri River. I walked along a trail this afternoon, in order to gain distance on the teams, and noticed in many places three parallel paths; wherever they crossed a hillside the oldest was worn away by the rains to the depth of 2 feet, another about a foot, while the one or more recent formation was but little worn. Travelled 30 miles. Roads since leaving Indian town have been splendid. Weather cold—freezing. We are in a region where horse thieves are numerous—(we met one today, though we were not aware of it at the time)—but Applegate is on guard tonight, and woe be to the scoundrel who dares invade our camp.

 

Thursday, April 11
The road followed the course of the old Mormon Trail almost all day: this trail was worn by the Mormon Emigrants several years ago, and has all the appearance of an old travelled road—and well it may, for during the winter when the "Saints" left Nauvoo, more than a thousand teams passed over it.—Weather pleasant, and roads as good as we could wish. This afternoon, we travelled for several hours along the ridge of the Missouri bluffs, enjoying the luxury of a fine view of the Missouri bottoms—the river, visible at intervals in silvery strips—Traders Point—and the prominent ridges of Council Bluffs in Nebraska Territory. Passed through Carterville just at night, and camped a mile and a half from Kanesville. Carterville is a little hole of a town, composed of a number of little long huts filled with old women, fyst dogs, pretty girls and ragged children—the houses stuck in the ridge of a hollow, and the girls' faces at the windows and doors. I have just returned from a visit to town, where I saw the Mitchell boys, Dehague, and Disney. Dr. Thompson, Miller, and the other boys are here. Rockwell teams are camped several miles from town.

 

Friday, April 12
Moved into town this morning, and took up our abode for a season—to remain so long as the weather clerk shall keep up this awful weather. Kelping, the merchant with whom our contract for corn at 35 cts. was made, has flunked out of half the grain, and the consequence is that we are "put to our trumps" to get enough to keep our teams till warm weather.

 

Saturday, April 13
Took a ride to Traders' Point, eight miles below here, on the river, and crossed the river to Council Bluffs. This is Nebraska, and in the country of the Omahoe Indians; several Indians were seen on the river bank and in ledges along the river shore, but their village is situated about seven miles in the interior; judging from those I saw, this tribe will not compare favorably, in personal appearance, with the Sac & Foxes. I visited the agency, and the Missionary school—where a number of Indian children are in attendance. At the latter place I met Chancey Noteware and several other Galesburg boys just going out to the village, accompanied by Logan Fontanelle, Esq., the accommodating interpreter.

 

Sunday, April 14
Took a ride twenty miles northward, to the Bonga River, for the purpose of buying up corn. Start not in holy horror, righteous friends, for as a Mormon who rode in the wagon with us very truly remarked—"It is right to perform works of necessity and mercy on the Sabbath"; and when our purses are running low and the price of corn going up, up, up, it is necessary to secure what we want without delay. We passed over a country thickly settled, but could get no corn. All the inhabitants are devoted to Mormonism, and preparing to emigrate to the Salt Lake. Many of them came here several years ago—without a cent—and are getting to be comfortably situated, yet in a year or two they will "pull up stakes" and commence anew in the "Valley."—Corn is now worth $1, and is hard to get at even that price. The Mormons are reaping a harvest, sure. Camped tonight in a vacant log cabin, and slept under a roof, the first since I left home. A snow that covered the ground fell this morning.

 

Monday, April 15
The weather is still cold. Rode homewards, grain hunting without success, and crossed a ridge of knobs; met a great many Emigrant teams corn hunting. Kanesville has a population of about 600; contains a number of stores, shops, mechanics, & etc. Goods are reasonably low, but grain—as Webster says—"get out." The inhabitants are nearly all Mormons and are merely sojourners here—the "manifest destiny" of all being to reach the "Valley," the ultimatum of their hopes; they appear to be an honest and industrious set of people and certainly manage to make business ring in this little town. Corn—I hate to retreat to this theme so often—is now worth $1.25 only; Pike says that his purse has the sweeny, and I presume there are very few in the company but what might say the same with truth.

 

Tuesday, April 16
Woke up this morning to hear old "Boreas howling from the North." The boys are all well—and good feeling reigns in camp, save a little growling about the weather. I am sorry we did not come in a week sooner, for then we might have secured grain at fifty cents. Frank Davis' team arrived last night. I met our old correspondent, R. W. Miles, in town today, looking as hearty as a buck. He is, like myself, bound for the Gold Region. It has been stormy all day, but we, with a stove in our tent, are as happy and comfortable as lords. I hope the weather will soon turn warm, so that we can shove out. We have no mail facilities here—only a weekly mail to St. Jo.; and occasional mail to Ft. Des Moines. William Fletcher, Miles' partner, reports about 3000 teams at St. Jo.; and a few hundred at Weston. Emigrants are camped everywhere about here, but it is impossible to ascertain the exact number. Prugh has been here, but has returned to the Des Moines, to turn his company to St. Jo.

 


The following extracts we take from a letter written by Mr. William Hanna, to his father, John Hanna, Esq., of Warren County, dated "Hanna's Store, Bear River, Cal."

Feb. 10, 1850—On our arrival here we built a house 18 by 26 feet, put our wagon beds into it, and placed every man's goods in his own wagon bed. We left two men to guard the house. The days rest we had taken, and the sight of a little of the yellow dust, with some advice from James M. Coon of Oregon, Lewis Coon and Newton Smith, all my old neighbors, in regard to finding it, made us anxious to be digging it out. On the 16th of August I packed up and started on a prospecting expedition in company with D. B. Findley and J. A. McClannahan. Spent four days in search of gold, but found none. We returned to camp tired and hungry, (Having had nothing to eat the last day), and no wiser in regard to mining than when we started—but considering what others had done we could do, we made a second expedition to Uber, and found a company there mining. I watched them one day, found out how the gold was situated, then went to prospecting with better success. We found a place where we made $4 per day—not being satisfied with this we ascended the river about 15 miles, where we struck a place in which we made $340 to the hand in 9 days. We dug 17 oz. in one day, (3 of us),—this is the best days work I have done in the mines. We worked here one month averaging $25 per day to the hand when the lead run out.

On the 10th of October we returned to our house to look out for winter quarters. I found that our company, generally, had done well. $1500 for the first two months, was the most made by any one of our company.

I met David Findley, formerly of Henderson County, who gave me a very flattering account of Oregon. He had made about $5,000 with the aid of his two boys, since he came to the mines. James Imbrie, our old neighbor, has made about $15000 here in 15 months; Wm. McCoy has made about $2000; George McCullough had made several thousand dollars, and lost it gambling, but when I saw him last, he was in a fair way to make it up. I know of his making $400 in four days.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

During the winter we have been getting out frame timber, making shingles, riving and shaving boards, killing deer and hunting bear, &c. One word about California timber. I am well aware it will tax your credulity pretty heavy to believe it, still it is nevertheless, true. The fact is, you suckers know nothing about timber. But to begin. The house in which I am writing is 18 by 16 feet, 9 feet high, and covered with round logs completely over.—These are so straight that there are but one or two places in the roof that you could slip your open hand into, and there was no log that was brought over four rods. We have got out a frame for a two story house 28 by 36, at the door, and there is timber to build two or three barns. It is nothing uncommon to see trees 200 feet high, and I have not the least doubt that there are many 300 feet high. There is a tree within ten miles of this place 26 feet in circumference, and about 200 feet high.

The climate here is just right, if you keep in the right place—but if you get a little too high on the mountains in winter, you are liable to freeze—and if you go into the vallies in summer it is so intolerably hot that you can't live—but right here it is pleasant the year round. Although we have had three feet of snow, a coat has been a superfluous garment. The snow has aided us very much in killing deer.—We have killed 100 deer, and had quit hunting, but there is a party of Indians here now wanting to buy ten, and we will have to go out tomorrow and kill them.—They pay from one to three ounces a piece, and pack them themselves, and we generally kill from one to nine per day, to each hand, so you see there is no danger of starving in this country. I expect to mine next summer, and come home next winter if I have ordinary luck. I have made $1,500.

One word to those who think of coming here. If you are living comfortably, and clear of debt, stay at home. If in debt, and have a constitution like a bear, and the perseverance of an ant, come to California, this is the place to make a raise. If you have a family, stay at home and take care of them."—William Hanna

 


 

Wednesday, April 17
Weather today has moderated a little, and I think that after another snow we may hope for Spring. Emigrants continue to arrive. Pence's train is camped 16 miles east. Ferriage across the Missouri will cost us $1.25; across the Elk Horn $2; and the Loupe $3.50.

Cowan and Swezy have just arrived by way of St. Jo; they left Snook in St. Louis. N. O. Ferris and J. H. Noteware of Galesburg have reached here. The cholera is said to be very bad at St. Jo, among the Emigrants, and will, undoubtedly, follow the trains out. I would rather take the Northern route and escape disease, even if grain should cost a little more here—health is everything on this trip. The Galesburg Company will leave the river next Monday, and we shall, in all probability start the next day. We will thus get to grass before we feed out our grain, whereas, if we should remain here we would not be able to start with any horse feed at all. The Anderson boys [probably from Anderson County] are in town, and will start out on Monday. The weather tonight is mild and balmy, hope revives, and we begin to look for grass shortly.

 

Thursday, April 18th
Jas. Harris and Jesse Bigelow arrived this morning, safe and sound. Met Mr. Denman of Monmouth; he goes out with the Galesburg company. Weather more pleasant.—Hay is selling at $20 per ton, and scarce at that. If any of my friends should determine to come this road next spring, let them send an agent on in the winter to buy up what grain they may need, and not trust to contracts—Californians can't spare time to await the operation of legal measures to enforce them. There are teams here from all parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin; probably something over a thousand will start from about this point this spring—this estimate, however, may fall short of the number, for Emigrants continue to "roll in" daily.

 

Friday, April 19th
A "gentleman of color" from Wisconsin came here last night to join two teams which he had fitted out, well—he found his teams and was very summarily dismissed by his hired white men, one of whom drew a pistol and ordered him to vamose; this he did and set about devising some plan by which to recover his teams; in the meantime taking advantage of the night the gentlemen who were "bound for California at the nigger's expense" eloped, and are now in Nebraska, where I wish them no harm—but hope the Indians may strip them; their rascality deserves no better fate.

 

Saturday, April 20th
The streets present the appearance of a crowded mart; the unloading of wagons with goods from the river, the auctioneer's cry, the horse market, the clatter of numerous tongues, an occasional quarrel, oaths, wrestling matches, jumping on wagers, and other sights and sounds go to make up "life in Kanesville." Some Companies are breaking up; others forming; messes are swapping places; and I have heard of a company of pack mules from Indiana who have concluded to "Crawfish"; good luck to them, and may many others come to the same determination—it will leave a wider field for us who are going ahead.

 

Sunday, April 21st
Raining a little—weather considerably moderated—some business going on in town—not much "noise and confusion."

 

Monday, April 22d
It has been decided by the vote of the company to leave camp on Tuesday, the 23d, and to proceed on the North Route. I believe this route will give us a decided advantage over the St. Jo. emigration, both as regards health and convenience, wood and water. We start on with a little more than seven bushels of grain to each horse. Our loads at first will be heavy, but will be constantly diminishing. After our grain gives out, the plan most likely to be adopted to secure expedition will be for two messes to unite both teams on one wagon, and change teams in harness at noon—this will give us fresh teams every day. I append a list of those who now compose our Company: Henderson Company—D. D. Franciso, Perry Eames, O. Pike, Jno. Fletcher, E. Wykoff, Wm. Trannum, C. S. Cowan, A. McFarland, Dan. McFarland, Jno. McGaw, Jas. Rice, A. Watson, W. M. Graham, E. H. N. Patterson, Theo. McFarland, Chas. Chapin, Wm. Applegate, A. Eames, Geo. Slone, H. Tinker, Wm. Atkinson, J. Bowman, D. Blackhart, David McFarland, H. Knowles, J. Perkins, A. Knowles, A. Henderson, Jno. McFarland, Dan. Chapin, Eb. Chapin, W. F. Davis, W. Birdsall, J. A. Swezy, Jas. Harris, Jesse Bigelow, Dr. J. H. McDill, Stephen Mitchell, Hiram Mitchell-39; Mercer County—Steb. Chapin-1; Warren County—E. Brown-1; Knox County—Silas Roe, Jas. Martin-2; Fulton County—Laertes S. Smith-1; Jo Davies County—Campbell, Canda, Fullon, Simmons, Gardner, Townsend, Rosencrans, Foster, Williams-9. Felix Harris, Jack & Roberts were in yesterday—report Darnell & Muck's teams a day or two behind. Rockwell's teams may join us—some of the boys are for holding on two or three weeks—but this we cannot do. Some of the Keithsburg and Hoppers' Mills boys may also join us, but they have not yet done so.

 


From California—We take the following extract from a letter from Mr. Joseph Darnell to Mr. H. N. Ives, dated Rough and Ready Diggins, March 23, 1850.

 

The general health of the country is good—particularly so in the Mines. Our Diggings hold out very well, yet we intend to go and prospect for more soon. My Partner and me took out a little over one pound of gold yesterday, and the day before eleven and an half ounces. This you would call pretty good work, but it does not begin to compare with some of our neighbors in this region. There have been a number of pieces of gold found in our Diggings weighing from twenty and an half ounces to seven ounces. About twenty five miles from here there was a chunk found weighing sixteen pounds nine ounces and five drachms.

We came back to the Mines on the 25th January and have remained here ever since. Capt. Findley, Blackburns, N. Woods, Wm. Vanpelt, H. Seymour, M. Ritchey, the Hannas and Robert Glass are the only ones I know in the Mines belonging to our company. I expected to be gone two years, and perhaps will because I can do much better here than there?"

 


 

Loupe Fork of Platte, 1 May 1850
We crossed the Missouri at Sarpy's ferry, 12 miles above Kane, on Wednesday night last. We were compelled to furnish men to work the boats and to draw the wagons up the steep bank; for this privilege we paid $1.25 per team. Our crossing was effected with considerable labor, against a heavy wind and strong current between 7 and 10 o'clock; and we left the ferry the next morning—a company of twenty six wagons and 83 men. Two days after 14 teams stampeded, leaving—the Oquawka boys and Roe's team, 12 teams and 43 men. Five wagons and 17 men will probably join us tomorrow, when our company will be large enough. Soon after starting Mr. Harris broke a wheel which detained us a day.

We laid by at the "Winter Quarters" of the Mormons—a large collection of log huts, now deserted, but occupied a few years since by "Latter Day Saints" who were "sojourning" to the Salt Lake. The town, even in its ruins, bears evidence that its inhabitants belonged to a class who are never idle.

Our road to the Elk Horn was all that we could desire—well beaten, dry, and elevated. The Elk Horn is crossed by a good rope ferry. After leaving this stream, we struck upon the road leading up the valley of the Platte, which is remarkably straight and level—stretching away as far as the sight extends, without a ridge or scarcely the "shadow of turning." This road later in the season must be one of the best bottom roads in the world, but now it is intersected by several very bad sloughs. We could probably have pulled through, but we preferred saving our horses, and packed over about half our load of grain on our backs, wading through water three feet deep. The wind has troubled us more than anything else, for several days. The Prairies have mostly been burnt off by the emigration ahead of us, very recently, and ashes and fine sand was anything but agreeable to our eyes. On Monday night about 8 o'clock, a light breeze was playing around us and the balmy atmosphere betokened a pleasant night. Our coffee was boiling upon the stove, and, with appetites rendered doubly acute by the fatiguing labor of the day, we were seated in our tents, eagerly awaiting the summons of our cooks to partake of that best of meals—a good supper, when we perceived a change in the atmosphere, and heard a rushing, surging sound like the beating of waves upon a sandy beach. Another moment, and the first premonitions of the coming storm—a shower of dust and ashes—warned us to prepare for a gale. Now it is down upon us in all its wild fury, snapping tent pins; sweeping away hats, stoves, victuals, saddles, blankets; filling the air with a cloud of dust and coal black ashes till the last ray of starlight was shut out, and our throats and eyes rendered dust holes for the weepings of the burnt prairie. Imagine the scene if you can, for it cannot be described. A hurricane is a "mighty wind" when you are obliged to face the blast, but when to the wind is added a suffocating cloud of blinding and stinging sand and ashes, you would be very apt to think with us that the "Elephant" was scratching gravel somewhere in the neighborhood.

We have been travelling through the country of the Pawnees for several days, but have seen but few Indians. They came around our camp at night, a few only, however. They are the veryest beggars I ever saw; and they bear the name of being great thieves, we lost nothing by them except a few articles of but little value; I attribute this not to their honesty, but to the vigilance of our guards—We station from 4 to 10 sentinels every night—changing at 1 o'clock. An attempt was made by the Pawnees to create a stampede among the horses of a small company just behind us the other night. Several horses had been untied before the watch discovered the maneuver. Ten Pawnees crossed the Loupe not long since and stole ten Sioux horses. The Sioux followed them and coming upon them at daybreak whilst the Pawnees were at breakfast, they killed seven of the thieves—the other three managing to escape. The dead bodies of the seven now lie on a point about 200 miles below the Ferry, and the Pawnees are said to be afraid to venture across to bury them.

The emigrants who are ahead of us have burnt off all the prairies which the Indians had reserved for early grass and game. This conduct has justly incensed them, and the curses that the emigration behind shower upon the unknown perpetrators of this gross outrage are loud and long. Such conduct in the Indian world would be pardonable, but for a white man, hailing from a Christian land, to use such means of keeping back their fellow travellers—I know of no name justly applicable to him. Wherever the grass is not burned, our horses have good picking, but the grass on the burnt district will not be fit for use for several weeks yet. I would not complain of those men if they had built a raft and torn it up again, a bridge and broken it down—but what nature has provided for us, let us all have an equal chance at.—We shall probably not suffer as much as some yet behind us, but I for one despise the want of principle which would induce men thus to attempt to keep back emigration.

The Galesburg Company has gone on—a part of them, however, having been left behind, are here yet. We shall probably ferry tomorrow, and push ahead. We have grain sufficient to last our teams some time yet, and grass is coming on. The road on the west side of the Loupe Fork is said to be excellent. We are now 86 miles from the Missouri.

 

3 May 1850
Yesterday we ferried the Loupe Fork. Ferris' Galesburg company had the use of the boats in the morning; we forded our horses by wading the river and leading them. The bottom is quick sand. We forded the wagons in the afternoon, and it took six of us constantly bailing the boat out to prevent its sinking. A very heavy thunder storm assisted us somewhat all the time. This stream has showed us some sight—and I hope we won't have many more such. We have now crossed the Rubicon, for the Loupe bears the reputation of being the worst stream to cross between the Missouri and California, and I believe it well deserves it. This morning we leave for the West—the wind blowing strong from the northwest. Yesterday was a day to be long remembered. I am on the point of starting and can't say more. I waded the Loupe yesterday three times, the water being about breast deep. The hardest work I have done on the road was assisting in keeping the old scow from sinking. Hurrah for the Loupe—may I never see thee again in a thunder storm—or cross thy rapid waters in a mud scow.

 

4 May 1850
Reader, these "stray" jottings may prove of interest to you; if so, I am repaid for my trouble in sketching them, and if you find them imperfect in many respects, remember that they are hurried off during the bustle of camp life, at intervals between the duties which devolve upon every emigrant who wishes to reach California. In my last, I left the company at the Loupe Fork, and I once more attempt to follow their wanderings.

Today has been one of 'em—; we started early, and traveled more than thirty miles; towards night we found ourselves in the midst of sand ridges, without any prospect of water. Several of us rode ahead to search for a camping ground, but night over took us before we had succeeded; yet we traveled on, and were forced, about 9 o'clock, to camp on the ridge, with no grass, no water, no fuel. The wind blew cold and bleak, we supped upon our last cold victuals, and crept between our blankets. Today we saw deer, antelope, buffalo chips and patches of salaratus.

 

5 May 1850
We could not lie by today so we started without our breakfasts and set out upon our journey. In about two hours we came to miserable pond water; and for four hours longer, we drew our wagons through a quicksand swamp, where we stalled about every half mile. Camped at noon on the banks of a beautiful prairie stream, where we enjoyed a dinner warm and steaming from the stove. I noticed here, the graves of two emigrants who died last June—probably Mormons. Fine roads to Wood River, a fine camp, abundance of excellent water, fuel and grass. Saw the heads of several buffalo recently killed and several antelopes.

 

6 May 1850
Traveled only half a day as our horses needed rest after the fatiguing drive of yesterday. I noticed the graves of two females who died of cholera last season.

 

7 May 1850
Saw the Anderson boys. They were in camp waiting for grass; waiting, for when it will come no one can tell. To me, now, a tuft of long green grass is more full of beauty than the blooming rose of summer—never before did I look with such anxiety to see the slender blades looking upward, but I hope there's a "good time coming" if we'll "wait a little longer."—Saw a wolf and some small game, and a number of dead buffaloes on the road; and after we had camped, I saw five buffaloes about two miles distant; some of the boys gave chase but without success.

 

8 May 1850
Traveled all day alongside of a dog town and saw numbers of prairie dogs, rattlesnakes and small owls. These animals all live together in the same hole, but how the family agree, is more than I can tell—probably, about as well as would a Whig, Democrat and a Free Soiler. The dogs are much like a ground squirrel, but considerably larger, short tailed, and bark as much like a dog as their feeble voices will permit. Wherever we meet these towns, we find the grass eaten off short, the ground hard, with gravelly clay surface.

 

9 May 1850
This morning Cha's and Dan'l Chapin succeeded in killing the first buffalo. At noon a drove approached us, and Applegate, McDill, Graham, Swezy and myself mounted and gave chase. After following them about two miles over the ridges, a sight unexpected and exciting, burst upon my view; as I rose a small elevation, I found myself surrounded on all sides by buffaloes; I counted a part of the immense herd, and from a rough estimate I cannot believe that I saw less than 1,000 head at a view. Unexperienced as we were, we put our horses at full speed, but found that this only produced a stampede among the animals; we then walked our horse slowly along, and found that by this means we could approach near to them; when within about 250 yards of the herd I rashly fired at a grim, grizzly old bull, and saw my ball strike the ground just ahead of him; Graham had better luck, for he rushed among the drove and killed a calf. McDill killed an antelope, and we loaded up our game and started campward; a rain came up which chilled us thoroughly, but the excitement of the day's adventure and a warm supper soon cured us up.

 

10 May 1850
For several days we have seen trains passing up on the opposite side of the Platte. A gentleman in camp, who has traveled both roads says this is far the best. Grass looks a little better; days are warm, but we have heavy frosts at night.

 

11 May 1850
Two of the Jo Davies teams have rejoined the company. Plenty of game killed today—Tinker having killed a buffalo, Ebenezer and Charles Chapin two antelopes, while the shot guns have played the very deuce among the ducks and chicken. We have passed Grand Island, and the junction of the North and South Forks of the Platte. We are camped at the river with Ferris' Company, and the Rock Island Company. Near our camp is the grave of G. W. Jordan of Dubuque, who was buried here on the 1st inst.; this is the only new grave we have seen on the road. We are now in the region where the grass has not been burned; what can have come over the devils who have been so busy before. We nooned at the largest spring I ever saw; two streams of water boiled up, one about 6 and the other 4 inches in diameter. Now for a fresh meat supper.

 

News Items
We regret to learn by a letter from Dr. Thompson to Lambert Hopper, Esq., of Warren, dated May 27, 1850, that John Anderson, son of Mr. Wm. Anderson of this county died at Fort Laramie on the 26th May last, whilst on his way to California. Dr. Thompson's company are all enjoying good health.

Wm. J. Findley, supposed to be a son of David Findley, formerly of this county, was found murdered a few miles from Sacramento City, California, on the 29th of May last.

 

22 May 1850
After ferrying the Platte at Fort Laramie we took the river road and traveled about 12 miles. We are now in the Black Hills—first range of the Rocky Mountains. Near our camp is a perpendicular cliff of white sandstone covered with a sparse growth of pitch pine.

 

23 May 1850
I never wish to travel over better roads than we have had most of the day. The scenery was fine—hills and valley; abrupt bluffs with pine trees growing among the rocks; deep ravines with evergreen thickets; and in the distance the blue peaks of high ridges. Had a small shower of hail which did no damage. Passed a number of horse teams and one ox company. Distance 25 miles.

 

24 May 1850
Our road lay through a valley this morning where we saw large quantities of wild sage, which, as it will continue throughout the journey, I will here describe it: It grows in large bunches, some times three or four feet high, with numerous hard, twisted stems, which afford tolerable fuel; the leaf resembles the cultivated sage, is exceedingly bitter, and in smell very much resembles a plant, raised in gardens, called southerwood. I am tired of the plant already, so excuse me from saying anymore about it except that when a train passes over it the atmosphere is filled with the odor arising from it. About noon I visited a point where the river runs through a narrow pass, with a perpendicular bluff of red flint stone, rising on one side to the height of more than two hundred feet. Since noon our road has again led over the Hills, and we are now encamped on a beautiful stream—the La Bonte. A thunder storm is raging out doors, but what of that—it will make grass all the better. Laramie Peak has been enveloped in a cloud reaching far down its slope all day. Distance 24 miles.

 

25 May 1850
Last night we were visited by a tremendous hail storm, which made us tremble for our frail cloth tenements, but fortunately, it passed off without doing any other damage than frightening some of our horses. Many of the indentations left in the clay this morning are large enough to receive walnuts. The forenoon was cold and drizzly and the road somewhat slippery. Four miles of our travel was over a soil of red slate—the ground and bluff points of the hills presented the appearance of having been showered with Spanish brown. We took our dinner during a thunder storm, seated on the ground—and it wasn't "hard to take." The road soon dried off and we made a pleasant drive to the Bourche Boise river—the finest camping place we have ever had. We left a few companies behind us today. It seems that horses have everywhere been selected for the trip, as oxen and mules bear but a small proportion to the number of horse teams on the road. Saw three men who are packing through on the same number of horses. Passed a footman who is going through with 23 pounds of bread and one blanket—his only stock and store; query, won't he beg "some" before he reaches the diggings? I noticed a very pretty flower resembling the wild rose in color and shape, though far excelling it in fragrance, but, unlike the rose, it grows close to the ground and is an annual plant. Elk sign are abundant, but I haven't seen his elkship yet; I saw, however, horns of the mountain goat of enormous size, and I wish now to see the shoulders that can carry them along. Distance 28 miles.

 

26 May 1850
We made a short drive today in order to reach the ferry ahead of a number of teams we have passed. The Galesburg company passed six days ahead of us. Ferris' Galesburg company is just ahead, and the Burlington Company behind. On a tree near the road was inscribed, "J.A. Blackburn, June 16th"; so that we are just twenty-one days ahead of Col. Findley's time. Rained a little this afternoon. Distance 19 miles.

 

27 May 1850
The Platte has entirely changed its character, save that it is still muddy. It is now a narrow, gravelly bottomed, swift, cool, crooked mountain stream. We are just across the North Platte—for the last time. Our ferriage cost us $5 per team! The river is very high, and it was impossible to ford it.—This morning we woke up to find the ground covered with snow, and the white flakes falling thick and fast; the white blanket has been torn away from the low land by the warm sun; but the mountains are still covered. I looked for some time at the white peaks this morning before I discovered that they were not clouds—so exact was the resemblance, and so faint the outline of the ridge. Ferris' company is just behind us. Grizzly bear, black-tailed deer, black bear, antelope, and mountain sheep or goats are numerous in the surrounding mountains. Several of the grizzly bears have been shot at by the ferrymen, and I saw two of the common bruins today. This is the greatest country for wet weather I ever saw; we have had rain every day for more than a week. The boys are all well; our horses are thriving, and we feel in fine spirits. We shall probably go by the Salt Lake. None of the boys from our county—or Mercer are ahead of us. If I meet the Mormon regular mail, I shall write again on the route; but, readers, for the present goodbye, and may the same good luck attend you all that we desire for ourselves.

 

28 May 1850
The mail carrier from the Salt Lake is just in with the regular mail. Mr. Campbell, the carrier, states that we will find good grass all the way by keeping upon the hills. The quality of the grass is very superior—differing very essentially from that growing upon our prairies. The cattle with which Mr. C. performed his trip are in fine condition after having traveled 380 miles on grass alone. I think we will go by the Lake, where we are told we can procure supplies of vegetables, cheese, eggs, &c. Flour can be bartered for, but is not for sale in the shops. The ferries here are kept constantly going by emigration. We have passed probably two hundred teams since leaving the fort which will probably come up today, as we are lying by at the upper ferry. I have procured a manuscript copy of "A guide from the Salt Lake to the Gold Mines" with distances from camping places, &c. It is just 862 miles from the Salt Lake to Sacramento City. We shall probably unite two teams on one wagon when our grain gives out. Swezy has already done so. This will give a fresh team every day.

 


FROM FORT LARAMIE

—Letters have been received in town by S. S. Phelps, Esq., from his son William W. and Mr. William Shores, dated at Ft. Laramie, June 11, at which time they had just arrived, having made the trip from the Missouri River, 523 miles, in twenty days. The letters say that the company has enjoyed good health and "are in fine spirits, but have not yet seen the Elephant."

Mr. Stockton's company crossed the river on the 11th, all well. Capt. Pence's company arrived at Fort Laramie, June 2—all in good health.

 

Placerville (or Hangtown), July 17, 1850

Kind Patrons:

I have at length arrived in the gold region after a trip of 81 days from the Missouri River during which time we laid by 11 days. We had a very pleasant trip till we reached the Humbolt &c. When we arrived at the sink, we concluded, on account of the high water on the Truckie, to take the Carson route. We now crossed a desert of 45 miles, without grass or water, but found this to be no trick at all. Up Carson River we had poor grass and found none on the Sierra Nevada—our horses having to live on weeds and leaves. The road over this range of mountains is at this period, the worst that the imagination of man can conceive. By the time we reached these mountains the company were all packing, except Swezy and Blackart's teams. Chapins, Cowan, Birdsall, and Eames are in, and the others are close behind us. John and Theodore McFarland are with me here. I heard from Dr. Mangel at Fort Laramie and from the Keithsburg boys, Anderson boys, and Captain, R. W. Miles of Knox county at N. Platte. Samuel Snook was near us at the Sweetwater. I saw Denman last at the Devil's Gate. Capt. N. O. Ferris of Galesburg, we left at Raft River. Parker and Peck of Burlington and Updegraff's Macomb train will be in soon.

Our horses stood the trip well until we reached the Humboldt where the alkali water made them very weak. If we had had plenty of citric acid we could have prevented this, however, but as the Co. was but poorly supplied, we had to suffer the consequences. Our horses all needed rest before attempting to cross the Nevada Chain, but almost everyone was out of provisions, and we had to push ahead, and several horses started out and were left here, which could have come in if we had waited on them a day or two; but a hungry man will make any sacrifice to obtain food. Numbers of emigrants were entirely destitute of food, even on the Humbolt, and I saw men 300 miles back who were living on nothing but coffee. You might as well try to find charity in a bigot, as to look for game along the route, for I could see more game in one day's hunt about Oquawka than I have seen altogether since leaving the South Pass. Men thus straitened for food, will, of course, go any length to obtain it, and stealing became very common on the last part of the road. But as some could not steal nor beg enough to satisfy the cravings of their appetities, and had no money to buy of the mountain traders at the exorbitant rates asked, they were obliged to eat their horses. In fact, I saw several horses which had been recently killed, and the steak taken from them.

Sacramento City, 1 Aug. 1850

I scratch off a hasty note, enclosing a part of my "notes"—all I could get ready for this steamer. I will finish them—and send "A Week in the Mines" by the 15th. I give you the whereabouts of the boys as far as I have been able to learn: Col. Findley, William Hanna, Cook of Keithsburg and Senter of New Boston are keeping a rancho on Bear River. Brocklebank is worth $8,000 and is trading on Bear River. Churchill is proprietor of a rancho just below the city. The Blackburns own a saw mill at Santa Cruz. Seymour is on the South Fork of the Yuba. Lieut. Mitchell is at Gold Canyon on the middle fork of the Yuba. Edward and Jerry Ray are on Nelson Creek on the Yuba. Smalley and Rhodes are on south fork of American.

Of recent emigration. A. Knowles, McDill, McGaw, Henderson, Applegate, Swezy and his boys, the Eames' and Birdsall are all at Cold Spring Valley, but will not probably remain there long. Henry Knowles and Jesse Bigelow have obtained good situations and gone to the Yuba. David McFarland, Blackart and Harris are at Coloma. The Roberts boys are at Hangtown. Snook is in but I have not seen him. Perkins and Graham will go to trading at Hangtown. Dr. Knowles of Keokuk will also go into business there. Slone will probably commence baking.—The Galesburg boys are generally mining at Cold Spring. John and Theodore McFarland are at present in the city, where they will probably get employment. Cowan is now engaged at his avocation. Francisco is driving an ox team from Coloma to this city. Pike has bought into a mule team. The Chapins are at Cold Spring doing very well.

The reader who has followed me to the North Platte, upper crossing, will now be prepared to go with me over the most interesting portion of the route.

 


 

28 May 1850
We remained in camp at the ferry. Nothing worthy of note occurred. Henderson has lost two of his horses, which, I suppose, have gone ahead—as they are nowhere to be found.

 

29 May 1850
After having assisted in paying the last tribute of respect to the remains of Mr. Horace Conger of Jackson Co., Iowa, who died near our camp last night, we recommenced our journey.—Henderson has found his horses, which were taken up the road by the gentlemanly Captain of the Cedar Co., Iowa train. Crossed an alkali swamp this afternoon; the ground is here saturated with lye which stands in pools upon the surface. Passed through a rock avenue, where I discovered a bank of coal.

 

30 May 1850
On our road today we passed many lakes of alkaline water, some of which had dried up, leaving them incrusted with a white surface of saleratus or carbonate, which upon trial, we found to answer as a good substitute for manufactured article; from these lakes hundreds of tons might be collected. This evening we arrived upon the bank of the Sweet Water, a beautiful stream about 120 feet wide. We struck the river at Independence Rock, an isolated hill of smooth, marked granite, which rises abruptly from the Valley to the height about 80 feet. This remarkable rock is about 600 yards long; its surface is entirely destitute of earth or vegetation, and is covered with the names of thousands of visitors, among which I noticed those of Col. Findley and Ed. Ray. We crossed the river a mile above the Rock, where we found Denman of Monmouth encamped.

 

31 May 1850
Four miles from camp we arrived at the celebrated pass in the Sweetwater Mountains known as the Devil's Gate. I rode head of the train in order to obtain a good view of this remarkable point. The Sweet Water here passes through almost perpendicular walls of granite towering on either side to the height of four hundred feet above the stream.—These walls are seamed with numerous crevices, deep, dark and narrow; and the ascent from the bottom, where the river goes rushing and foaming over jagged rocks in a cascade of boiling foam, up the rugged sides of the mountain, is anything but an easy task; I accomplished it, however, and was well repaid for my trouble. Travellers who visit this romantic spot should ascend the mountain from the point where the river first enters the pass and upon ascending about a hundred feet, the sublimity of the view below him caught thro' a narrow gorge in the rock, will cause him to utter an exclamation of wonder at the vastness of the power which "causeth the water to wear away the rocky barriers of Earth," and of admiration at the perfection of His work. There is an old Indian legend connected with this place, which, if I ever obtain leisure from my arduous "gold digging" labors, I may relate to my readers. In the meantime we will pursue our journey, by crossing 7 creeks, and camping for the night on Bitter Cottonwood Creek. The scenery from the Gate has been picturesque in the extreme, the naked mountains presenting many beautiful views. I noticed a place where a perfect resemblance of a road runs up the side of the mountain. This was a gap, about 4 feet deep and 20 feet wide, graded with artistic accuracy; at the top may be seen the representation of a gigantic hod, but the Titan who used it—where is he? Saw today "toads with horns and tails," a species of lizard, ugly enough, but inoffensive.

 

1 June 1850
We continued up the river, the mountains presenting much the same scenery as yesterday. Passed a low swampy piece of ground before camping, which rests upon a bed of solid ice. This swamp extends over several hundred acres, and ice can generally be found by digging about 2 feet.

 

2 June 1850
Forded the river and travelled only 14 miles, when we camped to rest our horses. We are in latitude 42 degree, 28 min., 36 sec. I saw a man who was "solecarting" it through, having lost his pack and pony—a hard case, truly.

 

3 June 1850
Left the river and commenced ascending the principal chain of the Rocky Mountains. Crossed several mountain streams; ridges of upheaval; and the Sweet Water for the last time. The weather has been cold, and this forenoon we were drenched with a cold, driving rain. We crossed several deep drifts of snow, which are melting but slowly. After crossing the river I led my horse over a drift 20 feet deep, and could have stood upon the snow and plucked blossoms from the ground. Passed thro' Twin Mounds and camped near the river, north of the road. The snowy hills of the Wind River Mountains have been in full view for several days. Grass is scarce.

 

4 June 1850
This morning our road led through the South Pass of the Rocky Montains. The summit of the pass is over 7000 feet above the level of the sea, but the ascent is very gradual, and when up the highest point, the surrounding country presents the appearance of a broken prairie, with bluffs upon the north and south, and the peaks of mountains visible in the distance. I culled a flower upon the highest point of the Pass, as a momento of our trip. We are now in Oregon, and the waters no longer flow toward the Atlantic. After dinner we reached the junction of the Salt Lake and Sublette's cutoff. Here we took a vote of the company upon the route, which resulted in the choice of the cut off. I had wished to see the "Great City of the Vale," and am not sure it would have been the most eligible route, though probably a little out of the way; as we could have procured vegetables and other supplies which some of us need. Yet, if the cut off is nearer our point of destination, let's up go ahead; a great portion of the emigration has gone the Lake road, and if we can gain five days by taking the cut off, we will be among the first teams into the "diggings." We here take leave of the "Mormon Emigrants Guide by W. Clayton"—the best road book I ever saw. We are camped on Little Sandy, a stream 20 feet wide.

 

5 June 1850
I rode ahead this morning, early, to the Big Sandy, 6 miles from camp, to procure a light wagon, if possible from emigrants there, but found it out of the question. The Big Sandy is 130 feet wide and two feet deep. We now enter upon "a desert destitute of water and every trace of vegetation, of 45 miles in extent"—so say the guide books, and I suppose this is the case in August, but we found here in patches the best grazing that we have had yet. The soil is a yellow clay, which being dry renders the roads very dusty. We filled our water casks at the Sandy and camped upon the desert near a large ravine. I saw a grave today which had been rifled by the wolves. At Big Sandy we left our heavy wagon and hitched on to one a little lighter, which was left by one of our company. The fact may as well be admitted now, at once, that our horses have been dragged down on the heavy wagons with which we started. We considered them light, then, but what would do for two horses at home, is too heavy for four on this trip.

 

6 June 1850
Proceeded on our way across the desert, and after crossing five deep gullys came in sight of the valley of the Green River. The descent into the valley from the plain is very steep and requires care in teamsters. The bluffs bear a crystellated and romantic appearance. The first sight that met us at the ford was a wagon upset in the river; not very cheering, certainly; but we were on the banks of Green River—that stream which will long be remembered, and never come to remembrance but to be cursed by last year's emigration—and El Dorado was far off on the other side. We did not, therefore, delay long, and immediately set about raising our wagon beds to the top of the standards; which being accomplished we commenced fording. We had to cross three streams, each about 150 feet wide, crossing two islands. The water was from three to four feet deep, and the current very swift, but we accomplished the crossing with but few accidents. Rice lost a buggy wagon, and Applegate was obliged to desert his empty wagon in the stream, which, however, was no loss as he intended leaving it in a few days. A man named George Roseman of Richland Co., Ohio, was drowned here yesterday. Green River rises in the vastness of the Wind River Mountains, and rushing southward, through a country of wild grandeur, takes its course along the base of vast mountains, and across broad plains, till it is joined by Grand River, from the junction of which river it takes the name of the Colorado, and pursues its course to the Pacific.

 

7 June 1850
Here some of the company have made new traveling arrangements; such as joining teams, procuring light wagons, rigging up carts, &c. We drove southwest, over a hilly road, to a beautiful camping place on a small mountain rill, bordered with pine trees, some of which are 80 feet high. We are grazing our horses tonight on a sward of grass a foot high, and within 200 yards of us is a snow drift ten feet deep. We have passed through the Crow country without seeing a single Indian, albeit we were warned that these would be our worst foes. So far as I have heard no complaint has been made by any emigrant against the Crow, who, when seen, have been uniformly friendly.

 

8 June 1850
Passed over a rough, rocky road, with a mud hole in every hollow, caused by the melting snow on the mountains. In the afternoon we arrived at Harris' Fork of Black River, a tributary of Green. This river we found to be at a very high stage; and we were compelled to hoist our wagon beds again. We crossed without any accident whatever, although the ford was very bad. We are camped on the western shore; here we find good grass for our horses.

 

9 June 1850
We are still in camp. Emigrants are pouring in, but are obliged to ferry in wagon beds today, the river having risen more than a foot. A man from Missouri stopped here today, and reports that he lost a yoke of oxen and all his provisions in Green River, day before yesterday—he has left two yoke of oxen behind with someone, and is pushing ahead to join some of his friends. Had a heavy thunder storm today, but the sun is setting clear and pleasant.

 

10 June 1850
Leaving Harris' Fork, we struck N.W. over a beautiful mountain ridge with deep gullys on either side, to a heavy grove of balsam fir trees, where I saw snow banks which had scarce been ouched by the sun. Passed on up a steep hill, from the summit of which I had a view of Bear River far away in the distance. Went down the road travelled last year, a mile and a half; the wagons, however, keeping the new road around the hill, this old road follows down a ravine, steep and narrow; about half way down we came to a "jumping off place" where wagons must be lowered with ropes over a ledge of rock standing at a slant of about 60 degrees. At the bottom of the hill we came upon a small creek where we were over taken by a heavy shower of hail; but we are used to such things now. Traveled over another mountain, and descended to the beautiful valley of Bear River which is several miles wide with steep mountains on both sides rising abruptly from the level bottom land. Towards night we crossed Smith's Fork, a rapid rushing stream, near a naked peak of rock of most remarkable formation—being layer upon layer of volcanic rock standing on edge, and rising with sharp points to a great height. Grass pretty good; but the mosquitoes—good Lord!

 

11 June 1850
Travelled up Bear River to Thomas' Fork, where we had to swim our horses, ferry over our plunder in wagon beds, and draw across our wagons with ropes. Here I saw a few Indians of the ShoShoNe or Snake tribe, but didn't see anything very attractive about them.—Crossed over some steep hills and camped on Bear River, with good timber, grass and water—an elyseum for an Emigrant save the devilish mosquitoes which swarm above and about us; the evening breeze will soon spring up, though, and we shall be freed from this pest. Flora has dispensed her favors with no lavish hand over that portion of Uncle Sam's dominions through which we have been travelling for the last two weeks, for I have seen no flowers save occasionally a yellow weed waving its blossoms in the sunshine.

 

12 June 1850
Our road ran down Bear River valley for 37 miles crossing many small spring branches. At night we camped at the big bend of Bear River, in the midst of Fremont's "Place of Fountains." About a mile up a small creek running near our camp is a large calybeate spring, impregnated with iron and soda, and the deposite from which has formed a large hill of shelly limestone colored with iron rust. A number of Snake Indians are in camp, selling trout and trying to swap horses. We had another hail storm today.

 

13 June 1850
Did some horse swapping with the Indians this morning—trading off some poor horses for poneys, "even up." Passed round the bend; arrived at the beer or soda spring, on the north side of the road; this spring is constantly kept in a state of effervescence by the escape of gas; the water has an agreeably acid taste, and is quite a pleasant beverage. A little on is the steamboat spring, on a point near the river, to the left of the road; this spring receives its name from a puffing sound caused by the water which ebbs and flows—sometimes gushing out a jet of considerable volume, and then sinking back into the well of the fountain. Three miles further on we arrived at the juncture of the Fort Hall and Hudspeth cut off roads. We took the cut off. Near this point is the old crater of a volcano, now extinct, but the ground, for miles around, seamed with huge, deep chasm, covered with ashes, heaped up with burnt rocks, indicate that its fires once burned with an intense fierceness. The Indians have a tradition concerning this crater, but I haven't time now to tell it. We traveled 12 miles without water to a small creek, thence 4 miles further over wretched roads, and through beautiful scenery, to a creek 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Just as we were across safely, and about to camp, the heaviest hail storm that we have had over took us without a minute's warning. Virtually the "clerk of the weather" can get up a hail storm on shorter notice, and send it down with more rattling, stinging violence in these mountains than anywhere else.—The storm over, we pitched our tents.—Good grass and wood.

 


 

From the Ox Train-Valley
of the Great Salt Lake,
Ferry of Bear River

Mr. Editor:

Such are the daily duties of camp life on our emigrating tour to California that I find it almost impossible to keep fairly up with my own correspondence. But so many of the company insist that I become their amanuensis that I snatch a moment to give [an update of our journey since the] Upper Platte ferry, from which point several letters were sent. Here we found six ferry boats continually crossing wagons, and a tremendous gathering of the "emigrants." We here leave the Black Hills and traveling a considerable distance over a very strong alkali region on the north side of the river, arrived at Rock Independence, a singularly oval rock of coarse granite—standing out by itself on the banks of the Sweetwater, of this rock and a few miles before we arrive at it, are two large lakes covering many acres each, several inches in depth with what the emigrants call "saleratus," but which appears to be by a strict analysis by one of the Professors of the Smithsonian Institute politely shown me by Dr. Richards of Deseret News—pure soda, 49 parts being carbonate of soda, 8 parts sulphate of soda and 41 parts pure water.—It looks much superior to our manufactured soda. Grass through this region is very scarce, and the utmost care is requisite to keep the animals from the poisonous alkali ponds, and springs. The bones of animals lost last year are thickly scattered about these plains, and many have been lost this year. The entire sameness of the scenery on the Platte for so many hundred miles fully prepares one for the appreciation of the beautiful scenery which now continually engages our attention. The Sweetwater Mountains run in circles. Towering barren rocks with here and there a scattering pine or cedar enclosing most beautiful valleys.

While in the South Pass it was very cold. On the 18th of June we had on an entire suit of winter clothing with addition of blankets for cloaks. We camped along side of a bank of snow 12 or 15 feet thick and several rods in length and width.

At the junction of the Fort Hall and Salt Lake road, about 30 miles west of the Pass our companies divided, some of Capt. Lynn's company going by way of Salt Lake and Pool from Capt. Pence's company going with Lynn via the cut off.—This way we have had splendid grazing for the teams; while on the other road what little there was is so great the suffering must be immense. We arrived in sight of Salt Lake and city on the 1st of July. There is something here very unique, romantic and picturesque, strangely blended, but to attempt a description in our present haste would be futile. It must be deferred. Everything here is enormously high but wagons. Flour has been sold 80 lbs. for $100 and $1 per pound is the standing price, though some of our company traded better. Money is of little use here, every resident has plenty but they are crazy for bacon, dried fruit, and groceries and soap, and will rob themselves of a few pounds of flour or meal so exchange of any of them. One pound of flour for one pound of bacon is the common trade, though some of us in small lots did better—our mess got 3 lbs. meal for one pound of bacon. We are now well supplied with provisions—have traded off all sore-footed cattle for better ones and are going it through "with a rush."

In the Great Salt Lake City they were to have great times today. We should like to have seen "the doings," but could not wait. The 24th is the great Mormon day on which they celebrate the entrance of the Pioneers into the Valley, and it is the intention to have "a most splendid time." Harvest, which promises abundance, will then be over. The Bathing establishment supplied by underground pipes from the hot springs, a few miles above the city, will then be opened. The "golden pass," which cuts off many miles travel, and a deal of awfully bad road, will be opened into the valley. The emigration of "saints" from the States, and also the return company from the "diggings" are expected in. A Mormon museum, representing the "Smith martyrs" and other portions of their history, is confidently looked for from the States. And a splendid brass band of their own is continually practicing—all for the glorious 24th. This is really a beautiful valley. Running north and south nearly 300 miles and from 60 to 80 miles in width, on the east are towering mountains, dotted over with snowbanks some distance below their summits. Across the valley, opposite the city; the eye rests upon a chain of mountains apparently an hour's walk, but really a full day's journey distant. To the northwest lies the Great Salt Lake, like a beautiful scarf, stretching around the base of two large mountain islands which divide its waters in a north and south direction. In every direction the eye meets with snowy peaks, and beautiful, verdant landscape. This valley is capable of sustaining a very large population. The settlements are now scattered some 50 or 60 miles along the east side of the valley. It is really astonishing what these people have accomplished in so short a time. Flourishing farms, neat habitations, and most of the evidences of an enlightened people are now seen where four years since the wild beast and the savage Utah roamed unmolested. It seldom if ever rains here, and all the farms are irrigated. This is easily done, however, by means of the never failing mountain streams which issue from the Mountain canyons at short distances all along the side of the valley. But enough of description.

The Oquawka horse company are but four days ahead of us, at this point. Rockwell but one day, and old Thomas Rodgers who is packing is ahead of us all. Dr. Mangel is in our company. Mr. Roberts, Frank Davis and all the original Pence company, except Pool. All are well and have been so, with the exception of two or three cases of mountain fever, from which the patients are recovering. They were slight attacks.

Several copies of the Deseret News have been ordered to be sent to Oquawka by which you will hear of us and our proximity to the Indian depredations committed by the Utah on the Snakes.

With respect yours, &c., J. W. Jones

 


 

14 June 1850
Today being the holy Sabbath, we remained in camp. We are in a lovely valley, seemingly shut up on every hand by an impassable barrier of mountains—the tops of which are at this moment completely enveloped in mist; thus rendering the illusion more perfect. It has rained nearly all day. Since we struck Bear River we have seen a few huckleberry bushes, sugar tree shrubs, wild beans and one or two varieties of phlox; great country this for a lazy botanist!

 

15 June 1850
Started this morning, during the rain and hail, with the expectation that it would soon clear up—but alas, vain hope, thou art a delusive syren, whose words serve to charm only for a season.—Travelled up an undulating valley to a small creek, a tributary of the Columbia about 18 miles from camp; crossed and travelled about 4 miles over a long hill crowned with cedars, and camped on a small spring branch. The scenery has been varied and grand. We have been travelling along the dividing ridge between the waters of the Pacific and the Great Basin, and have noticed the loftiest mountains that we have yet seen. When on the top of a mountain today, before descending to the creek, the clouds enveloped the ridges all around us, presenting a sublime scene; in places their black folds hid the surrounding hills entirely from sight; in others, a cloud of snowy, white encompassed the peaks of the towering mountains. While ascending the mountain after crossing the creek, a half formed cloud rolled over the summit and broke upon us; it was charged with hail, rain, snow and mist—and a most unwelcome visitor it was. Sun sets clear. Several horses have been stolen by the Indians here recently.

 

16 June 1850
Again, we cannot see the sun rise, left camp and followed up a valley between high mountains to a small creek where we nooned. A few miles further on we crossed another creek of clear water, and commenced ascending a long hill, arriving at the summit of which we turned N.W. into a narrow defile between high mountain ridges, which we followed up a gradual slope for 3 miles to a quaking aspen grove; where the trunks of the trees are scarred with a thousand names cut in the bark; we then commenced descending over a rough, sliding road, through a ravine so narrow as only to admit the passage of one wagon at a time. It was nearly night when we arrived at the foot of the mountain, but we could find no water; we, therefore, drove on down the Valley in search of this necessary article, and camped near a snow bank, where we had good wood and grass. We melted snow and thus procured enough water for camping purposes. The day has been cloudy and the temperature very changeable—we would be in our shirt sleeves sometimes and in fifteen minutes we would require overcoats. Capt. N. O. Ferris received a serious injury today from the kick of a horse, which will probably confine him to the wagon the remainder of the trip.

 

17 June 1850
Continued down the valley about five miles, when we ascended the mountain through a defile, at the summit of which we found water on the hill side half a mile from the road. We here watered our teams and proceeded over a low range of hills to a creek where we nooned. After dinner we crossed a high hill and passed through a long, narrow and deep defile to a sudden bend in the road to the north, a mile from which we encamped with good grass, water and fuel, near a grove of pine trees. The Indians say there is a spring a half mile to the left of the road opposite a cedar bluff at the foot of the long hill we descended last night; emigrants next year would do well to search for it. A man who started on foot from the States was just at our tent begging something to eat; we supplied his immediate wants with pilot bread—any such applications, however, would run us short.

 

18 June 1850
Continued down the defile for 18 miles, crossing 2 creeks, when the road opened upon the valley of the Raft River, a tributary of the Columbia at a small creek. This valley extends more than 14 miles across a barren plain to the Raft River where we camped for the night where we had grass and sage. The last 5 miles have been very swampy, and we were obliged to cross several very bad sloughs. This morning the water was so cold that the quaking aspen leaves couldn't tremble and running water froze a half inch thick, but we have been descending all day and are now in a warmer region. Here we leave Hudspeth's cut off, which we have found to be an excellent road—in fact as good as we could ask over the mountains.

 

19 June 1850
We crossed Raft River which is here about 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep; we had to unload our wagons and carry over our baggage on a willow brush foot bridge. We intersected the Fort Hall Road, which has not been much travelled this spring, and followed up the river 8 miles where we recrossed it and struck out a S.W. course through a wide valley with gigantic hills on the right covered with eternal snows, from the suface of which, here and there, the top of a buried pine struggled into view. We then crossed a swampy piece of ground and camped on a large creek. The hills around us are covered with quartz pebbles but the gold ain't "thar." The upland grass is drying up fast, being already ripe enough to burn. The bottom grass is very good yet. Three weeks later, however, it will be a hard matter to graze stock in this region. eather clear and temperate—for a wonder.

 

20 June 1850
About 9 miles from camp we struck the trail leading from the Salt Lake. Before arriving here we passed for several miles through an opening in the mountains which I will term the Valley of the City of Castles. It deserves this appellation from the great number of bare, granite rocks with which it is filled; there rocks, or hills, are of every possible form, and it would confound the most adept geometrician to classify their shapes, and of every size, from a hay-cock to the proudly towering dome. Crossed several streams, and nooned near the foot of the mountains.—Passed through a gap in the mountains, and after driving a few miles ascended a high hill where we obtained the most magnificent view that we have had on the whole trip. Stretching away, on every hand, like a billowy sea congealed, ragged hills, while a thin, hazy smoke which encircled them rendered the view more enchanting by the vagueness of their outline—a storm was visible far away in the Great Basin to the south—stretching off to the north, we could discern the snowy peaks of a distant range of mountains while immediately below us far down in the valley, we could discover the wandering course of Goose creek. Followed up Goose creek 4 miles and encamped.

The road up Goose Creek is miserable, and we found no good grass till night.—About 3 miles from morning's camp I visited a low cliff of soft sand stone, where I saw inscribed "Capt. Findley July 11, 1849." The man to whom we gave hard bread a few days since stole a sack of flour from a mess in the Rock Island train who had permitted him to tent with them for a week or so; but the flour was found and our grateful gent had to slope.

 

22 June 1850
Travelled up what is termed Hot Spring Valley; the land resembling the valley of the Platte—ground covered in many places with a slight efflorescence of alkali. Found water at convenient distances, and camped, after a drive of about 30 miles on a narrow, swampy creek, where we found good grass, though the ground is very miry.

Today, I saw six Root Digger Indians, who had hidden their nakedness with castoff garments they had picked up on the road. I was behind the train, and was beset by the ragged devils, but rode by them though they looked saucy enough to be mischievous had they not been rather intimidated by the sight of a packing train just coming in view around the hill; two of them following A. McFarland more than a mile, searched his pockets, but left him when he offered "fistiana" resistance. Mr. Platte, late of Rock island, camped with us tonight. He is driving an ox team, having wintered with his family at Fort Larmaie, and taken an early start. He has a roadometer attached to his wagon, and intends publishing a Guide Book. I looked over his manuscript and find it very correct. A company of packers, via Salt Lake, are also near us. They procured potatoes for $2.50; flour for $25.00 per 100 lbs. and radishes and lettuce in abundance. They tell us that it is about 120 miles out of the way, which I think is correct. Persons who left on that route when we took the Cutoff are several days behind. The streams on this side of the city are all high, and the rates of ferriage most exorbitant; on the whole I think that we "hit the nail on the head" by not coming that road.

 

23 June 1850
We remained in camp this morning to prepare for packing. Swezy and Dr. McDill remain for the same purpose. We do this in order to make good time which we cannot do with our wagons. We used up our horses on our heavy wagons, and think it much the most advisable plan now to pack through, as our load is very light, and we are in a country where we are at length free from rain. About noon we left our camp and continued along the Valley about 4 miles; where we crossed a creek and swamp. Here there are numerous springs of very hot water; this water is clear, and slightly impregnated with sulphur. About 6 miles from these springs we entered a canyon where there is a good spring. Here we found excellent grass. Passing over a hill we struck a small creek, and encamped with plenty of grass and sage.

 

24 June 1850
I slept last night in the open air, and enjoyed my slumber remarkably well. Started in the cool of the morning and found a small creek, after travelling 5 miles, where the advance portion of the company camped last night. At noon we passed through a canyon, and turning a barren bluff point camped on a small sluggish stream 20 miles from morning's camp. The water was not fit to drink, but we found a spring about half a mile further up, which, although smelling strongly of sulphuretted hydrogen, sufficed to quench our thrist. Here several of McDill's & Swezy's horses were poisoned—froth at the mouth, appear choked, and get very weak, but with a good drenching of vinegar or acid water will soon recover. Travelled across a ten mile stretch to a bad creek, a tributary of the Humboldt; crossed and camped near the bluffs. A few Indians are lurking about. We are now in California.

 

25 June 1850
Travelled two miles; and after crossing several running sloughs, we came upon the banks of the famous Humboldt or St. Mary's River. This we crossed without difficulty as the stream is here but a small brook; but as we followed down the valley, we found the volume of water greatly increased and the current more rapid. We have had hot weather and dusty roads, and are now camped near the mouth of Martin's Fork. The river has been very high, and the road we are now travelling was made this spring by the Salt Lake Mormons; the old road being in many places 3 feet under water now. The upland grass we find nearly all gone—(pardon the bull) but the head grass in the bottoms is just in its prime. Teams are rushing up, and others who have just commenced packing are on the road.

 

26 June 1850
Crossed the Fork and, crossing a low bluff, continued down the river. Good grass of the banks. At noon four of the boys, Slone, Wykoff, McGaw and Bowman, left camp with provisions and guns, intending to foot it through to the diggings, thinking by this means to get in far in advance of the teams. The boys bade them goodbye, and gave them the charge "If you get there before we do, Just tell 'em we're a'coming too."

Where we camped last night, four Indians made an attempt to steal horses from McKee's train two nights ago, which resulted in the killing of one Indian by the guard.

 

27 June 1850
Our road now leaves the river and winds away through a succession of bluffs, elevating the old road which here crosses the river. About noon crossed a small stream. Camped tonight with some grass on a bluff, where the bed of a dry stream, where we were obliged to sink holes to procure a little water. I am reminded to mention what I have heretofore neglected—that the ladies are not unrepresented on the road, as there are a great number of families emigrating this spring; the family trains are generally from Ohio and Missouri. About ten o'clock this morning we overtook our pedestrians, who were glad to get back to the train. They got lost last night and had to travel considerably out of their whereabouts; so, after taking a dry breakfast, they thought it would be best to give up the expedition as a bad job and run the risk of a little ridicule.

 

28 June 1850
Started very early and passed through a canyon, in which are a number of springs. I took a "cut off" and found myself, after a long and tedious jaunt along a rocky and dusty path about 4 miles behind the horses. I was not the only "green horn" however. We then followed down the river, crossed a small, deep creek, and camped with plenty of grass.

 

29 June 1850
I was on guard this morning in company with a man from Belvidere whose horses were grazing with ours. I had just been the regular round and found all safe, when he gave utterance to a few unearthly yells and fired off his gun. We aroused the camp, and in a few minutes our men were all out, guns in hand, but after a thorough search for the "dead Indian" we were satisfied that if the Belvidere man had seen anything other than his own moon shadow, that thing had sloped. Followed the valley down till noon where we struck the river at a stony ledge which I will take the liberty of naming Rocky Point, where a jetting point extends into the river. Here the road runs in a westerly direction over a desert plain parched and dusty. Camped at night near the river where we got some grass by wading in the water.

 

30 June 1850
Left camp at sunrise and continued down the valley over the same desert plain. About noon we struck the river again, where we found our boys who were in advance of us. They, with hundreds of others, were preparing hay for the "Desert," which rather astonished me, as I had not supposed that we were yet within a hundred miles of the "Sink," where the desert commences. Someone has stuck up a board near this place stating that he had been to the sink, 18 miles below, where he had found no grass, and had returned here to make his hay. I believe this to be ll humbug, for, according to Fremont's map, we are not yet to the Big Bend, sixty miles this side the Sink; but as prudence is at all times in order, we concluded to do as others had done, and follow this person's advice. We swam the river, waded through mud and water two feet deep, cut our grass three-quarters of a mile from the river, and then packed it to the bank on our shoulders where we boated it over in wagon beds by the aid of swimmers and ropes, and dried it. I was thus engaged about six hours, and a most delectable job I found it. Hundreds of emigrants are here, and if we are fooled, many others will also be; even some who went through last year are in doubt as to their locality, at which I am surprised.

 

1 July 1850
Left camp early and for the first four miles our road led through a perfect alkali swamp, covered with water a foot deep which smelled and tasted like weak lye. Then crossed a hill and passed through a canyon which opened upon a broad, swampy valley, encompassed by high hills on either side. Can this, then, be the Valley of the Sink? I think not, for the river runs west, while Fremont makes its course at the Sink south. Encamped tonight on a slough and had to swim it for grass. I am now certain that the "guide board" was put up for the purpose of delaying the emigration, and if I knew the miscreant's name, it would afford me the greatest pleasure to assist him to a little notoriety.

 

3 July 1850
After some ineffectual inquiry of emigrants concerning my journal, I followed after the train which was several hours in advance of me. The country is sandy and barren—so much so that even the wild sage cannot grow, nothing being seen but a few dwarf greasewood bushes. Crossed a stretch of 18 miles without a drop of water. Camped at night in "Green Valley," where by wading, we got some grass. Very many on the road are running out of provisions. The destruction of property along the road continues to be immense. All the fortune I would ask would be to have all the articles in the States that are thrown away in the road. I must return my thanks to Messrs. Smith and Grant of Galesburg for the hospitable reception I met from them about dinner time, and for the excellent meal that I partook of with them.

 

4 July 1850
The anniversary of American Independence was ushered in this morning by a few shots, which was the only outburst of patriotism that we could afford to expend. We tacitly acknowledged the glory, wisdom and majesty of our beloved republic, and required no orator to tell us about our "forefathers who fought, &c." We travelled on a few miles to the Great Bend, where the renowned "Greenhorn's cut off" leads away to the westward; from the appearance of the road several teams must have taken this route this season. At night the road descends thro' a winding ridge of bluffs to the river where we camped. No grass, but we got a few rushes by wading in a slough. The character of the river has materially changed; it now runs through steep banks of clay, with a narrow bottom. How any person who had ever been along here before could have mistaken his locality is a mystery to me.

 

5 July 1850
Travelled 6 miles and stopped on a bluff; went a mile for a sack of grass. Proceeded on our journey and struck the river six miles further on. Then went 18 miles to a ravine where we found a number of springs of good cold water. Here we crossed grass growing in a slough where we made our hay for the desert in earnest—that which we had made before having all been fed out long ago. I am very much indebted to Daniel E. Pierce, Esq. of Belleville, Ill., for bringing up my lost journal. Mr. P. accompanied by his lady and Mr. H. Padfield is rushing through in fine style with a good mule team.

 

6 July 1850
Remained in camp till 3 o'clock, when we pushed out for the Sink. We travelled through a storm of wind and drifting sand till about sundown when the wind lulled, and we entered the valley of Humboldt Lake, commonly called the Sink of the St. Mary's. This valley is probably from 12 to 15 miles wide. The surface is level and entirely destitute of vegetation except a few greasewood bushes on the outskirts of the bed of the Lake, and a patch of rushes here and there on the banks of the stream. In the spring this vast basin is filled with water, but now the water occupies but a small portion of the extreme left of the stretch. Night over took us before we had reached the Sink and we travelled on till 12 o'clock, when, supposing that we were very near the end of the basin, we spread our blankets and slept well after our night's drive.

 

7 & 8 July 1850
We moved on about a mile this morning to a point where the waters of the Humboldt are brought to a stand still. Here we found a little grass, and remained encamped till 3 o'clock p.m. We left our camp, (if a solitary tent for a company of forty men and a few packs be worthy of the name,) and started across the desert—so long dreaded. We arrived at the junction of the Carson and Truckie routes, and finding that all the travel had gone the former road, we took it. Five miles further, after passing a few salt springs, we came upon what really deserved the name, for a more completely barren waste cannot well be imagined. For miles and miles extended a perfectly level surface of hard baked clay without a spear of grass or the slightest elevation of earth. Nothing could be discovered upon it save here and there a black speck far off the road which we found to be water casks which had been blown away from the road by the wind. We travelled upon this barren plain five miles before night closed in upon us, and noticed hundreds of water kegs and great numbers of wagons that had been left. We now gave our horses a little hay, and about a half bucket each of water, which we procured from one of the wagons. The water being now all used up all the wagons remaining in the company were left, except Harris' and Swezy's. We started on in about an hour, and travelled probably 8 miles when we again fed hay and rested an hour. Started on again, we could see nothing but the faintly glimmering stars above, and the horses ahead of us—feel nothing but our steps grating through the sand or patterning in the dust—and smell nothing but the effluvia which indicated too vividly the presence of the carcasses of dead horse along the road. Travelling 8 miles further we stopped about sunrise and rested and fed for the last time on this forty mile stretch, and after breakfast pushed on over the deep sand for 9 miles, during which we suffered a little for the heat of the morning—the forenoon here being the hottest part of the day, as the afternoon winds serve to cool the air. Within about three miles of Carson River we met a train of returning Californians; each man having three mules, with which they are making great headway. We arrived at the Carson River, a larger stream than the Humboldt, and which, like it, is lost in the sands of the Great Basin. There being no grass here we travelled up the river 5 miles, waded three sloughs for grass and encamped.—Here let me say, that the Humboldt has not a ree upon its whole extent—the nearest approach to timber being a few willow bushes, none thicker than your wrist. On the Carson, however, we find a few scattered cottonwood trees.

On the 7th we were out of sight of snow—the first time since the 22nd May. Today, we again are greeted with the glittering mountain sheets of shining snows.

 

9 July 1850
We left the river and travelled over sandy roads 10 miles without grass or water. Nooned and travelled across a desert stretch of 20 miles, with a sandy road. On this desert we all suffered a little from thirst, and it went harder with our horses than did the Great Desert, over which they all came unscathed. Camped in the night without any grass.

 

10 July 1850
Our horses look thin this morning after their supper of willow leaves. We moved on about five miles and turned out to graze. We then crossed a desert of 10 miles and nooned on the river. Near us at noon was Updegraff's train from Macomb. Camped tonight near the river with good grass.

 


From Salt Lake City

 

 


 

11 July 1850
We moved on this morning crossing several beautiful streams; gradually approaching the Eastern base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which we reached after about ten miles travel from camp. These mountains, covered with pine trees rise abruptly from the general level of the Valley, opposing an impassable barrier to the traveller. To cross them at this point is a matter of impossibility, and the only passage for wagons anywhere in this region is through the canyon formed by the Carson River twenty miles further on. At the place where we strike the foot of the mountains, the Mormons—(where will you go, and not find them)—have established a trading post, where we procured some "neck beef" at seventy-five cents per lb., and musty flour for two dollars; what think you of that, farmers of Illinois!—Passing on from this place, as fast as we could, in order to save what little money we had, we continued up Carson valley, our road not approaching the river nearer than a mile until night. About three miles from the Station, I noticed a guide board directing footmen and packers to take a "cut-off" over the hills thro' a narrow ravine, which would bring them to the diggings at Georgetown, and save three days travel. We preferred, however, the main road, having the fear of the "Greenhorn cut-off" constantly before our eyes. Being very thirsty this afternoon, I approached a clear, sparkling spring of chrystal water, gushing from the base of a spur of the mountains, and stooped down to imbibe the delicious fluid. The water met my lips with so ardent a kiss that I started to my feet again, uttering an exclamation not remarkably classic, which I may paraphrase thus: "hot as-the region of damned spirits." A mile or two further on we came to the first of a succession of mountain rills, which continued at intervals of half a mile the remainder of the day; and more glorious sparkling clear-living water I never drank. The weather, was very warm, and that water, I shall never forget it. I don't believe that the most highly concocted glass of alcoholic liquors ever compounded, gave the same pleasure to the partaker as did a draught from those cold, limpid waters which came leaping down, over beds of white gravel, from the slowly melting snows of the summits of the mountain above. We are camped tonight in the mouth of the canyon, surrounded by the most grandly beautiful scenery that I have beheld anywhere on the route except the Gap of Devil's Gate.

If we could rest our horse on the excellent grass of Carson valley before crossing the Mountains, I think we could go over with flying colors, but as it is, we have to push ahead, even at the risk of killing them all. We have now been on short allowance ever since we left the Sink, and many of the company are as short up as we are. We have lived since we left Humboldt on a half pound of bread, and about two tablespoons full of rice per day. We were reduced to this by having lost about 60 lbs. flour and 20 lbs. went by having it stolen, by some poor, hunger-driven-to robbery devil.

 

12 July 1850
This morning we commenced climbing the mountain—through the canyon—and such a climb! The road was such an one as the most distorted imagination could have formed no idea of: rocky-muddy-sidelong—these words do not convey to the mind the slightest impression of what it is, and I despair of giving the reader a comprehensive description. The road had been cut through, and late in the season, would probably be tolerable, but now in some places a mountain stream crossed along the track, mud holes presented themselves at every level platform we reached, rocks from the size of a football to that of a hogshead were to be surmounted, narrow paths led along the side of the hill almost impassable, owing to the roots, stumps of fallen trees and loose stones. These roads high towering hills on either side of the canyon, which gradually diminished its height as we went up the rapid roaring stream of Carson River, which every mile was growing less in volume, but more impetuous and headlong as it plunged down over its ragged bed. This was our first day in the mountains. Tonight the atmosphere is cool.

 

13 July 1850
Kept on our course over the mountain, with much the same road and scenery as on yesterday. No grass, but abundance of flowers. Left Carson River to the left.

 

14 July 1850
This morning we descended to a swampy valley, where we had considerable difficulty in crossing a stream—a tributary of the Salmon Front River. We now commenced ascending the last ridge—the summit of the chain. I shall never forget the tramp I have taken today—From the stream I have alluded to, we had a view of the snow clad summits, and of trains crossing over the white field five miles distant. Our road led up, up, up through heavy pine forest—over snow banks, where through a gap melted away by the side of a rock we could see a stream plunging down the side f the mountains 20 feet beneath us—and at last over a steep snow field of more than a mile in extent, where we were compelled to walk over a slippery road, our horse before us—to the long-hoped-for summit. Here, we found no snow whatever; we were above all vegetation save a stunted cedar bush, which had braved the storm, and planted itself above the snow; the air was cold and chilly; the atmosphere was the purplish-blue tint, which chilled us as we looked around and below. We could see lakes, hills, forests, snow fields,—and, far to the west, hill after hill, which yet interpossed between us and our destination. We remained on the summit a half hour, and then commenced our descent, which we found more wearisome—over the snow—than the ascent. In many places, we saw, where the road ran a few weeks ago, trees protruding to the height of 6 feet, and I have no doubt that even below our road the progress of the thaw will discover some "tall brush." We met a great many packers today, going over with flour; and find that, tonight, we can buy this necessary article for $1 I saw several horses, today which had been killed, and had the steak cut away from them! To such want are some honest men reduced.

 

15 July 1850
The character of the Country has entirely changed. We have now good roads, a few oak trees scattered here and there among the most magnificent pines, cedars, and hemlocks that ever grew, and the most luxurious abundance of wild flowers that I ever saw. If I had a hundred acres of the pine I have seen today standing on the banks of the Mississippi, I would never wish to "try the mines."—I have estimated the height of many of these trees, and find it to be an average of 200 feet though some of them go beyond three hundred! We have no snow tonight. We have had no grass for three days—having to feed our horses on weeds and leaves. We will reach Hangtown tomorrow, and then, thank the Lord, we will indulge in one more hearty meal.

 

16 July 1850
Hurra! We have reached the goal of our destination! We have seen gold washed from the vulgar soil!—Flour is only 17 cents a pound, and now for as much as we can eat, once more!

Reader, my dinner is over, and if ever any one enjoyed slap jacks and fat pork—this and nothing more—that individual was your humble servant. I am in a good humor now, and with a few closing remarks, I shall cut your acquaintance, for the present, though I may soon endeavor to cultivate it again.

I have walked two-thirds of this twenty-four hundred mile trip; been out of "grub" part of the time—the very time, too, I had to work the hardest; and must say that I cannot regret having taken the journey. I have never, yet, seen the elephant, nor do I believe any one else, who came over with the same outfit, has had any cause to complain, unless he be a person who has had no curiosity to gratify—no ambition to sustain him in difficulties, or who is constitutionally too lazy to enjoy good health. We are at length here, in the land of our golden dreams, and shall endeavor to make up for lost time. I must claim the indulgence of my readers for these badly written sketches. No one, but a person who has crossed the Plains, can imagine the difficulty with which I have written. Sleep is all we ever desired, after supper, or when we were resting during the day, and I have had to snatch from my covetous eyelids, what little time I devoted to this journal.—I thought I could have made an interesting book. My material was ample, and had I been seated in My sanctum, I might have made my "impressions" readable—as it is, I have done my best, and, hoping again to hold converse with you from this distant land under more favorable auspices. I am, as ever,
Your friend and servant, E. H. N. P.

 


 

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We have received letters and papers from our Junior up to the 14th August from Sacramento City and San Francisco. Having located at Sacramento, our readers may expect to hear from him regularly, by every mail steamer.

The report of the riot on the 13th of August and the destruction of the city of Sacramento by fire on the 4th, we are inclined to believe unfounded, as our Junior makes no mention of the riot in his letter written on the night of the 13th, nor does the Placer Times of the 14th give any account of it. We take the following extracts from the letter:

"I have heard nothing further from Lt. Mitchell since I wrote last. He was then on Middle Fork of Yuba; and every account we receive from there, tells of extensive failures.

"The boys are nearly all in from the Plains. I have heard of all of them except Rockwell and Snook. The last I heard of Sammy he had not yet got in; though he has by this time, undoubtedly. Rockwell has probably got in, but I have not yet heard from him. Ives, C. B. Jones, & c. came in ahead of Lynn, but it was a satisfactory arrangement—they await his arrival at Hangtown. All the Warren boys are in and up about Weaverville.—Perkins, and Graham have gone into business at Hangtown. Graham was down here a day or two ago. Theodore and John McFarland are at Cold Spring. R. W. Miles has arrived and gone to digging at Cold Spring. The Galesburg boys are nearly all there. John McGaw, Applegate, Henderson, Birdsall, A. Knowles, Watson, Chapins, and several of the other boys from Oquawka, are also there. Dr. Knowles opens a store there this week.—Dr. McDill has gone into partnership with Dr. Plumer of Rock Island at Placerville. Some extraordinary tales are told about "big lumps" down in the Southern mines on the tributaries of the San Joaquin. The operation of the foreign tax has driven away many of the miners from that district."