Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journal, 1850

The first part of the year was spent getting ready to travel to the Rockies, having been almost three years since the first party left. My great-grandfather neglected to report in his journal that his wife had a baby son on December 15, 1849, and added it in here.

The gold rushers poured into Kanesville, Iowa, but found the grass too dry and unsuitable to continue to California due to lack of rain. In April, they departed after getting resupplied, which cost them $2.50 per bushel of wheat and $2.00 for corn. The mill that my g-gpa owned with a partner made a good profit with which he was able to outfit himself for the journey to the mountains.

He was elected the Captain of 100 wagons much to his surprise and they commenced organizing for the trip. The company was divided into two groups of 50 wagons and further divided into groups of 10 wagons with a Captain in charge of each group. They passed some rules to travel by, one of which was that cruelty to animals would not be tolerated.

On June 17, 1850, travel to the mountains began and after about three miles a wagon wheel broke in the first 50 wagons and they had to stop. The second 50 traveled on a few miles.


  1. Enjoying these excerpts Oscar. Keep 'em coming.

  2. The business about no cruelty to animals is interesting. It doesn't turn up much in the early western fiction I'm reading (50 years later), except for THE VIRGINIAN, where it figures prominently. The Virginian has no respect for a man who would mistreat a horse, and one of the villains of the novel, a neighboring rancher, is just such a man. He's responsible for the death of a horse left in his care, and it's a heartbreaker moment in the novel.

    Cruelty to wildlife was another matter. I'm reading how the open range cowboys loved to chase down wild game, including bear and buffalo. They were not particularly sporting about it either.

    The Mormon Trail crossed my home state of Nebraska. When did that come into existence, and did your great-grandfather travel it?

  3. I was surprised to read that cruelty rule in the journal, especially after he had been killing hogs and selling them, but I think most of those people had great respect for their work animals and cows since their lives depended on them. Some just don't have the temperament to be nice to anything.
    Wild animals were another matter, even today.

    Yes, these wagon trains used the Mormon Trail, the first party leaving in 1847. The Trail ran along the Platte and into Wyoming to Fort Bridger then cut off to Salt Lake. It's also known as the Oregon Trail which branches off at Fort Bridger. Both sides of the Platte were traveled, but more people used the north side is my understanding. My great-grandfather on my mother's side traveled it in 1850 as the Captain of 100 wagons. My other great-great-grandfather (my father's side) was working with the Pawnee and Oto Indians for the Indian Agency 1835-1847 when he traveled it in the first party with Brigham Young. He was a Captain of 50 wagons in that party. The Trail was traveled by many explorers and others prior to and during the Mormon exodus to the Rockies. Some call the Lewis and Clark trail the Oregon Trail, but many people traveled to Oregon on this route.