Wisconsin

With the idea of returning to Wisconsin I made plans for my movements. I purchased a good outfit of steel traps of several kinds and sizes, thirty or forty in all, made me a pine chest, with a false bottom to separate the traps from my clothing when it was packed in traveling order, the clothes at the top. My former experience had taught me not to expect to get work there during winter, but I was pretty sure something could be earned by trapping and hunting at this season, and in summer I was pretty sure of something to

Story of the Jayhawkers

In the foregoing chapters describing the trip across the deserts and mountains, the author has had occasion many times to refer to the “Jayhawkers.” Their history is in many respects no less remarkable and intensely interesting than that of his own party. The author has therefore collected many notes and interviews with prominent members and presents herewith the only written history of their travels. The little train afterward known by this name was made up in the state of Illinois in 1849, of industrious, enterprising young men who were eager to see and explore the new country then promising gold

The Western Fever

About 1828 people began to talk about the far West. Ohio was the place we heard most about, and the most we knew was, that it was a long way off and no way to get there except over a long and tedious road, with oxen or horses and a cart or wagon. More than one got the Western fever, as they called it, my uncle James Webster and my father among the rest, when they heard some traveler tell about the fine country he had seen; so they sold their farms and decided to go to Ohio, Uncle James

The Oxen Get Frisky

Struggling Along

Out of Death Valley we surely were. To Rogers and I, the case seemed hopeful, for we had confidence in the road and believed all would have power to weather difficulties, but the poor women–it is hard to say what complaints and sorrows were not theirs. They seemed to think they stood at death’s door, and would about as soon enter, as to take up a farther march over the black, desolate mountains and dry plains before them, which they considered only a dreary vestibule to the dark door after all. They even had an idea that the road was

The Southern Route

We moved off in good style from this camp. After a day or two and before we reached what is called Little Salt Lake, an attempt was made to make a short cut, to save distance. The train only went on this cut off a day or two when Capt. Hunt came back from the front and said they had better turn back to the old trail again, which all did. This was a bad move, the train much broken and not easy to get them into regular working order again. We were now approaching what they called the Rim

The Sand Walking Company

We were floating along very silently one day, for none of us felt very much in the mood for talking, when we heard a distant sound which we thought was very much like the firing of a gun. We kept still, and in a short time a similar sound was heard, plainer and evidently some ways down the stream. Again and again we heard it, and decided that it must be a gun shot, and yet we were puzzled to know how it could be. We were pretty sure there were no white people ahead of us, and we did

South Platte

Reaching the South Platte, it took us all day to ford the sandy stream, as we had first to sound out a good crossing by wading through ourselves, and when we started our teams across we dare not stop a moment for fear the wagons would sink deep into the quicksands. We had no mishaps in crossing, and when well camped on the other side a solitary buffalo made his appearance about 200 yards away and all hands started after him, some on foot. The horsemen soon got ahead of him, but he did not seem inclined to get out

Reaching Their Friends

The trail bearing still to the north from this point, we left and turned due east across the country, and soon came to a beautiful lake of sweet fresh water situated well up toward the top of the mountain. This lake is now called Elizabeth Lake. Here we watered our animals and filled our canteens, then steered a little south of east among the Cabbage trees, aiming to strike the rain water hole where we had camped as we came over. We reached the water hole about noon and here found the Jayhawkers trail, which we took. They had evidently

On the road to the Mines

I think I must stop right here and tell about the California carriages of which I had seen several at Los Angeles and at the Missions along our road. The first time I saw one it was a great curiosity, I assure you. The wheels were cut off the end of a sycamore log a little over two feet in diameter and each section about a foot long. The axle was a piece of wood eight inches square with a tongue fastened to it long enough to be used with a yoke of oxen, and the ends of the axle

Off to the Mines Again

McCloud and I now took his skiff, and for two days floated down the Wisconsin River till we reached the Mississippi, boarded the first steamboat we could hail, and let our own little craft adrift. In due time we reached St. Louis and boarded another steamer for New Orleans. At a wood-yard, about dark, a lot of negroes, little and big, came on board to sell brooms. The boat’s clerk seemed to know negro character pretty well, so he got out his violin and played for them. For a while the young colored gentry listened in silence, but pretty soon

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