Posted by Dawn-Ann on March 14, 2010
I’m probably spending too much time on genealogy stuff and not enough time on other things I could be doing. It’s how I relax, though, and the “other stuff” will wait until tomorrow.
Stumbled upon this story at the JP Kirkpatrick site. It’s a recounting of how some folks set out west in wagon trains, heading for the gold rush in California. Some made it, some didn’t. This particular story involves my Third Great-Grandaunt, Susan Emily (Kirkpatrick) Stockton and her family.
I found the story to be very moving and my heart hurt for Susan as she left some of her most precious memories behind her. But the story is also full of interesting details about life in the wagon trains. Here is a little bit of it:
We crossed the Mississippi river at Warsaw, on the ferry, The Missouri, at St. Joe, the same way, tho’ we had a long wait for an opportunity to cross. We had to take our turn, a few among thousands, all setting out on the same mission. So great was the need that every conceivable kind of boat was pressed into the service. So anxious was the multitude to get on their way, that they were willing to risk their lives, in an old leaky skiff or raft. The river was high and muddy as usual, which added to the difficulties. Sometimes horses and cattle would become frightened and jump over board, upsetting the boat. I do not recall that anyone was drowned, while we were there, but few outfits got over with all their livestock. It was nearly the end of May when the long wagon trains began moving out through western Nebraska, on the California Trail. When we got across the river we thought our troubles were about over. Really, they were just beginning. The trail was nearly a quarter of a mile wide – that is, a row of wagons fifteen-hundred feet across, and extending in front and to the rear, as far as we could see – a vast sea of white flapping wagon covers, and a seething mass of plodding animals.
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