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Death Valley in '49 by William Lewis Manly

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IMPORTANT CHAPTER OF California Pioneer History.

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* * * * *

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1894, by WM. L.
MANLEY, In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C.

* * * * *


* * * * *


CHAPTER I. Birth, Parentage.--Early Life in Vermont.--Sucking Cider
through a Straw.

CHAPTER II. The Western Fever.--On the Road to Ohio.--The Outfit.--The
Erie Canal.--In the Maumee Swamp.

CHAPTER III. At Detroit and Westward.--Government Land.--Killing
Deer.--"Fever 'N Agur."

CHAPTER IV. The Lost Filley Boy.--Never Was Found.

CHAPTER V. Sickness.--Rather Catch Chipmonks in the Rocky Mountains than
Live in Michigan.--Building the Michigan Central R.R.--Building a
Boat.--Floating down Grand River.--Black Bear.--Indians Catching
Mullet.--Across the Lake to Southport.--Lead Mining at Mineral
Point.--Decides to go Farther West.--Return to Michigan.

CHAPTER VI. Wisconsin.--Indian Physic.--Dressed for a Winter Hunting
Campaign.--Hunting and Trapping in the Woods.--Catching Otter and

CHAPTER VII. Lead Mining.--Hears about Gold in California.--Gets the
Gold Fever.--Nothing will cure it but California.--Mr. Bennett and the
Author Prepare to Start.--The Winnebago Pony.--Agrees to Meet Bennett at
Missouri River.--Delayed and Fails to Find Him.--Left with only a Gun
and Pony.--Goes as a Driver for Charles Dallas.--Stopped by a Herd of
Buffaloes.--Buffalo Meat.--Indians.--U.S. Troops.--The Captain and the
Lieutenant.--Arrive at South Pass.--The Waters Run toward the
Pacific.--They Find a Boat and Seven of them Decide to Float down the
Green River.

CHAPTER VIII. Floating down the River.--It begins to roar.--Thirty Miles
a Day.--Brown's Hole.--Lose the Boat and make two Canoes.--Elk.--The
Canons get Deeper.--Floundering in the Water.--The Indian Camp.--Chief
Walker proves a Friend.--Describes the Terrible Canon below
Them.--Advises Them to go no farther down.--Decide to go
Overland.--Dangerous Route to Salt Lake.--Meets Bennett near
there.--Organize the Sand Walking Company.

CHAPTER IX. The Southern Route.--Off in Fine Style.--A Cut-off
Proposed.--Most of Them Try it and Fail.--The Jayhawkers.--A New
Organization.--Men with Families not Admitted.--Capture an Indian Who
Gives Them the Slip.--An Indian Woman and Her Children.--Grass Begins to
Fail.--A High Peak to the West.--No Water.--An Indian Hut.--Reach the
Warm Spring.--Desert Everywhere.--Some One Steals Food.--The Water Acts
Like a Dose of Salts.--Christmas Day.--Rev. J.W. Brier Delivers a
Lecture to His Sons.--Nearly Starving and Choking.--An Indian in a
Mound.--Indians Shoot the Oxen.--Camp at Furnace Creek.

CHAPTER X. A Long, Narrow Valley.--Beds and Blocks of Salt.--An Ox
Killed.--Blood, Hide and Intestines Eaten.--Crossing Death Valley.--The
Wagons can go no farther.--Manley and Rogers Volunteer to go for
Assistance.--They Set out on Foot.--Find the Dead Body of Mr. Fish.--Mr.
Isham Dies.--Bones along the Road.--Cabbage Trees.--Eating Crow and
Hawk.--After Sore Trials They Reach a Fertile Land.--Kindly
Treated.--Returning with Food and Animals.--The Little Mule Climbs a
Precipice, the Horses are Left Behind.--Finding the Body of Captain
Culverwell.--They Reach Their Friends just as all Hope has Left
Them.--Leaving the Wagons.--Packs on the Oxen.--Sacks for the
Children.--Old Crump.--Old Brigham and Mrs. Arcane.--A Stampede
[Illustrated.]--Once more Moving Westward.--"Good-bye, Death Valley."

CHAPTER XI. Struggling Along.--Pulling the Oxen Down the Precipice
[Illustrated.]--Making Raw-hide Moccasins.--Old Brigham Lost and
Found.--Dry Camps.--Nearly Starving.--Melancholy and Blue.--The Feet of
the Women Bare and Blistered.--"One Cannot form an Idea How Poor an Ox
Will Get."--Young Charlie Arcane very Sick.--Skulls of Cattle.--Crossing
the Snow Belt.--Old Dog Cuff.--Water Dancing over the Rocks.--Drink, Ye
Thirsty Ones.--Killing a Yearling.--- See the Fat.--Eating Makes Them
Sick.--Going down Soledad Canon--A Beautiful Meadow.--Hospitable Spanish
People.--They Furnish Shelter and Food.--The San Fernando
Mission.--Reaching Los Angeles.--They Meet Moody and Skinner.--Soap and
Water for the First Time in Months.--Clean Dresses for the Women.--Real
Bread to Eat.--A Picture of Los Angeles.--Black-eyed Women.--The Author
Works in a Boarding-house.--Bennett and Others go up the Coast.--Life in
Los Angeles.--The Author Prepares to go North.

CHAPTER XII. Dr. McMahon's Story.--McMahon and Field, Left behind with
Chief Walker, Determine to go down the River.--Change Their Minds and go
with the Indians.--Change again and go by themselves.--Eating Wolf
Meat.--After much Suffering they reach Salt Lake.--John Taylor's Pretty
Wife.--Field falls in Love with her.--They Separate.--Incidents of
Wonderful Escapes from Death.

CHAPTER XIII. Story of the Jayhawkers.--Ceremonies of Initiation--Rev.
J.W. Brier.--His Wife the best Man of the Two.--Story of the Road across
Death Valley.--Burning the Wagons.--Narrow Escape of Tom Shannon.--Capt.
Ed Doty was Brave and True.--They reach the Sea by way of Santa Clara
River.--Capt. Haynes before the Alcalde.--List of Jayhawkers.

CHAPTER XIV. Alexander Erkson's Statement.--Works for Brigham Young at
Salt Lake.--Mormon Gold Coin.--Mt. Misery.--The Virgin River and Yucca
Trees.--A Child Born to Mr, and Mrs. Rynierson.--Arrive at
Cucamonga.--Find some good Wine which is good for Scurvy.--San Francisco
and the Mines.--Settles in San Jose.--Experience of Edward Coker.--Death
of Culverwell, Fish and Isham.--Goes through Walker's Pass and down Kern
River.--Living in Fresno in 1892.

CHAPTER XV. The Author again takes up the History.--Working in a
Boarding House, but makes Arrangements to go North.--Mission San Bueno
Ventura.--First Sight of the Pacific Ocean.--Santa Barbara in
1850.--Paradise and Desolation.--San Miguel, Santa Ynez and San Luis
Obispo.--California Carriages and how they were used.--Arrives in San
Jose and Camps in the edge of Town.--Description of the place.--Meets
John Rogers, Bennett, Moody and Skinner.--On the road to the
Mines.--They find some of the Yellow Stuff and go Prospecting for
more--Experience with _Piojos_--Life and Times in the Mines--Sights and
Scenes along the Road, at Sea, on the Isthmus, Cuba, New Orleans, and up
the Mississippi--A few Months Amid Old Scenes, then away to the Golden
State again.

CHAPTER XVI St. Louis to New Orleans, New Orleans to San Francisco--Off
to the Mines Again--Life in the Mines and Incidents of Mining Times and
Men--Vigilance Committee--Death of Mrs. Bennett.

CHAPTER XVII Mines and Mining--Adventures and Incidents of the Early
Days--The Pioneers, their Character and Influence--- Conclusion.

* * * * *




St. Albans, Vermont is near the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, and
only a short distance south of "Five-and-forty north degrees" which
separates the United States from Canada, and some sixty or seventy miles
from the great St. Lawrence River and the city of Montreal. Near here it
was, on April 6th, 1820, I was born, so the record says, and from this
point with wondering eyes of childhood I looked across the waters of the
narrow lake to the slopes of the Adirondack mountains in New York, green
as the hills of my own Green Mountain State.

The parents of my father were English people and lived near Hartford,
Connecticut, where he was born. While still a little boy he came with
his parents to Vermont. My mother's maiden name was Phoebe Calkins, born
near St. Albans of Welch parents, and, being left an orphan while yet in
very tender years, she was given away to be reared by people who
provided food and clothes, but permitted her to grow up to womanhood
without knowing how to read or write. After her marriage she learned to
do both, and acquired the rudiments of an education.

Grandfather and his boys, four in all, fairly carved a farm out of the
big forest that covered the cold rocky hills. Giant work it was for them
in such heavy timber--pine, hemlock, maple, beech and birch--the
clearing of a single acre being a man's work for a year. The place where
the maples were thickest was reserved for a sugar grove, and from it was
made all of the sweet material they needed, and some besides. Economy of
the very strictest kind had to be used in every direction. Main strength
and muscle were the only things dispensed in plenty. The crops raised
consisted of a small flint corn, rye oats, potatoes and turnips. Three
cows, ten or twelve sheep, a few pigs and a yoke of strong oxen
comprised the live stock--horses, they had none for many years. A great
ox-cart was the only wheeled vehicle on the place, and this, in winter,
gave place to a heavy sled, the runners cut from a tree having a natural
crook and roughly, but strongly, made.

In summer there were plenty of strawberries, raspberries, whortleberries
and blackberries growing wild, but all the cultivated fruit was apples.
As these ripened many were peeled by hand, cut in quarters, strung on
long strings of twine and dried before the kitchen fire for winter use.
They had a way of burying up some of the best keepers in the ground, and
opening the apple hole was quite an event of early spring.

The children were taught to work as soon as large enough. I remember
they furnished me with a little wooden fork to spread the heavy swath of
grass my father cut with easy swings of the scythe, and when it was dry
and being loaded on the great ox-cart I followed closely with a rake
gathering every scattering spear. The barn was built so that every
animal was housed comfortably in winter, and the house was such as all
settlers built, not considered handsome, but capable of being made very
warm in winter and the great piles of hard wood in the yard enough to
last as fuel for a year, not only helped to clear the land, but kept us
comfortable. Mother and the girls washed, carded, spun, and wove the
wool from our own sheep into good strong cloth. Flax was also raised,
and I remember how they pulled it, rotted it by spreading on the green
meadow, then broke and dressed it, and then the women made linen cloth
of various degrees of fineness, quality, and beauty. Thus, by the labor
of both men and women, we were clothed. If an extra fine Sunday dress
was desired, part of the yarn was colored and from this they managed to
get up a very nice plaid goods for the purpose.

In clearing the land the hemlock bark was peeled and traded off at the
tannery for leather, or used to pay for tanning and dressing the hide of
an ox or cow which they managed to fat and kill about every year. Stores
for the family were either made by a neighboring shoe-maker, or by a
traveling one who went from house to house, making up a supply for the
family--whipping the cat, they called it then. They paid him in
something or other produced upon the farm, and no money was asked or

Wood was one thing plenty, and the fireplace was made large enough to
take in sticks four feet long or more, for the more they could burn the
better, to get it out of the way. In an outhouse, also provided with a
fireplace and chimney, they made shingles during the long winter
evenings, the shavings making plenty of fire and light by which to work.
The shingles sold for about a dollar a thousand. Just beside the
fireplace in the house was a large brick oven where mother baked great
loaves of bread, big pots of pork and beans, mince pies and loaf cake, a
big turkey or a young pig on grand occasions. Many of the dishes used
were of tin or pewter; the milk pans were of earthenware, but most
things about the house in the line of furniture were of domestic

The store bills were very light. A little tea for father and mother, a
few spices and odd luxuries were about all, and they were paid for with
surplus eggs. My father and my uncle had a sawmill, and in winter they
hauled logs to it, and could sell timber for $8 per thousand feet.

The school was taught in winter by a man named Bowen, who managed forty
scholars and considered sixteen dollars a month, boarding himself, was
pretty fair pay. In summer some smart girl would teach the small
scholars and board round among the families.

When the proper time came the property holder would send off to the
collector an itemized list of all his property, and at another the taxes
fell due. A farmer who would value his property at two thousand or three
thousand dollars would find he had to pay about six or seven dollars.
All the money in use then seemed to be silver, and not very much of
that. The whole plan seemed to be to have every family and farm
self-supporting as far as possible. I have heard of a note being given
payable in a good cow to be delivered at a certain time, say October 1,
and on that day it would pass from house to house in payment of a debt,
and at night only the last man in the list would have a cow more than
his neighbor. Yet those were the days of real independence, after all.
Every man worked hard from early youth to a good old age. There were no
millionaires, no tramps, and the poorhouse had only a few inmates.

I have very pleasant recollections of the neighborhood cider mill. There
were two rollers formed of logs carefully rounded and four or five feet
long, set closely together in an upright position in a rough frame, a
long crooked sweep coming from one of them to which a horse was hitched
and pulled it round and round, One roller had mortices in it, and
projecting wooden teeth on the other fitted into these, so that, as they
both slowly turned together, the apples were crushed, A huge box of
coarse slats, notched and locked together at the corners, held a vast
pile of the crushed apples while clean rye straw was added to strain the
flowing juice and keep the cheese from spreading too much; then the
ponderous screw and streams of delicious cider. Sucking cider through a
long rye straw inserted in the bung-hole of a barrel was just the best
of fun, and cider taken that way "awful" good while it was new and

The winter ashes, made from burning so much fuel and gathered from the
brush-heaps and log-heaps, were carefully saved and traded with the
potash men for potash or sold for a small price. Nearly every one went
barefoot in summer, and in winter wore heavy leather moccasins made by
the Canadian French who lived near by.


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 was to
go ahead, in the fall of 1829 and get a farm to rent, if he could, and
father and his family were to come on the next spring.

Uncle fitted out with two good horses and a wagon; goods were packed in
a large box made to fit, and under the wagon seat was the commissary
chest for food and bedding for daily use, all snugly arranged. Father
had, shortly before, bought a fine Morgan mare and a light wagon which
served as a family carriage, having wooden axles and a seat arranged on
wooden springs, and they finally decided they would let me take the
horse and wagon and go on with uncle, and father and mother would come
by water, either by way of the St. Lawrence river and the lakes or by
way of the new canal recently built, which would take them as far as

So they loaded up the little wagon with some of the mentioned things and
articles in the house, among which I remember a fine brass kettle,
considered almost indispensable in housekeeping. There was a good lot of
bedding and blankets, and a quilt nicely folded was placed on the spring
seat as a cushion.

As may be imagined I was the object of a great deal of attention about
this time, for a boy not yet ten years old just setting out into a
region almost unknown was a little unusual. When I was ready they all
gathered round to say good bye and my good mother seemed most concerned.
She said--"Now you must be a good boy till we come in the spring. Mind
uncle and aunt and take good care of the horse, and remember us. May God
protect you." She embraced me and kissed me and held me till she was
exhausted. Then they lifted me up into the spring seat, put the lines in
my hand and handed me my little whip with a leather strip for a lash.
Just at the last moment father handed me a purse containing about a
dollar, all in copper cents--pennies we called them then. Uncle had
started on they had kept me so long, but I started up and they all
followed me along the road for a mile or so before we finally separated
and they turned back. They waved hats and handkerchiefs till out of
sight as they returned, and I wondered if we should ever meet again.

I was up with uncle very soon and we rolled down through St. Albans and
took our road southerly along in sight of Lake Champlain. Uncle and aunt
often looked back to talk to me, "See what a nice cornfield!" or, "What
nice apples on those trees," seeming to think they must do all they
could to cheer me up, that I might not think too much of the playmates
and home I was leaving behind.

I had never driven very far before, but I found the horse knew more than
I did how to get around the big stones and stumps that were found in the
road, so that as long as I held the lines and the whip in hand I was an
excellent driver.

We had made plans and preparations to board ourselves on the journey. We
always stopped at the farm houses over night, and they were so
hospitable that they gave us all we wanted free. Our supper was
generally of bread and milk, the latter always furnished gratuitously,
and I do not recollect that we were ever turned away from any house
where we asked shelter. There were no hotels, or taverns as they called
them, outside of the towns.

In due time we reached Whitehall, at the head of Lake Champlain, and the
big box in Uncle's wagon proved so heavy over the muddy roads that he
put it in a canal boat to be sent on to Cleveland, and we found it much
easier after this for there were too many mud-holes, stumps and stones
and log bridges for so heavy a load as he had. Our road many times after
this led along near the canal, the Champlain or the Erie, and I had a
chance to see something of the canal boys' life. The boy who drove the
horses that drew the packet boat was a well dressed fellow and always
rode at a full trot or a gallop, but the freight driver was generally
ragged and barefoot, and walked when it was too cold to ride, threw
stones or clubs at his team, and cursed and abused the packet-boy who
passed as long as he was in hearing. Reared as I had been I thought it
was a pretty wicked part of the world we were coming to.

We passed one village of low cheap houses near the canal. The men about
were very vulgar and talked rough and loud, nearly every one with a
pipe, and poorly dressed, loafing around the saloon, apparently the
worse for whisky. The children were barefoot, bare headed and scantly
dressed, and it seemed awfully dirty about the doors of the shanties.
Pigs, ducks and geese were at the very door, and the women I saw wore
dresses that did not come down very near the mud and big brogan shoes,
and their talk was saucy and different from what I had ever heard women
use before. They told me they were Irish people--the first I had ever
seen. It was along here somewhere that I lost my little whip and to get
another one made sad inroads into the little purse of pennies my father
gave me. We traveled slowly on day after day. There was no use to hurry
for we could not do it. The roads were muddy, the log ways very rough
and the only way was to take a moderate gait and keep it. We never
traveled on Sunday. One Saturday evening my uncle secured the privilege
of staying at a well-to do farmer's house until Monday. We had our own
food and bedding, but were glad to get some privileges in the kitchen,
and some fresh milk or vegetables. After all had taken supper that night
they all sat down and made themselves quiet with their books, and the
children were as still as mice till an early bed time when all retired.
When Sunday evening came the women got out their work--their sewing and
their knitting, and the children romped and played and made as much
noise as they could, seeming as anxious to break the Sabbath as they had
been to have a pious Saturday night. I had never seen that way before
and asked my uncle who said he guessed they were Seventh Day Baptists.

After many days of travel which became to me quite monotonous we came to
Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and here my uncle found his box of goods,
loaded it into the wagon again, and traveled on through rain and mud,
making very slow headway, for two or three days after, when we stopped
at a four-corners in Medina county they told us we were only 21 miles
from Cleveland. Here was a small town consisting of a hotel, store,
church, schoolhouse and blacksmith shop, and as it was getting cold and
bad, uncle decided to go no farther now, and rented a room for himself
and aunt, and found a place for me to lodge with Daniel Stevens' boy
close by. We got good stables for our horses.

I went to the district school here, and studied reading, spelling and
Colburn's mental arithmetic, which I mastered. It began very easy--"How
many thumbs on your right hand?" "How many on your left?" "How many
altogether?" but it grew harder further on.

Uncle took employment at anything he could find to do. Chopping was his
principal occupation. When the snow began to go off he looked around for
a farm to rent for us and father to live on when he came, but he found
none such as he needed. He now got a letter from father telling him that
he had good news from a friend named Cornish who said that good land
nearly clear of timber could be bought of the Government in Michigan
Territory, some sixty or seventy miles beyond Detroit, and this being an
opportunity to get land they needed with their small capital, they would
start for that place as soon as the water-ways were thawed out, probably
in April.

We then gave up the idea of staying here and prepared to go to Michigan
as soon as the frost was out of the ground. Starting, we reached Huron
River to find it swollen and out of its bank, giving us much trouble to
get across, the road along the bottom lands being partly covered with
logs and rails, but once across we were in the town and when we enquired
about the road around to Detroit, they said the country was all a swamp
and 30 miles wide and in Spring impassible. They called it the Maumee or
Black Swamp, We were advised to go by water, when a steamboat came up
the river bound for Detroit we put our wagons and horses on board, and
camped on the lower deck ourselves. We had our own food and were very
comfortable, and glad to have escaped the great mudhole.


We arrived in Detroit safely, and a few minutes answered to land our
wagons and goods, when we rolled outward in a westerly direction. We
found a very muddy roads, stumps and log bridges plenty, making our rate
of travel very slow. When out upon our road about 30 miles, near
Ypsilanti, the thick forest we had been passing through grew thinner,
and the trees soon dwindled down into what they called oak openings, and
the road became more sandy. When we reached McCracken's Tavern we began
to enquire for Ebenezer Manley and family, and were soon directed to a
large house near by where he was stopping for a time.

We drove up to the door and they all came out to see who the new comers
were. Mother saw me first and ran to the wagon and pulled me off and
hugged and kissed me over and over again, while the tears ran down her
cheeks, Then she would hold me off at arm's length, and look me in the
eye and say--"I am so glad to have you again"; and then she embraced me
again and again. "You are our little man," said she, "You have come over
this long road, and brought us our good horse and our little wagon." My
sister Polly two years older than I, stood patiently by, and when mother
turned to speak to uncle and aunt, she locked arms with me and took me
away with her. We had never been separated before in all our lives and
we had loved each other as good children should, who have been brought
up in good and moral principles. We loved each other and our home and
respected our good father and mother who had made it so happy for us.

We all sat down by the side of the house and talked pretty fast telling
our experience on our long journey by land and water, and when the sun
went down we were called to supper, and went hand in hand to surround
the bountiful table as a family again. During the conversation at supper
father said to me--"Lewis, I have bought you a smooth bore rifle,
suitable for either ball or shot." This, I thought was good enough for
any one, and I thanked him heartily. We spent the greater part of the
night in talking over our adventures since we left Vermont, and sleep
was forgotten by young and old.

Next morning father and uncle took the horse and little wagon and went
out in search of Government land. They found an old acquaintance in
Jackson county and Government land all around him, and, searching till
they found the section corner, they found the number of the lots they
wanted to locate on--200 acres in all. They then went to the Detroit
land office and secured the pieces they had chosen.

Father now bought a yoke of oxen, a wagon and a cow, and as soon as we
could get loaded up our little emigrant train started west to our future
home, where we arrived safely in a few days and secured a house to live
in about a mile away from our land. We now worked with a will and built
two log houses and also hired 10 acres broken, which was done with three
or four yoke of oxen and a strong plow. The trees were scattered over
the ground and some small brush and old limbs, and logs which we cleared
away as we plowed. Our houses went up very fast--all rough oak logs,
with oak puncheons, or hewed planks for a floor, and oak shakes for a
roof, all of our own make. The shakes were held down upon the roof by
heavy poles, for we had no nails, the door of split stuff hung with
wooden hinges, and the fire place of stone laid up with the logs, and
from the loft floor upward the chimney was built of split stuff
plastered heavily with mud. We have a small four-paned window in the
house. We then built a log barn for our oxen, cow and horse and got
pigs, sheep and chickens as fast as a chance offered.

As fast as possible we fenced in the cultivated land, father and uncle
splitting out the rails, while a younger brother and myself, by each
getting hold of an end of one of them managed to lay up a fence four
rails high, all we small men could do. Thus working on, we had a pretty
well cultivated farm in the course of two or three years, on which we
produced wheat, corn and potatoes, and had an excellent garden. We found
plenty of wild cranberries and whortleberries, which we dried for winter
use. The lakes were full of good fish, black bass and pickerel, and the
woods had deer, turkeys, pheasants, pigeons, and other things, and I
became quite an expert in the capture of small game for the table with
my new gun. Father and uncle would occasionally kill a deer, and the
Indians came along and sold venison at times.

One fall after work was done and preparations were made for the winter,
father said to me:--"Now Lewis, I want you to hunt every day--come home
nights--but keep on till you kill a deer." So with his permission I
started with my gun on my shoulder, and with feelings of considerable
pride. Before night I started two deer in a brushy place, and they
leaped high over the oak bushes in the most affrighted way. I brought my
gun to my shoulder and fired at the bounding animal when in most plain
sight. Loading then quickly, I hurried up the trail as fast as I could
and soon came to my deer, dead, with a bullet hole in its head. I was
really surprised myself, for I had fired so hastily at the almost flying
animal that it was little more than a random shot. As the deer was not
very heavy I dressed it and packed it home myself, about as proud a boy
as the State of Michigan contained. I really began to think I was a
capital hunter, though I afterward knew it was a bit of good luck and
not a bit of skill about it.

It was some time after this before I made another lucky shot. Father
would once in a while ask me:--"Well can't you kill us another deer?" I
told him that when I had crawled a long time toward a sleeping deer,
that I got so trembly that I could not hit an ox in short range. "O,"
said he, "You get the buck fever--don't be so timid--they won't attack
you." But after awhile this fever wore off, and I got so steady that I
could hit anything I could get in reach of.

We were now quite contented and happy. Father could plainly show us the
difference between this country and Vermont and the advantages we had
here. There the land was poor and stony and the winters terribly severe.
Here there were no stones to plow over, and the land was otherwise easy
to till. We could raise almost anything, and have nice wheat bread to
eat, far superior to the "Rye-and-Indian" we used to have. The nice
white bread was good enough to eat without butter, and in comparison
this country seemed a real paradise.

The supply of clothing we brought with us had lasted until now--more
than two years--and we had sowed some flax and raised sheep so that we
began to get material of our own raising, from which to manufacture some
more. Mother and sister spun some nice yarn, both woolen and linen, and
father had a loom made on which mother wove it up into cloth, and we
were soon dressed up in bran new clothes again. Domestic economy of this
kind was as necessary here as it was in Vermont, and we knew well how to
practice it. About this time the emigrants began to come in very fast,
and every piece of Government land any where about was taken. So much
land was ploughed, and so much vegetable matter turned under and
decaying that there came a regular epidemic of fever and ague and
bilious fever, and a large majority of the people were sick. At our
house father was the first one attacked, and when the fever was at its
height he was quite out of his head and talked and acted like a crazy
man. We had never seen any one so sick before, and we thought he must
surely die, but when the doctor came he said:--"Don't be alarmed. It is
only 'fever 'n' agur,' and no one was ever known to die of that." Others
of us were sick too, and most of the neighbors, and it made us all feel
rather sorrowful. The doctor's medicines consisted of calomel, jalap and
quinine, all used pretty freely, by some with benefit, and by others to
no visible purpose, for they had to suffer until the cold weather came
and froze the disease out. At one time I was the only one that remained
well, and I had to nurse and cook, besides all the out-door work that
fell to me. My sister married a man near by with a good farm and moved
there with him, a mile or two away. When she went away I lost my real
bosom companion and felt very lonesome, but I went to see her once in a
while, and that was pretty often, I think. There was not much going on
as a general thing. Some little neighborhood society and news was about
all. There was, however, one incident which occurred in 1837, I never
shall forget, and which I will relate in the next chapter.


About two miles west father's farm in Jackson county Mich., lived Ami
Filley, who moved here from Connecticut and settled about two and a half
miles from the town of Jackson, then a small village with plenty of
stumps and mudholes in its streets. Many of the roads leading thereto
had been paved with tamarac poles, making what is now known as corduroy
roads. The country was still new and the farm houses far between.

Mr. Filley secured Government land in the oak openings, and settled
there with his wife and two or three children, the oldest of which was a
boy named Willie. The children were getting old enough to go to school,
but there being none, Mr. Filley hired one of the neighbor's daughters
to come to his house and teach the children there, so they might be
prepared for usefulness in life or ready to proceed further with their
education--to college, perhaps in some future day.

The young woman he engaged lived about a mile a half away--Miss Mary
Mount--and she came over and began her duties as private school ma'am,
not a very difficult task in those days. One day after she had been
teaching some time Miss Mount desired to go to her father's on a visit,
and as she would pass a huckleberry swamp on the way she took a small
pail to fill with berries as she went, and by consent of Willie's
mother, the little boy went with her for company. Reaching the berries
she began to pick, and the little boy found this dull business, got
tired and homesick and wanted to go home. They were about a mile from
Mr. Filley's and as there was a pretty good foot trail over which they
had come, the young woman took the boy to it, and turning him toward
home told him to follow it carefully and he would soon see his mother.
She then filled her pail with berries, went on to her own home, and
remained there till nearly sundown, when she set out to return to Mr.
Filley's, reaching there yet in the early twilight. Not seeing Willie,
she inquired for him and was told that he had not returned, and that
they supposed he was safe with her. She then hastily related how it
happened that he had started back toward home, and that she supposed he
had safely arrived.

Mr. Filley then started back on the trail, keeping close watch on each
side of the way, for he expected he would soon come across Master Willie
fast asleep. He called his name every few rods, but got no answer nor
could he discover him, and so returned home again, still calling and
searching, but no boy was discovered. Then he built a large fire and put
lighted candles in all the windows, then took his lantern and wont out
in the woods calling and looking for the boy. Sometimes he thought he
heard him, but on going where the sound came from nothing could be
found. So he looked and called all night, along the trail and all about
the woods, with no success. Mr. Mount's home was situated not far from
the shore of Fitch's Lake, and the trail went along the margin, and in
some places the ground was quite a boggy marsh, and the trail had been
fixed up to make it passably good walking.

Next day the neighbors were notified, and asked to assist, and although
they were in the midst of wheat harvest, a great many laid down the
cradle and rake and went out to help search. On the third day the whole
county became excited and quite an army of searchers turned out, coming
from the whole country miles around.

Mr. Filley was much excited and quite worn out an beside himself with
fatigue and loss of sleep. He could not eat. Yielding to entreaty he
would sit at the table, and suddenly rise up, saying he heard Willie
calling, and go out to search for the supposed voice, but it was all
fruitless, and the whole people were sorry indeed for the poor father
and mother.

The people then formed a plan for a thorough search. They were to form
in a line so near each other that they could touch hands and were to
march thus turning out for nothing except in passable lakes, and thus we
marched, fairly sweeping the county in search of a sign. I was with this
party and we marched south and kept close watch for a bit of clothing, a
foot print or even bones, or anything which would indicate that he had
been destroyed by some wild animal. Thus we marched all day with no
success, and the next went north in the same careful manner, but with no
better result. Most of the people now abandoned the search, but some of
the neighbors kept it up for a long time.

Some expressed themselves quite strongly that Miss Mount knew where the
boy was, saying that she might have had some trouble with him and in
seeking to correct him had accidentally killed him and then hidden the
body away--perhaps in the deep mire of the swamp or in the muddy waters
on the margin of the lake. Search was made with this idea foremost, but
nothing was discovered. Rain now set in, and the grain, from neglect
grew in the head as it stood, and many a settler ate poor bread all
winter in consequence of his neighborly kindness in the midst of
harvest. The bread would not rise, and to make it into pancakes was the
best way it could be used.

Still no tidings ever came of the lost boy. Many things were whispered,
about Mr. Mount's dishonesty of character and there were many suspicions
about him, but no real facts could be shown to account for the boy. The
neighbors said he never worked like the rest of them, and that his patch
of cultivated land was altogether too small to support his family, a
wife and two daughters, grown. He was a very smooth and affable talker,
and had lots of acquaintances. A few years afterwards Mr. Mount was
convicted of a crime which sent him to the Jackson State Prison, where
he died before his term expired. I visited the Filley family in 1870,
and from them heard the facts anew and that no trace of the lost boy had
ever been discovered.


The second year of sickness and I was affected with the rest, though it
was not generally so bad as the first year. I suffered a great deal and
felt so miserable that I began to think I had rather live on the top of
the Rocky Mountains and catch chipmuncks for a living than to live here
and be sick, and I began to have very serious thoughts of trying some
other country. In the winter of 1839 and 1840 I went to a neighboring
school for three months, where I studied reading, writing and spelling,
getting as far as Rule of Three in Daboll's arithmetic. When school was
out I chopped and split rails for Wm. Hanna till I had paid my winter's
board. After this, myself and a young man named Orrin Henry, with whom I
had become acquainted, worked awhile scoring timber to be used in
building the Michigan Central Railroad which had just then begun to be
built. They laid down the ties first (sometimes a mudsill under them)
and then put down four by eight wooden rails with a strips of band iron
half an inch thick spiked on top. I scored the timber and Henry used the
broad axe after me. It was pretty hard work and the hours as long as we
could see, our wages being $13 per month, half cash.

In thinking over our prospect it seemed more and more as if I had better
look out for my own fortune in some other place. The farm was pretty
small for all of us. There were three brothers younger than I, and only
200 acres in the whole, and as they were growing up to be men it seemed
as if it would be best for me, the oldest, to start out first and see
what could be done to make my own living. I talked to father and mother
about my plans, and they did not seriously object, but gave me some good
advice, which I remember to this day--"Weigh well every thing you do;
shun bad company; be honest and deal fair; be truthful and never fear
when you know you are right." But, said he, "Our little peach trees will
bear this year, and if you go away you must come back and help us eat
them; they will be the first we ever raised or ever saw." I could not

Henry and I drew our pay for our work. I had five dollars in cash and
the rest in pay from the company's store. We purchased three nice
whitewood boards, eighteen inches wide, from which we made us a boat and
a good sized chest which we filled with provisions and some clothing and
quilts. This, with our guns and ammunition, composed the cargo of our
boat. When all was ready, we put the boat on a wagon and were to haul it
to the river some eight miles away for embarkation. After getting the
wagon loaded, father said to me;--"Now my son, you are starting out in
life alone, no one to watch or look after you. You will have to depend
upon yourself in all things. You have a wide, wide world to operate
in--you will meet all kinds of people and you must not expect to find
them all honest or true friends. You are limited in money, and all I can
do for you in that way is to let you have what ready money I have." He
handed me three dollars as he spoke, which added to my own gave me seven
dollars as my money capital with which to start out into the world among
perfect strangers, and no acquaintances in prospect on our Western

When ready to start, mother and sister Poll came out to see us off and
to give us their best wishes, hoping we would have good health, and find
pleasant paths to follow. Mother said to me:--"You must be a good boy,
honest and law-abiding. Remember our advice, and honor us for we have
striven to make you a good and honest man, and you must follow our
teachings, and your conscience will be clear. Do nothing to be ashamed
of; be industrious, and you have no fear of punishment." We were given a
great many "Good byes" and "God bless you's" as with hands, hats and
handkerchiefs they waved us off as far as we could see them. In the
course of an hour or so we were at the water's edge, and on a beautiful
morning in early spring of 1840 we found ourselves floating down the
Grand River below Jackson.

The stream ran west, that we knew, and it was west we thought we wanted
to go, so all things suited us. The stream was small with tall timber on
both sides, and so many trees had fallen into the river that our
navigation was at times seriously obstructed. When night came we hauled
our boat on shore, turned it partly over, so as to shelter us, built a
fire in front, and made a bed on a loose board which we carried in the
bottom of the boat. We talked till pretty late and then lay down to
sleep, but for my part my eyes would not stay shut, and I lay till break
of day and the little birds began to sing faintly.

I thought of many things that night which seemed so long. I had left a
good dear home, where I had good warm meals and a soft and comfortable
bed. Here I had reposed on a board with a very hard pillow and none too
many blankets, and I turned from side to side on my hard bed, to which I
had gone with all my clothes on. It seemed the beginning of another
chapter in my pioneer life and a rather tough experience. I arose,
kindled a big fire and sat looking at the glowing coals in still further

Neither of us felt very gleeful as we got our breakfast and made an
early start down the river again. Neither of us talked very much, and no
doubt my companion had similar thoughts to mine, and wondered what was
before us. But I think that as a pair we were at that moment pretty
lonesome. Henry had rested better than I but probably felt no less
keenly the separation from our homes and friends. We saw plenty of
squirrels and pigeons on the trees which overhung the river, and we shot
and picked up as many as we thought we could use for food. When we fired
our guns the echoes rolled up and down the river for miles making the
feeling of loneliness still more keen, as the sound died faintly away.
We floated along generally very quietly. We could see the fish dart
under our boat from their feeding places along the bank, and now and
then some tall crane would spread his broad wings to get out of our way.

We saw no houses for several days, and seldom went on shore. The forest
was all hard wood, such as oak, ash, walnut, maple, elm and beech.
Farther down we occasionally passed the house of some pioneer hunter or
trapper, with a small patch cleared. At one of these a big green boy
came down to the bank to see who we were. We said "How d'you do," to
him, and, getting no response, Henry asked him how far is was to
Michigan, at which a look of supreme disgust came over his features as
he replied--"'Taint no far at all."

The stream grew wider as we advanced along its downward course, for
smaller streams came pouring in to swell its tide. The banks were still
covered with heavy timber, and in some places with quite thick
undergrowth. One day we saw a black bear in the river washing himself,
but he went ashore before we were near enough to get a sure shot at him.
Many deer tracks were seen along the shore, but as we saw very few of
the animals themselves, they were probably night visitors.

One day we overtook some canoes containing Indians, men, women and
children. They were poling their craft around in all directions spearing
fish. They caught many large mullet and then went on shore and made
camp, and the red ladies began scaling the fish. As soon as their lords
and masters had unloaded the canoes, a party started out with four of
the boats, two men in a boat, to try their luck again. They ranged all
abreast, and moved slowly down the stream in the still deep water,
continually beating the surface with their spear handles, till they came
to a place so shallow that they could see the bottom easily, when they
suddenly turned the canoes head up stream, and while one held the craft
steady by sticking his spear handle down on the bottom, the other stood
erect, with a foot on either gunwale so he could see whatever came down
on either side. Soon the big fish would try to pass, but Mr. Indian had
too sharp an eye to let him escape unobserved, and when he came within
his reach he would turn his spear and throw it like a dart, seldom
missing his aim. The poor fish would struggle desperately, but soon came
to the surface, when he would be drawn in and knocked in the head with a
tomahawk to quiet him, when the spear was cut out and the process
repeated. We watched them about an hour, and during that time some one
of the boats was continually hauling in a fish. They were sturgeon and
very large. This was the first time we had ever seen the Indian's way of
catching fish and it was a new way of getting grub for us. When the
canoes had full loads they paddled up toward their camp, and we drifted
on again.

When we came to Grand Rapids we had to go on shore and tow our boat
carefully along over the many rocks to prevent accident. Here was a
small cheap looking town. On the west bank of the river a water wheel
was driving a drill boring for salt water, it seemed through solid rock.
Up to this time the current was slow, and its course through a dense
forest. We occasionally saw an Indian gliding around in his canoe, but
no houses or clearings. Occasionally we saw some pine logs which had
been floated down some of the streams of the north. One of these small
rivers they called the "Looking-glass," and seemed to be the largest of

Passing on we began to see some pine timber, and realized that we were
near the mouth of the river where it emptied into Lake Michigan. There
were some steam saw mills here, not then in operation, and some houses
for the mill hands to live in when they were at work. This prospective
city was called Grand Haven. There was one schooner in the river loaded
with lumber, ready to sail for the west side of the lake as soon as the
wind should change and become favorable, and we engaged passage for a
dollar and a half each. While waiting for the wind we visited the woods
in search of game, but found none. All the surface of the soil was clear
lake sand, and some quite large pine and hemlock trees were half buried
in it. We were not pleased with this place for it looked as if folks
must get their grub from somewhere else or live on fish.

Next morning we were off early, as the wind had changed, but the lake
was very rough and a heavy choppy sea was running. Before we were half
way across the lake nearly all were sea-sick, passengers and sailors.
The poor fellow at the helm stuck to his post casting up his accounts at
the same time, putting on an air of terrible misery.

This, I thought was pretty hard usage for a land-lubber like myself who
had never been on such rough water before. The effect of this
sea-sickness was to cure me of a slight fever and ague, and in fact the
cure was so thorough that I have never had it since. As we neared the
western shore a few houses could be seen, and the captain said it was
Southport. As there was no wharf our schooner put out into the lake
again for an hour or so and then ran back again, lying off and on in
this manner all night. In the morning it was quite calm and we went on
shore in the schooner's yawl, landing on a sandy beach. We left our
chest of clothes and other things in a warehouse and shouldered our
packs and guns for a march across what seemed an endless prairie
stretching to the west. We had spent all our lives thus far in a country
where all the clearing had to be made with an axe, and such a broad
field was to us an entirely new feature. We laid our course westward and
tramped on. The houses were very far apart, and we tried at every one of
them for a chance to work, but could get none, not even if we would work
for our board. The people all seemed to be new settlers, and very poor,
compelled to do their own work until a better day could be reached. The
coarse meals we got were very reasonable, generally only ten cents, but
sometimes a little more.

As we travelled westward the prairies seemed smaller with now and then
some oak openings between. Some of the farms seemed to be three or four
years old, and what had been laid out as towns consisted of from three
to six houses, small and cheap, with plenty of vacant lots. The soil
looked rich, as though it might be very productive. We passed several
small lakes that had nice fish in them, and plenty of ducks on the

Walking began to get pretty tiresome. Great blisters would come on our
feet, and, tender as they were, it was a great relief to take off our
boots and go barefoot for a while when the ground was favorable. We
crossed a wide prairie and came down to the Rock river where there were
a few houses on the east side but no signs of habitation on the west
bank. We crossed the river in a canoe and then walked seven miles before
we came to a house where we staid all night and inquired for work. None
was to be had and so we tramped on again. The next day we met a real
live Yankee with a one-horse wagon, peddling tin ware in regular Eastern
style, We inquired of him about the road and prospects, and he gave us
an encouraging idea--said all was good. He told us where to stop the
next night at a small town called Sugar Creek. It had but a few houses
and was being built up as a mining town, for some lead ore had been
found there. There were as many Irish as English miners here, a rough
class of people. We put up at the house where we had been directed, a
low log cabin, rough and dirty, kept by Bridget & Co. Supper was had
after dark and the light on the table was just the right one for the
place, a saucer of grease, with a rag in it lighted and burning at the
edge of the saucer. It at least served to made the darkness apparent and
to prevent the dirt being visible. We had potatoes, beans and tea, and
probably dirt too, if we could have seen it. When the meal was nearly
done Bridget brought in and deposited on each plate a good thick pancake
as a dessert. It smelled pretty good, but when I drew my knife across it
to cut it in two, all the center was uncooked batter, which ran out upon
my plate, and spoiled my supper.

We went to bed and soon found it had other occupants beside ourselves,
which, if they were small were lively and spoiled our sleeping. We left
before breakfast, and a few miles out on the prairie we came to a house
occupied by a woman and one child, and we were told we could have
breakfast if we could wait to have it cooked. Everything looked cheap
but cheery, and after waiting a little while outside we were called in
to eat. The meal consisted of corn bread, bacon, potatoes and coffee. It
was well cooked and looked better than things did at Bridget's. I
enjoyed all but the coffee, which had a rich brown color, but when I
sipped it there was such a bitter taste I surely thought there must be
quinine in it, and it made me shiver. I tried two or three times to
drink but it was too much for me and I left it. We shouldered our loads
and went on again. I asked Henry what kind of a drink it was. "Coffee,"
said he, but I had never seen any that tasted like that and never knew
my father to buy any such coffee as that.

We labored along and in time came to another small place called
Hamilton's Diggings where some lead mines were being worked. We stopped
at a long, low log house with a porch the entire length, and called for
bread and milk, which was soon set before us. The lady was washing and
the man was playing with a child on the porch. The little thing was
trying to walk, the man would swear terribly at it--not in an angry way,
but in a sort of careless, blasphemous style that was terribly shocking.
I thought of the child being reared in the midst of such bad language
and reflected on the kind of people we were meeting in this far away
place. They seemed more wicked and profane the farther west we walked. I
had always lived in a more moral and temperate atmosphere, and I was
learning more of some things in the world than I had ever known before.
I had little to say and much to see and listen to and my early precepts
were not forgotten. No work was to be had here and we set out across the
prairie toward Mineral Point, twenty miles away. When within four miles
of that place we stopped at the house of Daniel Parkinson, a fine
looking two-story building, and after the meal was over Mr. Henry hired
out to him for $16 per month, and went to work that day. I heard of a
job of cutting cordwood six miles away and went after it, for our money
was getting very scarce, but when I reached the place I found a man had
been there half an hour before and secured the job. The proprietor, Mr.
Crow, gave me my dinner which I accepted with many thanks, for it saved
my coin to pay for the next meal. I now went to Mineral Point, and
searched the town over for work. My purse contained thirty-five cents
only and I slept in an unoccupied out house without supper. I bought
crackers and dried beef for ten cents in the morning and made my first
meal since the day before, felt pretty low-spirited. I then went to
Vivian's smelting furnace where they bought lead ore, smelted it, and
run it into pigs of about 70 pounds each. He said he had a job for me if
I could do it. The furnace was propelled by water and they had a small
buzz saw for cutting four-foot wood into blocks about a foot long. These
blocks they wanted split up in pieces about an inch square to mix in
with charcoal in smelting ore. He said he would board me with the other
men, and give me a dollar and a quarter a cord for splitting the wood. I
felt awfully poor, and a stranger, and this was a beginning for me at
any rate, so I went to work with a will and never lost a minute of
daylight till I had split up all the wood and filled his woodhouse
completely up. The board was very coarse--bacon, potatoes, and bread--a
man cook, and bread mixed up with salt and water. The old log house
where we lodged was well infested with troublesome insects which worked
nights at any rate, whether they rested days or not, and the beds had a
mild odor of pole cat. The house was long, low and without windows. In
one end was a fireplace, and there were two tiers of bunks on each side,
supplied with straw only. In the space between the bunks was a
stationary table, with stools for seats. I was the only American who
boarded there and I could not well become very familiar with the

The country was rolling, and there were many beautiful brooks and clear
springs of water, with fertile soil. The Cornish miners were in the
majority and governed the locality politically. My health was excellent,
and so long as I had my gun and ammunition I could kill game enough to
live on, for prairie chickens and deer could be easily killed, and meat
alone would sustain life, so I had no special fears of starvation. I was
now paid off, and went back to see my companion, Mr. Henry. I did not
hear of any more work, so I concluded I would start back toward my old
home in Michigan, and shouldered my bundle and gun, turning my face
eastward for a long tramp across the prairie. I knew I had a long tramp
before me, but I thought best to head that way, for my capital was only
ten dollars, and I might be compelled to walk the whole distance. I
walked till about noon and then sat down in the shade of a tree to rest
for this was June and pretty warm. I was now alone in a big territory,
thinly settled, and thought of my father's home, the well set table, all
happy and well fed at any rate, and here was my venture, a sort of
forlorn hope. Prospects were surely very gloomy for me here away out
west in Wisconsin Territory, without a relative, friend or acquaintance
to call upon, and very small means to travel two hundred and fifty miles
of lonely road--perhaps all the way on foot. There were no laborers
required, hardly any money in sight, and no chance for business. I knew
it would be a safe course to proceed toward home, for I had no fear of
starving, the weather was warm and I could easily walk home long before
winter should come again. Still the outlook was not very pleasing to one
in my circumstances.

I chose a route which led me some distance north of the one we travelled
when we came west, but it was about the same. Every house was a new
settler, and hardly one who had yet produced anything to live upon. In
due time I came to the Rock River, and the only house in sight was upon
the east bank. I could see a boat over there and so I called for it, and
a young girl came over with a canoe for me. I took a paddle and helped
her hold the boat against the current, and we made the landing safely. I
paid her ten cents for ferriage and went on again. The country was now
level, with burr-oak openings. Near sundown I came to a small prairie of
about 500 acres surrounded by scattering burr-oak timber, with not a
hill in sight, and it seemed to me to be the most beautiful spot on
earth. This I found to belong to a man named Meachem, who had an octagon
concrete house built on one side of the opening. The house had a hollow
column in the center, and the roof was so constructed that all the rain
water went down this central column into a cistern below for house use.
The stairs wound around this central column, and the whole affair was
quite different from the most of settlers' houses. I staid here all
night, had supper and breakfast, and paid my bill of thirty-five cents.
He had no work for me so I went on again. I crossed Heart Prairie,
passed through a strip of woods, and out at Round Prairie. It was level
as a floor with a slight rise in one corner, and on it were five or six
settlers. Here fortune favored me, for here I found a man whom I knew,
who once lived in Michigan, and was one of our neighbors there for some
time. His name was Nelson Cornish. I rested here a few days, and made a
bargain to work for him two or three days every week for my board as
long as I wished to stay. As I got acquainted I found some work to do
and many of my leisure hours I spent in the woods with my gun, killing
some deer, some of the meat of which I sold. In haying and harvest I got
some work at fifty cents to one dollar per day, and as I had no clothes
to buy, I spent no money, saving up about fifty dollars by fall. I then
got a letter from Henry saying that I could get work with him for the
winter and I thought I would go back there again.

Before thinking of going west again I had to go to Southport on the lake
and get our clothes we had left in our box when we passed in the spring.
So I started one morning at break of day, with a long cane in each hand
to help me along, for I had nothing to carry, not even wearing a coat.
This was a new road, thinly settled, and a few log houses building. I
got a bowl of bread and milk at noon and then hurried on again. The last
twenty miles was clear prairie, and houses were very far apart, but
little more thickly settled as I neared Lake Michigan. I arrived at the
town just after dark, and went to a tavern and inquired about the
things. I was told that the warehouse had been broken into and robbed,
and the proprietor had fled for parts unknown. This robbed me of all my
good clothes, and I could now go back as lightly loaded as when I came.
I found I had walked sixty miles in that one day, and also found myself
very stiff and sore so that I did not start back next day, and I took
three days for the return trip--a very unprofitable journey.

I was now ready to go west, and coming across a pet deer which I had
tamed, I knew if I left it it would wander away with the first wild ones
that came along, and so I killed it and made my friends a present of
some venison. I chose still a new route this time, that I could see all
that was possible of this big territory when I could do it so easily. I
was always a great admirer of Nature and things which remained as they
were created, and to the extent of my observation, I thought this the
most beautiful and perfect country I had seen between Vermont and the
Mississippi River. The country was nearly level, the land rich, the
prairies small with oak openings surrounding them, very little marsh
land and streams of clear water. Rock River was the largest of these,
running south. Next west was Sugar River, then the Picatonica. Through
the mining region the country was rolling and abundantly watered with
babbling brooks and health-giving springs.

In point of health it seemed to me to be far better than Michigan. In
Mr. Henry's letter to me he had said that he had taken a timber claim in
"Kentuck Grove," and had all the four-foot wood engaged to cut at
thirty-seven cents a cord. He said we could board ourselves and save a
little money and that in the spring he would go back to Michigan with
me. This had decided me to go back to Mineral Point. I stopped a week or
two with a man named Webb, hunting with him, and sold game enough to
bring me in some six or seven dollars, and then resumed my journey.

On my way I found a log house ten miles from a neighbor just before I
got to the Picatonica River. It belonged to a Mr. Shook who, with his
wife and three children, lived on the edge of a small prairie, and had a
good crop of corn. He invited me to stay with him a few days, and as I
was tired I accepted his offer and we went out together and brought in a
deer. We had plenty of corn bread, venison and coffee, and lived well.
After a few days he wanted to kill a steer and he led it to a proper
place while I shot it in the head. We had no way to hang it up so he
rolled the intestines out, and I sat down with my side against the steer
and helped him to pull the tallow off.

It was now getting nearly dark and while he was splitting the back bone
with an axe, it slipped in his greasy hands and glancing, cut a gash in
my leg six inches above the knee. I was now laid up for two or three
weeks, but was well cared for at his house. Before I could resume my
journey snow had fallen to the depth of about six inches, which made it
rather unpleasant walking, but in a few days I reached Mr. Henry's camp
in "Kentuck Grove," when after comparing notes, we both began swinging
our axes and piling up cordwood, cooking potatoes, bread, bacon, coffee
and flapjacks ourselves, which we enjoyed with a relish.

I now went to work for Peter Parkinson, who paid me thirteen dollars per
month, and I remained with him till spring. While with him a very sad
affliction came to him in the loss of his wife. He was presented by her
with his first heir, and during her illness she was cared for by her
mother, Mrs. Cullany, who had come to live with them during the winter.
When the little babe was two or three weeks old the mother was feeling
in such good spirits that she was left alone a little while, as Mrs.
Cullany was attending to some duties which called her elsewhere. When
she returned she was surprised to see that both Mrs. Parkinson and the
babe were gone. Everyone turned out to search for her. I ran to the
smokehouse, the barn, the stable in quick order, and not finding her a
search was made for tracks, and we soon discovered that she had passed
over a few steps leading over a fence and down an incline toward the
spring house, and there fallen, face downward, on the floor of the house
which was covered only a few inches deep with water lay the unfortunate
woman and her child, both dead. This was doubly distressing to Mr.
Parkinson and saddened the whole community. Both were buried in one
grave, not far from the house, and a more impressive funeral I never

I now worked awhile again with Mr. Henry and we sold our wood to Bill
Park, a collier, who made and sold charcoal to the smelters of lead ore.
When the ice was gone in the streams, Henry and I shouldered our guns
and bundles, and made our way to Milwaukee, where we arrived in the
course of a few days. The town was small and cheaply built, and had no
wharf, so that when the steamboat came we had to go out to it in a small
boat. The stream which came in here was too shallow for the steamer to
enter. When near the lower end of the lake we stopped at an island to
take on food and several cords of white birch wood. The next stopping
place was at Michilamackanac, afterward called Mackinaw. Here was a
short wharf, and a little way back a hill, which seemed to me to be a
thousand feet high, on which a fort had been built. On the wharf was a
mixed lot of people--Americans, Canadians, Irish, Indians, squaws and
papooses. I saw there some of the most beautiful fish I had ever seen.
They would weigh twenty pounds or more, and had bright red and yellow
spots all over them. They called them trout, and they were beauties,
really. At the shore near by the Indians were loading a large white
birch bark canoe, putting their luggage along the middle lengthways, and
the papooses on top. One man took a stern seat to steer, and four or
five more had seats along the gunwale as paddlers and, as they moved
away, their strokes were as even and regular as the motions of an
engine, and their crafts danced as lightly on the water as an egg shell.
They were starting for the Michigan shore some eight or ten miles away.
This was the first birch bark canoe I had ever seen and was a great
curiosity in my eyes.

We crossed Lake Huron during the night, and through its outlet, so
shallow that the wheels stirred up the mud from the bottom; then through
Lake St. Clair and landed safety at Detroit next day. Here we took the
cars on the Michigan Central Railroad, and on our way westward stopped
at the very place where we had worked, helping to build the road, a year
or more before. After getting off the train a walk of two and one half
miles brought me to my father's house, where I had a right royal
welcome, and the questions they asked me about the wild country I had
traveled over, how it looked, and how I got along--were numbered by the

I remained at home until fall, getting some work to do by which I saved
some money, but in August was attacked with bilious fever, which held me
down for several weeks, but nursed by a tender and loving mother with
untiring care, I recovered, quite slowly, but surely. I felt that I had
been close to death, and that this country was not to be compared to
Wisconsin with its clear and bubbling springs of health-giving water.
Feeling thus, I determined to go back there again.


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 do. I had about forty dollars to travel
on this time, and quite a stock of experience. The second parting from
home was not so hard as the first one. I went to Huron, took the steamer
to Chicago, then a small, cheaply built town, with rough sidewalks and
terribly muddy streets, and the people seemed pretty rough, for sailors
and lake captains were numerous, and knock downs quite frequent. The
country for a long way west of town seemed a low, wet marsh or prairie.

Finding a man going west with a wagon and two horses without a load, I
hired him to take me and my baggage to my friend Nelson Cornish, at
Round Prairie. They were glad to see me, and as I had not yet got strong
from my fever, they persuaded me to stay a while with them and take some
medicine, for he was a sort of a doctor. I think he must have given me a
dose of calomel, for I had a terribly sore mouth and could not eat any
for two or three weeks. As soon as I was able to travel I had myself and
chest taken to the stage station on the line for the lake to Mineral
Point. I think this place was called Geneva. On the stage I got along
pretty fast, and part of the time on a new road. The first place of note
was Madison the capital of the territory, situated on a block of land
nearly surrounded by four lakes, all plainly seen from the big house.
Further on at the Blue Mounds I left the stage, putting my chest in the
landlord's keeping till I should come or send for it.

I walked about ten miles to the house of a friend named A. Bennett, who
was a hunter and lived on the bank of the Picatonica River with his wife
and two children. I had to take many a rest on the way, for I was very

Resting the first few days, Mrs. Bennett's father, Mr. J.P. Dilly, took
us out about six miles and left us to hunt and camp for a few days. We
were quite successful, and killed five nice, fat deer, which we dressed
and took to Mineral Point, selling them rapidly to the Cornish miners
for twenty-five cents a quarter for the meat. We followed this business
till about January first, when the game began to get poor, when we hung
up our guns for a while. I had a little money left yet. The only money
in circulation was American silver and British sovereigns. They would
not sell lead ore for paper money nor on credit. During the spring I
used my traps successfully, so that I saved something over board and

In summer I worked in the mines with Edwin Buck of Bucksport, Maine, but
only found lead ore enough to pay our expenses in getting it. Next
winter I chopped wood for thirty-five cents per cord and boarded myself.
This was poor business; poorer than hunting. In summer I found work at
various things, but in the fall Mr. Buck and myself concluded that as we
were both hunters and trappers, we would go northward toward Lake
Superior on a hunting expedition, and, perhaps remain all winter. We
replenished our outfit, and engaged Mr. Bennett to take us well up into
the north country. We crossed the Wisconsin River near Muscoda, went
then to Prairie du Chien, where we found a large stone fur trading
house, owned by Mr. Brisbois, a Frenchman, from whom we obtained some
information of the country further on. He assured us there was no danger
from the Indians if we let them alone and treated them fairly.

We bought fifty pounds of flour for each of us, and then started up the
divide between the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. On one side flowed
the Bad River, and on the other the Kickapoo. We traveled on this divide
about three days, when Mr. Bennett became afraid to go any further, as
he had to return alone and the Indians might capture him before he could
get back to the settlement. We camped early one night and went out
hunting to get some game for him. I killed a large, black bear and Mr.
Bennett took what he wanted of it, including the skin, and started back
next morning.

We now cached our things in various places, scattering them well. Some
went in hollow logs, and some under heaps of brush or other places,
where the Indians could not find them. We then built a small cabin about
six by eight feet in size and four feet high, in shape like a A. We were
not thoroughly pleased with this location and started out to explore the
country to the north of us, for we had an idea that it would be better
hunting there.

The first day we started north we killed a bear, and filled our stomachs
with the fat, sweet meat. The next night we killed another bear after a
little struggling. The dog made him climb a tree and we shot at him; he
would fall to the ground as if dead, but would be on his feet again in
an instant, when, after the dog had fastened to his ham, he would climb
the tree again. In the third trial he lay in the fork and had a good
chance to look square at his tormentor. I shot him in the head, and as
he lay perfectly still, Buck said:--"Now you have done it--we can't get
him." But in a moment he began to struggle, and soon came down,

Here we camped on the edge of the pine forest, ate all the fat bear meat
we could, and in the morning took separate routes, agreeing to meet
again a mile or so farther up a small brook. I soon saw a small bear
walking on a log and shot him dead. His mate got away, but I set my dog
on him and he soon had to climb a tree. When I came up to where the dog
was barking I saw Mr. Bear and fired a ball in him that brought him
down. Just then I heard Mr. Buck shoot close by, and I went to him and
found he had killed another and larger bear. We stayed here another
night, dressed our game and sunk the meat in the brook and fastened it
down, thinking we might want to get some of it another time.

We were so well pleased with this hunting ground that we took the bear
skins and went back to camp. When we got there our clothes were pretty
well saturated with bear's oil, and we jokingly said it must have soaked
through our bodies, we had eaten so much bear meat. I began to feel
quite sick, and had a bad headache. I felt as if something must be done,
but we had no medicine. Mr. Buck went down by the creek and dug some
roots he called Indian Physic, then steeped them until the infusion
seemed as black as molasses, and, when cool told me to take a swallow
every fifteen minutes for an hour, then half as much for another hour as
long as I could keep it down. I followed directions and vomited freely
and for a long time, but felt better afterward, and soon got well. It
reminded me some of the feelings I had when I was seasick on Lake

It may be interesting to describe how we were dressed to enter on this
winter campaign. We wore moccasins of our own make. I had a buckskin
jumper, and leggins that came up to my hips. On my head a drab hat that
fitted close and had a rim about two inches wide. In fair weather I went
bare-headed, Indian fashion. I carried a tomahawk which I had made. The
blade was two inches wide and three inches long--the poll two inches
long and about as large round as a dime; handle eighteen or twenty
inches long with a knob on the end so it would not easily slip from the
hand. Oiled patches for our rifle balls on a string, a firing wire, a
charger to measure the powder, and a small piece of leather with four
nipples on it for caps--all on my breast, so that I could load very
rapidly. My bed was a comfort I made myself, a little larger than usual.
I lay down on one side of the bed and with my gun close to me, turned
the blanket over me. When out of camp I never left my gun out of my
reach. We had to be real Indians in custom and actions in order to be
considered their equals. We got our food in the same way they did, and
so they had nothing to ask us for. They considered themselves the real
kings of the forest.

We now determined to move camp, which proved quite a job as we had to
pack everything on our backs; which we did for ten or fifteen miles to
the bank of a small stream where there were three pine trees, the only
ones to be found in many miles. We made us a canoe of one of them. While
we were making the canoe three Indians came along, and after they had
eaten some of our good venison, they left us. These were the first we
had seen, and we began to be more cautious and keep everything well hid
away from camp and make them think we were as poor as they were, so they
might not be tempted to molest us.

We soon had the canoe done and loaded, and embarked on the brook down
stream. We found it rather difficult work, but the stream grew larger
and we got along very well. We came to one place where otter signs
seemed fresh, and stopped to set a trap for them. Our dog sat on the
bank and watched the operation, and when we started on we could not get
him to ride or follow. Soon we heard him cry and went back to find he
had the trap on his fore foot. To get it off we had to put a forked
stick over his neck and hold him down, he was so excited over his
mishap. When he was released he left at full speed and was never seen by
us after.

When we got well into the pine woods we camped and cached our traps and
provisions on an island, and made our camp further down the stream and
some little distance from the shore. We soon found this was very near a
logging camp, and as no one had been living there for a year, we moved
camp down there and occupied one of the empty cabins. We began to set
dead-fall traps in long lines in many different directions, blazing the
trees so we could find them if the snow came on. West of this about ten
miles, where we had killed some deer earlier, we made a A-shaped cabin
and made dead falls many miles around to catch fishes, foxes, mink and
raccoons. We made weekly journeys to the places and generally staid
about two nights.

One day when going over my trap lines I came to a trap which I had set
where I had killed a deer, and saw by the snow that an eagle had been
caught in the trap and had broken the chain and gone away. I followed on
the trail he made and soon found him. He tried to fly but the trap was
too heavy, and he could only go slowly and a little way. I fired and put
a ball in him and he fell and rolled under a large log on the hillside.
As I took the trap off I saw an Indian coming down the hill and brought
my gun to bear on him. He stopped suddenly and made signs not to shoot,
and I let him come up. He made signs that he wanted the feathers of the
bird which I told him to take, and then he wanted to know where we
slept. I pointed out the way and made him go ahead of me there, for I
did not want him behind me. At camp he made signs for something to eat,
but when I showed him meat he shook his head. However he took a leg of
deer and started on, I following at a good distance till satisfied that
he would not come back.

We had not taken pains to keep track of the day of the week or month;
the rising and setting of the sun and the changes of the moon were all
the almanacs we had. Then snow came about a foot deep, and some days
were so cold we could not leave our camp fire at all. As no Indians
appeared we were quite successful and kept our bundle of furs in a
hollow standing tree some distance from camp, and when we went that way
we never stopped or left any sign that we had a deposit there.

Some time after it was all frozen up solid, some men with two yoke of
oxen came up to cut and put logs in the river to raft down when the ice
went out. With them came a shingle weaver, with a pony and a small sled,
and some Indians also. We now had to take up all of our steel traps, and
rob all our dead-falls and quit business generally--even then they got
some of our traps before we could get them gathered in. We were now
comparatively idle.

Until these loggers came we did not know exactly where we were situated,
but they told us we were on the Lemonai river, a branch of the
Wisconsin, and that we could get out by going west till we found the
Mississippi river and then home. We hired the shengle man with his pony
to take us to Black River, farther north which we reached in three days,
and found a saw mill there in charge of a keeper. Up the river farther
we found another mill looked after by Sam Ferguson. Both mills were
frozen up. The Indians had been here all winter. They come from Lake
Superior when the swamps froze up there, to hunt deer, till the weather
gets warm, then they returned to the Lake to fish.

Of course the presence of the Indians made game scarce, but the mill men
told us if we would go up farther into the marten country they thought
we would do well. We therefore made us a hand sled, put some provisions
and traps on board, and started up the river on the ice. As we went the
snow grew deeper and we had to cut hemlock boughs for a bed on top of
the snow. It took about a half a cord of wood to last us all night, and
it was a trouble to cut holes in the ice to water, for it was more than
two feet thick. Our fire kindled on the snow, would be two or three feet
below on the ground, by morning. This country was heavily timbered with
cedar, or spruce and apparently very level.

One day we saw two otters coming toward us on the ice. We shot one, but
as the other gun missed fire, the other one escaped, for I could not
overtake it in the woods. We kept on up the river till we began to hear
the Indians' guns, and then we camped and did not fire a gun for two
days, for we were afraid we might be discovered and robbed, and we knew
we could not stay long after our grub was gone. All the game we could
catch was the marten or sable, which the Indians called _Waubusash_. The
males were snuff color and the female much darker. Mink were scarce, and
the beaver, living in the river bank, could not be got at till the ice
went out in the spring.

We now began to make marten traps or dead-falls, and set them for this
small game. There were many cedar and tamarack swamps, indeed that was
the principal feature, but there were some ridges a little higher where
some small pines and beech grew. Now our camp was one place where there
was no large timber caused by the stream being dammed by the beaver.
Here were some of the real Russian Balsam trees, the most beautiful in
shape I had ever seen. They were very dark green, the boughs very thick,
and the tree in shape like an inverted top. Our lines of trips led for
miles in every direction marked by blazed trees. We made a trap of two
poles, and chips which we split from the trees. These were set in the
snow and covered with brush, We sometimes found a porcupine in the top
of a pine tree. The only signs of his presence were the chips he made in
gnawing the bark for food. They never came down to the ground as we saw.
They were about all the game that was good to eat. I would kill one,
skin it and drag the carcass after me all day as I set traps, cutting
off bits for bait, and cooking the rest for ourselves to eat. We tried
to eat the marten but it was pretty musky and it was only by putting on
plenty of salt and pepper that we managed to eat them. We were really
forced to do it if we remained here. We secured a good many of these
little fellows which have about the the best fur that is found in

We were here about three weeks, and our provisions giving out and the
ice becoming tender in the swamp were two pretty strong reasons for our
getting out, so we shouldered our packs of fur and our guns and, getting
our course from a pocket-compass, we started out. As we pushed on we
came to some old windfalls that were troublesome to get through. The
dense timber seemed to be six feet deep, and we would sometimes climb
over and sometimes crawl under, the fallen trees were so thickly mixed
and tangled.

Mr. Buck got so completely tired that he threw away his traps. We
reached our starting place at O'Neil's saw-mill after many days of the
hardest work, and nearly starved, for we had seen no game on our trip.
We found our traps and furs all safe here and as this stream was one of
the tributaries of the Mississippi, we decided to make us a boat and
float down toward that noted stream. We secured four good boards and
built the boat in which we started down the river setting traps and
moving at our leisure. We found plenty of fine ducks, two bee trees, and
caught some cat-fish with a hook and line we got at the mill. We also
caught some otter, and, on a little branch of the river killed two
bears, the skin of one of them weighing five pounds. We met a keel boat
being poled up the river, and with the last cent of money we possessed
bought a little flour of them.

About the first of May we reached Prairie du Chien. Here we were met
with some surprise, for Mr. Brisbois said he had heard we were killed or
lost. He showed us through his warehouses and pointed out to us the many
bales of different kinds of furs he had on hand. He told us we were the
best fur handlers he had seen, and paid us two hundred dollars in
American gold for what we had. We then stored our traps in the garret of
one of his warehouses, which was of stone, two stories and an attic, as
we thought of making another trip to this country if all went well.

We now entered our skiff again and went on down the great river till we
came to a place nearly opposite Mineral Point, when we gave our boat to
a poor settler, and with guns and bundles on our backs took a straight
shoot for home on foot. The second day about dark we came in the edge of
the town and were seen by a lot of boys who eyed us closely and with
much curiosity, for we were dressed in our trapping suits. They followed
us, and as we went along the crowd increased so that when we got to
Crum. Lloyd's tavern the door was full of boys' heads looking at us as
if we were a circus. Here we were heartily welcomed, and every body was
glad to see us, as they were about to start a company to go in search of
their reported murdered friends. It seems a missionary got lost on his
way to Prairie La Crosse and had come across our deserted cabin, and
when he came in he reported us as no doubt murdered.

I invested all of my hundred dollars in buying eighty acres of good
Government land. This was the first $100 I ever had and I felt very
proud to be a land owner. I felt a little more like a man now than I had
ever felt before, for the money was hard earned and all mine.


Mr. Buck and myself concluded we would try our luck at lead mining for
the summer and purchased some mining tools for the purpose. We camped
out and dug holes around all summer, getting just about enough to pay
our expenses--not a very encouraging venture, for we had lived in a tent
and had picked and shoveled and blasted and twisted a windlass hard
enough to have earned a good bit of money.

In the fall we concluded to try another trapping tour, and set out for
Prairie du Chien. We knew it was a poor place to spend money up in the
woods, and when we got our money it was all in a lump and seemed to
amount to something. Mr. Brisbois said that the prospects were very poor
indeed, for the price of fur was very low and no prospect of a better
market. So we left our traps still on storage at his place and went back
again. This was in 1847, and before Spring the war was being pushed in
Mexico. I tried to enlist for this service, but there were so many ahead
of me I could not get a chance.

I still worked in the settlement and made a living, but had no chance to
improve my land. The next winter I lived with Mr A. Bennett, hunted deer
and sold them at Mineral Point, and in this way made and saved a few

There had been from time to time rumors of a better country to the west
of us and a sort of a pioneer, or western fever would break out among
the people occasionally. Thus in 1845 I had a slight touch of the
disease on account of the stories they told us about Oregon. It was
reported that the Government would give a man a good farm if he would go
and settle, and make some specified improvement. They said it was in a
territory of rich soil, with plenty of timber, fish and game and some
Indians, just to give a little spice of adventure to the whole thing.
The climate was very mild in winter, as they reported, and I concluded
it would suit me exactly. I began at once to think about an outfit and a
journey, and I found that it would take me at least two years to get
ready. A trip to California was not thought of in those days, for it did
not belong to the United States.

In the winter of 1848-49 news began to come that there was gold in
California, but not generally believed till it came through a U.S.
officer, and then, as the people were used to mines and mining, a
regular gold fever spread as if by swift contagion. Mr. Bennett was
aroused and sold his farm, and I felt a change in my Oregon desires and
had dreams at might of digging up the yellow dust. Nothing would cure us
then but a trip, and that was quickly decided on.

As it would be some weeks yet before grass would start, I concluded to
haul my canoe and a few traps over to a branch of the Wisconsin, and
make my way to Prairie du Chien, do a little trapping, get me an Indian
pony on which to ride to California. There were no ponies to be had at
Mineral Point. Getting a ride up the river on a passing steamboat I
reached Prairie La Crosse, where the only house was that of a Dutch
trader from whom I bought a Winnebago pony, which he had wintered on a
little brushy island, and I thought if he could winter on brush and
rushes he must be tough enough to take me across the plains. He cost me
$30, and I found him to be a poor, lazy little fellow. However, I
thought that when he got some good grass, and a little fat on his ribs
he might have more life, and so I hitched a rope to him and drove him
ahead down the river. When I came to the Bad Axe river I found it
swimming full, but had no trouble in crossing, as the pony was as good
as a dog in the water.

Before leaving Bennett's I had my gun altered over to a pill lock and
secured ammunition to last for two years. I had tanned some nice
buckskin and had a good outfit of clothes made of it, or rather cut and
made it myself. Where I crossed the Bad Axe was a the battle ground
where Gen. Dodge fought the Winnebago Indians. At Prairie du Chien I
found a letter from Mr. Bennett, saying that the grass was so backward
he would not start up for two or three weeks, and I had better come back
and start with them; but as the letter bore no date I could only guess
at the exact time. I had intended to strike directly west from here to
Council Bluffs and meet them there, but now thought perhaps I had better
go back to Mineral Point and start out with them there, or follow on
rapidly after them if by any chance they had already started.

On my way back I found the Kickapoo river too high to ford, so I pulled
some basswood bark and made a raft of a couple of logs, on which to
carry my gun and blanket; starting the pony across I followed after. He
swam across quickly, but did not seem to like it on the other side, so
before I got across, back he came again, not paying the least attention
to my scolding. I went back with the raft, which drifted a good way down
stream, and caught the rascal and started him over again, but when I got
half way across he jumped and played the same joke on me again. I began
to think of the old puzzle of the story of the man with the fox, the
goose and a peck of corn, but I solved it by making a basswood rope to
which I tied a stone and threw across, then sending the pony over with
the other end. He staid this time, and after three days of swimming
streams and pretty hard travel reached Mineral Point, to find Bennett
had been gone two weeks and had taken my outfit with him as we first

I was a little troubled, but set out light loaded for Dubuque, crossed
the river there and then alone across Iowa, over wet and muddy roads,
till I fell in with some wagons west of the Desmoines River. They were
from Milwaukee, owned by a Mr. Blodgett, and I camped with them a few
nights, till we got to the Missouri River.

I rushed ahead the last day or two and got there before them. There were
a few California wagons here, and some campers, so I put my pony out to
grass and looked around. I waded across the low bottom to a strip of dry
land next to the river, where there was a post office, store, and a few
cabins. I looked first for a letter, but there was none. Then I began to
look over the cards in the trading places and saloons, and read the
names written on the logs of the houses, and everywhere I thought there
might be a trace of the friends I sought. No one had seen or knew them.
After looking half a day I waded back again to the pony--pretty blue. I
thought first I would go back and wait another year, but there was a
small train near where I left the pony, and it was not considered very
safe to go beyond there except with a pretty good train. I sat down in
camp and turned the matter over in my mind, and talked with Chas. Dallas
of Lynn, Iowa, who owned the train. Bennett had my outfit and gun, while
I had his light gun, a small, light tent, a frying pan, a tin cup, one
woolen shirt and the clothes on my back. Having no money to get another
outfit, I about concluded to turn back when Dallas said that if I would
drive one of his teams through, he would board me, and I could turn my
pony in with his loose horses; I thought it over, and finally put my
things in the wagon and took the ox whip to go on. Dallas intended to
get provision here, but could not, so we went down to St. Jo, following
the river near the bluff. We camped near town and walked in, finding a
small train on the main emigrant road to the west. My team was one yoke
of oxen and one yoke of cows. I knew how to drive, but had a little
trouble with the strange animals till they found I was kind to them, and
then they were all right.

This was in a slave state, and here I saw the first negro auction. One
side of the street had a platform such as we build for a political
speaker. The auctioneer mounted this with a black boy about 18 years
old, and after he had told all his good qualities and had the boy stand
up bold and straight, he called for bids, and they started him at $500.
He rattled away as if he were selling a steer, and when Mr. Rubideaux,
the founder of St. Jo bid $800, he went no higher and the boy was sold.
With my New England notions it made quite an impression on me.

Here Dallas got his supplies, and when the flour and bacon was loaded up
the ferryman wanted $50 to take the train across. This Dallas thought
too high and went back up the river a day's drive, where he got across
for $30. From this crossing we went across the country without much of a
road till we struck the road from St. Jo, and were soon on the Platte

We found some fine strawberries at one of the camps across the country.
We found some hills, but now the country was all one vast prairie, not a
tree in sight till we reached the Platte, there some cottonwood and
willow. At the first camp on the Platte I rolled up in my blanket under
the wagon and thought more than I slept, but I was in for it and no
other way but to go on. I had heard that there were two forts, new Ft.
Kearny and Ft. Laramie, on the south side of the river, which we must
pass before we reached the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, and beyond
there there would be no place to buy medicine or food. Our little train
of five wagons, ten men, one woman and three children would not be a
formidable force against the Indians if they were disposed to molest us,
and it looked to me very hazardous, and that a larger train would be
more safe, for Government troops were seldom molested on their marches.

If I should not please Mr. Dallas and get turned off with only my gun
and pony I should be in a pretty bad shape, but I decided to keep right
on and take the chances on the savages, who would get only my hair and
my gun as my contribution to them if they should be hostile. I must
confess, however, that the trail ahead did not look either straight or
bright to me, but hoped it might be better than I thought. So I yoked my
oxen and cows to the wagon and drove on. All the other teams had two
drivers each, who took turns, and thus had every other day off for
hunting if they chose, but I had to carry the whip every day and leave
my gun in the wagon.

When we crossed Salt Creek the banks were high and we had to tie a
strong rope to the wagons and with a few turns around a post, lower them
down easily, while we had to double the teams to get them up the other

Night came on before half the wagons were over, and though it did not
rain the water rose before morning so it was ten feet deep. We made a
boat of one of the wagon beds, and had a regular ferry, and when they
pulled the wagons over they sank below the surface but came out all
right. We came to Pawnee Village, on the Platte, a collection of mud
huts, oval in shape, and an entrance low down to crawl in at. A ground
owl and some prairie dogs were in one of them, and we suspected they
might be winter quarters for the Indians.

Dallas and his family rode in the two-horse wagon. Dick Field was cook,
and the rest of us drove the oxen. We put out a small guard at night to
watch for Indians and keep the stock together so there might be no delay
in searching for them. When several miles from Ft. Kearney I think on
July 3rd, we camped near the river where there was a slough and much
cottonwood and willow. Just after sundown a horse came galloping from
the west and went in with our horses that were feeding a little farther
down. In the morning two soldiers came from the fort, inquiring after
the stray horse, but Dallas said he had seen none, and they did not hunt
around among the willows for the lost animal. Probably it would be the
easiest way to report back to the fort--"Indians got him." When we
hitched up in the morning he put the horse on the off side of his own,
and when near the fort, he went ahead on foot and entertained the
officers while the men drove by, and the horse was not discovered. I did
not like this much, for if we were discovered, we might be roughly
handled, and perhaps the property of the innocent even confiscated.
Really my New England ideas of honesty were somewhat shocked.

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 of their way, so they opened fire on
him. He still kept his feet and they went nearer, Mr. Rogers, being on a
horse with a blind bridle, getting near enough to fire his Colt's
revolver at him, when he turned, and the horse, being unable to see the
animal quick enough to get out of the way, suffered the force of a
sudden attack of the old fellow's horns, and came out with a gash in his
thigh six inches long, while Rogers went on a flying expedition over the
horse's head, and did some lively scrambling when he reached the ground.
The rest of them worried him along for about half a mile, and finally,
after about forty shots he lay down but held his head up defiantly,
receiving shot after shot with an angry shake, till a side shot laid him
out. This game gave us plenty of meat, which though tough, was a
pleasant change from bacon. I took no part in this battle except as an
observer. On examination it was found that the balls had been many of
them stopped by the matted hair about the old fellow's head and none of
them had reached the skull.

A few days after this we were stopped entirely by a herd of buffaloes
crossing our road. They came up from the river and were moving south.
The smaller animals seemed to be in the lead, and the rear was brought
up by the old cows and the shaggy, burly bulls. All were moving at a
smart trot, with tongues hanging out, and seemed to take no notice of
us, though we stood within a hundred yards of them. We had to stand by
our teams and stock to prevent a stampede, for they all seemed to have a
great wonder, and somewhat of fear at their relatives of the plains.
After this we often saw large droves of them in the distance. Sometimes
we could see what in the distance seemed a great patch of brush, but by
watching closely we could see it was a great drove of these animals.
Those who had leisure to go up to the bluffs often reported large droves
in sight. Antelopes were also seen, but these occupied the higher
ground, and it was very hard to get near enough to them to shoot
successfully. Still we managed to get a good deal of game which was very
acceptable as food.

One prominent land mark along the route was what they called Court House
Rock, standing to the south from the trail and much resembled an immense
square building, standing high above surrounding country. The farther we
went on the more plentiful became the large game, and also wolves and
prairie dogs, the first of which seemed to follow the buffaloes closely.

About this time we met a odd looking train going east, consisting of
five or six Mormons from Salt Lake, all mounted on small Spanish mules.
They were dressed in buckskin and moccasins, with long spurs jingling at
their heels, the rowels fully four inches long, and each one carried a
gun, a pistol and a big knife. They were rough looking fellows with
long, matted hair, long beards, old slouch hats and a generally back
woods get-up air in every way. They had an extra pack mule, but the
baggage and provisions were very light. I had heard much about the
Mormons, both at Nauvoo and Salt Lake, and some way or other I could not
separate the idea of horse thieves from this party, and I am sure I
would not like to meet them if I had a desirable mule that they wanted,
or any money, or a good looking wife. We talked with them half an hour
or so and then moved on.

We occasionally passed by a grave along the road, and often a small head
board would state that the poor unfortunate had died of cholera. Many of
these had been torn open by wolves and the blanket encircling the corpse
partly pulled away. Our route led a few miles north of Chimney Rock,
standing on an elevated point like a tall column, so perfect and regular
on all sides, that from our point it looked as if it might be the work
of the stone cutters. Some of the party went to see it and reported
there was no way to ascend it, and that as far as a man could reach, the
rocks were inscribed with the names of visitors and travelers who passed
that way.

At Scott's Bluffs, the bluffs came close to the river, so there was
considerable hill climbing to get along, the road in other places
finding ample room in the bottom. Here we found a large camp of the
Sioux Indians on the bank of a ravine, on both sides of which were some
large cottonwood trees. Away up in the large limbs platforms had been
made of poles, on which were laid the bodies of their dead, wrapped in
blankets and fastened down to the platform by a sort of a network of
smaller poles tightly lashed so that they could not be dragged away or
disturbed by wild animals. This seemed a strange sort of cemetery, but
when we saw the desecrated earth-made graves we felt that perhaps this
was the best way, even if it was a savage custom.

These Indians were fair-sized men, and pretty good looking for red men.
Some of our men went over to their camp, and some of their youths came
down to ours, and when we started on they seemed quite proud that they
had learned a little of the English language, but the extent of their
knowledge seemed to be a little learned of the ox-drivers, for they
would swing their hands at the cattle and cry out "Whoa! haw, g--d
d--n." Whether they knew what was meant, I have my doubts. They seemed
pretty well provided for and begged very little, as they are apt to do
when they are hard pressed.

We saw also some bands of Pawnee Indians on the move across the
prairies. They would hitch a long, light pole on each side of a pony,
with the ends dragging behind on the ground, and on a little platform at
the hind end the children sat and were dragged along.

As we passed on beyond Scott's Bluff the game began to be perceptibly
scarcer, and what we did find was back from the traveled road, from
which it had apparently been driven by the passing hunters.

In time we reached Ft. Laramie, a trading post, where there were some
Indian lodges, and we noticed that some of the occupants had lighter
complexions than any of the other Indians we had seen. They had cords of
dried buffalo meat, and we purchased some. It was very fat, but was so
perfectly cured that the clear tallow tasted as sweet as a nut. I
thought it was the best dried meat I had ever tasted, but perhaps a good
appetite had something to do with it.

As we passed Ft. Laramie we fell in company with some U.S. soldiers who
were going to Ft. Hall and thence to Oregon. We considered them pretty
safe to travel with and kept with them for some time, though their rate
of travel was less than ours. Among them were some Mormons, employed as
teamsters, and in other ways, and they told us there were some
Missourians on the road who would never live to see California. There
had been some contests between the Missourians and the Mormons, and I
felt rather glad that none of us hailed from Pike county.

We turned into what they called the Black Hills, leaving the Platte to
the north of us. The first night on this road we had the hardest rain I
ever experienced, and the only one of any account on our journey. Our
camp was on a level piece of ground on the bank of a dry creek, which
soon became a very wet creek indeed, for by morning it was one hundred
yards wide and absolutely impassible. It went down, however, as quickly
as it rose, and by ten o'clock it was so low that we easily crossed and
went on our way. We crossed one stream where there were great drifts or
piles of hail which had been brought down by a heavy storm from higher
up the hills. At one place we found some rounded boulders from six to
eight inches in diameter, which were partly hollow, and broken open were
found to contain most beautiful crystals of quartz, clear as purest ice.
The inside was certainly very pretty, and it was a mystery how it came
there. I have since learned that such stones are found at many points,
and that they are called geodes.

We came out at the river again at the mouth of Deer Creek, and as there
was some pretty good coal there quite easy to get, we made camp one day
to try to tighten our wagon tires, John Rogers acting as blacksmith.
This was my first chance to reconnoiter, and so I took my gun and went
up the creek, a wide, treeless bottom. In the ravines on the south side
were beautiful groves of small fir trees and some thick brush, wild rose
bushes I think. I found here a good many heads and horns of elk, and I
could not decide whether they had been killed in winter during the deep
snow, or had starved to death.

There was a ferry here to cross the river and go up along north side.
Mr. Dallas bought the whole outfit for a small sum and when we were
safely over he took with him such ropes as he wanted and tied the boat
to the bank The road on this side was very sandy and led over and among
some rolling hills. In talking with the men of the U.S. troops in whose
company we still were, I gathered much information concerning our road
further west. They said we were entirely too late to get through to
California, on account of crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, which,
they said would be covered with snow by November, or even earlier, and
that we would be compelled to winter at Salt Lake. Some of the drivers
overheard Mr. Dallas telling his family the same thing, and that if he
should winter at Salt Lake, he would discharge his drivers as soon as he
arrived, as he could not afford to board them all winter.

This was bad news for me, for I had known of the history of them at
Nauvoo and in Missouri, and the prospect of being thrown among them with
no money to buy bread was a very sorry prospect for me. From all I could
learn we could not get a chance to work, even for our board there, and
the other drivers shared my fears and disappointment. In this dilemma we
called a council, and invited the gentleman in to have an understanding.
He came and our spokesman stated the case to him, and our fears, and
asked him what he had to say to us about it. He flew quite angry at us,
and talked some and swore a great deal more, and the burden of his
speech was:--"This train belongs to me and I propose to do with it just
as I have a mind to, and I don't care a d--n what you fellows do or say.
I am not going to board you fellows all winter for nothing, and when we
get to Salt Lake you can go where you please, for I shall not want you
any longer." We talked a little to him and under the circumstances to
talk was about all we could do. He gave us no satisfaction and left us
apparently much offended that we had any care for ourselves.

Then we had some talk among ourselves, at the time, and from day to day
as we moved along. We began to think that the only way to get along at
all in Salt Lake would be to turn Mormons, and none of us had any belief
or desire that way and could not make up our minds to stop our journey
and lose so much time, and if we were not very favored travelers our lot
might be cast among the sinners for all time.

We were now on the Sweetwater River, and began to see the snow on the
Rocky Mountains ahead of us, another reminder that there was a winter
coming and only a little more than half our journey was done. We did not
feel very happy over it, and yet we had to laugh once in a while at some
of the funny things that would happen.

The Government party we were with had among them a German mule driver
who had a deal of trouble with his team, but who had a very little
knowledge of the English language. When the officers tried to instruct
him a little he seemed to get out of patience and would say something
very like _Sacramento_. We did not know exactly what this meant. We had
heard there was a river of that name or something very near like that;
and then again some said that was the Dutch for swearing. If this latter
was the truth then he was a very profane mule driver when he got mad.

The Captain of the company had a very nice looking lady with him, and
they carried a fine wall tent which they occupied when they went into
camp. The company cook served their meals to them in the privacy of
their tent, and they seemed to enjoy themselves very nicely. Everybody
thought the Captain was very lucky in having such an accomplished
companion, and journey along quietly to the gold fields at government

There seemed to be just a little jealousy between the Captain and the
Lieutenant, and one day I saw them both standing in angry attitude
before the Captain's quarters, both mounted, with their carbines lying
across their saddles before them. They had some pretty sharp, hot words,
and it looked as if they both were pretty nearly warmed up to the
shooting point. Once the Lieutenant moved his right hand a little, and
the Captain was quick to see it, shouting;--"Let your gun alone or I
will make a hole through you," at the same time grasping his own and
pointing it straight at the other officer. During all this time the
Captain's lady stood in the tent door, and when she saw her favorite had
the drop on the Lieutenant she clapped her delicate, little hands in a
gleeful manner:--"Just look at the Captain! Ain't he spunky?" and then
she laughed long and loud to see her lord show so much military courage.
She seemed more pleased at the affair than any one else. I don't know
exactly what the others thought, but I never could believe that the lady
and the Captain were ever married.

The Lieutenant was no coward, but probably thinking that prudence was
the better part of valor, refrained from handling his gun, and the two
soon rode away in opposite directions.

We passed a lone rock standing in the river bottom on the Sweetwater,
which they named Independence Rock. It was covered with the names of
thousands of people who had gone by on that road. Some were pretty
neatly chiseled in, some very rudely scrawled, and some put on with
paint. I spent all the time I could hunting Mr. Bennett's name, but I
could not find it anywhere. To have found his name, and thus to know
that he had safely passed this point would have been a little
re-assuring in those rather doubtful days. Some had named the date of
their passing, and some of them were probably pretty near the gold
fields at this time.

All along in this section we found alkali water near the road, some very
strong and dangerous for man or beast to use. We traveled on up the
Sweetwater for some time, and at last came to a place where the road
left the river, and we had a long, hard hill to pull up. When we reached
the top of this we were in the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, the
backbone of the American continent. To the north of us were some very
high peaks white with snow, and to the south were some lower hills and
valleys. The summit of the mountains was not quite as imposing as I
expected, but it was the summit, and we were soon surely moving down the
western side, for at Pacific Springs the water ran to the westward,
toward the Pacific coast. The next day we came to the nearly dry bed of
the river--the Big Sandy. The country round about seemed volcanic, with
no timber, but plenty of sage brush, in which we were able to shoot an
occasional sage hen. The river bed itself was nothing but sand, and
where there was water enough to wet it, it was very miry and hard
traveling over it. There are two streams, the Big Sandy and Little
Sandy, both tributaries to Green River, which we soon reached and

It was a remarkable clear and rapid stream and was now low enough to
ford. One of the Government teams set out to make the crossing at a
point where it looked shallow enough, but before the lead mules reached
the opposite shore, they lost their footing and were forced to swim. Of
course the wagon stopped and the team swung round and tangled up in a
bad shape. They were unhitched and the wagon pulled back, the load was
somewhat dampened, for the water came into the wagon box about a foot.
We camped here and laid by one day, having thus quite a little chance to
look around.

When we came to the first water that flowed toward the Pacific Coast at
Pacific Springs, we drivers had quite a little talk about a new scheme.
We put a great many "ifs" together and they amounted to about this:--If
this stream were large enough; if we had a boat; if we knew the way: if
there were no falls or bad places; if we had plenty of provisions; if we
were bold enough set out on such a trip, etc., we might come out at some
point or other on the Pacific Ocean. And now when we came to the first
of the "ifs," a stream large enough to float a small boat; we began to
think more strongly about the other "ifs".

In the course of our rambles we actually did run across the second "if"
in the shape of a small ferry boat filled up with sand upon a bar, and
it did not take very long to dig it out and put it into shape to use,
for it was just large enough to hold one wagon at a time. Our military
escort intended to leave us at this point, as their route now bore off
to the north of ours. I had a long talk with the surgeon who seemed well
informed about the country, and asked him about the prospects. He did
not give the Mormons a very good name. He said to me:--"If you go to
Salt Lake City, do not let them know you are from Missouri, for I tell
you that many of those from that State will never see California. You
know they were driven from Missouri, and will get revenge if they can."
Both the surgeon and the captain said the stream came out on the Pacific
Coast and that we had no obstacles except cataracts, which they had
heard were pretty bad. I then went to Dallas and told him what we
proposed doing and to our surprise he did not offer any objections, and
offered me $60 for my pony. He said he would sell us some flour and
bacon for provisions also.

We helped them in crossing the river, which was somewhat difficult,
being swift, with boulders in the bottom but we got all safely over and
then made the trade we had spoken of. Dallas paid me for my pony and we
took what flour and bacon he would let go. He gave us some ropes for
head and stern lines to our boat and a couple of axes, and we laid
these, and our provisions in a pile by the roadside. Six of us then gave
up our whips. Mr. S. McMahon, a driver, hesitated for some time, but
being pressed by Dallas for a decision, at last threw down his whip and
said:--"I will go with the boys." This left Dallas with only one driver,
but he took a whip himself, and with the aid of the children and his
wife who drove the two-horse wagon, they got along very well. I paid for
such provisions as we had taken, as the rest of the fellows had almost
no money.

So we parted company, the little train slowly moving on its way
westward. Our military captain, the soldier boys, and the gay young lady
taking the route to Oregon, and we sitting on the bank of the river
whose waters flowed to the great Pacific. Each company wished the other
good luck, we took a few long breaths and then set to work in earnest to

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