March 27th 1850
Joseph A. Keck's Journal on a trip from Harrisburgh Van Buren Co. Iowa to California six ox teams in company numbering 24 men and 24 yoke of cattle and 7 cows and 3 horses.
Names of Company B. Kyes. H. Keck. D. Boner. J. A. Keck. Mcdow and son. T. Boyd. A. Billing. C. Wheeler. B. Moore. G. Moore. M. B. Moore. J. Moore. L. Straight. I. Littlejohn. E. Downard. S. Millzer. Jas. Rupley. John Rupley. B. Barr. R. Brawley. S. Samuels. J. Bailes and L. Engles.
Left home on the 27th of March about 8 0 clock in the morning left all well. went to the Boners where our wagon was. Started about 10 0 clock A.M. bid the folks Goodbye and started off in tolerable fine spirits pretty cold this morning Passed through Winchester and Birmingham and camped in a small grove 2 1/2 miles south East of the Colony. Wrote a letter back to one of the Girls. passed the night very agreeable Paid 25 cts per bushel for corn
28th Started in the morning about sunrise and traveled 18 miles very good roads and camped 1/2 mile East of Agency City went to town in the evening and looked around awhile and then returned to camp
Paid 20 cts for corn and 15 cts per day for Oats had a notion to stay a week or two to feed as we could get grain cheap there are a good number of teams stopped there to feed they were paying 14 cts per bu for corn a 83. per ton for Hay but we came to the conclusion that we had better roll on as feed was getting scarse along parts of the road and the price was still advancing.
29th Had a fine mess of Prarie chickens this morning for breakfast and started again on our journey passed through Agency City this is a handsome town containing 3 or 4 stores and 2 hotels traveled 20 miles and camped at the forks of the road at a Triginiaux ave. leads to Eddyville and the other to Oskaloosa pretty fine day and excellent roads. Paid 25 cts for corn
30th Started very early and pased several California teams before they started in the morning which they did not like very well they were in a great spluter to get ready before we came up to them. but they were too late Passed through Dahlonega and Oskaloosa stopped there at noon to feed our Cattle and buy a few articles This is a very handsome situation for a town it contains quite a number of stores and 2 hotels. it is a beautiful Country around Oskaloosa traveled 16 miles N. West of Oskaloosa Paid 25 cts for Oats
31st Sunday morning left Camp on account of feed and traveled 12 miles to a Grove Passed through Pella the Holland town was some diverted at their mode of building houses. some of them was covered with prarie grass and built with sods their houses and stables were all under one roof Bot some Prarie hay in Pella Paid 33 1/3 cts per bu for Corn
April 1st It commenced raining this morning but not enough to stop us. left the divide 6 miles above Pella and traveled the road to Martin's ferry on the Des Moines very bad roads stopped before night awhile on account of the rain camped at the forks of the road the one leading to Martin's ferry and the other to Layfaette Paid 110 cts for 1 shock of corn and 50 cts per bu for corn
2nd Left Camp this morning and traveled the greater part of the day in the rain Brawley & Millizer's teams left us this morning they took the road to Layfayette Paid 37 1/2 cts for Corn
3rd very bad roads to day crossed the Des Moines 10 miles below Fort Des Moines at Martins ferry this is an excellent ferry was but a short time crossing 4 teams passed several teams today that have stopped awhile traveled 12 miles and camped between North and Middle river close to a Mill on M. River 10 miles from its mouth ferriage 872 per team
4th Very disagreeable morning snowing and blowing. Saw a tame Buffalo Heifer 4 years old. it was very fat Bought 10 bushels of Cornmeal for each team for feed where we could get no corn Paid 50 cts per bushel traveled across some of the worst roads I ever saw. We came near miring our Cattle down. in a wide slough We had to double team before we could get through Still continues to rain Camped about 10 miles from Dudley Paid 75 cts for Corn it had been selling for 25 to 30 cts a week or to ago.
5th We are lying still today resting ourselves and cattle for we all needed it very bad Some of the boys went out hunting and killed a fine large Turkey which weighed 30 pounds which made a fine mess for all / The weather still cloudy and wet
6th Bought 60 bu corn for 62 1/2 cts per bu and hired 2 wagons and 2 yoke of oxen for $300 per day, started about noon and traveled 10 miles and Camped at Chapmans grove, one of our steers got strained in one of his hind legs so that we could not work him put one of the cows in his place
7th traveled 15 miles over a very broken country and scarce of timber first pleasant day we had for a week camped close to Winterset the County seat of Madison County. it is a very poor situation for a town it is situated on a very flat peace of ground. it contains two stores and one hotel and a few log cabins
8th Started very early passed through Winterset mailed two letters one for Father and another for N.E.L. had some bad roads this forenoon. but after that we had good roads traveled 18 miles over some splendid prarie camped out on the prarie off of the road 1 mile we could not reach timber did not pass any houses to day after we left Winterset
9th Our cattle left us this morning an went back 9 miles before we overtook them started from camp at 10 0 clock A.M. and traveled 10 miles and camped on Middle river there are a couple of men living here keeping batch got corn and whiskey to sell they sold corn for $100(sic) per bu and whiskey for 1 dollar per gall there are 25 teams stopped hereto night pretty cold to day and some snow has fell.
10th Crossed Middle River and traveled 28 miles over a very hilly country and roads very crooked Crossed the Notaway 10 miles from Middle River and traveled until dark and camped in Campbells grove all very tired Mcdows mare broke loose this morning and went back 20 miles before he got her Overtook us after at night awhile
11th Crossed a small stream this morning very steep banks Crossed the Nishnabotany 3 miles from Indiantown and camped. close to town it contains 5 or 6 houses Corn was selling for 125 per bu very pleasant day but at night, it blew several of the tents down I thought it would blow the wagon over where I slept in
12th Uncomon stormy to day the worst traveling I ever saw I could hardly keep my feet at times and then the roads were so dusty and the wind blowing so hardly we could hardly see to drive the teams. traveled 15 miles and camped in a thick grove which sheltered us from the hard wind Bought some hay for our cattle Paid $100 per cwt
13th Still cold and stormy but not so bad as yesterday Crossed another Nitshnabotany there is a toll bridge across this stream but we did not cross on the brige we forded it below but we had to raise the wagon beds before we could ford it the roads are very good traveled 12 miles and camped on Silver Creek at a Mormon Settlement Bought 1 bushel of corn for $100(sic) and 1 cwt of hay for $100(sic) which was all we could get, had hard work to get what we did
14th Sunday morning snow 1 1/2 inches deep. disagreeable morning had to travel to day to where we could get feed Crossed Silver Creek and traveled 10 miles and camped 8 miles from Kanesville the snow has disapeared and is quite pleasant this afternoon Paid $100(sic) per bu for Corn and 50 cts per cwt for hay.
15th traveled 12 miles to a place where we bought corn and hay on Mosquito Creek at Downs Mill where we expect to feed until starting time comes. Bought 36 bu corn for $100(sic) per bu and 5 tons 4 $400(sic) per ton got our corn ground and made troughs to feed our cattle in this evening Brawley and Millizer's teams came to where we were camped and stopped with us it is cold rough weather
16th Still cold and cloudy bought 57 bu of corn for $100 (sic) per bu and glad to get it for that some are asking .25 to 150 per bu and will get it in a few days
17th Some of the boys are trying to buy some more corn bought 20 bu Paid 1.25 per bu not much appearance for grass yet
18th Done our washing to day and done it remarkably well they looked as white as if a washerwoman had hold of them very pleasant this afternoon
19th bought 25 bu corn for 125 per bu I think we have enough to do us now. corn is selling for 150 to $200 per bu and very little for sale at that price the people are selling off every bushel they can spare and some are robbing their own families by selling off so close Some of the boys went out hunting to day and killed 2 geese 1 duck and two chickens
20th Walked to Kanesville today in company with a number of the boys Saw a great many Californians that have camped around town they have chiefly horse teams. Kanesville is quite a business place at present the strets are crowded almost every day it contains 6 or 8 stores and two hotels and several houses Saw Mr Martin and his crew today they are camped 1/2 miles from Kanesville on the road. went out and staid with them over night found them all well and in fine spirits, they organized to day and intend to start on the 25 of this month if they can get across the Mo. River very pleansant day looks some what for rain
21st Sunday morning Left Martins camp and went to our own got very much fatigued found the boys writing letters back home warm in the morning but towards night it turned cold again, dull prospect for grass yet. I am afraid a good many of the teams will suffer if this weather continues long as there is not much feed at any price I have been told they have to pay $250(sic) per bushel for corn at Silver Creek, and some of the teams are about strapped
22ond Still cold and cloudy wrote a constitution but it did not suit all of the party and so we did not organize at all, some were opposed to having Sunday mentioned in it at all
23rd Warm and pleasant to day the boys are in better spirit talk of starting to the ferry to day on the Mo. river
24th Moores two teams left us. and went to the ferry the rest of the teams were not ready and if they had been they would not have went together as there is some hard feeling existing between some of the men. they expect to get in with Martins company Our boys are making preperations to start tomorrow
25th Started to day about noon went as far as Kanesville with 3 teams and camped Hired another team to haul what hay we had yet and part of our meal they went to the ferry and registered our names so that we would get our turn as soon as possible the roads are in fine order and the weather fair but at night it was quite stormy
26th This morning our cattle were all gone but found all but 2 cows and 1 ox which belonged to our team We staid and hunted about town until 9 0 clock, and then started the teams for the ferry and Henry and I went back to the Downs Mill where we started from but we did not find them there and then we returned to town again looking all around for them, and staid one night with a Morman soldier that had been in the Mexican War and came home through California and by the Salt Lake and so we got sonsiderable information from him in regard to the road & c.
27th Started very erly this morning for the ferry which was about 12 miles distant and my feet were so sore that I could hardly walk at all the road from Kainsville to the ferry is very hilly. it look quite romantic the bluffs are very high, when we came to the ferry we found the teams ready to cross the river. but they had not seen or heard any thing of the lost cattle. So David and Kyes started back again on horseback to look for them while Henry and I seen to getting across the river. there is three boats at the ferry and in pretty good order two boats for wagons and one for Cattle and horses. It is a hard river to navigate they charge 82.00 for 1 waggon and 5 yoke oxen and then all hand had to help row across got the teams all across safe, and drove out from the river to Winter quarters 1/2 mile and camped until Kyes and David should come up found the grass very short, saw two Indians of the Omahaw tribe. It was a curiosity for the most of us to see them. they were very friendly with us, they presented to us a couple of papers which some of the Californians gave them requiring us to give them something to eat and to keep them in a good humor they are great beggars they wanted money and every thing they could see
28th Sunday morning Kyes and David came across the river with the cattle. We were all glad to see them again. fed the cattle some meal and then started about 9 Oclock and traveled 18 miles over a very broken country and camped on a creek called Pappea We left the river with about 15 or 18 bushels of meal to feed our cattle with. Saw 5 Indians they camped all night at the creek close to us they had been out hunting and had their Ponies loaded down with venison they came to all of our tents begging for something to eat they would say me hungry.
29th Started very early and passed several oxteams. Crossed the Elkhorn this is a very pretty stream clear water 25 yards wide and 5 feet deep swam our cattle across and ferried our wagon over Paid 125 per wagon Saw 8 Indians of the Pawnee tribe they were mostly boys they wanted money traveled 23 miles and camped on Platt river (this stream is like the Mo. river) near an Indian town and there was quite a number came to see us. they are half starved there is very little game through this part of the country quite warm to day but at night very windy it blew several of the tents down
30th Cold and stormy to day very disagreeable traveling. the soil is sandy and dry and the wind blew it chaff. traveled 20 miles and camped within 1/2 mile of Moores company on Shellcreek there was quite a number of Indians and Squaws came to where we were camped to trade Buffalo robes and moccasins. they were very friendly with us and not such beggars as the others we seen Traveled over some splendid prarie bottom the last two days this bottom was 5 and 6 miles wide and very rich, but the timber is scarce and very poor it would be a splendid country if there was plenty of good timber
May 1st Started very early and passed Moores company they did not like to see us go by them rather cool and windy to day traveled 20 miles and camped at the ferry on the Loup Fork 5 miles from the mouth found several teams ahead of us at the ferry and a very poor boat to cross in. it is a hard river to cross the currant is swift and bottom quicksand
2ond We did not wait our turn for the old boat, one of wagon beds was made to ferry in and so we went to work and unloaded it and corked it, and found it answered a very good purpose We took from 10 to 12 hundred at a load and made a trip sooner than the large boat We then hauled our wagons across by hand we had to keep them moving or else they would go right down in the quicksand the water was from 3 to 5 feet deep we swam our cattle across on yesterday on account of getting grass for them. Got all over by 2 Oclock we then loaded up our loads ready for starting and camped for the night at the ferry there was quite a storm came up in the evening and considerable rain with it.
3rd Started before breakfast on account of having no wood and it being cold and windy traveled 6 miles before we came to timber so that we could get our breakfast fed our cattle some meal and then went on 8 miles farther and camped by an Island on the Loup fork saw some pretty good grass a we came along put the cattle on the Island
4th Started pretty early and traveled 25 miles over a barren looking country it was dark before we came to a place to camp and then it was a very poor place the boys all felt tired and crabbed at night we turned our cattle in a thicket and did not keep any guard out we had a guard out every night before
5th Sunday very pleasant day but the prospect for grass is rather dull. the prarie has been burnt off lately and then the ground is so dry the grass can not grow the ground is perfectly bare and our meal is almost gone had to leave Millizer have some meal to feed his cattle at noon they have none at all traveled 20 miles and camped by a well on the prarie which the emigrants had dug. no timber in sight split up some boards that we had along and made a fire to boil our coffee. traveled over some of the poorest land I ever saw, it was sandy barren ridges it was scarcely fit for any thing.
6th Started at Sunrise and went 13 miles before we got breakfast we were all very hungry when we came to the timber and it was about noon before we got our breakfast. found firstrate grazing for our cattle on Wood river and so we did not travel any farther today so we camped for the night (for the night) on Wood River 2 miles from the main Platt Saw some sign of Buffalo
7th drove our cattle down on the grass this morning they filled themselves in a short time it had been burnt off last fall and it is 2 weeks earlier than that which is burnt of this spring left camp at 10 Oclock and traveled 14 miles over a beautiful country and the best prarie I ever seen the roads are rolling and as smooth as a pavement Saw quite a number of deer but they were so wild that we could not get within gunshot of them
8th left camp at 8 Oclock and traveled 18 miles and camped on the Platt where there was no wood but what we gathered up at the drift the timber is all on the other side of the river and on the Islands traveled over a wet and level country Saw a great many Prarie dogs they are about the size of a squirrel and are very hard to get a shot at. they keep in or near their holes and when a person comes up they dodge in. Some of the boys went out gunning but did not kill anything but ducks and chickens there are a great many dear and Buffalo around here We had some Buffalo meat for breakfast this morning which we got from some men with horseteams they had Killed it the day before on Wood river it was pretty good eating. We took our cattle over on Grand Island to feed on the rushes but they do not eat them very well yet
9th We did not travel any to day expect to stay here for several days until the grass is more plentier pleasant day and at night considerable rain
10th Several of us went out Buffalo hunting this morning traveled about 6 miles before we saw any at all as we were going along over the hills I (one) jumped up about 100 yards from us and started off at full speed, and all of us after it Mcdow was on horseback and run it about 1 mile before he shot it but he did kill it. he turned it towards us and then we shot it twice before we killed it We killed 4 more and wounded several we also killed an antelope. We had fine fun chasing the Buffalo it was the first that either of us saw that was wild. We dressed the hams of three and then started for our camp which was about 8 miles off. We had more than we could make use of at present so we jerked a parcel of it. The Buffalo are not very good yet. There has been a great many burnt to death by the Prarie being burnt off. Some of them that we killed were burnt pretty bad. they were burnt in a crisp in places.
11th McDow & Brawley went up the river to day to see what the prospect of grass is on ahead I wrote a letter to day and sent it to Fort Childs on the opposite of the river by L. Engels. the Fort is 5 miles from where we are camped Moore Company came up this evening and encamped 2 miles above us on the river. warm and pleasant to day some prospect for grass
12th Several of the boys went out hunting today but none from our team went. Brawley and Mcdow returned about 1 Oclock they found the grass pretty good in places, left camp at 3 Oclock and traveled 10 miles and encamped on a slough we took some wood and water along as there was none where we camped. the boys that were out hunting did not get up to camp until after dark they did not know that we were going to start to day We saw 2 Buffalo as we were going along but did not try to shoot them. We had an adition to our Company of three teams. they belong to Moores Company. they left them at the Loup Fork ferry and went up to the ford and crossed and came to us at Grand Island
13th Started pretty early and traveled 16 miles and encamped on Buffalo Creek. the creek has steep banks and is bad to cross pretty clear water but not very good at present. there is a great many dead Buffalo lying on the banks of the creek and snakes the water taste bad they had been burnt to death by the fire. this evening 2 more teams drove up to where we were camped and wished to travel with us. they left Moores Company on account of a fuss between some of the boys. We have now 9 ox teams in company and 34 men
14th Started at Sunrise and went 6 miles and turned our cattle out to graze awhile started again and drove 9 miles farther and encamped out on the open Prarie without any woods. We had to use Buffalo chips for fuel they answer a very good purpose when they are dry
15th Cold nights and mornings but warm during the day. the grass is still very short and thin on the ground. Saw a great many teams on the other side of the river. some of them are crossing over to this side. the grass is still better on this side than it is on the other traveled 15 miles and encamped on some old grass by an excellent well of cold water that had been dug by some of the emigrants this spring
16th We did not keep any guard out last night and the greater part of our cattle strayed off and did not get them until noon traveled 4 miles and camped. dug a well 6 feet deep and found very good water
17th left camp at 7 Oclock traveled over some wet prarie and some sand hills passed the Keosauqua company of horse-teams, traveled 20 miles and encamped on Skunk Creek this is a beautiful stream of water it heads up in the Sand Bluff. Saw a very large Elkhorn along the roadside the prongs were about 5 feet long and very heavy very pleasant day with a fine shower of rain
18th Started very early and drove 4 miles and then turned our cattle out to graze and got our breakfast, traveled over the Pawnee Swamps they were pretty bad in places but got through without any difficulty at the head of the Swamps is an excellent Spring of cold water it boils up out of the sand and it makes quite a stream travled 16 miles and encamped on Carrion Creek which is 10 feet wide found excellent grass for our cattle, the prarie had been burnt off last fall and the grass is much earlier. the hills appeared to be alive with Buffalo Some came close up to the camp. Several of the boys went out hunting this afternoon and did not get into camp until 11 Oclock at night all very tired and hungry. they brought in a fine lot of Buffalo meat
19th Sunday traveled 16 miles and encamped on the main Platt Saw a great many Buffalo to day the ground was literally covered with then for miles some thought there was 10,000 and others 20,000 We were in sight of Buffalo all day. I went off the road to look at them, and found 32 mired down in a quagmire and could not get out. After we camped some of the boys took their guns and went out and shot them to put them out of misery. they shot one old bull 13 times in the head and he got right up and run off. Passed the last timber on the north side of Platt for 200 miles our dependence for fuel will be Buffalo chips. but there is any amount of them.
20th traveled 17 miles over some sandy bluffs hard traveling for teams crossed North Bluff Creek which is 6 rods wide and 2 feet deep swift currant and the bottom quicksand very warm to day
21st Started pretty early and traveled 25 miles very good roads except some sand bluffs passed a good many springs of cold water that came out of the bluffs crossed several creeks all pretty small passed a beautiful grove of Ceder on the south side of the river
22ond traveled close to the river banks until noon then we crossed a very steep sandy bluff 3/4 of 1 mile long the grass is not so good as we have had for the last 2 days. traveled 20 miles and encamped by the Lone tree. we were in sight of teams all day on the opposite side of the river the roads some places were not more than 1 mile apart.
23rd Left camp at 7 Oclock passed Ash Hollow it is on the south side of the (?) and is a beautiful grove of Ash timber Crossed Castle Creek which is 6 rods wide and 2 feet deep. Swift currant and the bottom quicksand passed Castle Bluffs and halted for dinner Saw an Indian of the Sioux tribe he could talk English very well. he told us that there were 200 camps of their tribe 2 miles north of the road. Saw a great many things thrown away along the road such as log chains, harness wagons stoves & c traveled 20 miles and camped near an Indian Camp. Very warm day
24th Very pleasant day for traveling halted on Crab Creek for noon Saw the chimney rock from a bluff 3 miles from the Creek it was 42 miles off. passed Ancient Bluff ruins there is a great deal of curiosity about these bluffs traveled 20 miles to day
25th Started very early there being a strife between the two companies which should get to Fort Larimie first for Moores were camped close to us last night. traveled 30 miles and encamped opposite the chimney rock. This is a natural curiosity for the traveler to behold it is about 250 feet high 100 ft. almost perpendicular it resembles the chimney of a Steamboat at a distance. we had a very hard hailstorm this afternoon with considerable wind we found some hail that measured 5 inches round. the ground was covered it was very hard on the cattle. before the storm came up the buffalo gnats almost eat up some of the boys are covered with blotches and others they did not hurt much they are more poisonous than the mosquetoes. after the storm the cattle walked like horses they were cold and chilly
26th Sunday morning rather cold but towards noon it was quite warm and towards night a thunder storm came up with high wind and considerable rain and continued the greater part of the night. traveled 12 miles and encamped on the river opposite Scotts Bluffs did not travel more than half the day. Brawley and Millisers stopped awhile and then drove on farther.
27th Cold and raining this morning passed Scotts bluffs these are the highest I have seen yet part of country we traveled over to day was thick with prickly pears very barren country. Saw some excellent grass to day but it is only in spots halted on Spring Creek for noon this is the prettiest stream I have seen yet in my travels it is 12 feet wide and 1 foot deep and the water clear and cold we were in sight of the chimney rock yesterday and nearby day to day saw the Larimie Peak afternoon it is about 110 miles off traveled 26 miles and encamped near some sandy bluffs that comes up to the river not very good feed for the oxen. Saw Jacob Griffith and some of the Birmingham boys with horseteams they left their company at the Loup Fork of Platte.
28th Cold and frosty this morning have not seen any good grass to day the soil is too sandy to produce well passed 6 ox teams that were encamped they had a sick man that was just dying crossed rawhide creek and traveled over some very sandy road traveled 24 miles and encamped.
29th Started pretty early and arrived at the ferry opposite Fort Larimie about 10 Oclock found about 30 teams ahead of us waiting to cross the river is 108 yards wide and 10 feet deep and a very swift currant the ferry is just above Larimie Fork. Moores company came up this evening they thought we drove very hard there is about 2000 teams ahead of us principally horses and muletrains. We had quite a merry time this evening E. Davis in our Company has composed a California song and sang it this evening to a large crowd it raised considerable laughter. Wrote a letter to Bro. George, and Henry wrote to Father
30th Crossed the Platt just above the mouth of Larimie Fork Very swift current with 10 feet water there is a small boat kept here by government charge 1 dollar per wagon got all across by 10 Oclock in good order We swam our cattle across had hard work to get them over the water was so swift that it was all they could do to swim across. went up to the Fort it is situated west of the Platt 1 mile on the bank of the Larimie Fork there is an excellent 2 story frame and another under way 2 very large stables some excellent workshops and 1 store they sell at California prices Coffee 50 cts per pound Sugar 1.00 Flour 12 dollars per cwt Whiskey 6 dollars per gallon and other things in proportion the situation of the Fort is a beautiful one there is three companies at this post numbering 50 in each. They are drilled but once a week and that on Sunday the Fort bore the appearance of a city it being thronged with emigrants. The number of emigrants that have passed this post up to this date is 1849 wagons some 6000 men the teams are chiefly horses and mules there is probably 100 oxteams ahead of us. Left the Fort and drove 15 miles about the Platte river over the bluffs they are called the black Hills they are stony and hard on the cattle's feet the timber on the hills is Pine Cedar encamped at an excellent Spring of cold water a few miles west of Porter's rock. this rock is 2 or 300 feet high almost perpendicular and is of a soft sandstone there is a great many names wrote on the rock passed a great many wagons to day that were left, some very good ones very pleasant day in the afternoon there came up a thunderstorm with considerable rain and some hail
31st Started at 7 Oclock and drove 25 miles over(y) a very hilly country but good roads. The wild sage now begins to make its appearance it grows from 3 to 8 feet in height and some 6 inches across. The leaves resemble the tame sage and the wood looks like Cedar Came up opposite the Larimie Peak it is 4000 feet above the level of the sea the top is almost covered with snow which I discovered by looking through a telescope. Some of our men disputed it being snow and they would bet anything that it was a white sand we did not travel close to it or else I should have went up on the top of it. The road appears to be alive with teams to day they are strung along for miles in a streach. Passed 2 excellent springs of cold water and encamped on a creek that came from the direction of the Peak. Some of the boys have been greatly discouraged the few last days on account of so many teams being ahead of us and the grass so scarce but they are in better spirits again the grass is much better than we expected to find it the cattle is in grass up to their knees tonight. another thunder storm with squalls of rain the road to day has been hilly and rough in places there seems considerable grumbling in camp tonight on account of driving hard.
June 1st/50 A great many teams passed us this morning before we started and we left Camp before 7 Oclook crossed a creek just as we started and traveled 8 miles and then struck the Platt. We had an idea that we crossed the river here by the appearance of the teams before us but we was soon convinced that we did not for the river makes a short turn and issues from between two large ledges of rocks where we had no idea it could the river is not more than 25 or 30 yards wide and the rocks are between 3 and 400 feet high almost perpendicular it looks more like a canal cut through the rocks than anything else it is about 2 miles long and is in the shape of a half moon I climbed up on the top to survey the grand scenery it is really diverting to the traveler on the North side of the river for 3 or 400 yards the rock is a cherry red and almost perpendicular and on the top is some beautiful ceder, the river in this place is very deep and rapid the river that was 2 miles wide is but a few yards wide here the road to day was excellent it was as solid as a pavement but is very hard on the cattles feet. We met 2 teams in the afternoon that were from the Salt Lake returning to the States they started the 15th of April and were almost out of provisions, had another fine shower of rain this afternoon and the grass is growing fine traveled 20 miles and en-camped on a high ridge by the road side 1/2 mile from wood and water.
2ond Left camp at 7 Oclock and traveled 20 miles and encamped on a small creek wood water and grass scarce the wild sage is very plentiful along this region of country crossed Labonte River which is 50 feet wide and 2 feet deep very swift currant clear and cold Saw several ways of going to California Some are going with carts and carriages others are packing on horses and mules and some on their backs. The road to day was extremely rocky and hilly some of the cattle are beginning to get lame. traveled over about 3 miles of dark red sand to days travel was full of curiosities one of them was a pile of rock 200 feet high resembling a haystack. another was a long ridge of rocks that came up to a point at the top very poor grass for the last 20 or 30 miles
3rd Very cold day for the season of the year an overcoat felt very comfortable on a persons back. about noon we had a very heavy rain and some hail it was the hardest rain we had on the road crossed the A La Prela river at 10 Oclock and another pretty large stream in the afternoon 2 feet deep and a swift current the streams are running pretty fast since the rain. traveled 20 miles and encamped on the north Fork of Platt We found excellent grass on the river hills better than we had on the Platt bottom we are now over the black hills which we dreaded so much before we came to them. 3 horseteams from Bonaparte Iowa camped with us to night one of the men was sick.
4th traveled 20 miles over a good road crossed several pretty smart creeks of cold water that runs from the mountains. There is a great deal of snow on the mountains yet some of the boys got to disputing whether it was snow or not so Mcdow and Brawley took their horses and rode up and fetched some down some bet 1 dollar and others 25 cent that it was not snow it looked to be but a few miles off but it was 7 or 8 miles
5th Pretty cold morning there was ice found in camp traveled 12 miles and arrived at the upper Platt ferry at 10 Oclock. got our wagons over by 12 there is 4 good boats here they charged 4 dollars per wagon we did not swim our cattle across until towards evening on account of grass. had some difficulty in getting them over the water was cold and rapid David Boner came near getting drowned. him and Boyd and Wheeler rode the horses in the river on a bar to start the cattle over when they got them started they struck a new course for shore which swam the horses, the beast that David was on was a poor swimmer and David could not swim any. The beast went clear under but David stuck to her until she got out the other boys jumped off and swam ashore. Moores company came up before we left they keep after us pretty close left the ferry at 7 Oclock and drove 6 miles and encamped no water and but little grass.
6th Left camp at 7 Oclock and drove 23 miles and encamped at Willow Springs very good water but very little grass we had no water for the cattle after we left the ferry until we got here. There was some Alkali Lakes and springs but it is poisonous for cattle We saw 25 heads of dead cattle that died of drinking the water. Passed through a lane of rocks 1/4 of a mile in length.
7th Started pretty early and traveled 20 miles and encamped on Sweet Water river found very little grass here there has been no grass of any consequence since we left the ferry. The ground is nearly covered with Wild Sage some is 6 and 8 inches through the grasshoppers have nearly devoured it in places the ground is quite black with them passed some Alakli lakes that were dry and covered with salaratus 3 and 4 inches deep and white as snow. I gathered some of it to take back home with me it is as good as any I ever saw. I saw a Bears foot that had been (had been) killed by some of the emigrants that was 6 inches broad and at the end of the claws it was 9 inches.
8th Left camp at 8 Oclock passed Independence Rock went up on the top of it. There is a great many names of persons wrote on this rock it is hard granite and 500 yards long it is close to the sweet water river on the north side crossed the river 1 mile above the rock it is 8 rods wide and 2 feet deep pretty clear water traveled along the river banks pretty much all day the road some sandy there has been good grass along this river but it is eat off very short Passed the Devils gate where the river runs through rock 400 feet high perpendicular and 1/4 of a mile in length the river is very narrow and runs swift there is a path that a person can go almost through from one end to the other the water makes a great noise as it tumbles over the rocks a person can('t) hear another talk I climbed up on the top and looked over and dropped down a stone and counted 40 while it was falling to the bottom it looked frightful to stand at the edge of the rock and look down the awful precipice. It was hard work to get up to the top but it was still harder to get down the way I went it was 8 or 10 feet straight down in places over rocks. it is a curiosity for the traveler to behold. it tired my legs but it paid me well for my trouble it was pretty warm to day and very dusty we traveled in sight of snow all day it looked like winter off at a distance traveled 17 miles and encamped on the river found pretty good grass for our cattle.
9th Left Camp at 7 Oclock the first Illisnois teams did not start with us this morning they thought we were driving too hard crossed several small streams of cold water and crossed the river in the evening to avoid if the heavy sand and shorten the road traveled 20 miles and encamped on the river bottom near to some high rocky bluffs a very pleasant place to camp. After we encamped I took a walk up on the bluffs to behold the surrounding country. Saw 2 mountain sheep on the top of the bluffs where it was hard work for a person to get to they resemble the tame sheep that are sheared I was within 25 yards of them but did not have any firearms with me it is astonishing to see how fast they can run over the rocks. I also saw a young hare about the size of a rabbit. The Sweet water is a very crooked stream not a great many fish in it.
10th Started at. 6 Oclock crossed the river again the other ford was to deep to cross had to raise the wagonbeds to keep the water from coming into them traveled 25 miles part of the way was very heavy sand and part rocky crossed the river again in the evening just before we camped passed the Ice Spring a person can generally obtain Ice by digging 2 feet deep but we did not try to get any some of the boys went out hunting and killed a fine Antelope which was quite a treat for us for we had no fresh meat for 2 weeks the boys are all very much discouraged this evening on account of feed for the cattle what grass there was is all eat off short by the horses so that cattle cannot get held of it. if the grass does not get better we shall have to pack through on our backs for we can never get the(m) through with the feed we have had for a few days had none at all last night.
11th Started very early and drove 5 or 6 miles to where we found some grass and turned the cattle out to graze awhile traveled over some rocky ridges that was hard on wagons. Crossed several creeks of cold water drove 19 miles and encamped on Strawberry Creek it is a lovely place to camp had plenty of good water wood and pretty good grass, there is a very pretty grove of quaking asp a short distance from the creek. passed some snow in the evening close to the road 5 or 6 feet deep.
12th Pretty cold this morning some ice froze last nigh cold enough to wear a heavy coat found some of the cattle missing this morning had hard work to find them for the fog was very thick did not have any guard out since we left the upper Platt ferry there is but our 4 trains together now we get along much better in a small company where the grass is scarce crossed several creeks of good water some were bad to cross there is plenty of snow along the road got some to put in our milk for dinner which was very good. We live almost as fine as Kings on the mountains had for dinner the best of Buiskuit, Corn Beans and Antelope Pies and milk, who could grumble at such fare as this (e)very day but some dusty traveling the road was hard on the cattles feet Some of them were getting quite lame one of our cows is so lame that we can hardly get her along. We have put tar on her feet and tied them up and she gets along some better. Crossed Sweet water the last time it was deeper here than at any other places we crossed and was still raising traveled 18 miles and encamped by the twin mounds near the Southern pass, had pretty good grass tonight
13th Crossed the summit of the South Pass this morning had a good road all day the South Pass resembles a river bottom more than a mountain there is no water we left Sweet Water until we came to the Pacific Spring a distance of 12 miles then there is no good water for 18 miles right cold to day. Some rain in the afternoon with hail traveled 23 miles and encamped on the Fort Nall road 1 mile from the fork of the road found excellent grass the best we had since we left the black hills the grass is in bunches and resembles the blue grass very much and is very nutritious. It is amazing to see how well our cattle looks with the feed they have had and the drives we have made We have drove then aver 600 miles the last month it is 819 miles by the Morman guide from the bluffs to the forks of the road,
14th Started pretty early and crossed Little Sandy a stream 40 feet wide and two feet deep the next stream we came to was Big Sandy 7 rods wide and 2 feet deep. Good Crossing we got here about 11 Oclock and laid by until half past 3 Oclock before we started in to the desert there is no water and but little grass until we came to Green river a distance of 45 miles some calls it less and some more we drove until 7 Oclock and turned the cattle out to graze and got supper started at dusk and drove until 1 Oclock at night and encamped for the night. It commenced raining before we left Big Sandy and rained until dark by showers with some hail it was cold and disagreeable traveling we had the hardest walking part of the time that I ever tried it was a yellow clay and very sticky. For several miles there was no vegetation at all saw a hare as we came along but could not get a shot at it.
15th Very Cold morning our(our)coats that had got wet in the rain were froze stiff. Left camp at daylight before breakfast and drove on to Green river before we stopped got to the river about 1 Oclock all tired and hungry for we did not stop to cook anything nor let the cattle graze. Some of the cattle were pretty well fagged out when we stopped and there was no grass to be had without getting the cattle across. So we went to work to swim the cattle across and had considerable trouble to get them over for they were weak and tired and the river is about 100 yards wide and 10 feet deep and very cold and swift it chilled them very much Some of them could not swim over had to tow them over with the ferry boat charged us 4 dollars for taking 5 over. About 10 Oclock we had quite a snowstorm the ground was white with snow, but the sun shone out and melted it and laid the dust for a few miles then the wind raised tremendous high and blew the dust like a Cloud we could not see our teams part of the time the road across the desert is generally good and level a few miles before we came to the river we had some steep hills to cross. There is a ferry kept here by the Mormons they charge 7 dollars per wagon and 1 dollar for stock There was 70 wagons in ahead of us and but a poor boat to to cross in so we concluded we would ferry ourselves there is some timber on the river Chiefly Cottonwood grass is very scarce on the river.
16th Commenced early at ferrying our wagons across made very good speed until the wind rose then we had a hard time of it for the wind was against us and beat us down stream 1/4 of a mile before we could make landing got all across by 2 Oclock in good order. Had to take the wagons all apart to take them over. Saw some Indians of the Shawnee tribe about the ferry these were the first we saw after we left Fort Larimie. Mcdow and Milliser, cut off part of their wagon beds to lighten up some.
17th Left Green river at 7 O'clock and traveled 10 miles and halted for noon on a branch of Green river 25 feet wide 2 feet deep. Started again and drove 10 miles more and encamped by a small creek of Spring water found grass plenty road to day hilly and very dusty passed 2 dead oxen and another that was lame so that he could not travel, this is a hard country on cattle there is so much Alkali water and the grass is tainted with it.
18th Cold and windy this morning Ice froze 1/2 inch thick. Found the cattle 3 miles from camp they ramble a great way off after feed. Left camp at 8 Oclock drove 10 miles and halted for noon the road was bad and hilly to day crossed some hills that was very steep and long crossed a great many branches of cold water. Snow is very plentiful along the road. From the top of the hills that we came over we could see snow all around we were above some of it near 1 mile Saw 2 sage hens this morning they resemble the prarie hens very much only they are much larger. traveled 20 miles to day and encamped at a creek 30 feet wide 2 1/2 feet deep I think it is a branch of Bear river the grass is pretty good on the mountains traveled over snow in the afternoon with the wagons 2 feet deep.
19th Left camp at 7 Oclock and traveled 21 miles and encamped near Thomas Fork of Bear river grass is good and plentiful it was plenty all along the road to day crossed some high range of mountains came down some steep descents there is a number of small creeks along the road all good and cold except the last one before we came to Bear river it is poisonous water although -it looks clean and good and has no particular bad taste. We camped about 1 mile from the creek and used the water for cooking it was some farther to Bear river but could not get to it for sloughs there was very good grass along the creek so we drove our team to it. and they all got poisoned but the 2 old cattle and one cow they would have been poisoned too but as soon as they were unyoked they made for the slough at the river and the other cattle did not get to it before we drove them back we though(t) the creek was the best water 3 of Mcdows and 2 of Brawleys that were drove loose drank of the water and were poisoned.
20th We did not know this morning that there was anything the matter with our oxen pretty much all the cattle that was drove loose was sick, vomiting and frothing at the mouth we gave them some bacon which helped them right away. Started and crossed Thomas Fork of Bear river it was pretty high had to raise our wagonbeds to keep the water from running into them the creek is about 50 feet wide and 3 1/2 deep and swift current. When we halted for noon the cattle that was poisoned would not eat and appeared to be stupid and some of them vomiting. we gave them some more bacon then some Tartaric Acid and Gunpowder mixed in water Some of them was very sick I thought they would die for us but the medicine we gave them helped them pretty soon and at night when we stopped they began to eat a little Saw 8 head of dead oxen 1 horse and 1 mule since we passed that poison water all killed by drinking of the water. We stopped about 3 hours at noon on account of the cattle being sick Traveled about 18 miles down Bear river and crossed another branch of the river 30 feet wide and 4 feet deep very muddy bottom. There was a train of muleteams crossing when we came to the creek. They took out their clothes and provisions and carried them over on their backs. We took our things out of the bed and put them up on deck got across without getting anything wet before the muleteams did the road today was very good with the exception of a short distance after we crossed Thomas Fork which was very rough and rocky. We came into the old Fort Hall road this morning for we came Subletts cut off which is 75 or 80 miles nearer the old road goes by Fort Bridger. The distance from the Forks of the road to Green river is 55 miles from Green river to Thomas Fork of Bear river is 65 Bear river really is very handome it is 4 or 5 miles wide pretty good soil the wild Flax grows here in abundance it grows from 3 to 4 feet high there is wild clover resembling the red clover. There is also hordes of Mosquetoes in the vally had to wear a coat and a handkerchif over my face and wear gloves to keep them from bitting me to death. There is also plenty on the mountains where the ground was covered with snow. Henry and Billings is sick with something like the mountain fever all the rest are well. This is not as healthy country through here the water more or less is tained with Alkali. Saw and Indian and Squaw to day that were going from Fort Bridger to Fort Hall he could talk English very well. told us several stories at noon about hunting & c. he had a handsome squaw. Saw some very good looking young squaws yesterday as we came along we went to their camps. they were very friendly they belonged to Snake Indian tribe. After we camped at night we cut off our wagon bed 18 inches and coupled the wagon shorter. to make it run as light as possible.
21st Started about 7 Oclock and drove 18 miles and encamped in Bear river vally on a beautiful stream of cold water that runs from the mountains the banks were bordered with Willows there is but little timber through this region of country and the wild Sage is not so abundant as it has been. The grass is much better where there is no sage at all. Found a fine patch of clover for the cattle at noon they eat it quite eager we had to climb another very steep mountain early in the morning it was quite warm and hordes of mosquetoes all day it was 7 miles across the maountain before we came to the river again then we had an excellent road all day plenty of good cold water every mile or two that run from the mountains saw 5 more dead oxen to day along the road that were poisoned by that creek water
22ond Left camp at half 6 Oclock drove 23 miles and encamped on bear river close to some Indian camps there was I trading this evening in camp there is several mountaineers amoung them they came up to our camp with moccasins and robes to trade several of the boys traded with them we
traded a wooden bucket for a pair Sold them about 2 pounds of powder for 250, they offered us 25 dolls per cwt for flour they have a great many moccasins on hand they asked 150 per pair had an excellent road all day a-long the river bottom crossed a great many small creeks, there is a good deal of timber on the mountains which we passed to day and also plenty of snow the road run pretty much due north all day very warm to day but mosquitos not so bad
23rd Sunday Left Camp at 8 Oclock and traveled 4 miles and halted at the Forks of the road until after noon passed the Soda Springs this morning they are a great curiosity they boil up like boiling water and tastes like soda water the Indians uses it altogether one of the Springs is 9 feet deep and clear as crystal. There is a Spring close by called the Steamboat Spring it boils up about 2 feet and puffs similar to a steamboat the Indians are camped all around these Springs they have 2 or 300 head of horses Some of the finest ones I ever saw after we stopped there was a great many Indians and Squaws came to our tents. they were great beggars they were very poorly dressed gave them something to eat. Some of the boys remarked that the Iowa girls would look like queens by the side of these Squaws. There has but very few teams gone by Fort Hall this season there was an old trader came from there as we was making preparations for starting. He told us that the Fort Hall road was much the best and not much farther but he had never been the cut off it is to his interest to have the emigrants go by the Fort to trade with them but we did not need any things so we concluded to go the cut off. The distance from Thomas Fork to the forks of the road is 75 or 80 miles We leave Bear river here it runs to the south into Salt Lake the Bear river valley is a beautiful country. plenty of good grass and the water generally good and plenty of it the roads also are excellent but the mosquetoes are very troublesome. Left the old road 55 miles this side of Fort Hall, started at 1 Oclock and drove 10 miles and encamped on the top of a mountain plenty of wood grass but no water there was some snow that was close by they told us at the Soda Springs that there was no water for 25 miles, but we found plenty of water in 12 miles.
24th Started at 6 Oclock and drove 3 miles and encamped on the west side of a mountain by a Spring of cold water plenty of wood and grass crossed 4 Creeks and passed one that we did not cross it was a pretty large one very good road had one mountain to climb it was not steep but lengthy there is several traders and some Indians at the first creek we came to this morning the wild flax is very plenty on these mountains as well as in the valley pretty warm today.
25th Left Camp at half past 6 drove 12 miles and halted for noon on a creek 5 feet wide from here to the next water it is 23 miles. in the afternoon we had a long mountain to climb from the creek to the top mountain it was 6 miles about 3 miles through a Kanyon some places there was just room enough for a wagon to pass along the road is smooth pretty much all the way the ascent is very gradual the mountains on both side is 4 or 500 feet high very steep and rough when we got up on the top we came to the jumping off place where they let the wagons down with ropes it is about 1 mile down the mountain that is steep and rough. We had no trouble to get down locked both hind wheels and rode on them it was stopping time when we got to the foot of the mountain and it was 14 miles to water yet. We stopped about sundown and got our supper and grazed the cattle. then we started again and drove until 11 at night and encamped. traveled 26 miles pretty wait today particularly coming up the Kanyon.
26th Started at sunrise and drove to the Springs by 9 Oclock Stopped and got breakfast and turned the cattle on some good grass. and staid until 2. for they were tired yesterday was a hard day on them Mcdow and Brawley started as soon as they got their breakfast did not give the cattle a chance to fill themselves so we concluded they might go but we would stay they said they yould beat us 10 days to the diggins they bid us good bye and said that they did not expect to see us before we reached the land of Gold. I told the boys after they were gone they need not be too sure of not seeing us If they beat us three days they will do well the grass to day was firs(t) rate some of it was 3 feet high in places they call it the wild rye Cattle is very fond of it and will fatten on it drove 9 miles in the afternoon and encamped in the mountains plenty of wood water and grass, passed several Springs of good water this afternoon
27th Left Camp at 6 O'clock drove 24 miles and encamped on raft river good water and grass. the road to day was excellent with the exception of a couple creeks that were bad to cross, steep banks and water pretty deep. We upset our wagon in one of them that was 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep and damaged our things very much. The cattle were not very tractable and went down stream and upset the wagon up stream if the wagon had upset down stream if would have been much worse. We got all our Clothes wet and (and) most of the Provisions, 50 pounds of our hard bread and about 1 peck of meal spoiled so that we threw it away. All the things in the trunk got wet so that they were useless the books all got wet and the paper. ginger chocalate pepper allspice and Acid were put up in paper. and got wet. Henry was in the wagon when it upset but he soon came (came) crawling out in the water and he was not over his sickness yet he was that hoarse that he could not speak above his breath. I was afraid it would lay him up but he is none the worse of it, we upset in the evening and stopped the first grass we came to and overhauled our things. traveled over 10 miles in the afternoon that there was no grass nothing but wild Sage had a fine shower of rain to day which made it pleasant traveling overtook Mcdow and Brawley at one of those bad creeks but upsetting our wagon threw us back considerable.
28th Left Camp pretty early and crossed raft river it is 15 or 20 feet wide 3 feet deep swift currant came into the Fort Hall road at raft river the distance through the last cut off is about 110 miles. traveled 9 miles and then stopped 4 hours our clothes and provisions. the sun shone out pretty warm and there was quite a breeze stirring which dried our things very fast. Saw a number that were stopped drying their plunder crossed raft again it was had crossing drove 10 miles farther and encamped on a rushing stream of good water. Wood and grass plenty. Our cattle are gaining since we struck Bear river.
29th Started early and came into the Salt Lake road about 9 Oclock, the distance from where we left the Salt Lake road to where we struck it again is about 330 miles the road by Salt Lake is 385 miles those that went by the Lake had 5 ferriages to pay 5 dollars each and those that come the cut off had but 1 which was 7 dollars, just before we came into the Salt Lake road we passed the Steeple rocks the passage through is just wide enough to admit a wagon the road to day was rough and hilly and some places very sidling traveled 20 miles and encamped on Goose Creek wood water and grass plenty. We have passed a great many teams the last week, they think our cattle looks remarkably well,
30th Sunday Started at 6 Oclock and drove until 11. Stopped 2 hours to dry our things, traveled up Goose Creek 18 miles feed good all the way but the road was pretty rough in places passed upwards of 100 teams to day that were lying still. traveled 25 miles and encamped on a barren piece of ground no water nor grass. We stopped at 6 Oclock and got supper and let the cattle eat what they wanted and then drove 4 or 5 miles further, we took water enough along to get breakfast.
JULY 1st Started very early and drove 4 or 5 miles before breakfast traveled 23 miles and encamped on Cold Water Creek, all tired, grass excellent but the water not very good it is warm and some Alkali in it this is called Thousand Spring valley it is 30 miles long roads good except some sloughs there is a great many natural springs or wells in this valley. They are from 10 to 15 feet wide and from 5 to 12 feet deep Some contain good water and others are not fit for use there are also some hot Springs in the valley that a person cannot bear to keep their hands in them but a few seconds.
2ond This morning when we got up we found David Boner was missing immediate search was made for him, and was found drowned in the creek about 100 yards from Camp him and Kyes had went out between sundown and dusk to wash themselves in the creek for it had been very dusty traveling yesterday. Kyes went about 50 yards from Camp and washed in a small hole in the creek, and David went off about 50 yards farther. As soon as Kyes had washed himself he came back and went to bed, the boys all went to bed early for they were tired, I believe I was the last one up I heard quite a splashing in the water but I thought he was lying down paddling I did not know that there was any place deep enough to drown a man and then he was in the habit of going off to neighboring camps, so we were not uneasy about him. Kyes and David slept in the tent together Kyes did not miss him until after he got up in the morning he thought probably he slept with some of the other boys, it was a sort of well that he got drowned in 8 or 10 feet deep and 15 or 20 feet across the banks were pretty straight and slippry he appeared to have examined the hole too before he went in he took his clothes off on the side of the creek that we were camped on and crossed the creek above the well and went to the deepest place, could see the print of his hand at the edge of the bank. I think he must have slipped in and got frightened and got to plunging. We got a long rope and wrapped a log-chain around it and streched it across the creek and dragged him out. he looked as natural as ever he did. We dug his grave close to the road on the South side and buryed him as decent as circumstances would admit of I cut letters on his head board stating his name, cause of his death, place of residence, and age. Poor, Fellow, little did he think last evening of lying in the grave to day, he had been in unusual fine spirits for several days, before he met his lamentable fate. Life is uncertain, Death is certain. Left Camp at 9 Oclock and traveled 20 miles and encamped on Kenyon Creek, had good grass wood and water Where we halted for noon the grass was waist high rather a coarse quality the road today was pretty good but very dusty we have very pleasant weather for several days no mosquetoes nor flies to trouble a person, our Company looked rather disconsolate after so sad an occurence,
3rd Started and drove 15 miles before we halted for noon, there was no water nor grass at the regular stopping time, saw a hand bill stuck up for the emigrants to be on their guard, that the Indians were committing depredations, stealing horses, stripping men naked and shooting persons Started and drove 8 miles farther and encamped on the head of Marys, or Humbolt river, the road to day was rough in places and very dusty, had good grass to night.
July 4th The reports of guns were heard in every direction, Started pretty early and drove 12 miles and halted for noon, passed some horseteams this morning that were lying by on account of having one of their men shot by the Indians, he was shot with an arrow, near the heart while on guard, he was dying when we passed the Indians did not get any of the horses, I saw a couple of the digers in thousand spring valley they are a very thievish tribe it is very seldom that they come to the road in daytime. we had a pretty good dinner to day at least it tasted very well to us we baked a lot of Peach pies and Boiled some rice with cream and sugar with some elegant Buiscuit made us a good dinner, crossed the head of Marys river about 8 Oclock this morning there was a great many teams crossing the river is about 30 feet wide and 4 feet deep had to put our provisions up on deck to keep them dry. drove 24 miles and encamped on the river, the grass is excellent and the water good but not very cold, there is wild Flax and wild oats along this river. the bottom is not wide but there is plenty of grass the timber for firewood is Willow Sage and Greesewood, we are pushing our teams pretty hard now we are up by daybreak and as soon as we are ready we start; we generally stop from 1 to 2 hours at noon, and then drive until about 7 Oclock. A person has not much leasure time on this trip if he wants to make good drives. I have hardly time to do (to do) my writing in, there is still plenty of snow on the mountains, but we do not travel close to it now.
5th Left Camp at 6 Oclock drove 11 miles and halted for noon Crossed a fork of Marys river this morning 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep, had to raise the wagonbeds 6 inches to keep the water from running into them. Good bottom and banks not steep we have been traveling close to 8 oxteams for several days that we have overtaken. We have passed about 30 oxteams since we left the Missouri river and there has no teams passed us yet. We have passed a great many horseteams some of them are a great ways behind we travel about the same as the best of the horseteams, they say if they should go again they would take Cattle in preference to horses, the most of them are running short of provisions. We have calls every day for flour, Bacon and sugar, I heard a man offering 10 dollars for 8 pounds of Bacon and 2 dollars per pound for flour, drove 22 miles to day, road very dusty could not see the wagon 1 rod off. for the dust is very deep in places.
6th Started early and drove 10 miles and halted for noon, left the river and crossed over a pretty large mountain to avoid crossing the river 3 times in 17 miles, the river is very high more than banks full, drove 23 miles and encamped on a creek of pretty good water and excellent grass. pretty warm and dusty traveling to day.
Sunday 7th, Left Camp at half 7 and built a bridge across the creek about 1 mile below the old ford made a cutoff of about 3 miles pretty good road, drove 20 miles and encamped on the river we traveled over mountains all day. There was some spring water along the road pretty cold, very dusty traveling to day the dust is 4 or 5 inches deep and is like walking on ashes, had very poor grass to night, the bottom is small and what there is eat off.
8th Left Camp pretty early and drove 22 miles road pretty good, we built a bridge at noon across a slough to get the cattle over to the grass. very pleasant weather for several days past and cool nights. Overtook the large Missouri train that left the 23 of March they have 10 horses stolen from then by the Indians on the night of the 4th, there was 11 more taken from another train close by them they are pretty troublesome along the river, they stripped a couple of men maked a few days ago, some of the horsemen shot an Indian yesterday as noon he was trying to steal their horses we have not guarded our cattle since we left Sweet Water, there is a couple of teams with us that makes our Company some stronger, but they are not as apt to steal cattle as horses.
9th Left Camp at half past 6 traveled 30 miles and encamped 1 1/2 miles from the road found tolerable good grass. There is a great of wild wheat in places 5 and 6 feet high, the head is 8 or 10 inches long and resembles the smooth wheat (of) the praries very much like cheat the road to day was pretty level and over satoratus ground there is a great deal of Alkali water along this river very pleasant day for traveling.
10th Left Camp at 8 Oclock and traveled 15 miles and encamped and made preperations to cross the desert, for the people told us that it was only 18 miles to the sink, but I did not believe it to be so nigh there are 3 or 400 teams, lying here to recruit their teams, there is a fine clover patch about 7 mils of(f) from the road it is knee high and thick on the ground, the most of the teams have gone out to it, we did not drive out to it we cut our grass along the river had to wade water up to our knees to get it, the grass is getting very scarce, have seen but very little for the last 2 days, Saw Mcdow when we drove up here his team had just left before we drove up, they have not gained much on us yet. pretty warm to day. and at night very windy the mosquetoes were very troublesome to day.
11th Started between 8 and 9 Oclock and traveled 20 miles, very warm part of the day, there is no grass along the road at all, we have to wade sloughs waist deep to get grass for the cattle, Sometimes we build bridges of sagebrush and willows and drive the cattle to it the river is banks full and overflowing which makes the bottom very mirey, the river is 30 or 40 yards wide and 10 or 15 feet deep. There is sloughs puts out all along the river. There is pretty good grass between the sloughs and the river. Passed the Salem Iowa company to day, they left the Mo. river the 7 of April, part of the company is still behind we have overtaken a good many teams the last 10 days, our teams look as well as any of them, there has been a great many horses stole the last few days leaving some of the men entirely destitute of team they will have to foot it through now.
12th Left camp at 7 Oclock and traveled 20 miles and encamped by a slough near some sand bluffs the road to day was very crooked and to go around 5 or 6 miles to cross a creek, it was 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep, had to raise the wagon bed to keep the water from running into them part of the road was very rouch and (and) part sandy, had to wade a slough 4 feet at noon to get grass for the oxen, at night we found but very little and it was along the edge of the slough there was 7 oxteams camped with us tonight some were from Iowa and some from Illinois they left the starting point the 21st of April, there is a great many dead horses along the road for several days travel, and a great many more that had better be dead, the horses are pretty much run down generally they will have hard work to get across the desert.
13th Started pretty early before it got warm had 13 miles of very heavy sandy roads to day traveled 18 miles and stopped to get supper and fed out the grass we had cut to feed on the desert for we stopped on a sand plain not a spear of grass and 10 miles to the river where there is any. Started at 10 Oclock at night and drove to the river got there towards morning found a great many oxteams encamped here and no grass without crossing the river and boating over to the cattle the banks were miry.
14th Sunday laid by the greater part of the day traveled 5 miles and got the cattle on pretty good grass by bridging 3 sloughs, camped close to a number of returning Californians they were 10 days coming here they call it 8 miles yet to the desert. Overtook the Birmingham boys they were just out of provisions, we let them have some hard bread, we also let the Keosauqua boys have some parched meal more than half the emigrants are nearly out of breads tuffs.
15th Left Camp at 7 Oclock traveled 18 miles and encamped on a sandplain 14 miles long we drove about half way across before we stopped had grass enough to feed the cattle at night it was very warm to day and the road very dusty.
[nothing entered from July 15 until two entries for Aug 7]
Aug. 7 Found Brawley and McDows Company in the City, met Amos Steck from Greensburg Pa. he was in the Post Office in the city he cane out here in 49 there are a great many Emigrants in the City now, and it seems quite healthy, there are plenty of vegetables in the City Potatoes, Onions, radishes water and Muskmelons. beans turnips Pumpkins and beans, left the City at 4 Oclock and came out 8 miles, and stopped for the night
Aug 7 Started about daylight and walked 2 miles and stopped at the 10 mile house for breakfast had a very good breakfast bill 1 each started after breakfast and walked to Stewarts 25 miles from the city, found the teams here, and partly sold if all was agreeable to the sale
Aug (?) We concluded we had better sell our outfit th(an) put them on a ranch, and losing them We got 70 dollars per yoke for the Oxen, and 200 dollars for the two cows and 50 dollars for the wagon making a total of 530 dollars to be delivered in the City. Millizer got the same for their Oxen and 125 dollars for their wagon, Took dinner at Stewarts and drove 8 miles and stopped over night
Aug 8th Drove to the City and delivered the teams and received the pay for the same, we left our goods at Stewarts as we were acquainted some with them and were distant relatives of ours, this ends our trip across the plains, I have had good health all the way through, and enjoyed the trip very much. My greatest drawback on the trip. was one of our Mess. was afraid that we would run out of provisions, and as I had a good appetite he would tell the others of our crowd, about me eating so much, and how many Biscuit I would eat. he never said anything to me, but got to hear it all the same, and worried me, but that is all past and I forgave him.
PAPERS OF J. A. KECK
J. A. Keck Stockport Iowa
Note: the last section contains 24 pages with notes on the reverse side of pages 22, 23, and 24 as follows:
Page 22 Names of those from Utica Prarie who went to California in 1850
M. B. Moore
All went with Ox Teams
Page 23 Names of those who went to California from Utica in 1849
All here in 1846
Page 24 For Farmers Alliance - J. A. Keck stamped in print 5 times
July 16th 1850. Travels continued of J. A. Keck
Thera is a missing link of our journey from July 15 to July 23rd the book has been mislaid and will have to draw on our memery to supply what is lacking.
We are drawing near the Sink of the St Mary's or Humbolt river, the length of the river is some 300 miles long. the road which we traveled ran at times close to the river, and at times quite a distance from it on account of the high stage of water. The river ends in a lake of good dimensions, and finally is lost in the Sands of the Great American desert There are great medows surrounding this lake, where the Emigrants procure hay to tide them across the desert, and here they recruit the teams for the hard trip across. they also lay in a supply of water.
July 17 We arrived at the Sink of the Humbolt and commenced cutting grass, for hay to take us across the desert and also to recruit our cattle. There were quite a number that drove out to a large meadow some 7 miles from the river to procure their hay. they were told it was but a short distance to the sink. it was hard to get correct information about matters, and things pertaining to the journey, and were often led astray.
July 18 After making the nescessary arrangements, filling our water casks, and getting our hay, we started in the late afternoon to cross the desert, there was only two teams in our outfit, S. Millizers and ours. We made a sad mistake by starting in the evening, instead of in the morning If we had of started in the morning we would have avoided heavy sand in the heat of the day, and got through at night. As it was we traveled all night and had the heavy sand in the heat of the day. We stopped during the night, and took some refreshments, and baited, our cattle with hay, and gave them drink, out of our water casks, and it helped them very much.
July 19 We stopped for breakfast and fed and watered our team and started on our way. We got along fairly well, until we struck the heavy sand about 10 Oclock A. M. then came the tug of war, the sand was very heavy, and the wagons would sink down in the sand, it was much like quick sand, which gave way, on the pressure When the water casks were empty we threw them away, and every thing we did not need. I threw away a good Rifle, we threw away our tent poles, everything to lighten our load, and it made quite a difference in our load. After we struck the heavy sand we made slow progress, we had to stop occasionally to rest the team as they were greatly fagged. We traveled on until 2 Oclock when we had to give up as one of our oxen gave completely out, We then took the yokes off and drove them to the Carson River about 7 miles distant, no Henry and I staid with the wagons. while the rest drove the cattle to the river, we got them all but one, to the water We tried repeatedly to drive him, would go a short distance, and then lay down, so we went to the river and got some hay and water in a gumelastic sack. and started back where we had left him. It was nearly night when we started back and it took some time to get where we had left him, and when we got there he was gone. Bro Henry started on the back track to look him up. In the mean time, I laid down in an abandoned wagon by the side of the road to rest It was a beautiful moonlight night, I laid there but a short time, when I raised up and beheld and Indian behind some Sage brush a sneaking up towards me, with Bow and Arrows in his hand, he no doubt saw me lie down, and watched for an opportunity to kill me as I was all alone. without any weapon of any kind, and what could I do, but I did give a yell, and the Indian took to heels, he would have killed me if I had laid there a little longer. I had no idea that there were any Indians on the desert, but there was so much plunder left on the desert, and stock given out that it was rich in plunder. I did not stay in that locallity before I sought safer quarters and took the back track to find Bro Henry. He had found our ox hitched up in a team. coming our way as some of theirs had given out, we got him out of the team but was so fagged out. that we could not drive all the way to the river and left him for the night early next morning I started out to bring him in, but could not find him I supposed the Indians had driven him off.
July 20. We lay in Camp on Carson river all day to rest our teams, and at night took the teams out on the desert, to bring our wagons into Camp We took the cool of the evening, had no farther trouble. The desert is 40 miles across without grass or water about all you see is Sage brush. and sand. But the West half of the desert is strewn with all manner of plunder that has been thrown away to lighten up the loads; wagons that were abandoned to pack through casks tents log chains, guns even clothing
July 21 Started early this morning up the Carson River, and while the teams took the, some of the boys went along the river and there found our lost Ox, that we had given up for lost enjoying himself on the Classic banks of Carson river, ready for duty. he must of came in the night we left him to the river, we was greatly surprised but agreeable so; we made a good drive and Camped on the river plenty of grass. Carson Valley is very fertile all sorts of the grasses abound. it is some six or eight miles wide and abounds in numerous Springs and small streams. that come from the Mountains near by. I can imagine it would be a fine farming Country. The Carson river Sinks away in the sands of the desert like the Humbolt does. I do not know the length of the river, but is a nice River
July 22 Made an early start and traveled along the river had good roads and plenty of water and grass where we camped. Was greatly pleased with this valley and thought at the time would like to live here Do not know where, or when we crossed the river, but knew there was another desert to cross but not so formadable as the other that we crossed, as it is but 26 miles across. There is still plenty of sage, and Greesewood.
July 23 Started at sunrise and camped near the entrance on the 26 miles desert. had good roads, and plenty of good grass and water. Will start on our desert trip in the morning but do not dread it as it is not so far across. A fair days drive, and other things favorable, will get through without any difficulty
July 24. Started at Sunrise and drove to the river arrived at 10 Oclock. and stopped for breakfast. the road was pretty level, and a good part of the way vas sandy there is still plenty of wild Sage and Greecewood, the water as we approach the mountains is getting much colder. there is timber along the river, mostly Cottonwood, there is very little grass on the North side of the Carson or Salmon Trout river we swam our cattle across the river, and ferried the wagons, saw some men to day preparing to pack on their Oxen. they did not go very well at the start. as it was something new to them. there is plenty of provisions for sale along the road, brought from California by traders hut it takes a fat pocket book to buy the things they have. they sold Potatoes at 2 dollars per lb and cheese the same price Some are out of provisions and money they gave a pretty good horse, for 10 to 12 lbs of flour. Got the teams up and drove 4 miles and camped for the night, found excellent grass by swimming the cattle over the river, quite pleasant to day. Thundered in the morning, and the wind blew the nights are getting cold as there (is) plenty of snow in the mountains, near us now Millizer crowd came across an abandoned wagon that was lighter than the one they had and fixed it up for use. and threw theirs away. There are plenty of good wagons. along this river, there teams are so much reduced in flesh that they cannot get them over the mountains and are out of bread stuff that they cannot stay to recruit their teams, there is plenty of good clothes cast away, and shovels, spades and almost anything else but something to eat. this is a healthy country, have not heard of much sickness, since we left the Bear river country
July 25 Got a late start on account of Millizer fixing their wagon, drove 4 miles and halted for noon had excellent feed. for the teams, some clover in places. drove 12 miles in the afternoon across a very hilly and stony road, off from the river, there were some Juniper berries along the hills with berries on, and plenty of pine on the mountains in sight, also snow. Arrived at the river at dark, and camped, found some traders here, they called it 110 miles to Weberville, they told us there was 300 Mormons. 18 miles off digging gold in the mountains The Boys saw several Hare to day, but could not get a shot at them, very pleasant day but the sand flies, bad in the evening;
Left Camp July 26 at 8 Oclock, and drove 9 miles and halted for noon, left the river, and traveled 7 miles before we came to it again, The most of the road was heavy sand, met a great many men hauling, and packing provisions and some driving fat cattle to butcher them Crossed three small. creecks this forenoon, good cold water. had not crossed any creeks before for 3 weeks, drove 10 miles farther and camped in pleasant Valley close to a Mormon trading post, They are doing a good business here, they have some 200 horses, that they traded for at low rates, in provisions, there are trading posts, every few miles along the road. Crossed several streams of cold water this after-noon had an abundance of grass to night
July 27 Left Camp at 7 Oclock and drove 21 miles and camped at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the Canyon, the mountains look awfully rough, had very good roads to day up the valley, crossed quite a number of mountain streams, and the best of water, passed a number of hot Springs, along the foot of the mountains, they are so hot that a person cannot bear their hands, but a few seconds. They are right at the base of the mountains, about halfway up pleasant valley, on the Mountain top. there is plenty of snow, the water that comes out of these springs is clear. but they are so hot that they smoke, there are in close proximity to these springs. cold water springs some only a few feet apart, this valley has been named all wright, pleasant valley for it is the most pleasant valley I was ever in the best of water, and grass, there is plenty of red clover, and most all the grasses, there is also plenty of pine at the foot of the mountains, it is pleasant during the day. and cool at night, this valley is about 30 miles long, and from 5 to 10 miles wide, and all covered with good grass. the mountains rise up all. at once to a very great highth. they range pretty much North and South. and south West, There are but few wagons on the road now, they have taken to packing what they can on their backs. The Walker company as they were called. are the largest Company on the road and are increasing every day.
July 27 continued We met a large train of pack mules from Sacramento City with provisions, to sell to the emegrants, they were going to the great desert, and perhaps take part across. Saw several Californians on this side of the mountains prospecting for gold but did not find any thing to suit them.
July 28 Staid in Camp until noon, exchanged our wagon for a heavier one, the wagon we had was too light to stand the trip over the rocks on the mountains. Left camp and traveled 8 miles through the Canyon. and camped on a flat in the mountain, found pretty good grass for our teams We had the worst road to day on the whole trip a person would hardly believe that a wagon train could get through. had to drive over rocks 3 and 4 feet high. There is a pretty large creek that runs through this Canyon, and crossed it three times, there is bridges across the creek, passed through heavy pine timber all the way. After we got through the Canyon we had some swampy roads, saw several horses and mules mired down, and had been shot. to put them out of their misery, had water to day as cold as Ice would make it, there was a great many broken down wagons along this Canyon, they had been mashed on the rocks this Canyon is really interesting in traveling through the mountains they rise to a great highth on either side, and are very rocky, and the passage through narrow and crooked, and then to hear the water roaring, and tumbling over the rocks, makes it really sublime, we put on our other yoke of oxen and got along very well, very pleasant to day.
July 29th Very cold morning, the ground was white with frost. Ice was 1/2 inch thick in camp, left Camp at 7. O'clock and drove 8 miles, and halted for noon found an excellent spot of grass for the cattle, the road this forenoon was pretty good, stopped two hours, and drove across the mountain. The road up the mountain was one mile, very steep rough and crooked.
July 29th We traveled over snow, and through timber, it was very tedious traveling, but got through without any (and) trouble there is a small lake at the foot of the mountain, and some grass, but hard to (get) to it as it was surrounded by water drive about 12 miles to day, and Camped on the West side of the mountain, about 2 miles from the Summit, found good grass 1/2 miles off the road. Saw 4 of the Illinois boys, that we had traveled with part of the way, They left their teams at the desert, and took it afoot. Met a fine lot of fat cattle, they also had a (a) lot of flour, and bacon to take to the desert to supply the Emigrants, not much danger of the people starving, if they can reach the desert. I have heard of two men cutting their throats,and of two others drowning themselves, so that they should not starve to death. Henry Keck went hunting to day but got no game. but he brought in some Strawberries
July 30 Left Camp at. 7 O'clock, and drove 5 miles and halted for noon on the side of the Snow Mountain
July 30 continued; one mile from the summit, found an excellent patch of grass 1/4 mile off the road, on the side of the mount. nearly surrounded by snow, the road up the Snow Mountains is 5 miles long, not so steep and rough as the other one, but had to travel over a good deal of snow. We drove 9 miles farther, and camped in rock valley a rough and barren place, by driving the cattle one mile from the road, over the rocks and hills, we got a scant supply of grass, the read to day was exceedingly bad a good part of the way was over snow, from 10 to 30 feet deep, after we got up on the Snow Mountain the road was very rough, over large rocks, and snow drifts had to double team part of the way up the mountains met a great many Mexicans that were going out to the mines to dig gold, they had their tools and provisions along with them, no one knows where the mines are there has been Thousands of dollars spent to find it and failed. We also met a great deal of supplies going to meet the Californians. Cold to day a heavy coat felt comfortable
July 31 Started early and drove 18 miles and camped at the Leek Springs had to drive off the road down a valley to get grass, for it was eaten off near the road, we found good grass at noon 3/4 of a mile from the road down in a hollow the road to day was not so bad, pretty hilly but not over such large rocks, and snow drifts, We are past the snow now. The Leek Springs is excellent water, as cold as ice, there are a couple of trading post here, there were a number of horses stole by the Indians in the valley a few nights ago.
Aug 1st Left camp at 6 Oclock, and traveled 12 miles and halted for noon, not a spear of grass for the teams let them rest a couple of hours. and drove 6 miles farther and camped at some springs, not a bit of grass and 12 miles to where there is some, there was some bushes for them to browze on H. Keck went hunting to day, and came in at noon with a fine black tail deer, he carried it to the road, and got it in a wagon and brought it in to where we stopped for noon. Sold 24 lbs of it at 25 cts per lb the road to day was pretty rough and hilly hard on the cattles feet I have not been put out as much on the whole trip as I have been to day driving the oxen, their feet are getting sore on the rocks and rough places. they are fagged out, so it is hard to get a move on them, and then want of feed the past few days, traveled through the best of timber today principally pine, cedar and Redwood Some pines were upward of 250 feet high and 7 feet over, there was some live Oak but it grows scrubby We were offered 150 dollars apiece for our cows two in number, but we concluded not to sell the cows at home cost 10 & twelve dollars a piece one cow gave 6 to 8 quarts of milk per day through the mountains, we have sold a good deal of milk at ten cts per quart at first then later we got 50 cts per qt. Sold one qt for one pint of sugar We had a yoke for the cows, and worked them on the team, as occasions demanded
Aug 2ond. Started very early and drove 12 miles to the Mountain house and Camped, had to drive the cattle 3 miles off the road down a valley. to get grass. and not much when we got to it, the speculators had cut it for hay to sell, to the emigrants, they sold the hay on the road at 15 cts per lb and at the meadow at 10 cts, found considerable wild fruit on the Mountains to day such as gooseberried Huckelberries and Raspberried, and Scotch Caps, the goose-berries were as large as Hickory nuts and full of thorns the Hazelnuts were not quite ripe yet. The road to day was very good. through heavy timber chiefly pine. As we go down to the Sacramento Valley the timber is mostly Oak. it is crubby all over California There has been a good deal of the Oak. cut down for the cattle to browse on as the grass is so poor after leaving the snow line, what grass there is drys up and cures as hay and has nutriment in it We have been used to having green grass. and this looks to us as no good
Aug 3 Started at daylight after the oxen but could not find all of them for some time, they were scattered very much, did not get into Camp until 9 O'clock got pretty hungry, and tired, not having any breakfast. Saw Mr. Brawley, he and McDow lost their horses. he was in pursuit of them, and found them in the meadow, they were branded by some one. they looked pretty bad. they got in a couple of days before us. I left the teams after-all was ready to start and walked to Weavertown a distance of 20 miles, got there before night awhile, Population about 500, the town is built along a ravine one mile long, some pretty good houses, Provisions are plenty here Flour 18 to 20 cts per lb Sugar 50 cents Coffee $1.00, Beef 25 cts and other things in proportion these were the first diggins we came across. Found some digging gold but did not make much the road to day was excellent. the teams drove 11 miles and camped in pleasant valley, water is not so good as we have had. I left Weavertown and walked back to the teams 9 miles, laid by to rest the teams the feed is all dried up and getting scarce, they want 5 dollars a month per yoke to keep them on a ranch
Aug 5 Left Camp at 7 Oclock and drove to Weavertown. Stopped about an hour, had several offers for our cattle, the highest bid was 65 Dollars a yoke and $1.25 for one cow, sold one pint of milk 50 cts left the town and drove 10 miles on the road to Sacramento City, and Camped in an opening in the woods. Some little feed, but all dry, water is getting very scarce along the road
Aug 6 Left the teams and walked to the City in company with Jacob Ruply, and the young man that came through with us. After D Boner's death I cannot now recall his name, after traveling with him over one month, got to the City about dark. the distance is 40 miles, we traveled found the City had 20000 inhabitants
Aug 6 The Sacramento Valley is interspersed with Oak timber, the city is situated on the Sacramento river near the fork of the American river Provisions are more reasonable in price here Flour 9 dollars per cwt, Pork 20 cts per lb, Sugar 25 Coffee 60 cts
Aug. 8th 1850 After we sold, and delivered our cattle, and wagon in Sacramento City we remained there a few days looking around, for something to do. When we struck a job of digging a well deeper at the 18 mile house from the city, B. Keyes and his partner- and Bro Henry and I, and was to get 5 Dollars per foot until we came (we came) on to a good supply of water. The first day while digging in the well with a mattock we took through with us, I struck against a rock and glanced of(f) and struck my foot and cut my big toe nearly off just a little of the flesh that held it together. I had a new pair of boots on and cut them sole and all. but we made $12.50 each that day, our first days work in California
Aug. 10 We then dissolved Copartnership Mr Kyes and his man finished the well. Bro Henry got a position in the Hotel as Cook at $125 per month and our board. After some days I was able to hobble aroung(d) and do chores, and acted as Clerk in the Hotel We staid here until Sep 10th before I was able to travel, and while there I rewrote my journal in ink in another book. Mr Keyes and his pardner left after they completed their work
Sep 10, 1850 Left the 18 mile house and went to Mormon Island and commenced mining along the banks of the American river This Island was about 30 miles from the City. We had left some of our things at Willow Springs where the Stewart Kept Hotel. We took our tent. and belongin(g)s and camped on the bluff of the river 100 yards off. We used the cradle or Rocker to wash the gold from the dirt, which we carried in buckets. some ten to 20 yards
Sep 10, These mines had been worked by the Mormons, who got the cream, off or the richest part, there was not much dirt to wash, as it had been washed off. We got the most gold by scraping and sweeping the bed rock. We worked here 5 weeks and cleaned up $450 while we were here One Saturday morning we dressed up and went to the Trading Post, and asked them if the miners worked Sundays as we saw them all at work they told us this was not Sunday, so we went to Camp, and got ready to work. We had lost our reconing. It was warm some days at the Post I saw the Thermometer register 120 Deg in the shade, which did not seem as hot as 90 or 100 Deg in Iowa as the air is so much purer, none of your mucky days here, the miners as a rule were not making more than a few dollars per day, as the mines had been worked over
Oct 5th Left the Island and went to the City to see if there were any letters for us but did not get any, Saw McDow and his boys, they had left the mines on account of their health. Heard from the most of the boys through McDow, left the City and returned to the Island;
Oct. 10. Left the Island to go prospecting went to Auburn, from there to Nevada City found the Moore boys working on little Deer Creek. Worked for them a few days, then went to Rough and Ready where John Klise J. Martin and others, were working Staid there a few days and went to Ophir where we found a number of the Iowa boys, Vis John Boyles, Samuel Samuels, Levi Engles and Jacob Eich. Staid -with them a couple of days prospecting, and decided we would winter there, Hired a man & team to go to Mormon Island after our Camp outfit and commenced to build a Cabin of logs to winter in. Thomas and Wm. Boyd went in with us in building. We had a heavy canvass roof. on the Cabin
Oct 27 Sent 200 Dollars home by R. H. McDow: After we got things in shape for winter commenced throwing up dirt in the Small Creeks that were dry to wash when the rains came to make water to wash the dirt
Feb 11 Left Ophir, for Indian Canyon in company with A. Billings and his pardner got a claim in the Canyon which proved to be pretty rich Took out of the claim $500 a piece in about five weeks.
April 2ond Bro Henry left a few days ago for Ophir to wash the dirt we had thrown out. and when he got there some parties had hauled the dirt to Auburn Creek and washed the richest of the dirt. So we had lost all of work by the rascality of others. When Henry left for Ophir he left his purse of Eight hundred Dollars with me as he did not wish to be encombered with it and was stolen a few days afterwards. by one Mr Jackson of Ill. and had been working with us. We suspected a couple of Packers who were in Camp that day, and had followed them, but they were not the guilty ones. but later we found out who the guilty one was Bro. Henry started home sooner than he would have done. as he thought he might get the money from him, but did not get reqursition from the Gov of California. if he had perhaps he would have shelled out, sooner than have gone back, so he failed in securing the money. So we divided the loss between us.
May 6 1851 About this time the snow began to melt and raised the creek so so we could not do much at mining. We formed a company to dam the creek and carry it in a flume when the creek got low enough. Cut down large Redwood trees and split them in halfs and hollowed them out to carry the water, there was an abundance of timber close by. While this was going on I went to Bear River to mine and Henry staid on the claim on the Canyon, It was 10 miles to Bear River I there found the Moore boys doing pretty well. I went in with Isaac Wood an old jailer and miner Staid on Bear river 7 weeks and in that time cleaned up $320.00 returned to the Canyon to our Claim
July 1st 1851 Returned from Bear River as the water had run down, and the flumes would carry the water built a dam and went to work in the bed of the Creek. and the 1st day we took out about $100.00 a piece but we soon worked it out We then worked on the second bench in the hill where we found good pay dirt we drifted in some distance, it seemed there had been a slide from the Mountain that covered up the gold that was there
Aug 10th Returned to Bear River and worked a while, from there we went to the Yankee Jim mine and bought an interest there and from there I went a prospecting in Todds Valley, and came onto a good prospect there on the brow of a hill in the South East of the Valley. I dug down some 5 feet. and got a prospect of 75 cts per pan Staked off a Claim, and took in several of the boys that had worked with me. We built a cabin to winter in, and were ready for work on the Claim, but it being a dry digging one had to depend for water on a ditch that was owned by a Company. We finally got water. by using it at night after other parties had quit work for the day. We had to pay On(e) dollar per inch for the water and it took from 10 to 12 inches to run our Sluice boxes. We had to whip saw our lumber for our boxes pretty slow work. After a while we got water to use in the day time. we found it very wearing, working at night. Our Claim cleared us about $100.00 per month each. This hill is called Keck's hill to this day. We worked here until May 1852 until the claim no longer paid us wages the way we had to work, and the cost of the water. After we quit the claim, our Brotheos worked the claim with the Hydraulic system by using plenty of water they could work an immense sight of dirt, and they did not have to pay so much for water, my Brothers Henry Geo and J.S. Keck expected to find one in Todds Valley when they got there. I was on my way home while they were on the way to Calif. Bro Henry left here the latter part of Oct. 1851 for home and arrived there the Dec. 5 1851 I left Todds Valley about the Middle of May 1852 and as a number of the boys were going home I concluded I would go too, as I had no prospect here in the future.
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Transcribed by Rich & Nancy Lowe for the Van Buren County IAGenWeb Project - copyright 2007