The Story of an Emigrant Train
by John Cheney
In the spring of 1858 the L. J. Rose emigrant train left Iowa for California, but it failed to reach its destination.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for the present generation to realize that less than one hundred years ago the country west of the Mississippi was in a wilderness condition. At this writing, in 1915, I am only in my 70th year, but can remember seeing an old map, which located a "Great American Desert" east of the Rocky Mountains. It is said that when Daniel Webster was a newly-fledged statesman he described that stretch of country as "a worthless region, which will never be settled by white men." But the great states of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have crowded the ''Great American Desert" off the map, and now embrace a richer agricultural region than any New England man ever saw—until he came west. But this transformation did not take place in a decade or two.
Iowa was not in that "Desert" region, yet Iowa was not opened for white settlers until 1833—eighty-two years ago; and she had not reached her "teens" in statehood at the time of my story—1858. At that time her population averaged only about 10 to the square mile, and she had less than 400 miles of railroad, the longest single line of which did not extend half-way across the State. It is safe to say that not one- half her lands were then owned by actual settlers and a very small fraction of their holdings was under cultivation. It seems very strange to us now that for ten years prior to that time many of her settlers had been "pulling up stakes" and going still farther west, the most of them to the Pacific coast. When the Rose train passed through in 1858, only a narrow strip of Kansas was thinly settled. The "Desert" beyond had undergone no change, and further on were the mountains and more desert country.
Emigrating from Iowa to California in the fifties was a very serious undertaking. The long journey was usually made in heavy, covered wagons—"Prairie Schooners"—drawn by slow-footed oxen, and from four to five months were consumed in making the trip, depending on the starting print, the route taken and good or ill fortune on the way. I know of one train, in 1864, that was six months in reaching San Bernardino. In addition to the great length of the journey and the many natural difficulties to be overcome, there was always danger of meeting disaster at the hands of Indians. Some trains did meet that fate and it befell the Rose expedition, on the bank of the Colorado River, just where the members could look "beyond the swelling flood" and see their "promised land."
My story begins at the good old town of Keosauqua, which is not now of so much relative importance as it was when the geography of my school days said it was one "of the principal towns of the State." My purpose is not, even incidentally, to glorify the town as having been the nursery of great men which has often been done and perhaps overdone. I can appreciate the neat turn made by a waggish friend who said: "Keosauqua is celebrated for her great men who don't live there."
L. J. Rose was a Jew, who had forsaken the ways of his fathers. About the year 1848 he came from Quincy, Illinois, to Keosauqua and engaged in the mercantile business. He was then only 22 years old but already in good financial circumstances, and in the next ten years he greatly increased his riches. In 1851 he married the daughter of Ezra Jones, who with his wife went with Rose on the attempted trip to California.
Next to Rose, Alpha Brown was one of the principal characters in this expedition. In 1845, when he was 33 years old, he came to Keosauqua with his wife and two children. His wife died in the following summer and in the winter of 1847 he married the widow Fox. who was the sister of that pioneer, Charles Baldwin. Mrs. Brown and her daughter, Sallie Fox. were also prominent characters. Alpha Brown was always a poor man, but a noble man nevertheless, and was highly respected. He went to California with the "forty-niners" or soon afterward, but fortune frowned on him as she did on the majority of the gold-seekers and he soon returned to his family in Iowa, richer only in the experience of a "round trip across the plains."
In the winter of 1856-57 he and Mr. Rose determined to emigrate to California and settle at or near San Francisco. Rose, having abundant means, was to finance the venture. Brown, because of his practical knowledge, was to be the executive head of the expedition. The whole of the next year was spent in preparation by Rose in disposing of his large holdings in and about Keosauqua; by Brown in "buying up," assembling and organizing the outfit which was to include a herd of 150 head of stock cattle to be driven along and sold at the end of the journey. For his purpose he established a rendezvous on Little Fox river, 12 miles from Keosauqua and two miles south of the present town of Cantril, where he moved his family to a little farm in the midst of a great expanse of country still in its natural state.
Some young men were engaged to drive teams and the herd of cattle on the expedition. For this service they were to be "boarded" on the trip, but paid no money. Thus they were "grub-staked" in the most literal sense, and "jumped at the chance," for they thought that fortunes were waiting for them in the land of gold. Among those young men may be mentioned Billy Stidger, then only 19 years old; Will Harper, 20; Ed Akey, 26. and Lee Griffin, age unknown, but old enough to have wanderlust in its chronic stage, for besides several minor trips he had already been once to California and once to Texas.
"About the middle of April," 1858, the caravan started. There were four heavy wagons, each drawn by six strong oxen—that is, "three yoke" in the parlance of that day. Three of the wagons were loaded with supplies. In the fourth were Mrs. Brown, the five children and some family belongings. Mr. Rose, his wife and their two little girls, and Mr. Jones and wife rode in a spring vehicle of some sort, which Mr Rose called an ambulance. The young men of the party habitually referred to it as "the avalanche." The drivers of the teams walked by the side of their oxen, but Mr. Brown and the young men who drove the herd of cattle were on horseback.
On account of the Mormon troubles in Utah, the emigrants decided to take the next route south of that territory, which would make their journey about 500 miles longer. At Kansas City they were joined by "a Dutch family,'' with their wagon and mule team. Farther on they annexed another party with two or three wagons and teams. With this party there was "a preacher from Missouri," who later on gave a good account of himself. At Albuquerque in New Mexico, they were joined by a company with three wagons and 50 head of stock cattle. The caravan then included five or six families, "about thirty men," two rigs drawn by mules, ten wagons drawn by 60 oxen, and a herd of 200 stock cattle. They spent a week at Albuquerque, resting and refitting.
Hitherto they had passed through much virgin country, but over a fairly well-defined trail. From Albuquerque westward a trail had been explored only the previous summer by a small party of U. S. engineers and soldiers which was called "The Reale and Whipple Route." And as far as it was permitted to go, the Rose aggregation was the first emigrant train to pass over that trail. On this account a guide was engaged to pilot them. At that time New Mexico Territory included the Arizona of today, and extended to the Colorado River, which was the California boundary. Arizona Territory was not created until five years later—1863.
From Albuquerque to the Colorado, a distance of about 500 miles, the emigrants saw only two settlements—if they might be called such; for one was a herder's station of a few "shacks," and the other only the ruins of the old Spanish town of Zuni, where some friendly Indians lived. Very early on this new trail the emigrants began to experience their great trials. The mountain travel made the cattle foot-sore, and beyond the mountains they often had to make forced marches in the heat of mid-summer, sometimes through a day and night, and even into the next day in order to camp where there was grass and water enough for so many animals. The teams grew thin and weak. Somewhere on this stretch they saw the first wild Indians; a tribe few in number, small in stature, degraded and miserably poor, living on insects, small game and roots. They were the Digger Indians, objects of pity rather than of fear. Unfortunately the emigrants took them to be samples in that respect, and concluded that wild Indians in general were not very dangerous. They were soon to pay dearly for that mistake.
When about 18 miles from the Colorado River, the teams of three families "gave out"—became temporarily unable to draw their loads, the Dutch family's mule team being one of them. Knowing that the train would be detained several days at the river, the men left their families and wagons and took their teams along with the train, intending to come back for their families as soon as their teams were sufficiently refreshed with water, grass and some rest at the river.
Now, the habitat of the wild Mohave Indians was along the river in that region, and they numbered about 4,000 souls. When the train was within 3 or 4 miles of the river a small party of Mohaves appeared and went along with it.
As they drew near the river, and Mr. Rose and his wife were walking at the side of the trail, a stout Indian suddenly stepped forward and laid hands on Mrs. Rose, who was so badly frightened as to forget for the moment that her husband was her natural protector. She screamed and broke away from the Indian in the same instant, then ran and climbed upon the tongue of a wagon, behind the moving oxen. Mr. Rose was very angry, but wisely refrained from resenting the insult for fear of serious consequences. The caravan camped by the river and remained in that camp "about a day and a half."
In the meantime the Dutchman's mules seemed sufficiently "rested up" to justify him in going back for his family. After he started it was decided to move camp, farther down the river, to a perfectly clear space of "about half an acre" in extent. There, beginning at the river bank, the wagons were drawn up in two parallel rows, with quite a space between the rows. Thus the river practically closed one end of the camp, while the other end was left open for egress and ingress. On the sides of the camp there were some trees and much underbrush, but opposite the open end of the camp there were very few trees and no underbrush. The chief problem at this time was how to get over the river, which was "about 500 yards wide," with "a movable bottom" of alternate depths and shallows, caused by the sand and silt constantly "boiling up and settling again." Of course there was no ferry boat, and it would have been madness to attempt hauling the Avagons through with the teams. It was decided to unyoke the oxen, turn them loose, and drive them through with the herd cattle, and to ferry the women, children and wagons over on a raft. '' About half a mile'' below the camp suitable timber was found, near a good place for launching the logs and constructing the raft.
From the time of their first appearance, the Indians had been coming and going at intervals, and increasing in numbers and impudence. They got in the way, they begged, they pilfered, and became an intolerable nuisance. Soon after making the new camp, in the afternoon, they became so troublesome that a rope was stretched across the camp, shutting in a space for the women, children and such things as were often needed, and the Indians were not allowed to enter it. Their looks and actions at once showed that they were deeply offended. They loitered about for a while, then went away.
The next morning, August 30, a small party of men went down the river to cut. logs for the raft and not an Indian came near the camp through all the forenoon. That fact foreboded evil. The guide correctly sensed it, and said: "We're going to have trouble with them Indians, and we'll have it before night." It seems very strange that the emigrants did not heed his warning. But they afterward confessed that they classed the Mohaves with the Diggers, and thought there was no real cause for alarm.
At noon the usual frugal meal was eaten. Meanwhile the way-worn emigrants comforted themselves with the hope of being over the river in a few days, with teams refreshed, and moving along on the last 500 mile stretch of their journey.
Immediately after the dinner hour, Billy Stidger and a man named Young were sent on horseback to the site of the first camp and farther, if necessary, to meet the expected Dutch family and guide it to the new camp. Griffin and Akey, on foot, went down the river to resume work on the raft. Brown soon followed them on horseback, and later on men and a team were to go and drag the logs to the water. Some distance from the camp the oxen and herd cattle were browsing on the brush or eating grass in the open places, and were being herded by three or four men.
Presently the herders saw some Indians on their way to the camp, and although they were in their war-paint, the herders were not alarmed, for when first seen the Indians were already passing by without disturbing the herders or the cattle. But that was an Indian trick, and good strategy withal, their purpose being to first surprise and overcome the greater numbers at the camp, after which it would be an easy matter to turn back and get the herders and the cattle.
When the Indians were out of the herders' sight, they deployed and began their stealthy advance upon the camp. They flitted from tree to tree, or glided noiselessly through the brush, vigilantly watching to avoid discovery, peering from behind a tree or over the brush before making another forward movement. There was really no need of so much caution, as no sentinels had been posted to discover approaching danger and sound the alarm and within the camp a sense of security seemed to prevail. The men and women were engaged in the usual duties of camp life, or resting and conversing, and the children were playing.
Nearer and nearer came the Indians, until they were almost close enough to let fly their arrows and then rush in and finish matters with the war-club. What happened to prevent the death or capture of every person in that camp? Just one of those little things, which are nothing in themselves alone, but sometimes of immense importance in their relation to greater things. At the critical moment just described, Sallie Fox, a little girl of twelve years, gleefully climbed upon a wagon. [see related article] She happened to look out from the camp and in that instant her joy changed to terror. She sprang to the ground, screaming: "0, the Indians are coming! And they're going to kill us!" A flight of arrows followed her cry, and the war-whoop rang out. The white men seized their guns, and the battle was on.
Having failed to completely surprise the camp, the Indians promptly retired to a safer distance and from the cover of trees and brush continued the fight with bow and arrow. Hearing the din of battle, the herders wisely forsook the cattle and by adroit maneuvering, reached the camp alive, able and willing to fight. Before the struggle began Stidger and Young had reached the site of the first camp, and had no need of going any farther. The Dutch family had arrived. There stood their wagon, but the mules, their owner and his wife were nowhere to be seen. And, so far as known, white men never saw them again. There on the ground lay the bodies of the three children, apparently clubbed to death. One was a little boy, another a girl about twelve years old, the third almost a young woman. Each of them had been stripped of every article of clothing. One glance at the revolting scene was enough for the young men, and it may be that the sound of battle was borne to their ears at the same moment. They turned and rode fast for the beleaguered camp, reached it unscathed and bravely took a part in the fray.
Akey and Griffin arrived at the place where the raft was to be made, and Brown soon joined them. At that moment rifle shots were heard in the direction of the camp, and one of the young men exclaimed: "What does that mean?'' Brown's face blanched as he replied: "My God! It means Indians!" In the same breath he wheeled his horse about and rode away at full speed to command his men and defend his family. Akey and Griffin followed him and as they ran they drew their Colt revolvers and held them ready for instant use.
Brown's brief experience is not fully known, but evidently he had nearly reached his goal, and was leaning well forward in the saddle to urge on his horse or to present a smaller mark to any foe when an Indian, who must have been but a few yards away, sent an arrow into his back. It ranged forward and upward, inflicting a mortal wound. There are two accounts of his death: One, that he rode into the camp and said, "Boys, I'm done for. Help me down!" and was dead by the time he reached the ground; the other, that he rode to his family and said, "Mother, where is my gun?'' and died in the act of getting off his horse.
As Akey neared the camp, and was rounding a clump of brush he came face to face with an Indian, whose arrow was in the bow-string. Akey's ready revolver sped its bullet into his breast, and as he fell his arrow went feebly up into the air. A minute later Akey came upon another Indian and shot him. At the edge of the brush, between which and the wagons there was a narrow strip of open ground, he found Griffin standing in a half-dazed condition and swaying unsteadily on his feet. Akey aroused him with the question, "What are you standing here for?" Griffin partly extended his right arm with two arrows fast in it, and replied, "That's what for." One arrow had gone almost through the arm, just above the wrist, the other one had struck near the same place and ranged along the bone nearly to the elbow. Akey gave Griffin a vigorous push and said "Run!" As they ran across the open strip there came after them a shower of arrows—"it seemed like an armful of them." Not just then, but when his face was toward the foe, an arrow struck Akey just below the left collar-bone, passed between it and the tendon below and out at the arm-pit.
For some reason Mr. Brown's wagon was a little inside the camp and next to the river. One Indian sneaked along under the river bank and was climbing up by the aid of that wagon tongue when he was promptly shot. That was probably at the very beginning of the fight, and no doubt other warriors were with him, but warned by his fate they sneaked back again.
The Brown wagon had little in it and early in the fight some of the men unloaded it, took the wagon-box off and leaned it against another wagon. Mrs. Brown then made the children cuddle into and against it, in a sitting position, and leaned a feather bed against them as a sort of breast work. One arrow went through that feather bed and through Sallie Fox from side to side, at the waist line, fortunately too far forward to strike a vital part, but making a very serious wound. In addition to those already mentioned, Mrs. Jones and a few others were slightly wounded during the fight which lasted "about three hours."
It appears strange that there were so few casualties among the emigrants, but it may be accounted for. The white man is the Indian's superior in genuine fighting qualities and in this instance he had much better weapons. At long range the rifle is more effective than the bow, and at short range the bow is inferior to the revolver. By instinct and training the Indians were over cautious. They would not take much risk of getting hurt. Therefore they were generally too far away for accurate and effective shooting with bow and arrow. Owing to the absence of cover near the open end of the camp, they could not get close enough to enfilade it, without exposing themselves to a deadly rifle fire.
In numbers the advantage was altogether with the Indians. When all the men got into the camp, there were about twenty- five able to fight. They estimated the Indians at 300. This may have been too high, as estimates are very apt to be in such cases. If there had been only half that many, one concerted and determined rush by them would have quickly overcome the camp, but it would have been at a heavy cost to themselves, and Indian-like, they were not willing to pay the price.
The emigrants realized that their case was a desperate one but they fought with coolness and calculation. To be saving of their precious ammunition, and, if possible, make every shot count, they fired only when an Indian exposed himself in the act of letting fly an arrow or flitting across some open space. Even with that precaution the ammunition was running low at the end of two hours fighting, and hope had almost forsaken them, when an incident occurred which turned the tide of battle in their favor. Either to animate his warriors, or to increase his fame, and confident that no rifleman could hit him at such a distance, the Indian chief stepped boldly into the open, "about 200 yards from the camp" and stood there making defiant gestures, especially by patting himself on the breast, plainly inviting a shot.
Now,'' the preacher from Missouri'' was known to be a good marksman, and some one said to him, "Look there! Shoot that Indian!" He shook his head and replied, "My gun won't carry up true that far.'' Near him there was a man who had been shot with an arrow just above the right eye, into which the blood ran so that he could not see to shoot. He said, '' Here, take my gun; you can hit him with it.'' The preacher took the proffered gun, but he was tired and nervous from the strain of battle, and the heavy gun wavered as he rested it against a wagon and tried to take aim. He let it down and said, "I can't hold the gun on him." The owner of the gun then said. "If you could keep the blood out of my eye, I could hit him; but you'd better try again." And "the preacher from Missouri" did try again. He summoned all his powers and it may be breathed a prayer. Then he lifted the rifle, laid it in rest and took a careful aim. That time the heavy weapon didn't waver, the preacher's finger pressed upon the trigger, and at the crack of the rifle the chief measured his length upon the ground.
Like a flash a stout warrior darted out of the brush, shouldered the dead chief and ran to cover. Very soon after that the Indians fell back a little farther, but continued to fight in a desultory way about an hour longer, then "made off down the river." According to Indian custom, they carried off their dead and wounded, so their loss was never definitely known; but long afterwards, at Fort Yuma the Indians themselves reported that they had "heap warriors" killed and wounded in that fight. Of the emigrants, including the Dutch family, two were captured, four killed and ten or twelve wounded.
As soon as it was known that the Indians were gone, the migrants held a council to determine the burning question, "What shall we do?" They were yet about 500 miles from San Francisco, and in that direction the first white settlement was more than 150 miles away, much of which stretch was Indian country. First and worst of all, there was the river to cross. It would take several days to build a raft and effect a crossing in which time the Indians were almost sure to return in greater numbers and attack them under unfavorable conditions, not the least of which was the insufficiency of ammunition for another battle. They could not go forward. Then "What about trying to go to Ft. Yuma?" That was 200 miles distant down the river and through Mohave country all the way—almost certain disaster lay in that direction.
There was only one ray of hope left, and it was so faint as almost to invite despair. That ray pointed back along the trail over which they had come, and they determined to follow it. That course would soon take them out of the Indian country, and there was the probability of meeting another emigrant train before going very far.
But they were in poor plight for traveling. The Indians had driven off the whole herd of stock cattle and nearly all the work oxen. Only six oxen, just enough to make a team for one wagon, had escaped capture and were found near the camp. Mr. Rose had his mule team, and there were two or three saddle horses. One wagon, therefore, was loaded with the most necessary things. All else had to be left, save what might be carried on the person. Mr. Brown's body was wrapped in blankets, and log-chains wound around it, and it was then committed to the turbid waters of the Colorado, so that the Indians might not find and mutilate it. The oxen were hitched to the wagon, the mules to the ambulance, and the sad remnant of the once large and well-equipped train began its retrograde journey, nearly all its people having to walk.
At dark, and only "about half a mile" from the camp, they reached a "low table mountain." There they halted, because the way was too rough to travel in the darkness. They dared not use a torch or lantern for fear of the Indians, whom they expected to follow them. Not many minutes later pandemonium broke loose at their lately deserted camp. There were triumphant yells and clanging of pots, pans and kettles. The Indians were there, rejoicing over their plunder, too cautious to make a light of any kind, but their signal fires could be seen far up and down on the other side of the river.
Why the Indians did not pursue and attack the fugitives must ever remain something of a mystery. It may have been because they were well-satisfied with the large booty already in their possession and afraid of the bloody cost of an effort to get the little yet left to the white men. Fearful and almost hopeless, the poor emigrants could only cower in the darkness and listen to the horrid din at the camp, which seemed to grow more furious, probably because more Indians came and joined in the revelry. Or, a sufficient explanation is suggested by a recent remark of one of the emigrants: "I would like to have seen the Indians when they broke into the medicine chest and got hold of Rose's eight-dollar brandy." The revelry was still going on at the camp when, "about midnight," the moon came up and enabled the emigrants to resume their march.
Late the next afternoon the mule team began to lag. Griffin, being weak from the shock of his wounds and loss of blood, had been taken into the ambulance at the camp on the river, and it may have been otherwise overloaded with things too valuable to leave for the Indians. The mules would stop often and rest a few minutes before they could be made to move on. To relieve them the Rose family and Mrs. Jones got out and walked on, leaving Mr. Jones, who was a very lame man, to drive and bring the rig and Griffin into camp at the convenience of the mules. But the mules rapidly grew more weary and more mulish. They stopped oftener, stayed longer, and each time were harder to start. Finally they stopped and refused to budge another step, in spite of much whip-lashing and tongue-lashing. Then Jones unharnessed them and turned them loose, left the rig and Griffin there and limped into camp long after dark. Akey volunteered to go back for his chum, and after a long walk he found the rig, got Griffin out of it, and by allowing him to lean heavily on his shoulder as they walked along, and by resting often, he at length brought him into camp. That was the last of the mules and "the avalanche"—Mr. Rose never saw them again.
The emigrants camped that night where the three families and wagons had been left, while their men and exhausted teams went on with the train to the river. As we know, there were now only two of the families there, who had been anxiously expecting the return of their men and teams to take them to join the caravan at the river. Their men came that night, but not their teams. Yet we can imagine how thankful those reunited families were to have escaped the terrible fate of the Dutch family, even though they lost nearly all their worldly goods; for they had to leave their wagons and effects standing there, excepting only the few things they could carry as they walked with those who had lost as much or more than themselves.
The next morning, with only the one wagon, but two more families the unfortunate company continued its journey. To meet a train, and that very soon, was their great need and only hope, and fortunately they were not disappointed. It had so happened that two small parties also left Van Buren county for California later than the Rose outfit. One, from the northwestern part of the county, was headed by "Cal" Davis, and with it was the noted early settler and Indian trader, Jim Jordan; the other party was from the neighborhood of Bonaparte, and headed by a Mr. Cave. Before or after leaving the county the two parties united.
Having only four or five wagons and not being hampered with a herd of cattle, they traveled faster, and met the Rose people returning a few days after their trouble with the Indians. When they saw the sad condition of the fugitives and heard their story, they were afraid to go on, and also turned back, generously sharing their supplies with the Rose people all the way back to Albuquerque.
When the combined parties had placed about 100 miles between themselves and the scene of the late disaster, and all danger from the Indians was over, it was thought best for the 15 or 20 young men to leave the train and push forward on foot. They were given an ox "that was so poor you might say you had to hold him up to knock him down." They slaughtered the ox and dried the meat in the sun, which did not take long in that arid climate, especially when it had already been partly dried on the hoof. To hasten the process it was salted.
"About noon" they started, with what flour and "jerked ox" they could carry, but did not take much water, as they expected by dark to reach a canyon, where there had been water on their outward trip. They got there after dark and found the water had dried up. They knew then that they had no time to spare in camping, for it was a long march to the next watering place. They started on at once, and walked all night, all the next day and the next night, growing weaker and making slower progress the farther they went. The salted meat aggravated their thirst and they suffered terribly, but they pressed on with parched lips, swollen tongues and weary feet. The last few hours of that dreadful march they staggered like drunken men, and had to stop for rest every few minutes.
In the morning of the second day they came to a water hole that was so foul they smelled it before they got to it, yet it was living water, for it was alive with "a kind of white worm an inch or so long." It had one redeeming quality— it was wet. So they strained that animated soup through their handkerchiefs and drank it eagerly. One of them now says, ''It seemed to me the best water I ever tasted." They stayed by that water-hole half a day, resting and drinking, before resuming their march. Before reaching Albuquerque they met two more trains, which also turned back when the young men told them their story.
We may now go back to the train we left behind. As the wagons were few and the teams growing weak, even the women and children had to walk much of the time. Mrs. Rose afterward related that she wore out her shoes and then walked with bare and bleeding feet. On this return trip Mrs. Brown early lost her husband's horse and had to walk, and of all that company she was the greatest sufferer. The tragic death and unchristian burial of her husband ever weighed upon her mind, and for some time she was worried about her severely wounded daughter. Then her youngest child, her only son, sickened, died and was buried by the wayside. Her worldly goods were gone and the future looked very dark for her and her four children. In after years she said that, "to keep from going crazy." she would unravel a stocking and reknit it, over and over again, as she rode or wearily walked along.
After six or seven weeks of wearisome travel the Rose party and its escort reached Albuquerque and halted for the winter. Mr. Brown had been a Free-Mason and got in touch with the lodge at Albuquerque on the outward trip. The fraternity there helped Mrs. Brown and her children through the winter. In the spring a train was made up, and a kind-hearted Mr. Smith took the Brown family through to California at his own expense. Mrs. Brown's brother and two sisters had been in California for several years, and they paid Mr. Smith for his trouble and expense.
Sallie Fox became a teacher in the San Francisco schools. In 1870 she came to town on a visit and brought with her a souvenir of the battle with the Indians. It was the little apron she wore when the Indian arrow went through it and her body. She kept the apron clean but never mended the ragged arrow holes. On a later visit she told this story: She was once relating her adventures to some school children, and when she described how she had been wounded and how she suffered, one little fellow was so carried away that he excitedly asked, "And did you live?"
Of course Mr. Rose was a very heavy loser by his venture, but he probably had some ready money left, and had not lost his Hebrew faculty for buying, selling and getting gain. Soon after getting back to Albuquerque he went to Santa Fe, and there engaged in hotel keeping—together with the side-lines then customary in a frontier town, and made money rapidly. When the Civil War was brewing, early in 1861, and making trouble in Santa Fe, he moved with his family and the Jones' to California and settled on a ranch near Los Angeles. For some twenty-five years he seemed to prosper greatly. He built a palatial residence, said to have been finished inside with woods from various countries, and erected corresponding outbuildings. Eventually he met with serious financial reverses and died poor. Mrs. Jones outlived all her family and died at the great age of 105 years.
From the time of leaving Iowa to "work their passage" to California, the young men of the Rose expedition were seven months without earning money. At the end of that time, at Albuquerque they hired to the United States government to drive mule teams and haul supplies to forts and scouting parties. In the spring or summer of 1859 Harper and Stidger returned to Iowa, and at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. Harper was a teacher and Stidger a student in Rev. Daniel Lane's justly celebrated Keosauqua Academy.
Harper enlisted in the first company raised in Van Buren county, Company F. 2d Iowa Infantry, and was its second lieutenant when killed in his regiment's famous charge at Fort Donelson, February 15, 1862. Stidger enlisted as a private in Company E, 15th Iowa Infantry, was slightly wounded in the side at Shiloh, and severely wounded in the leg and thigh at Corinth. He served nearly four years and was promoted until he became adjutant of his regiment. He died at Red Oak, Iowa, in 1880.
In the Civil War, Lee Griffin became a Confederate "bushwhacker," was captured, made his escape and armed himself, was pursued and overtaken, refused to surrender and was shot down, but. continued to fight as long as he could handle his two revolvers.
After getting hack to Albuquerque Mr. Akey remained in the southwest a year or two before returning to Iowa. He is now 83 years old and well-preserved for that age.
I am largely indebted to Mr. Akey for the material which I have woven into this story. Quotation marks indicate many verbal statements made by him to me. - J. W. CHENEY
- Annals of Iowa. Vol. XII, Series 80. Pp. 81-97. Historical Society of Iowa. Des Moines. July, 1915.
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