This Week in 1856 – Between Iowa City and Florence Nebraska – Mary Taylor


From Samuel Openshaw’s Journal:

5 August 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock this morning, but the road through the wood was full of stumps of trees. We had not got out of the wood, before we ran our handcart against a stump, and broke the wheel off. We took our luggage and placed it on the ox teams. We then tied our cart ups with ropes and overtook the rest about two o’clock, where they were camped for dinner. We got a new axle tree on, and traveled about two miles farther, where we camped for the night.

6 August 1856:

We were told we should start at seven o’clock this morning, but a thunderstorm delayed us until 12 o’clock. I was so weak, that I was unable to pull the handcart, therefore, I went to drive the team for rather. We traveled about ten miles, part by the light of the moon, pitched our tents about ten o’clock among the prairie grass.

7 August 1856:

We started about 7 o’clock this morning and traveled through a beautiful country, where we could stand and gaze upon the prairies as far as the eye could see, even until the prairies themselves seemed to meet the sky on all sides, without being able to see a house. I thought, how many thousands of people are there in England who have scarce room to breathe and not enough to eat. Yet all this good land is lying dormant, except for the prairie grass to grow and decay. We traveled about 15 miles, and pitched our tent about two o’clock p.m.

8 August 1856:

We traveled about 18 miles up hill and down. In fact it has been so all day. We started about seven o’clock this morning, passed through the town of Newton, which contains 1200 inhabitants, traveled two miles farther, and pitched our tents in a valley by the side of a woods, through which a creeks runs.

9 August 1856:

We started about 10 o’clock and traveled through woods and across creeks. We stopped for dinner about two o’clock, at the edge of a wood where we found plenty of ripe grapes. We started again at three o’clock. We had not gone far before a thunder storm came upon us, and we got a little drenched in the rain. We pitched our tents about six o’clock, close by a creek.

10 August 1856:

Sunday. Traveled none today. We washed ourselves in the river Skunk, which is a beautiful water, running as clear as crystal upon a sandy bottom, which appeared like the waters of Silon (?). Eliza began to be very badly. We had a meeting in the afternoon, and partook of the Sacrament. Elder Tyler addressed us.

11 August 1856:

A brother and a child were buried this morning, which delayed camp until half past ten o’clock. We had to wait until the coffin was made. We traveled about 14 miles and pitched our tents about four o’clock.


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