This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

9 September 1856:

We started this morning about 8 o’clock, and traveled through a very hard, sandy uphill and down, road. Halted for dinner about 2 o’clock, but there was no water, just an old mud pit. Started again at 6 o’clock. It thundered and lightninged awfully, and rained at a distance, but, as if to give everyone their share, it rolled over and gave us a good soaking in the rain. It rolled on until it died away at a distance. We were almost worried with mosquitoes. Traveled until 11 o’clock, when we camped at Prairie Creek, which is very good water. We have traveled two days without water, except mud water, and only twice.

From John Jacques:

On the 9th of September, in the afternoon, the company came to a round pit or pond of water. Parched with thirst the cattle rushed pell mell into the pond and stirred up the mud until the water was thick and black, before the people had supplied themselves for their own use. But it was all the water available, and so it was used for cooking purposes, making coffee, tea, bread and porridge or hasty pudding, which when made was quite black, but was eaten and drunk nevertheless.

At 7 p.m. the camp started for Prairie Creek, nine miles, reaching it between 11 and 12 o’clock, but very glad to get to clear running water, after having been without two days.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

10 September 1856:

Started about 9 o’clock from Prairie Creek. We went about three miles and then crossed it. Traveled until 1 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner one hour. Traveled until 6 o’clock, and camped again at the Prairie, where we found a little wood, which is the first wood that we have seen since Monday morning. We had to cook with buffalo chips.

11 September 1856:

We started about 9 o’clock again this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock and stopped for dinner. Started again, traveled until 6 o’clock and camped again at Prairie Creek.

From John Jacques:

On September 11th, 8 or 9 miles from Lone Tree and Wood River, the company passed the graves of two men and a child belonging to Almon W. Babbitt‘s wagon train, who had been killed on the 25th of August by some Cheyenne Indians, who were on the war path that summer. Two of the teamsters escaped death, and Mrs. Wilson was taken prisoner. Most of the property plundered from the wagons was subsequently recovered by Captain Wharton and the Untied States troops at Fort Kearny. A mile or two east of the graves of the teamsters, a paper was tacked on a board, on which the chief of the Omaha Indians disclaimed participation in the murders. Early in the journey from Florence, the company met two or three hundred Omahas, who passed by quite peaceable.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

12 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock; traveled about 4 miles when we came to Wood River, which we crossed on a small bridge, continued down the side of it and stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock. For ought we knew, but a cripple, a young man who walked with crutches, had been left behind. We sent four men back to search for him which caused us to move none today. About sunset, they brought him into the camp.

13 September 1856:

Started about half past 8 o’clock this morning; traveled until one o’clock when we stopped for dinner, nearly opposite Fort Kearney, where the soldiers are stationed. Started again, and traveled until five o’clock when we camped at the Platte River. A man fell down dead, (William Edwards). The Indians are very hostile about here. They have attacked some of the emigrants who have passed through this season, and rumor says that some have been murdered, but they have kept out of our way, for se have seen none since the sixth, no even so much as one.

From an account of Josiah Rogerson:

September 13 1856:

About 10:30 this morning, we passed Fort Kearny, and as one of the singular deaths occurred on our journey at this time, I will give a brief and truthful narration of the incident. Two bachelors, named Luke Carter, from the Clitheroe Branch, Yorkshire, England, and William Edwards, from Manchester, England, each about 50 to 60 years of age, had pulled a covered cart together from Iowa City to this point. They slept in the same tent, cooked and bunked together; but for several days previous, unpleasant and cross words had passed between them.

Edwards was a tall, loosely built and tender man, physically and carter more stocky and sturdy. He had favored Edwards by letting the latter pull only what he could in the shafts for some time. This morning, he grumbled and complained, still traveling, about being tired, and that he couldn’t go any further. Carter retorted; “Come on, Come on. You’ll be all right again when we get a bit of dinner at noon.” But Edwards kept on begging for him to stop the cart and let him lie down and die. Carter replying, “Well, get out and die then, the cart was instantly stopped. Carter raised the shafts of the cart. Edwards waled from under and to the south of the road a couple of rods, laid his body down on the level prairie, and in ten minutes, he was a corpse.

We waited, (a few carts of us) a few minutes longer till the Captain came up and closed Edwards’s eyes. A light loaded open cart was unloaded. The body was put thereon, covered with a quilt, and the writer pulled him to the noon camp, some five or six miles, where we dug his grave and buried him a short distance west of Fort Kearney.

Just before Edwards closed his eyes and was dying, Albert Jones brought to him a drink of water in a tin panikin and moistened his dying lips.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

14 September 1856:

We started about 9 o’clock and traveled until 12 o’clock when we camped for the night. Eliza is a little better, but is so weak, that we still have to pull her on the handcart.

15 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock and traveled until 2 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at Buffalo Creek, started again and traveled until 7 o’clock. Saw several droves of buffalo, but could not get no higher to them than three or four miles. Camped at Buffalo Creek.


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