This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

23 September 1856:

Started half past 7 o’clock, crossed over sandy bluffs and sandy roads. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again, continued over the sandy bluffs until 6 o’clock, when we came to Sandy Bluff Creek, where we camped for the night. Traveled 11 3/4 miles today, and it is, I think, the hardest day we have had on account of deep sand. We had to pull Eliza all through them. Saw Babbitt’s buggy burnt.

From John Jacques:

On September 23rd, about six miles east of Bluff Creek, and about seventy yards to the left of the road, a little harness, two wagon wheels and the springs of a burnt carriage or buggy and few other things were seen. These were supposed to be relics of Almon W. Babbitt‘s outfit. The company brought the springs along, but what became of them, I don’t know. Babbitt had left Kearny about the 2nd of September, with Thomas Sutherland and a driver. Two miles further on Captain Hodgett, Moses Cluff and Nathan T. Porter, were busy with a dead buffalo, which they had run our of a herd and killed for the handcart company, having previously killed on for their own wagon company. Some of the handcart people stayed to skin and quarter the buffalo, and bring it along on four handcarts. At night, it was divided among the company. This was the first buffalo beef the company had obtained. Buffalo beef, the lean part of it, is good eating on the plains, but is is courser than ox or cow beef.

The next day, September 24th, the company passed the place where it was supposed Thomas Margetts and others were killed by Indians, there being a quantity of feathers strewn about, a blood stained shirt and a child’s skull. The company camped at Duckweek Creek that night and after dark, all the men were called out to form a line aroudn the camp, as it was supposed that Indians were lurking around. About 11 o’clock, the men were called in, a double guard was set for the night and the rest of the men were seriously talked to for half and hour or so, by one of the company who was fond of preaching, on the necessity of vigilance in Indian country. Then the men were dismessed to their tents, except the double guard.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

24 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock this morning. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again. Saw the blood stained garments of Thomas Margetts wife and child, who had been murdered by the Indians. They are committing depredations behind and before. In fact, they made an open attack in day light upon Fort Kearny, on the twenty second of August, the soldiers killed a great number of them, which has stirred them up against the white man, but they keep out of our way. Camped at the Platte.

25 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock. Still continued over the sandy bluffs. Saw several Indians on horseback, which are the first that we have seen since the above mentioned. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock at the Platte River, started again. The road is rather better, camped near the Platte at 6 o’clock.

From John Jacques:

In the afternoon of the 25th, five Indians, some of them squaws, on ponies, rode past the company and near to it, carefully scrutinizing it, but had nothing to say, and then they rode off towards the Platte. These were the first Cheyenne Indians the company had seen.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

26 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock, continued until 12 when we stopped for dinner. For several days, we have crossed through a great many creeks and forks of the Platte, which gave us plenty of opportunity to wash our feet.


This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

16 September 1856:

Started at half past 8 o’clock. The weather is extremely hot, whick makes it hard traveling. Stopped at one o’clock, but moved no further today. It would truly be an amusing and interesting scene if the people of the old country could have a birds-eye view of us when in camp; to see everyone busy some fetching water, others gathering buffalo chips, some cooking, and if they could come forth upon these wild prairies, where the air is not tainted with the smoke of cities and factories. It is quiet here. One may see a creek at a distance and start and travel one hour towards it, yet you seem no closer than you did when you started.

17 September 1856:

An old sister died this morning, which delayed us until 10 o’clock. When we started out, it was a very hard, sandy road, and the wind was extremely cold, as if we had come into a different climate all at once. Stopped for dinner at one o’clock. Started again, and traveled until 6 o’clock when we camped for the night.

18 September 1856:

Started at 7 o’clock this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at the Platte River. Old Sister Gregory from Chew Moore died, and was buried on the banks of the Platte River. Started again and traveled over the sandy bluffs and camped again at the Platte River.

19 September 1856:

Started at 6 o’clock and traveled until 12 o’clock when we stopped for dinner. Started again at 1 o’clock and still continued to travel over the sandy bluffs, which is very hard pulling. Eliza continues in a lingering state, so that we have to haul her on the handcart. We camped at half past 7 o’clock.

From John Jacques:

On September 19th, two or three teams from Green River, going east were met, and the men informed the emigrants that Indians had killed Almond Babbitt and burned his buggy, thirty or forty miles west of Pawnee Springs.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

20 September 1856:

We started and left the sandy bluffs on our right, went about three miles, and then crossed a creek about knee deep. The weather cold. It felt disagreeable to go into the water. Went about 8 miles and came to the Platte River where we stopped for dinner. Started again, contained down the side of the Platte. Measly rain. Camped on the Platte about 6 o’clock.

21 September 1856:

Small measly rain delayed us until 2 o’clock. In the meantime, another cow was killed. Eliza, on account of being exposed to the weather, is considerably worse. Traveled until 7 o’clock, when we camped but being not night to any wood, and the buffalo chips being wet, we were unable to do any cooking.

22 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock this morning, traveled until 12 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at the Platte. Started again, went about three miles, came to the North Fork of the Platte, which is ten rods wide and two feet deep. Crossed over with our handcarts. It was a sandy bottom. Camped as soon as we had crossed, being about six o’clock.

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.

This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

2 September 1856:

We started about half past 5 o’clock this morning; traveled about four miles when we arrived again at the Platte River. We stopped to breakfast about two hours, started again at 10 o’clock for the Loup Fork Ferry, where we arrived about one thirty, in one part; ferried across the Platte today.

3 September 1856:

We commenced to ferry this morning about 7 o’clock, and finished about sunset.

4 September 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock, and traveled about 9 miles; stopped for dinner again, and traveled 14 miles today. Camped at 4 o’clock, killed a cow and it was divided.

5 September 1856:

We were notified to start at 7 o’clock this morning, but a thunderstorm came with delayed us until half past two o’clock. In the meantime, another cow was killed and divided among us, 1/2 pound each. We started and traveled until 5 o’clock; camped again at the Platte River. We put our tents up and then a rain storm came upon us.

6 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock this morning. We met a large party of Indians, men, women and children, with their horses and mules, all loaded with skins, going to Missouri to trade with the Whites. They are the first Indians that we have seen. Camped about 12 o’clock for dinner. Then, we went to the top of the hill and camped for the day.

7 September 1856:

Sunday. Started about half past 8 o’clock. Eleanor has the ague and diarrhea, and si so badly that we had to pull her in the handcart. Eliza, also, is yet so weak, that we had to pull her also, in the handcart, which made it just as much as we could pull. We camped again near the Platte. About 5 o’clock, Franklin D. Richards, D. Spencer, C. Wheelock and others camp up in their carriages. We found a good spring here.

From John Jacques:

On the 7th of September, west of Loup Fork, the company was over taken by Franklin d. Richards, Cyrus H. Wheelock, John Van Cott, George D. Grant, William H. Kimball, Joseph A. Young. C. G. Webb, William C. Dunbar, James McGaw, Dan Jones, John McAllister, Nathaniel H. Felt, and James Ferguson, who left Florence September 3rd, passed Hunt’s Wagon company on the 6th, east of the Loup Fork, and Hodgett’s wagon company on the 7th, ten miles west of Martin’s company.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

8 September 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock and stopped for dinner one hour. Started again and traveled until 10 o’clock at night, on account of not being able to find any water or wood. Traveled about 24 miles and found some water in holes that had been dug in the sand. We pulled Eliza on the handcart all day.

This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques

The company moved on the day named, from Florence to Cutler’s Park, two and a half miles, and camped stayed there the nest day and night, and left the next morning. While there, Almon W. Babbit, dressed in corduroy pants, woolen over-shirt and felt hat, called as he was passing west. He seemed in high glee, his spirits being very elastic, almost mercurial. He had started with one carriage for Salt Lake, with the mail and a considerable amount of money. He was very confident that he should be in Salt Lake within 15 days. He intended to push things through vigorously, and sleep on the wind.

On leaving Florence, the loads on the handcarts were greater than ever before, most carts having 100 pounds of four, besides ordinary baggage. The tents were also carried on the carts. The company was provisioned sixty days, a daily ration of one pound of flour per head, with about half a pound fro children.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

28 August 1856:

We started at 8 o’clock. Stopped at the Big Papeon, for dinner, a distance of three miles; started again at one o’clock. Traveled today 15 miles. Six o’clock, we camped at the Elk Horn.

29 August 1856:

Began to ferry at 8 o’clock, across the Elk Horn, and had all ferried across about 12 o’clock; 132 handcarts, 180 head of cattle, 8 wagons. We had our dinner and started about two o’clock; traveled three miles, mostly through a sandy road and arrived at the Raw Hide Creek where we camped for the night.

30 August 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock and traveled until about 1 o’clock, when we camped for the day upon the banks of the Platte River.

31 August 1856:

Sunday. We started today about 7 o’clock and left the river a little on our left, but being high to the banks of the river, the road was very sandy, which made it hard pulling. We camped again about two o’clock upon the banks of the Platte River.

1 September 1856:

Started about 7 o’clock. The road was not so sandy as yesterday. Started again and at 1 o’clock we stopped for dinner at Shell Creek. Started again at 2 o’clock, and therefore, we were obliged to stop on the prairies before we got to the river. There is no wood upon the prairies, only at rivers and creeks, and having nothing cooked, we were obliged to line down without supper. Traveled about 20 miles. We were a little tired.