The Diary of Ruth Shackelford
From Clark County Missouri to California
Via the Overland Trail, 1865

Source: Copy of Weekly New Review
The Denver Public Library


I came across a faded, worn xerox copy of this diary, and have not actually seen the source. The pages here are particularily interesting, as they take place along the South Platte River in Colorado along the Overland Trail, and continue through Wyoming. The time frame is from July 1, 1865 to early August. The diary itself poses many questions, especially with regards to the health of the author. I have searched many sources, and have not found this published anywhere. If I have infringed upon a copyright, please advise.

This portion of the diary begins just beyond the Bijou Station on the south banks of the South Platte River. At Bijou there were two routes heading west, although both seemed to be less than adequate. One went over a steep bluff, and the other went through sand so deep that double teams had to be used to pull the wagons and stages.

SATURDAY JULY 1

Our captain called us up before daybreak. We came six miles through sand and came down one sand hill about 50 feet long to the river, where we will cross at Freemont's Orchard. We got breakfast and after we ate went up on the bluffs about 50 feet to watch the wagons crossing. After we got tired looking at them we took a look at the snow covered mountains and then went down. I went to washing while they were ferrying the wagons. We had to take everything out and put them on the floor to keep them dry. About 11 o'clock they got ready to cross.

("Fremont's Orchard" was most likely a misnomer. Some emigrants noted that the large cottonwoods looked like apple trees, but another questioned the name, and wrote "...why it is called an orchard I cannot understand..." The quicksand in the South Platte was particularily bad here. In 1862, the Weld County Colorado Commissioners granted permission for a group to construct a toll road from Bijou Creek to Fremont's Orchard, hoping to relieve the problems of deep sand. The road never materialized as the project proved to be just too expensive.)
Gathered up my clothes and put them in the tub. Frank tied his wagon and Mr. Rhyne's together and put eight yoke of cattle to them. The children and I and Miss Rhynes got in our wagon and started into the river. It was a mile wide and as swift as could be. Where we started the water was up to the wagon bed and when we got half way across the water was over the oxen's' backs. We all got across safe and had a very steep hill to pull up on this side. As soon as we got across I went to washing. Frank and the boys took the oxen back after Att's two wagons and brought them across. The wagons were crossing all day and some crossed after dark. Ann and I and Miss Rhynes done our washing this evening. After I got through Frank and I reloaded our wagon, then got supper. Frank went out to milk the cow. They came for Frank to stand guard but he is not well enough and they let him off. We are camped tonight with the Platte on our left, close to the river. There are about 200 wagons here and stock out of all reason.

("Frank" is Mr. Shackelford; "Ann" and "Att" are perhaps relatives.)
SUNDAY, JULY 2

This morning is calm and cloudy. I got up about sunrise and bot breakfast. We will stay here unit Monday. Frank went to look to look for the cow. Some of the cattle are gone. Frank is better. Most of the women are washing. I have never washed on Sunday yet. After breakfast, Frank gathered me a load of buffalo chips to get dinner. I cooked some bacon, beans, and light rolls and baked a great big molasses cake. After dinner Frank took a nap. I baked light bread and toasted coffee. Ann and the Miss Rhynes are baking light bread. Att has been asleep all day. Of all the whooping and hallooing, I never heard the like. Some of the men went hunting and killed three antelopes. Mrs. Hazelwood gave me enough for breakfast. This has turned out to be a very warm day. There is preaching in another camp close by. Frank, Mary and Miss Rhynes have gone. Ann and I stayed with the children. Frank says he heard a good Baptist sermon, text: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."

MONDAY, JULY 3

A very pleasant morning, cool and clear. The bugle awakened me before daybreak. I got up and got breakfast. Frank went to look for the cattle. I had some antelope steak for breakfast, the best meat I ever ate. While we were at breakfast, a Missourian gave me a bucket of milk, which was very acceptable. We are in plainer view of the snow covered mountains. We have all hurried to get ready to start this morning. At last we are all ready and there are about 200 wagons starting. There are two large corrals on the other side that will start today. We came over awful sandy, dusty roads today. I have seen nothing new except some trees which is a right smart sight to us. We came up one sand hill and the most of the company had to double team to get up. We stopped for dinner and turned the cattle on a very nice bottom to feed. Att went hunting and killed two antelopes. Frank has just got through cleaning. Matt has laid down under the wagon to sleep. Ann is in the wagon patching a shirt. My children are all under our wagon in the shade. Mr. Morrison is showing oxen. Ann and I took our kegs and went a quarter of a mile to get some water. They then yoked up and started, with the sun shining as hot as it ever did in old Missouri. We only came six miles this evening -- over awful roads with sand about two feet deep and up hill at that. The most of the company had to double team again to get through. The women all had to get out and walk. Ann had to drive the horse team through ....... had gone hunting. We went down the river to get out of the hot sun but the buffalo gnats soon made us get away from there. I was almost given out when we got through.

We passed one ranch but no one was living there. One of the men said he saw three Indians there when he came up but none of our company saw them. We are camped tonight in a beautiful bottom with grass waist high to the men. They feel uneasy on account of the Indians as it is a good place for them. There are about 100 wagons here, with the river on our left and the bluffs on the right. Frank unyoked the cattle, and I milked the cow. Att has not come in from hunting yet and Ann is very uneasy about him. We got supper. I have biscuits, coffee and antelope soup for supper and Ann had the same. I cleaned up the children and put them to bed. The boys came in with one antelope. Ann got Att's supper and we all sat down in the grass and talked until bed time.

TUESDAY, JULY 4

A beautiful morning, but very warm. After breakfast, we started and the sand was still deep. We passed one corral that has a lid over to celebrate the Fourth and to celebrate a young one that came to camp the night before. The sad was so deep we only came six miles and stopped for the cattle to rest. I walked a long way and gathered sage roots to cook with. We came down one sand hill almost straight up and down. We stopped right on the river bank, unyoked the cattle and drove them over the river on an island to get feed. I washed some clothes and cooked some bacon and beans and stewed some apples. Ann scoured her buckets and the girls made a swing and enjoyed themselves for awhile. It is the warmest day we have had since we left home. The boys all went in swimming. We all got ready to start again and found the roads rough but not sandy. Att had a chill and is very sick. I have been doing some patching. We are camped on the prettiest bottom we have been camped in yet, with a pretty cottonwood grove on the river, a sight we are not used to seeing. We got our supper. It has turned very cool and is misting rain. After supper Frank greased the wagons, the he and I took our keg and went for water and wood for morning. The children have a play house by the wagon and are playing like they did at home. Sue Rhyne is sitting under the wagon writing in her journal. The other girls have gone to take a walk and gather flowers. Ann is nursing her babe.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 5

A very pleasant morning, cool and cloudy. Att is better. I have a headache and don't feel well. We got our breakfast and started. The roads have been tolerable good. We got along fine. Some of the men have gone hunting. We passed two very nice hewn log houses but no one was living in them. We then came to a house full of Indians. Some of the girls went to see them and they said they looked clean and nice and had some furniture. They wanted nothing but a large looking glass. They said they were good Soo Indians. We stopped for dinner on a dry sandy place and it don't look like the stock can get anything to eat. I feel very bad. Frank made me a cup of coffee and I feel some better. Sue and I took a walk to the river and the prickly pears were so thick we could hardly walk. The children all have to stay in the wagons to keep from getting their feet stuck. Frank took a nap and I have been writing. The bugle blows for the cattle and they yoke up and start. The wind is blowing very hard. A very black cloud is rising and it has the appearance of a storm. While we were at dinner ten or twelve men rode by. They said they were on their way from California after their families. We passed the ferry this evening where they have to pay five dollars a wagon to cross. We are camped tonight in a very ugly place with holes and hollows all around us and scarcely enough grass for the stock. Just as I had supper ready I began to rain and the blackest day I ever saw came up. We were afraid we were going to have a hard storm but it is clearing off now.

THURSDAY, JULY 6

Cool and cloudy with some rain last night. We all got ready to start. We leave the Platte and are traveling up Castor Pool, a very pretty stream, with plenty fish in it. The roads are good and we travel fast. We have stopped for dinner in a dry looking place. We passed two ranches but no one was living in them. We are in sight of the Black Hills. Our captain says we will get there tomorrow. Frank is shoeing his black ox. We started again. I just finished making Frankie a blue cotton waist, then took a nap, after which I drove the team so Frank could sleep. We passed three ranches this evening. I can't tell how they make a living in this doleful looking country. We are camped tonight in a beautiful place with a nice bottom for the stock to run on. A big patch of wheat in the bottom is just heading out. We are near the Black Hills and saw it rain in torrents this evening with thunder and lightning but it only sprinkled where we were. We had fish, caught out of Castor Pool, for supper tonight. Frank is on guard tonight.

("Castor Pool" is the Cache la Poudre River. It flows into the South Platte River near Greeley, Colorado. The Stage Station just to the east of Greeley was called " Latham.")

FRIDAY, JULY 7

A very pleasant morning cool and cloudy. We all got ready and started over the prettiest place I ever saw, up Castor Pool. There are ranches all along on the banks, with nice wheat fields. Mary, Sue Rhyne and I got out and went down to the banks. The prettiest trees are growing here and the sweetest perfume. Some said I came from Balm of Gilead About 2 feet under the bank we saw the clearest water running out from under the rocks but it was not good. The ground is covered with prairie dog hills and they come out and bark at us and dart in again. Just before we stopped for dinner we passed through a place where the grass was very high. We had to cross a very swift branch and just as we got across four Indian squaws stuck their heads up out of the grass. Some of the women went and shook hands with them. We stopped for dinner on a creek. The water is clear but no good. It is sweet and greasy. After dinner Ann layed down under the wagon to sleep. Frank and Att went to a ranch to trade off their lame cow. I took a look in the wagon for the bullets Frank lost. They yoked up to start. Frank and I took a look through the spyglass at the snow-covered mountains. The snow looks like it had just fallen. We have nice roads and passed one ranch where the Stars and Stripes were floating over it. Mr. Kirkland killed a prairie dog and we all had to take a look at it. They look more like a squirrel than a dog. We passed three Indian camps with many Indians in them. Women got out and went to see them but for my part I can see enough of them from the wagon. They said they were frying fish. We are camped tonight at the foot of the Black Hills and what sights! Frank and Att had gone back after some of their cattle the boys left behind. George got me some nice pine wood to set supper with. Frank has come back and is now shoeing his cow. Her feet are worn out so he cannot work her. The girls have gone up on the hills to see what they can. I am sitting on the wagon tongue thinking about the folks in old Missouri.

SATURDAY JULY 8

I got up early and the moon looked like it was lying on top of the hill. I feel very bad. We got breakfast over and Ann, Mary, and the Miss Rhyne went up on the hills. I stayed in the wagon with the children. We started out through the hills and passed some houses, wheat fields and one sawmill. They have ditches dug to water the fields. The girls have come back. Ann says she wouldn't have missed the sights she saw for anything. She saw corn fields, nice gardens and houses. The hills seem miles high and are covered with cedar and rocks as large as houses, some of them almost square and look like someone had taken particular pains in placing them there. The soil and roads look like they have been burned. It makes me think of the crucifixion, when the rocks rent. Just before we stopped for dinner we passed a little grave on the roadside. A nice rock was laid on each side with the edges together, one at the head and one at the foot, with the name and age cut on it: "E. T. Thail, age one year." We stopped for dinner in a small valley with the hills on each side and no water for the stock. I feel very bad and can hardly sit up. The roads today have been awfully hilly and rocky. Frank's cattle being unruly, we would com down hill a teaming. I thought we would smash up. We stopped awhile to rest the cattle. We passed some of the prettiest hills his evening. You can't imagine how they looked. I counted four in the shape of houses all in a row. The largest one, with a smaller one at the end, looked like a church with a cupola. Some are round and very high with steps all around them. We counted five differently colored rocks, which were placed so nice they looked almost like hewn logs. We are camped tonight in a pretty little valley with plenty of grass and water, the water running down from the mountains as clear as crystal. While I was getting supper, a group of soldiers came tearing down out of the mountains on their way to Fort Hallock. After supper Frank and I went a quarter of a mile from camp to get wood. We got some dry cedar and walked over rocks that were like walking over a house, I still feel sick. We sat around the wagon talking until bed time.

(The grave site of "E. T. Thail" is very near US 287, north of LaPorte, on the Bonner Springs Ranch)

SUNDAY, JULY 9

A beautiful morning. We are going to stay here until Monday. After breakfast Frank and I went for water. We found a spring running from under a big rock with water as clear as any snow water. After dinner the girls and boys took a walk up on the mountains. They said they never expected to see such sights. They could hardly climb up for the rock. The boys had to pull them up. One of the boys found a mountain sheep's horn that beat all the horns you ever heard of. It weighed ten pounds. It was carried all around the corral for a show. This evening Frank and Att took a yoke of cattle and went for wood to take with us.

MONDAY, JULY 10

The bugle awakened us before day. We fixed up and started over the hilliest, rockiest roads you ever saw. We passed some of the prettiest hills, thousands of feet high, with the rocks all placed in so nice. We passed a grave on the side of the road. I got out of the wagon to see the name: "John Thomas, died, 63." We stopped for dinner in a dry looking valley. After dinner we started out again with roads rockier than ever. Although I have a very bad headache I had to get out and walk to look at the pretty rocks and fine trees. I gathered some fine burrs for the children. We passed another grave this evening. I went to see the name but it was do dim I could not read it. I think it was T Tibbler. Tonight we are camped in an ugly place with high mountains all around us. I am too sick to sit up. I cannot get out of the wagon. I can see one rock in front of our wagon in the shape of a sugar loaf, about 100 feet high. Just before we stopped we passed a ranch and post office, with soldiers stationed there.

TUESDAY, JULY 11

Cool and cloudy. I am still sick and not able to sit up. I have been taking medicine from the doctor. The company was right smartly frightened last night. The horses stampeded and ran. They thought the Indians were coming. We travelled over hills and rocks this morning until I thought my head would burst. I would sit up in the wagon and hold my head with both hands. We stopped for dinner in a valley where we have plenty of water for the cattle. After dinner we left the hills and are now on the Laramie plain. The roads have been good, except some hills. We passed one ranch and just as we got to it we had a big hill to come down. Frank's cattle ran off down hill as hard as they could go. We came near having a smash-up with Att's horse wagon. I don't know where they would have gone to if some men had not run in before them. We are camped tonight in a very pretty place between a big alkali pond and a nice running stream with a spring close by, water as cold as in one of the mountain streams. A loose cow drank at the pond and died in about 15 minutes. I am still very sick. Mary Rhyne made up my bread for supper.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12

I feel some better and am able to get out of the wagon. We all started again and got along very well with nothing out of the ordinary. About 11 o'clock we crossed the Big Laramie and are camped on it now to stay until morning on account of there being no water and grass they we could get to. This is a nice river and runs very swift; the water as clear as can be. They had a bridge to take teams across and charged $2.50 a wagon. We thought it cheaper to ford. The water was nearly to the wagon beds, Ann and the Miss Rhynes are washing. I am not well enough to wash. Frank put a letter in the post office for cousin. Frank was on guard tonight and like to have been ate up by the mosquitoes.

THURSDAY, JULY 13

The bugle awakened us before daybreak and we got breakfast by moonlight. It is cold enough to wear a shawl. This morning we passed a big alkali pond, about 20 feet wide and 50 feet long and looks like ice. The now covered mountains are on one side of us and the bare plains on the other. We have stopped for dinner in a dry looking place with not a drop of water for man or beast. We have traveled today over very rocky roads. About three o'clock this evening we passed a ranch where they had freash meat for sale. Mr. Hazelwood got out of his wagon to get some, giving the lines to his little girl to hold. The horses got scared and run off, with his sick wife in the wagon. The wagon was broke and we have to stay here until they get it fixed. We are camped on the Little Laramie, in the Indian country. The guards said they saw 10 or 12 last night.

FRIDAY, JULY 14

Our company is left here alone, waiting for Mr. Hazelwood to get his wagon fixed. He got it done about 11 o'clock. They yoked up to start and just as we were ready to start his little girl ran under the oxen after her pet crow. The ox kicked her on the forehead and cut a gash about two inches long. The doctor wanted to sew it up but her mother said she could not bear to hear her cry. We started and it began to rain. We stopped to stay until morning. The roads today have been very rocky. They call this the Laramie plain, but I think the right name would be Rocky plain. We are camped in sight of a very large lake. I never heard the name of it. I am still sick and feel very bad.

SATURDAY, JULY 15

Still raining. They drove in the cattle to start and about half of them are sick. They all got better and they are now yoking up ready to start. Mrs. Kirkland is very sick and the doctor has been to see her. We came eight miles and camped for the night. We crossed two branches with the clearest water from the mountains. The roads have been awfully rocky, almost jolts us out of the wagon. We passed one grave but there was not name on it. There is a ranch on the branch. We are camped in a valley between the mountains with but little grass for the stock but plenty of alkali. The women who were well enough went to cooking. Ann cooked some bacon and beans, stewed some apples and baked light bread. I have the same except the beans. I have apple dumplings. My children, Mrs. Kirkland's and Mrs. Mortinson's are having a supper in front of our wagon on an ox yoke. I have been making Mary a bonnet and am now going down to see Mrs. Kirkland, who is still sick. Frank has gone to mile. Some of the cattle are sick yet.

SUNDAY, JULY 16

They awakened us before daybreak and we got breakfast. The captain told us he would only make a short drive and stop for the day but we traveled until one o'clock before we stopped for dinner. We all got dinner and they are yoking up to start again. We have traveled throught some pretty country today, with mountains on each side. On one side they are covered with tall pine trees, on the other nothing but weeds and rocks. The roads have been too rocky to talk about I had to get out of the wagon, sick as I am, and walk to keep from getting my breath knocked out. We crossed Rock Creek and it has the right name. I never saw the like of rocks in my life. They have a bridge at the ranch and charged 75 wagon to cross. It was up to the hubs and awful rocky. Att had to jump out in the water to turn Frank's mean cattle. We came on two miles and stopped for dinner. We passed one corral in which I counted 50 children from Maggies size down. It is called the Pilgrim Train. I had some gooseberries and snow. Mary Rhyne and I went down to the branch to see the snow water running from the mountains. There is pleany wood on the branch. We came six miles this evening over tolerable good roads, except two or three big rocky hills. We are camped tonight where there is no water for the cattle. This evening we saw where the Indians had burned one wagon loaded with wheat, corn, beans and so on.

MONDAY, JULY 17

This morning we saw where Indians had burned two ranches and some wagons. Today it has been raining so we could not travel. Tonight is so cold we are almost frozen. The men are wrapped up in their overcoats and comforts.

TUESDAY, JULY 18

We started this morning before breakfast and came over some places that looked like it would be impossible to go with the wagons, but we all got along safely. We traveled til ten o'clock and stopped for the day. We are camped on a creek where there is no grass. We have to drive the cattle to the canyons in the mountains to get grass. Frank is on guard. Most of the women have gone to the creek to wash. Some are gathering gooseberries. We have a big log fire to keep us warm. We suffer as much with cold as we did last winter. We could get plenty snow if we wished to tonight. It is cold and raining and very disagreeable and I am sick and feel very bad.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19

We traveled over rough, rocky roads until we got to Hallock. After we passed there they were very good except two or three bad places, with one very bad place. The women and children had to get out and wait. Fort Hallock is on a little branch. There are eight Indian tents and three or four cabins for the soldiers. They have a post office and a store, with a large pen, like the one around the court house, which is their fort, I suppose. They had a few round poles across a drain and charged us 50 a wagon to cross on them. We came through the most doleful looking country--down a valley between the mountains--this side of Hallock you ever did see. We met a train of Californians going back. They gave the country an awful name. We are camped tonight on a bottom and have to drive the cattle across the creek to feed. I am too sick to get supper.

THURSDAY, JULY 20

Cold and cloudy. I have been sick in bed all day and have not seen much. We haven't been traveling in the mountains and the roads were nice and level until within a few miles of where we are camped, when we came into the mountains again. It rained very hard this evening. We are camped tonight on the North Platte with mountains on each side, solid rock hundreds of feet high. I am too sick to get out of the wagon and Frank ahs all the work to do. They have to drive the cattle four miles from camp to get grass and they took 25 men from camp to guard them.

FRIDAY, JULY 21

Still cold and it rained all night. We crossed the river and stopped for the day. The soldiers had a flat boat there and could only take one wagon and one yoke of cattle on at a time. They charged $4 a wagon so our company, except five wagons, all forded. We propped up our wagon beds about six inches and came across very well. The women are all washing and Ann is washing some for me. I am too sick to sit up. They have driven the cattle two miles from camp to feed. This is an awful place to camp in. There are four corrals here besides our. We have 46 wagons in our train.

SATURDAY, JULY 22

It rained all night and is very cold and windy, yet we came over such rocky roads I thought it would kill me. We crossed Sage Creek this evening and it was an awful crossing. The wagons would pitch off a log into the water and mud up to the hubs. Att's horse wagon got stuck and had to be pulled out with oxen. One man fell out as he came in but happened not to hurt himself. We are camped tonight at the foot of a mountain, where there is nothing but sage brush. We have to corral the cattle and have nothing for them to eat. It is Frank's night to stand guard but he could not leave me. It is thundering and raining. Att took his horses and went to the mountains with them to get something to eat. Some of the men got snow and melted it to cook with.

SUNDAY, JULY 23

This morning is cold and clear. We started before breakfast, came siz miles and stopped for the day. We are camped in the valley and drove the cattle over the mountains to feed. We are camped where the Indians ran 80 head of stock off hast week. Two more wagons came into our train today.

MONDAY, JULY 24

Clear and pleasant. We came over the roughest roads you ever heard of. About 4 o'clock we crossed the top of the Rocky Mountains and are now going down. I am still sick in bed all the time and can't see much. I could not begin to describe how they look on the left and they are beautiful on the right. They are covered with rock and look like they have been placed by a quarrier. We crossed a creek where we had an awful hill to pull up. Frank's oxen came very near upsetting the wagon. We passed Mr. Niel's house and there is not another house within twelve miles of his. The house was built of round poles, two rooms. They have a blacksmith shop and stage and seem to have plenty of work to do. There are five hacks standing there. They have another round pole bridge and charge 50 a wagon to cross on it, with 200 wagons crossing there today. We camped about 2 o'clock to stay until morning. We turned the stock out on grass. They had not been there long when the captain of the ranch came up and ordered them to be taken off. They drove them in the corral about dark.

TUESDAY, JULY 25

Clear and cold. It rained last night. There were some loose horses in the corral. They scared the cattle and they stampeded and broke out, breaking one wagon wheel all to smash. We started and came three miles and stopped again for the cattle to eat. We crossed one creek and had a very steep hill to pull up. Att's horse team stalled and had to be pulled up with oxen. Frank pulled up three wagons besides his with his big cattle. The girls and boys went up on the mountains and I crawled to the wagon door to see them, the first time I have been up for eight days. The gorls looked like they were about two feet tall, they were so high up. I saw one man standing on top with his gun in this hand and I thought he would fall head foremost. He came down in a hurry. We came 8 miles and camped for the night. We are camped on Mud Creek, near a ranch. They turned the cattle on the bottom to feed. This creek has the right name, as the water is as muddy as can be.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 26

Clear and pleasant. They are yoking up to start again. We passed a stone house and they have a stone wall all around the lot to keep their horses in. They have stopped now to fill the kegs and to water the cattle. Soldiers are stationed here. We will not get any more water now for 20 miles. We came through the awfulest looking country you ever did see, with not a sprig of grass, just a few sage bushes. We passed another stone house, with soldiers living here. The stable and house are built together. They way this is a God-forsaken country. We are camped tonight in a nasty, dusty place and the dust is four inches deep. The wind blew the dust in our faces all evening and it is half soda. When we wash our hands they feel like we are washing them in soda water. They have to dip water out of a spring with buckets to water two hundred and forty head of cattle and it is three miles to grass.

THURSDAY, JULY 27

The captain says we had better go in small companies on account of grass and water. They talked and studied about it until four o'clock, then twenty-five wagons pulled out and started. We came over the roughest roads and the dust was so thick we could not see ten feet. It is like going through an ash bank. We passed another stone house, with the soldiers sitting in front of the door. They looked lonely here in the mountains. Their house and stable are built together on account of the Indians. They have to haul their water six miles. We passed two rocks that were in the shape of a cuppalo. They looked to be about 50 feet high from where we were. One looks like it had two doors in it. On the other side of the road is a mound of dirt in the shape of a hay stack. There is not a drop of water nor a sprig of grass and they corraled the cattle.

FRIDAY, JULY 28

The cattle were so hungry they broke out past the guards. The men had to jump up and run after them. They had not had anything to eat for a day and night. We started about daybreak and came six miles, where we found plenty of grass. They got breakfast and will start at one o'clock this evening. Today is the first time I have been up for ten days and I am so weak I cannot stand alone. The mountains are almost gone and I am go glad for I am so tired of tumbling down hill in the wagon. Att is sick and Frank has to take his horses out to herd. We came through the most doleful looking country this evening you ever hear of. The dust is about six inches thick and our faces look like we have been wallowing in ashes. You would laugh to see Frank. We crossed Bitter Creek, a nasty looking stream. The water looks green and is poison. They say one of the loose cattle got mired in the creek, and had to be pulled out with ropes. There is a stone house just this side with three rooms and a porch and a stone wall around the lots. I saw one very nice looking lady there. We came over one place this evening where there was just room for the wagon to pass between a high bluff and a steep hill. The cattle wanted water and I thought they would run the wagon down the hill. W are camped tonight between two high bluffs, with nothing growing but sagebrush. That is what they have to cook with. It is the best kind of stove wood. We have plenty of good spring water. They have to water all their stock at the spring. They talk of staying until Monday on account of sickness. I can sit up some. They have to drive the stock three miles to get grass. Our old captain is camped a few yards below us.

SATURDAY, JULY 29

Clear and cold, with ice on the water in the buckets. Some of the women are washing and some cooking. I am not able to do anything. Just now a terrible accident happened to Miss Rhyne. She had set some salt raising and just as it began to raise one of the horses turned it over. Ann divided ours with her and we all had a nice pone of light bread. This evening is very warm. Frank has to go on guard at three o'clock and will be on till seven in the morning.

SUNDAY, JULY 30

They have driven in the cattle and are going to start. The sick are some better. Frank says he had a fine time last night. They killed a jack rabbit and cooked it. We came through the awfulest looking country, the whole earth looks like it had been burned. The road which we are traveling in is like ashes and the wind blows all the time. Our faces and hands feel like lime was on them. Our old captain passed us this morning before we started. We caught up with them and traveled on together as we have done before until they stopped for dinner. We drove on. We passed a stage station. The house was built of rock and the windows they have in their houses are about eight inches square, I suppose on account of the Indians, but by the goodness of God we haven't had any trouble with them yet. The stage runs now without guards but awhile back there was an escort of 20 to 50 soldiers with it. They we felt more afraid. Our captain wouldn't let us have a light in our wagons at night. We are camped tonight on Bitter Creek. The water is clear but very bad, though it is all we have. Oh! How I do wish for a drink out of our old well in Shelbyville. There is nothing growing here but sagebrush. We are thankful for that although they have to drive the stock two miles to grass.

MONDAY, JULY 31

My birthday. I was very sick all night but I feel some better this morning. We started out again through this dreadful country. Ten wagons are all we have together now, all that were in the company that were bound for Oregon, six families in all. We passed another station and I can't tell how they content themselves to stay in this country with nothing to interest one at all. You can't imagine how the bare mountains look, covered with rock and in the valleys sage brush. They say we have to drive the cattle two or three miles over the mountains where they get plenty of bunch grass. We passed a company of packers with their ponies packed down. We stopped for dinner and to water and rest the cattle, wit not a mouthful for them to eat. Frank is shoeing one of Att's oxen. I am very sick. We passed another company of packers from the mines. We are camped on Bitter Creek and the water is just running. The banks are about 20 feet straight down and there are only two places the stock can get down to water. One of Att's horses got mired in the quick sand and had to be pulled out with ropes. They say there is a bitter weed growing on the creek that is very poisonous.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 1

Windy and cold enough to sit by a big fire. They have driven in the cattle and had to take two or three down at a time to water. One of Mr. Hazelwood's horses got mired in the quicksand and Frank had to pull it out with his big oxen. We passed a very nice looking ranch with a large stone stable on one side of the road and the house on the other. We saw one lady there. We have stopped to fill our kegs out of the sulphur spring. They all brag on the water being so good but as for me I can hardly drink it. We caught up with another train and I thought the dust would choke me. Sometimes the dust was so thick we could not see any of the cattle but the wheel cattle. These are the roughest roads we have come over since we left the Black Hills. We crossed Bitter Creek again and it was an awful crossing. The wagons were almost straight up and down. We are camped tonight with Bitter Creek on our left. They drove the cattle two miles over the mountains to get grass. They say they can get plenty but to look at them it don't look like there was s sprig of anything growing on them. The cattle all look well though. This evening just before we camped a white man and an Indian squaw passed us going to Virginia City on pack horses. They had two horses packed with their provisions and clothing. She was riding like a man with a little one in her lap.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2

Clear and cold. I was very sick all night and haven't been up since Sunday. The mountain fever is a mean, low, lingering fever. We passed a grave on the side of the road. I could not go to see the name. It is a doleful place to be left in. We passed a ranch. We have been traveling up a valley today about 50 feet wide, with the high, ragged mountains on each side. We are camped tonight at a ranch by a spring, 30 miles from the Sulphur Springs. The water is so bad and I am worse and can't sit up at all. There is another lone grave apiece from where we are camped. They drove the cattle two miles over the mountains to feed. There are two wagons here. Their mules are all gone and they are left.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3

Clear and cold, with ice on the water. My fever is rising. I am lying in bed writing. Frank has all the cooking to do. They drove the cattle but did not find grass until this morning. We will have a very late start. They have concluded to stay here today on account of sickness. This evening Att went to hunt grass. He found a spring about five miles from where we are camped. He yoked up and we went there. As soon as they stopped Frank went and got me some water and I drank as much as they would let me have. I then got to perspiring and went to sleep. Just as I had got to sleep Ann came to the wagon and said: "Ruth, did you hear of that terrible accident that happened just now?" That scared me into a chill. I though some of our company had got killed. There were three wagons started after us. They were about two miles behind us and two of the men had a fuss before they started. Frasier got his hatchet out to knock his wagon tire on and the other man thought he got his revolver out to shoot him and shot him three times and then went back to the ranch. One of the men came for some of our men but none of them went. They put him in a wagon and brought him to where we are. They drove the wagon with the dead man in it right in front of our wagon and I could not look out without seeing him.


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