|Relationship: “Captain” Wash Browning was the husband of my second great grand aunt, Flora Wilkinson. This diary solved the mystery of how he died away from home at the age of 41.
A Diary of the travels of William Thomas Lockridge (Father of Elizabeth Jane Lockridge Marshall) leaving his home in Palestine, Texas, March 1st 1849.
A Sketch Book, or diary of travels from Palestine, Texas, to California, the land route, a short description of that country, and Return again to Palestine by water, by the way of the Isthmus _____________
Left Palestine Texas lst of March 1849 for California in company with G. W. Browning as Captain and seven other men, (to wit. W. T. Wright, W. Duke W. Killion Cearnal, A.M. Browning, W.B McBride and W. Herron. Went by the way of Shreveport for the purpose of disposing of some cotton which Capt. Browning had, and to buy our supplies for our Carriage with one horse attached.
We found the roads from Palestine to Shreveport very bad, the distance about 200 miles, loaded there with provisions and some goods, started for Fort Smith a distance of 350 miles. for the purpose of joining the Fort Smith Company. Arrived there the 15th of April, roads very bad.
The Fort Smith Company having started, we tarried about one week, When 4 men and 2 wagons having joined us, we started for Santifee (Santa Fe), traveling the same road, the Fort Smith Company and government troops had gone, On the 22nd of April who had left about 2 weeks before us–
During which time passed many waggons and squads of men, whose waggons were either mired down or broken, one meg of 12 men and 4 waggons succeeded in getting through the bad road, about the same time we did and finally joined Captain Browning’s Company.
The names of the 4 men that joined us at Fort Smith was Col. G. W. Lucas, Sam’l Brown, Israell Chamberlain & Mr. Hull a Blacksmith, who rendered us very important services on the way. He was from Tennessee, the other 3 Gentlemen were from Texas.
On the 22nd of May we overtook the Fort Smith Company, Capt Dillard at their head, and a company of Dragsons under Capt Marcys command as an escort, they had one piece of cannon with them. We are now about 240 miles west of Fort Smith.
The country through which we have passed since we left Fort Smith is inhabited by several difference tribes of Indians (to wit) Chocktaws, Chickasaws, Delawares, and some other tribes their names I do not now recollect, all profess friendship and some of them truly kind and in half civilized state, They have American schools and missions amongst them, and some of them appear to take great pride in learning the English language. I stopped at an old Indian house one day to get a feed of corn for my horse, he was greatly delighted with my conversation with the children who were then going to an English school, and seem to be very much gratified indeed to know they could read and talk a little English to me, he not understaning a word himself, they would also read some books published in their own language, Which seemed to create considerable laughter amongst them when they found that I did not understand them.
Some men are opposed to missions, but I think if they were to travel and see the great difference in the different tribes of Indians between those that have schools and missionaries amongst them, and them that have none, I think they would abandon their opposition.
We passed only two American houses from Fort Smith to the above mentioned place. the first was called The Indian Agency, the Second and last Edwards Trading House, which is situated on the Canadian river about 200 miles above Fort Smith, A portion of the country through which we have passed is beautiful, and I have no doubt would be productive, dry rolling prairies, with occasional skirt of pretty good timber.
We travelers with the Fort Smith Company about one week encamping near them every night their military arrangement of encamping, did not seem to suit our Gold hunters, and we came to the conclusion to go ahead. Accordingly we left them the 26th of May, several other waggons and about 30 men joined us, May 27 this being the sabbath we did not travel, Our company have increased to about 60 men. We had preaching today by Parson Stevenson of Little Rock, Ark. quite a novelty to me indeed in the wide spread prairie with a few small trees for shade far from home and friends, in a distant land amongst savage Indians, there we had an orderly congregation seated on the ground, listening to one of the servants of our master expounding his everlasting Gospel.
28th May All well and in good spirits, traveled 20 miles this day, further than usual in order to get to water and wood, had to encamp with but little of either, and grass very short. The country here presents a very picturesque appearance, a very uneven surface presenting to the eye of the traveler a great number of little mounds almost entirely naked, Showing a soft limestone, something resembling a burnt lime kiln.
May 29. Traveled 18 miles to day Mostly all day in sight of the Canadian, took dinner on the bank, the bed of the river here is about 3/4 of a mile wide, almost a perfect bed of sand and but very little water in it, the general appearance of the country, hilly and somewhat barren.
30th Traveled 15 miles Nothing transpired worth of note.
31st Traveled 16 miles, most of the day in sight of the Canadian river, crossing several dry branches on Nearly so, the beds of which are from 20 to 50 yards wide, a perfect bed of sand. This night 2 Mexicans camped with us, Say they are in search of the Comanchies Indians to trade with them having brought from San Magriel, and Santifee tricks for that purpose.
June 1st All well crossed what is called Dry river near its junction with the Canadian about 200 yards wide, No water a bed of sand,
This day we fill in with 40 Indians call themselves Kioways, professed friendship they were a war like Indian welll armed with guns, bows and arrows and lancet which is a spear put into a handle some 5 or 6 feet long. which they use in time of Battle, they were riding fine horses and mules indeed they looked a little suspicious. We did not know how soon they might be reinforced and give us a fight, they traveled with us several miles. We stopped at noon formed our waggons into a correl invited them into eat and smoke with us, but they were quite shy at first seeing we had a pen made of our waggons and but one way to come in it was with some difficulty we could get them persuaded to come in and not then till Capt. Browning told us to lay our arms away, they doing the same thing except the Chief, who was permitted to fetch in his Bow and arrows, finally by degree nearly all came in except those who took charge of the horses and guns.
We ate and smoked together, the old chief also having a portion of his dried buffalo meat brought in, would have us to pertake of that, we gave them some tobacco and parted in friendship.
Traveled this day 15 miles and encamped on the bank of the Canadian.
Before day in the morning one of our sentinels believed he saw some Indians coming in the direction of our camp fired at them and retreated to camp and reported this being the first time we were aroused from our slumbers and ordered to arms. The Captain’s orders were, Those that had horses staked out to bring them into camp immediately, the others to get their guns and prepare to meet the expected foe. But I believe I was the only one in that battle that got hurt having a good horse staked out some hundred yards from the encampment I went post haste for my horse and stumbled over a stake to which some other horse was tied, and raked the skin off my shin bone for about 2 inches, which proved to be a very sore leg.
The Indians, if there were any did not show themselves, distance made this day 16 miles.
3 d Being sabbath did not travel in the evening of thie day Capt Phillips with whom we had formed some acquaintance in Fort Smith with 23 men and 4 waggons over took us, which makes our company now 83 strong. 5 Indians came to our camp and stayed all night with us profess friendship called themselves Siams.
Monday 4th All well except one man who has chills and fever, This day 18 Mexicans came to our camp with 40 or 50 mules and horses. They say they had a little fight with those Kioway Indians that visited us a few days since. The Mexicans had one man badly wounded, and say they are afraid the Indians may pursue them, and wish our protection until they reach their homes at or near San Maquel which is the first Mexican settlement we come to. The country is Hilly Sandy and barren grass bad our road for serveral days has been on the river bottom scarcely any timber, the whole bottom subject to over flow. From the 3d to the 10th Nothing of interest transpired, except on Thursday of this week A part of the Fort Smith Company overtook us (to wit) 23 waggons and 93 men, they are still with us.
The country over which we have traveled this week is rolling sandy barren prairie, almost entirely destitute of timber, grass short and water scarce . Traveled this week 95 miles
Monday 11th This day traveled about 25 miles. Yesterday and today we traveled over an almost entire level plains without timber or the least shrub of any kind except on one or two creeks upon which there is some scattering cottonwood. The Mexicans of which I spoke sometime since are still with us. We are considerable distance ahead of the troops, they having taken the divides, and we traveling the road made by companies gone ahead of us. encampt on a creek called by the Mexicans Rock Creek a tributary of the Canadian.
12th All well except one man whose name is Price, he is quite unwell and has been for some time, partly on his account we traveled only 10 miles, We encampt for the night some wood and water, but grass scarce.
13th Traveled 25 miles over a beautiful plain destitute of timber, encamped without wood, dry grass, and had to use salt water, the ground is litterally parched up the road very dusty.
14th All well, started early traveled 24 miles without water for our stock, the day quite cool. Could wear our blanket coats, encamped on a dry creek where we found some puddle holes thick with mud.
Saturday 16th Traveled without water 25 miles encamped on a creek where we found plenty of water tho a little brackish. fine grass and plenty of cedar wood. We are evidently near the dividing ridge, between the Canadian and the Puercs, a tributary of the Rio Grande. This portion of our road presents to the eye of the traveler the most delightful scenery that heart could desire. You pass through plains of from 5 to 10 miles wide, with frequent little mounds shooting up to the level with the bluffs on either side of the valley, some what in the form of a sugar loaf. To day Capt. Browning ascended one of those little hills, upon the top of which he found some petrified oysters and other shells, which evidently proves that all this country has at some former period been under water. Traveled this week 110 miles.
June 17th Being Sabbath we did not travel, this day our Mexican friends left us, say they are 2 days travel from San Manguel and Old Spanish town near their place of residence. Say we will get there in 3 days.
18th Traveled 20 miles encampt where we got pretty fair water and grass.
19th Traveled 17 miles encamped on a beautiful stream of running water Cool and well tasted. I presume it is the Puerco. All well and getting along finely. My horse is failing for the want of grass which is short and dry.
20th Traveled 25 miles encamped after dark at a fine spring but no grass at a Mexican Ranchio, this being the first appearance of cultivated land. Since we left the Chocktow Nation, from this spring the Mexicans irritgate their land and raise pretty good corn of an early kind, (Blue flint) which is now from half leg to knee high.
21st Traveled only 8 miles encamped at a Spanish Town called San Maguel situated on a beautiful stream of constant running water, fed from the melting snow and ice in the mountains, a little to the North west, at night we have quite a chilling breeze from those snow capt hills, At 12 oclock of a clear day in the Valley it is quite pleasant. This river is called the Pachas which flows to the South into the Rio Grand.
22nd Traveled 10 miles grass bad carried water 1 1/2 miles for camp use.
June 23d. Traveled 10 miles, good water and tolerable grass encampt near the ruins of an old Catholic Chapel and large walled Town, which appears to have been evacuated for centuries, they are situated on the top of a rocky ridge, surrounded by level plains for some considerable distance, I spent an hour or two in visiting those ruins, and I must confess they are beyond description. At least by me, from the short interview I had of them the remains of the walls on the outside is plain to be traced, about a half mile in length, and the enclosure on top of the hill, is from one to 200 yards in weadth. Varying on account of the abruptness of the ridge which in places is exceedingly Rocky, within this enclosure are to be traced the foundations of hundreds of horses or small rooms which have been built of mud and stone. The chapel seems to have been built with square blocks of clay sun dried somewhat resembling bricks only larger, it is of extensive dimentions. June 24th Being the sabbath we traveled 5 miles for the purpose of getting better grass, and encampt, traveled this week 95 miles. Monday 25th I left the train and went to Santefee 25 miles distant from this place, Our waggons tarried here near 1 week for the purpose of repairing, I went for the purpose of trading my horse and buggy bot nearly worn out which I effected for a first rate mule, saddle and bridle. Santefee is like all other Spanish towns, the houses of dobe or sun dried bricks. One story high with flat roofs, it is a place of considerable trade, about 5000 inhabitants. Awful in the extreme for its wickedness. The train met me at Galestia a little Spanish town South of Santefee on Saturday the 30th 24 miles from where I left them. Santefee being too far to the right the trains did not pass through town.
Sunday July 1st We left Galestio for the purpose of traveling 5 miles out to water and grass, when we got to the watering place we found none of any consequence it was then 25 miles to the next water, We were compelled to go on the balance of the day and half the night having prepared drinking water at Galestio, We stopped till day and started again and about 10 oclock we got to the water which is known by the name of Stinking Pond, which answered our stock a valuable service but not fit for the use of man. The water we started with was not quite exausted we took our breakfast started for the next water which was about 15 miles distant, which place we arrived at about dark.
July 2nd On the evening of this day we had quite an alarm in our train, about 2 hours before sunset Col Lucas Wm. King and myself concluded to go ahead of the train to a spring and look out for good grass and make fire by the time the train would come up, when we approached near the spring we discovered people some on horse back and some on foot, being in the range of Indian depredations we were somewhat cautious in our approach. We proceeded slowly toward the spring and their number appeared to increase. We called a halt to put our guns in order and upon examination we found we had but one load of powder a piece besides the loads in our guns, We could discover our train some 3 miles behind, it being a level prairie country, We mounted our hourses and progressed toward the spring slowly, some distance farther, when the men rode off the road some distance to an eminence formed themselves into a line. We halted and came finally to the conclusion they were Indians, they brandished their swords,which we believed were lancets,gave a war hoop and came in full speed toward us. We then turned to retreat to the train in full speed for a short distance, then halted, to see what they were doing, they were still in swift pursuit of us. We kept a head sufficient distance to be out of reach of fun shot. We proceeded in this way for about 2 miles, when suddenly they halted being within a mile of our train (which was in full view). We also halted, a number of our men with Capt Browing was near at hand at the time, he seeing the chase mustered some of his boys into service, fully believing that they were Indians, this was one of the times that tryed our boys, some of them had too much of a hankering to take care of the waggons. Three of their company proceeded slowly, and came up to see us when to our astonishment and somewhat chagrined (to think they would act so) we found them to be Americans, who say they are a ranging company authorized by government to keep the Indians in check in this region of country, who frequently commit depredations on the Mexican settlements. They were suspicious looking fellows and we were not very well pleased at their treating us in that way and we were inclined to believe they were highway robbers. At any rate we watched our camp closely that night, we encampt at a beautiful spring which emptied into a salt lake, a short distance from its source, having traveled yesterday and today 46 miles. There has been a great division and dispersion amongst the emigrants, who came through this route at Santefee. Some taking the Northern route, some the middle on old Spanish trail, and many others the Southern Route which is the only practicable way for waggons from Samtefee. the latter route we have taken, our company now only numbers 26 men 2 Females and 4 children, Many however are a short distance ahead of us and many others close in our rear. We expect our number will be greatly increased at the crossing of the Rio Grand.
July 3d All well for which we have great reason to be thankful, traveled 5 miles finding some fine springs and good grass for our stock We encampted for the night. The country through which we have been traveling for several days may be termed the Valley of the Rio Grand. Very thinly settled and can never be otherwise on account of the scarcity of timber and water.
July 4th All well did not leave our camp until 3 o clock, traveled till 10 o clock at night came to dry branch finding no water we encampt for the night. traveled this day 18 miles.
5th Started early in 3 miles found water, at the old Mascinia Church an old Spanish concern now evacuated. traveled this day 21 miles finding plenty of grass wood and water, we encampt for the night.
July 6th All well our oxen’s feet getting sore, traveled this day 30 miles without water We struck the river at a place called Sahaya . a little spanish town, In our travels today we passed through a narrow defile in the mountains called I believe by some travelers The Devils passway. This region of country generally is unsuited to cultivation, the river bottoms where they can be irrigated produce corn and wheat very well, the whole country from Santefee to this place is destitute of timber except some scrubby cedars in the mountain gorges. The river at this place is about 300 yds wide, it is now high, We now travel down the river in order to get a pass through to the Gila.
July 7th Traveled only 10 miles encampt on the bank of the river where we found plenty of grass for our stock traveled this week 128 miles.
8th Did not travel being the sabbath
9th Traveled only 6 miles to a town called Sabine at which place we crossed the river, Other trains being before we have to await our turn, the Mexicans having nothing but canoes to cross in. We have to take our waggons apart and swim our stock over. The river at this place is between 3 and 4 hundred yards wide.
11th Crossed our mules all safely over by 12 o clock of this day we were ready to role traveled 8 miles encampt at Socharo a Mexican town, at which place the U. S. Government have a company of troops stationed.
This morning we had a horse and a mule missing, either stolen or strayed. Train started T. W. Wright sick. Capt Browning and Col Lucas tarried behind to hunt the lost horses. Traveled 8 miles and encampt.
13th Traveled 8 miles passing some little Mexican towns encampt on the bank of the river, plenty grass.
14th Our sick man better, traveled 18 miles encamped on the banks of the river. this evening Capt. Browning came in but had not found the stolen horses, left Col Lucas still behind in search of them.
July 15th Traveled 8 miles, At dark Col Lucas returned without the horses, roads very rough —
16th Left the river traveled 20 miles crossing deep ravines and sand flats encampt on the bank of the river, pretty good grass.
17th Traveled 10 miles encampt on the river at this place we found 3 waggons left by some emigrants ahead of us and many other things of a heavy nature. Capt Browing left one waggon with many other things here, also the Lincoln Company with whom we now are traveling left one, road very bad.–
18th Traveled 12 miles over extremely deep sand and several deep ravines encampt near the river.
19th Traveled 11 miles very rough roads and sand deep, encampt on the river, fair grass.
July 20th All well except Capt B. who is complaining a little, traveled 12 miles, this day we crossed a little running branch of clear cool water, the first we have seen since we struck the Rio Grand. had to use the river water, encampt at dark delightful cool spring. The Valley of the Rio Grand thus far barren and sandy, road very rough, the only timber to be seen is a few cottonwoodon the margin of the river.
21st Traveled 10 miles, encampt on the bank of the river, at this place we over took several other companies (to wit, The Clarkville C Rodger, The Washington Co. and Capt Davis Company. here we leave the river and travel westwardly. Our general course from Santafee here has been South, We now have to travel 36 miles without water. 22nd — Left camp about 3 o clock P.M. traveled until 22 at night. Stopt till day. Started early got to the water, found it good. Capt B. quite sick also W. Duke complaining with diarhea or flux, several others are complaining of the same disease (not of our mess).
23 d Traveled this day 26 miles when we arrived at the watering place. found the water very scarce. Our sick folks some better, left one ox broken down, Also our blacksmith cart.
24th Started early distance to water 21 miles, arrived at the place about 10 oclock at night, found plenty of water and very good. Overtook a number of emigrants at this place. We are now on the waters of the Pacific Timblel river I think it is called, but loses itself in the sandy deserts before it reaches the Pacific. Most of the roads to day very good, large and extensive plains high and lofty peaks, and Mountains to be seen by the travelor in every direction all entirely destitute of timber, except some scrubby cedars, pretty fair grass. Sick folks no worse, very warm, about 32 degrees N. Latitude.
July 25th Left our camp about 3 oclock of this day, traveled 10 miles and stoped our oxen to graze till morning. We are now traveling with the Clarksville Company.
26th Traveled only 5 miles to good grazing and stock water. Capt B quite sick he thinks Typhoid fever, poor place for a sick man. W. Duke better.
July 27th Lay at our camp this day, Capt. B. still worse, Met with some Apachie Indians here, brot in some mules, and traded for horses, which suited the emigrants very well, as their horses were about given out, These are the first Indians we have seen since we left the Rio Grand, they profess to be friendly, quite numerous in this section.
28th Capt B. Still sick and getting worse, Traveled 18 miles and encampt without water.
Sunday 29th Started early to find water traveled till dark 22 miles finding no water for our stock, we found a small spring which answered the purpose of quenching the thirst of our men. Next morning we found our oxen about 2 miles from the road where they had found a dirty pond of water which answered a fine purpose. Capt B’s case quite doubtful.
30th Traveled 10 miles found plenty of water and grass, the water was found on the margin of what is called dry lake by Capt Cook emigrants before us have very numberous little wells and some of them running over, Capt B. still worse.
July 3lst This morning found our mess and many others with heavy hearts, last night Capt. Browning’s attending physician pronounced his case a hopeless one and about 10 oclock of this day he expired, but not without hope of a better world than this, far from home and friends, where few white men if any could weep over his grave, we buried him as decently as the nature of the case would admit of, Religious ceremonies were performed at the grave by the Rev. J. B. Annis, of the M.E. Church. Thanks are due to Capt Rodgers of the Clarksville Company and many others who, done all in their power in aiding us during Capt B’s illness. We traveled 8 miles after night to overtake the train which had left about 2 hours by sun. Encampt without water.
August 1 Traveled 20 miles this day, had a tremendious hail storm and much rain. Encampt. plenty of grass wood and water.
2nd All well, traveled 10 miles good grass and water, encampt for the night. Country still destitute of timber, lofty mountains and high peaks, with level plains through which the road passes.
Aug 3d. This day we traveled about 10 miles crossing through a pass in
4th Traveled 10 miles most of the way down the bed of the creek very roaky, we crossed the creek in the 10 miles 42 times.
Sunday 5th Did not travel.
6th Left the creek traveled over a rough and rolling plain 16 miles and encampt, fair water and grass here, we heard of plenty of wild cattle and sheep, two of our boys went to the cattle range.
7th Traveled 14 miles encampt on a creek called Black water by cook. plenty of grass and water, the plains through which we have traveled the last 2 days are quite barren and thickly covered with misquite brush and prickly pears, lofty peaks and mountains to be seen on either hand in front and rear. rough roads through the passes.
8th traveled 10 miles encampt, our oxens feet very tender, expect to stop a day or two to kill some cattle and dry the meat to carry with us.
10th Traveled 18 miles plenty of grass and water, This section of the road was reported to be 25 miles without water. but the heavy rains we have had for the last few days gave us plenty.
llth Traveled 15 miles and sabbath the 12th 7 miles lay by the balance of the day, fine grass and water, heard two sermons by Revrand Mr. Annis. This day Thomas Dean with 20 others from Cheerkee County, Boys from Texas passed us on pack mules.
13th All well, traveled 12 miles bad roads. passed 2 deserted Ranchies and encampt at the foot of the Santicruse Mountains.
14th Crossed the mountains very narrow road steep and rocky, at the foot of which we come to a little Mexican town situated on a small river of the same name. There are a considerable number of Mexicans living at this place and farm their land to some considerable extent. They raise very good wheat, They have mills to grind their wheat but not bulling cloths. We bot some flour of them, price about 3 dollars per bushel, we ate it brand and all and considered it quite wholesome. Traveled this day 10 miles.
16th From this day until sunday 19th, we traveled about 65 miles. down the above named river, pasing through some rich bottom land and several deserted Ranchies and towns. Which but a few years ago had been in cultivation. Some splendid churches, which seem to have been lately used others very ancient and delapidated. Encampt where we found good grass and pond water.
Monday 20th Traveled 15 miles encampt near a Mexican town called Jibeato and many Pimo Indians live at this place. All poor and servants for the Mexicans.
21st Traveled 9 miles encampt near another town called Touson plenty of stock and provision at this place. Here I sold a considerable quantity of Capt. Browings goods to the Mexicans.
22nd Traveled 10 miles, encampt without little grass and holes of water. The valley begins to present a barren aspect.
23d. Traveled 8 miles bad water no grass. encampt.
24th Traveled 17 miles but little grass or water.
Aug 25th Traveled 17 miles weather excessively hot and the country entirely destitute of grass, encampt for the night.
26th Started by daylight traveled 28 miles here we struck the Gila river. 15 miles above the Pimo village, encampt for the night.
27th Traveled 3 miles in order to find better grass and encampt.
28th Traveled 15 miles got fodder and corn from the Pimo Indians to feed our oxen. encampt for the night.
29th Traveled 15 miles passing through the Pimo Village. the Indians settlements extend along the river about 15 miles. Most of which is rudely cultivated by those Indians. They live in rude huts made of in the form of a dutch bake oven with but one entrance.
Those Indians are quite friendly and are very anxious to trade with the Americans. They have wheat, corn peas coto flour which they are willing to exchange for clothing, domestic and calicoes, they are particularly fond of beads. have no cattle, and but few horses and mules. The Apacha’s and some other tribes of Indians steal them they say, This tribe is said to number about 15 thousand both men and woman go naked except a small rag around the waist.
They irrigate their lands from the water of the Gila, and I think would produce well if they would attend to watering but they appear to be lazy and indolent.
Aug 30th Did not travel having good grass and water we rested our cattle, This portion of the Gila is destitute of timber except some small misquite. Weather very warm.
31st. Lay in camp all day, started about sunset traveled all night and until 8 o clock of the first of September. Stopt for the day it being exceedingly hot the road very dusty. We are now about half way of a 45 mile stretch without grass or water and a parching sun it looks as though there had been no rain here for six months. The Gila is on our right some distance it is not practible for waggons to pass down it, Six months this day since I left home and not yet in California by near a thousand miles, an awful trip indeed to be called a pleasure trip. Started about 4 o clock of this day, reached the Gila about 2 o clock on the morning of the 2nd of Sept. Ourselves and oxen much wearied tired and thirsty, where we expect to stay until tomorrow morning. No grass, plenty of careless weeds, which answers the purpose of grass for our stock. Gloomy times indeed, oxen giving out daily, Many will have to leave their waggons at this place, our mess had to leave our largest waggon and numbers of others of the company had to do the same. Left camp Monday the 3d about sun down. Traveled until 2 oclock stoped till day there started and found grass and water about 8 o clock of the 4th of Sept having traveled 20 miles from our last encampment. Tarried here the balance of this day, also Wednesday the 5th.
An awful occurance took place this day in our camps, Two young men one named Elijah Davis, the other G.W. Hickey, while herding their oxen some short distance from the encampment, quarreled about some frivolous Hickey struck Davis, after which Davis give him a complete drubing, Hickey cried out to the bye standers to take him off, which was immediately done, having seperated them, and supposing all was over but to their great surprise and astonishment the next thing they discovered was Hickey with his knife open making an effort at Davis, he Davis, made an effort to wade the lick, but the knife entered the open of his body just below the left shoulder blade and he expired in about 10 minutes. The Clarksville Company with Capt Rodgers at their head and many others who were traveling with the company thought it to be just and right to have Hickey tried before a jury of his country men. Accordingly he was arrested and a regular jury empanneled the evidence fairly taking for and against the prisoner. The jury was permitted to retire and in a short time returned with a verdict of guilty of the murder of Elijah Davis, and the he the said Hickey die for the same, by being shot, it being late at night the prisoner was put under guard until tomorrow morning.
Sept 6th This morning a vote was taken of the whole company, wheather or not the verdict of the jury should be sustained. When we found an almost unanimous vote in favor of sustaining the verdict, accordingly his execution took place at 3 o clock this day, by 12 guns being at him, 6 of the guns loaded with powder and balls and 6 with powder only. I did not witness the heart rending scene. Thus two young men in the bloom of youth were ushered into eternity within a day of each other to meet their fate at the Bar of God. They lived near neighbors to each other in Johnson County, State of Arkansas.
Sept 7th We left camp after 12 o clock at night, reached the river after sun up. Traveled 11 miles no grass.
8th Traveled 12 miles encamped near the river no grass.
9th Traveled 6 miles found a little grass near the river, stopt for the day. Sandy road. Squally times indeed, very warm weather, oxen daily giving out, and almost daily we pass from 2 to 5 waggons left by the emigrants who are before us, emigrants are throwing away all their heavy loading such as Blacksmith tools, iron of almost every description, trunks, boxes &c. Our cattle now live almost on young cottonwood and willow brush.
Sept 10th Traveled 15 miles found some grass stopt for the night, next morning we found our selves about 4 miles from the river, the nearest water, drove our stock there found pretty good grass, We thought it advisable to tarry here awhile to recruit our oxen.
12th Started at night traveled 5 miles to the river little or no grass.
The 13th 14th & 15th. We traveled 30 miles encampt on the bank of the river. All well, we have to drive principally at night the days are so very warm.
Sunday 16th Did not travel till sundown this night and Monday morning 17th travelled 14 miles encampt on the river some grass.
18th 19th & 20th traveled 34 miles found pretty good grass and water, road sandy and dusty, cattle failing provision getting scarce, We have now only about 12 days rations of Flour, squally times indeed. We tarried at this place the 20th until the evening of the 20th gathering grass to furnish our oxen subsistance through a desert of 124 miles, and to let our cattle recruit. This evening we rolled to the Colorado a distance of 12 miles.
On our way we had one man killed by the Yuma Indians, he was a German who left camp about the same time that we did, he had a pony and pack mule, and traveled frequently by himself, which was the case when he met his awful fate to day. There was a train of waggons before him and one behind and he was just out of sight of either, when the deed was committed, he had no weapons, which the Indians discovering, that it a good opportunity to get his horses and packs, they had knocked him in the head with a club, and cut his throat with a lancet or knife, the mans name I do not now recollect said he lived in Independance, Missouri, had some property there, we buried him by the wayside and travelled on, the Indians having escaped with the pony and mule and packs, having swam them across the Colorado.
The Yuma tribe of Indians are quite numerous and somewhat saucy, but poorly prepared for war, their principal weapons of war are bows and arrows, They do not cultivate the soil to any extent. Mellons and pumpkins are their principal harvest which grow without cultivation after the seeds are put in the ground. The misquite beans are gathered by them and stored away for food in the winter. They are great rascals, and will steal when ever an opportunity offers, they are stout and robust and the most masterly looking females amongst them, I have ever seen. Men and women without clothing except their usual badge around the waist.—Having now arrived at the Colorado near the mouth of the Gila, I am compelled to say that the valley of the Gila considering its size and many places its extensive bottoms and plains, is less adapted to cultivation than any other portion of country of the same extent I have ever travelled through.
The bottoms are frequently 5 to 10 miles wide and mostly very rich soil, are at some seasons of the year entirely overflowed and at present very dry and dusty, being the dry season of the year. While riding the road you will frequently see drift wood in trees above your head while on horse back. If it were not for the overflow the land might be irrigated from the river, which has considerable fall and in some future day, become a great farming country. Having arrived at the Colorado a beautiful stream of about 400 yards wide rapid current our attention was next directed to the best mode of getting across, the conclusion was to build a raft, which was soon done. We expected to find rafts already made by emigrants before us, but the Indians would take them away as soon as the owners were out of sight, some made boats of their waggon beds and crossed quite safely. One man however did not succeed in affecting a landing, his waggon bed with its contents about $300. worth, and a sick man in it floated down the river about 7 miles to an Indian village, he got the sick man, but the waggon bed and goods he never got.
Emigrants who were numberous at the crossing had not time to lend him any aid. Our stock with out grass, and a sandy desert to cross our provisions almost exhausted, we were compelled to make all possible speed, otherwise we should have given them a good whipping.
All things ready on the 26th of Sept/49 we crossed the river carrying our waggons and goods on a raft, and swimming our stock without accident or loss.
Each side of the river me, (tho in a howling wilderness) of some of our large river towns in the United States. The throng of people unloading and reloading their waggons and the floating crafts on the water would almost make you believe you were in some commercial city, but the next thought kills all your happiness, when you are aware that you are in a far and distant land from home and friends and amongst savages in the wilderness.
Sept 27th. Was spent in reloading our waggons and preparing to cross the desert. Started on the 28th. Travelled mostly at night on account of the extreme heat of the day and on the morning of the 7th of Oct we succeeded in getting through, distance 112 miles. The whole way perfect bed of white sand, except at one small stream called New river, where we found some grass and rested our cattle two days. if it had not been for this, it would have been impossible for our oxen to have gotten through. This place was about half way of the distance. Not withstanding, hundreds of oxen and mules have fallen by the way side, and many more must fall.
We daily and almost hourly pass waggons left by the wayside, we succeeded in getting all our stock through but 2 oxen and one mule, the oxen gave out from fatigue and hunger, the mule was stolen by some Mexicans coming from California whom we have been meeting daily by hundreds on their return from California. We did not suffer much for want of water 24 miles being the longest stretch without. When we got within 6 miles of the end of the desert we were compelled to take our oxen from the waggons and send them to grass in order to recruit them a little to be able to draw our waggons through.
We are now at an Indian village near the divides between the Colorado and Pacific waters.
Plenty of sulphur water not very unpleasant to the taste, pretty good grass. Indians in ofensive, but nothing to sell us to eat, Our cattle and ourselves much exhausted.
Oct 9th Left camp travelled 14 miles to an Indian Village called San Philipi. This day passed through the divides between the Colorado and Pacific waters, it is a deep narrow channel through the mountain for about 2 miles with tremendious high and lofty peaks on either side. We did not have much steep road though some places very rocky and scarcely room for a waggon to pass through, huge walls of rock on either side.
10th Did not travel, finding grass and water, we rested our cattle being almost worn out.
11th. Travelled 10 miles encampt for the night near an Indian Village whose inmates appear to be quite friendly.
Oct 12th Reached Aqua Caliente or Warne old Rancheo here we found our boys who had gone ahead a few days ago. Found beef at 6 cents per lb and Flour with out bolting at 12 cents per lb. Mr. Warner does not now live here he does business by an agent. We also found plenty of the finest grapes I ever eat, also wine and peaches, the vinyard is superintended by an American by the name of Marshall. Worked principally by Indians, who are quite numerous at this place.
We found here a hot spring quite large enough to turn a mill and sufficiently hot to cook an egg in a short time.From the water of this spring they irrigate their land. There are also some fine cold springs and good grass.
We are now 120 miles from Los Angeles a town near the Pacific coast.
Here we sold or rather give away our small waggon and 3 worn out oxen. got 40 dollars for them.
We stayed at this place from the 12th to the 15th. When we left with one waggon and 4 yoke of oxen. travelled 12 miles and encampt.
Froom the 15th to the 20th we travelled 90 miles which brought us to Williams Ranchio, passing several Indian villages and Mexican deserted ranches. Road generall good, passing through level plains surrounded by tremendious hills. Col Williams who lives at this place is an American, a Pennsylvanian by burth says he has been living in this country about 19 years, he is in possession of an immence fortune, it is said he has 15 thousand cattle and 15 hundred horses and mules.
We left Col Williams on the 23d for Los Angeles 30 miles distant at which place we arrived at in 2 days, passing several American Ranchios. Mr. Reed, Mr. Rollands, Mr. Walkers &c. all of whom have fine farms and are very wealthy. We passed a night at Mr. Rollands he treated us like a gentlemen. It done me good to have the privelege of again conversing with one who could give me some information in regard to the country.
There are some fine valleys of land here and where they can be irrigated are very productive. The grape grows to great perfection. Oats grow spontaneous all over the hills, though at this season of the year there is no green vegetables to be seen only from irrigation. No rain falling from April till November. Peuble De Los Angeles is a considerable town 24 miles from the Pacific Coast. At least the nearest
I am now sitting upon the banks of the Pacific. I can now say I have crossed the Continent of America. There is no town of consequence at this place, a pretty good harbor for ships, a warehouse, and a common boarding house. No wood or water except what is purchased at a high price, and now I can say having passed through our land travels as a general thing, there is no timber such as would be considered useful (except for fire wood) from Fort Smith to this place. Mountains and plains are alike destitute of any valuable timber.
Nov lst. This day we got on board of the Brig Mali Chadel, a good sailing vessel 156 persons composed the number of her passengers and very much crowded. On the evening of this day we set sail for the City of San Francisco, a distance of 700 miles. the wind blowing almost to a gale, the sea was very rough, it was not long before almost all the passengers were sick and vomiting. Such a sight I never beheld before, it being the first time I was ever at sea.
We had quite a stormy time all the way up the coast, and indeed, I thought the night before we got into the harbor of San Francisco, the ship with its crew would go to the bottom of the sea, the wind, which had blown hard all the way, had now become a perfect gale. the waves breaking over our little vessel at an awful rate, I was ready to give up the ship but the captain and officers did not seem to be much concerned. the sails were nearly all drawn in and the ship left to combat with the waves till morning. When we found we had been beaten off from the Golden Gate (as it is termed) some 40 or 50 miles, but the storm having greatly abated, and having a fair wind we soon reached the long sought port, the City of San Francisco. On the 8th of Nov about noon our little ship dropped her anchor amidst hundreds of other already moored in the bay of San Francisco, the city presenting a grand view upon the sloping hills around the shore. It being 8 months and 8 days since I left my home and family.
The City of San Francisco is beyond description the vast increase of its population, the rapid growth of its improvements cannot be described. I have been here about 2 months and hundred I may say, Thousands of new buildings of some kind have been erected. Many of them are canvas or tent houses, and many other from buildings brought from the States. Ships are almost daily arriving with emigrants, lumber and provisions. There are several towns above this, on the several rivers (to wit,) Stockton on the San Janquin, Sacrimento City on the Sacrimento river, Fremont and Vernos on the Feather river and Marysville on the Yuba one mile above its junction with Feather river.
On all of thses rivers gold to a greater extent abounds. This being the rainy season here, I have not as yet visited the mines, a great many of the miners have left and come down to the towns to winter.
From all the information I can gather Golds is not as abundant as it was represented to be in the States, nor so easy got at. It takes hard labour and all who are industrious and saving do well in the course of their summers work. It frequently happens that men light upon rich places that yield them thousands of dollars with but little labour.
A short description of the country, and my travels in California after I left San Francisco and my return home to my family in Texas.
On the first of January 1850 I left San Francisco for the mining district on a steam boat, for it must be considered that the nearest profitable digging is at least 200 miles from San Francisco. I went up the Sacrimento river to Sacrimento City which is said to be 150 miles from the former place, for which I paid 25 dollars besides one dollar and fifty cents for my dinner, passing the mouth of the San Joquin a river of considerable size and navigable for steam boats some distance up, which flows from the south, from the source of this river and its tributaries we get the name of the southern mines which in time passed have proved to be very rich. I stayed in Sacrimento City about 10 days could hardly decide which way to go, South or North. finally came to the conclusion to go to the Northern Mines.
I got on a steam boat took passage for Marysville paying 25 dollars more traveled up Sacrimento to the mouth of Feather river at which place there are two little towns, Vernon on the right and Fremont on the left run up Feather river to Yuber river one mile up which I found the place where Marysville was intended to be. Not a house there except an old Spanich dobe house, plenty of trading tents. Town had just been surveyed and lots then in market. On the 11th of Jany I got to that place, rain pouring down in torrents, no place to shelter except a little floating boat which had been turned into a boarding house at the waters edge. it then appeared to me to be 15 or 20 feet from the top of the bank. Next morning it was floating level with the top. The tents had all been moved to higher ground, I stayed two or three days there waiting for an opportunity of some conveyance to carry me up to the mines. The nearest of which was on the Yuba about 14 miles, but finding none the roads being impassable.
Myself and two other young men agreed with a man who was owner of a little whale boat, who had some flour he wished to carry up the river higher, to help him row his boat up if he would carry our luggage. We started, he gave me an oar and put me to work. I never worked harder in my life. After getting up about 5 miles we were compelled to leave the boat, the current being so strong, he put us ashore, then came the tug of war, we had to shoulder our sacks, pick up our beds (blankets) and walk wading through water from knee to hench deep. I then begin to wish myself at home again, but the prospect of an abundance of gold ahead buoyed up my spirits and enabled me to press on I was now near where the river gushed forth from the mountains in rapid torrents and for one to get on a little eminance and view the wide spread plains behind him and knowing at the same time the number of large rivers that must head up in these mountains, he will be astonished. On your right, left, and front it appears like a continued mass of mountains, apparently no passage for a water course to pass, but in following up the stream you will find them issuing forth in a zig zag form from amidst high and lofty peaks, and there are the places where the most gold is found. I travelled on that day and stoped at a place called Prases Bar on the Yuba where there was considerable mining going on. I stopt for a few days the wather being rainy and snow visible on the mountains. I did not wish to go further North at the present. Paid here 21 dollars per week for my board, and at this place the only one.
Ihave done anything in the way of digging and washing gold, whilst I was in California. An old Gentleman about my age had a claim not far distant from where I boarded in what was called dry digging, the river being to high to work in the banks, I proposed to him one day to go and help him grattis –if he would learn me the art of mining, he headily agreed to it, he put me to rocking as he considered it the dryest part of the work. I thought it was all dry, as it was called dry digging, but I soon found that it wet me from my knees down, having to rock with one hand and with a dipper, put in water with the other, in a short time my boots were full of water, it was hard work to me indeed.
He proposed however that day before night to divide the amount and quit which I readily acceeded to and further more if I would continue with him, he would give me half we made, to which I consented to. We worked about 5 days in digging out his claim, which averaged about 12 dollars per day each. by which time I was perfectly satisfied I would not be able to stand the hardship of mining, being near 5l years old and constitution some what shattered. I felt considerable Rheumatic pains in my limbs from the constant exposure to cold water. However I did not give it up, having now learned something of the art. I got myself a pan shovel and pick, provisions sufficient for 6 months, hired a man to pack it for me paid him 47 dollars per hundred for packing 37 miles, on my way up the Yuba coming in contact with the snow I concluded to stop awhile, went to prospecting which is the hardest work ever a man went at. Not successful. finally settled down on the South Fork of Yuba, purchased a ferry boat and the 15th day of March I commenced operation at the ferry being just one year and 15 days from the time I left home.
This I found to be profitable as long as I kept it, but some gentlemen putting a bridge across at the same place, ruined my ferry. I had an income at the ferry only about 4 months. I had then to turn my attention to some thing else. I looked around for some employment, coming in contact with a company who had caneled and damed the river for the purpose of working the river, I found it to prospect well, bot interest and in six weeks after I was 500 dollars out of pocket the river rose broke the dam and the company dispersed. bad luck. I thought indeed. However I thought it would not due to give up I had then laid out nearly all the money I had made to furnish the daming company with provision clothing &c. and they having broken up, I had to seek some other place to dispose of them. I found a suitable place on a public road leading to the Northern mines, myself and another gentleman by the name of Riggin, bot the Ranchio it was a valley of good grass for that part of the country. and a good stand for a tavern house, and trading post. Myself and partner continued together at this place for six months.
Done a fair business and about the 1st of April 1851 sold my interest to my partner, and another gentleman by the name of John Alexander. Now making preparations to return home.
Society in California is very bad indeed and when we consider the complicated mass of human beings which visit the mining region, a man cannot reasonably expect anything else but what astonished me most was to see our own people act so contrary to moral rectitude profession and non profession, all alike. When I say this I am speaking of the mining districts generally. Preachers of the Gospel who, I have no doubt come to this country for the ostensible purpose of preaching and proclaiming Christs everlasting Gospel, to the people, after a few efforts found it was like casting pearls before swine. gave up any further intention in that way, turned their attention to gold hunting, and in some few instances as I am informed turned out to be very bad men.
God’s foolstool come to the gold mines. If you want to see the place where gambling, drinking carousing and swearing take the place of social and religious meetings, come to the gold mines. If you want to see the place where the boys are brought up at the gambling table, and for the penitentiary and gallows, come to the gold mines. If you want to see the place where men fear neither God, man nor the devil, come to the gold mines.
If you want to see men that care nothing for themselves and less for others, come to the gold mines. Thus much in regard to the state of society in the gold mines and I am sorry to say that I am compelled to subscribe to the truth of the foregoing statement as far as my observation has extended. ——-
A short discription of the mining district. This is generally known by the Southern and Northern mines or diggings. The southern portion commencing on the head waters of the San Jonquin with all his tributaries North to the American river which empties into the Sacrimento river at Sacrimento City, all north of the last mentioned river is generally called the northern mines. The extent of the now discovered diggings North and South, must comprehend six or seven hundred miles. The Southern portion, being first discovered and first worked are not considered to be rich as the Northern though some are going well. One advantage a man may have in the Southern which he has not in the Northern mines is that he can work in the winter season. Whilst he is prohibited in the Northern district, in the winter and almost all the summer, by reason of the depth of the snow falling in that district of country usually men cannot work in the Northern mines, to any great advantage until about the first of August. Consequently have but a short season to work, rains or snow commencing about the middle of November, but frequently they are well paid for their years waiting and labour much suffering distress and even death occurs in this region of the mining diestrict, by reason of the miners venturing out to soon into the mountains in search of Gold, on as they term it, a rich claim, and a snow may fall from ten to fifteen feet deep, cut them of from retreat and thereby perish. I think I can safely say that I have heard of fifty perishing in the way during my stay in California.
Soil and agricultural productions of the country.
In many places on the rivers after they emerge from the mountains, the soil is very rich, and would produce abundantly if rain would fall in the right season but most of those rich bottoms and plains are submerged in water until after the dry season sets in, which prevents the people from planting as early as they should do. Wheat and Barley are raised to some considerable extent. Corn cannot be raised without irrigation and most of the rivers will not admit of that, the fall being not sufficient perticularly where the soil is good. Vegetables of almost every kind can be raised in abundance, upon those rich soils but most of the gardens and vegetables patches also managed that they can be watered either from wells or some other source. Grass is abundant upon all those rivers in the low grounds immense herds of cattle winter themselves and get very fat during the spring and summer months, useful timber is scarce in all those bottoms and plains, some portions of the country abounds with the finest pine timber of any other I have ever seen,but are located amongst the mountains where agriculture cannot be profitably carried on to any great extent, there are portions of the country also where red wood a species of the cedar grow to an enormous size and are very useful for boards and shingles. The cedars is found in the mountainous region of the country of great size and is very useful for board in the mining districts. There are many different species of the oak in California, but of little use, except for fire wood.
As my stay and travels in California was but limited, I shall for bear giving any further description lest I should not do justice to those portions which I have not visited, but as far as I have attempted to do so, I have endeavored to do it correctly.
There are a great many native Indians dispersed over this country and many sections are becoming quite troublesome, they are known mostly by the name of diggers, not from their industry in digging gold (for they are very lazy and indolent) but because they live principally upon roots which they dig and of the ground those with acorns make their food.
We are now one of the United States have a constitution and a state government, which laws are in a great degree wholesome at least as far as they extend but I am sorry to say that most of them are disregarded by both people and officers perticularly in the mining districts of country. Gambling appears to be the most prominent feature of pursuit in California, it is true gold hunting is next to it, but when men get gold they fall in the current think they are expert gamblers risk their money and frequently loose all. go back to the mines and dig again, come back to the cities and loose again, and in nine chances out of ten those men turn out to be bad.
I am compelled to give it as my opinion that there can never be a good state of society in this country until gambling is prohibited A greater source of evil, or more certain curse cannot exist over any people or nation, than the undisturbed practice of gambling.
Laws as yet cannot be passed to check or put a stop to its previlence, so large a majority of the voters who send their representatives to the State Legislature being of the same craft Legislation would be dangerous to their tenure in office, should they attempt any such a thing.
Having given a short account of the Society, soil, river &c. of California I shall now take up my journey.
I left my old place on the 8th of April 1851. Went to Marysville took a steam boat for San Francisco, landed there about l0 o clock of the night of the 9th. Tarried there until the 15th when I wnet aboard of the seam ship Isthmus, bound for Panama. Paying 100 dollars for second cabin passage. No accident except one days delay occasioned by some part of the engine getting out of order.
Distance from San Francisco to Panama 3600 miles. Landed at 2 ports on the way (to wit. Acapulca a Mexican town, like most other Mexican
The next place we landed at is called Realajo. this place is situated in Central America about 1000 miles from the former, we landed here for the purpose of cooling and watering. Buried one man here who died of consumption.
On the evening of the 7th of May we landed at Panama. This is a considerable town also in Central America, put up for the night at the American House kept by Americans where we were treated very well. The natives are negroes or Negro and Spanish mixt. They are quite numerous and in low state of moralization.
Town of considerable size, badly laid out streets narrow, houses many of them of stone, 3 or 4 stories high, We have now about 84 miles to travel to get to Chagres a little town on the Atlantic side 24 miles of which we travelled by land, hire a mule or go on foot as you choose.and sixty miles down the Chagres river which is a small stream emtying into the Atlantic at the little town called Chagres, which place we reached in 2 days from Panama, travelling down the river in small boats rowed by the natives.
From Panama to Chagres, it cost about 45 dollars pleasant trip at the roads
On the 11th about 10 oclock got on board the Steam Ship Falcon bound for New Orleans, paid for passage second cabin 35 dollars, by the way of Havana, at 6 o clock Friday morning we anchored in the harbour of Savana, being not quite 5 days from the time we left Chagres a distance of l000 miles.
Havana is on the Island
On the 18th left Havana at 2 o clock on board of the Steam Ship Georgia for New Orleans, arrived there at 6 o clock in the morning of the 21st. distance 600 miles, health at New Orleans good No sickness of consequence on our whole trip.
Saturday 24th left New Orleans at 6 o clock on board of the steam boat St Charles, price 10 dollars up Red river to Grand Ecore, Landed there Tuesday morning in bad health. About 8 o clock the 27th, Left on Wednesday 28th for Crocket in the Stage got to Crocket on Saturday morning at 8 o clock and ——ing at sun family in (this is way it ended)
Respectfully submitted to be a copy of the original diary as hand copied by Mrs. Edith Morris.