Benjamin Stevens

  1849 California Journal

Giving an accurate account of my route, incidents, etc. occurring on the way.

  April 1849

April 17, Tuesday.  The wagons having gone some few miles on the way, waiting our arrival according to pre-arrangements made with my family.  We arose early, finished packing some trifles to complete our outfit, we sat down to breakfast with as much composure as we could command under the circumstances.

The moment of separation had arrived -- the big tear started from every eye.  We had often talked of parting, but this was the reality, a scene which time can never efface from my memory.  It was six o'clock A. M. after a rainy night.

We overtook the wagons just after they started from Camp Weathers[1] 8 miles from Hannibal, Missouri.  We traveled till we came to Stones' Prairie about fifteen miles from home[2] where my friend A. D. Atkinson invited me to dinner.  The lady, we found to be Mr. Stone's daughter, Margaret, whom I had not seen for several years when she was but a child, but now the mother of two pretty little girls.  After dinner an hours walk brought us up to the wagons.  We camped at Sea's.[3]  We slept in the wagon.  It was a cold night and a hard bed.  I slept but very little.  Camp Sea's -- 22 miles.

  April 18, Wednesday.  This morning I commenced cooking and we traveled to Ragsdale.[4]  Camp Ragsdale -- 15 miles.

  April 19, Thursday.  We slept in the wagon again last night.  Rested very poorly.  Bed too hard and the night very cold.  Considerable frost this morning.  Concluded to stay at this camp a day or two as the grass is but beginning to show itself in the prairie.  Camp Ragsdale.  The North Fork of Salt River is up and will be fordable tomorrow.

  April 20, Friday.  After eating our breakfast with a good appetite which consisted of fried eggs and bacon, good bread and coffee, we started to cross the North Fork of Salt River with considerable hollowing[5] and cracking of whips, we succeeded in getting all safe over.  Our teams consisted of six ox wagons each drawn by five yoke of cattle, two spring wagons, one drawn by two mules and one drawn by two horses.  We passed some very good farms and handsome improvements today and camped at Mr. Wilson's near Otter Creek.   12 miles. 

April 22.  Arrived at Paris, Monroe[6] about eleven o'clock.  Paid a visit to Dr. Heitig[7] an old friend and Mrs. Webster.  Dined with Mr. Taylor at his house. Camped near Madison.  16 miles.      

Baked my first attempt at making bread.  After breakfast went to Meeting.  Heard Mr. Thomas, a reform preacher from John the Third "except a man be born of water" etc.  I was invited to preach in the evening but declined.

  April 23, Monday.  Arrived at Milton about eight o'clock.  Wrote a letter home during a shower of rain.  Camped at Widow__________.  18 miles.

  April 24, Tuesday.  The weather still continues cold and the grass very short.  Health of company good and we are all in fine spirits.  15 miles..

  April 25, Wednesday.  Traveled 16 miles.  Camped at Price.

  April 26, Left camp at eight o'clock, crossed the Chariton by fording.  Camped at Thomas's near Mr. William Hicklin's.  Passed through Brunswick, ferried over the Grand River, traveled up the Missouri bottom a few miles, came to a small town called DeWitt near night.  Could get no corn.  Came on to Widow Thomas's and camped.  17 miles.                                          

  April 27.  Off at seven o'clock, passed through the county seat of Carrol, Carrolton.  In watering the oxen just before we came to camp at a beautiful lake on the prairie, the oxen became unruly and ran too far in and would have been mired, some of them, but for Yankee John jumping into the lake and sighting them and driving them out.  Camp Hill - 15 miles.

Saturday April 28.  Off at 8 o'clock through a very rich settlement.  Camped at Freeman's P. M.

 Sunday April 29.  There is a meeting appointed for Brother Jeptha Smith at eleven o'clock today at a school house in sight of the camp.  Brother Smith is an old acquaintance and fellow laborer with me.

After boiling our coffee and eating our breakfast, I prepared for meeting.  Brother Smith did not come.  A small congregation but most of our own company being there nearly filled the house.  I (being invited by one of the leading members, a Brother Bradley) addressed the congregation from John 10:7.  Henry Stevens, Vail and myself were invited and went home with him and ate dinner.

The cattle being turned out to graze in the prairie, some of our company rode two horses after them.  They got from them with their bridles on and away they galloped across the prairie past a beautiful lake into the timber toward the Missouri bottom.  After about two hours, they are found in the Missouri Bottom.  This evening three of our company took a walk down  to the Missouri bottom it being but about a mile from our camp but took the wrong course in returning back and got lost for some time and walked some ten or twelve miles, but safely arrived at camp before sun down.

  Monday April 30.  Left camp at eight o'clock, passed through Richmond came to Saunderson's where we camped.  15 miles.                            

horizontal rule

[1]Probably Withersmill.

[2]Stone's Prairie was probably just south of West Ely.

[3]Sea's probably should have been spelled "See's." 

[4]Ragsdale was probably the other side of the present Hunnewell on North Fork.

[5]Hollowing--all  through the diary he used this word for hollering.  Perhaps it was an early use of the word meaning noise making.

[6]Paris, Monroe, meaning Paris in Monroe County.

[7]Heitig, this word not clear, may have been Heitry.

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Final Note