October 1. This morning we met two Pimas and a
Mexican with two yoke of oxen and an American wagon.
They informed us that there was a Pima village about five leagues before
us. These Indians are good looking
men and very friendly. Their
character is that of very hospitable and virtuous people.
We stop at about eleven o'clock to noon where we find good gama grass.
As good grass is very scarce along this River we stop lest we should not
find any farther ahead. The day is
very hot and the road dusty. The
country generally sandy and barren save some clusters of mesquite and cactus.
We passed a large cactus which is the most imposing and magnificent mass
of vegetable matter. It is forty
feet high and three feet in diameter, handsomely fluted in a solid column
without foliage and of a beautiful green color.
From its main stock grow out ten other large columns starting about five
feet from the bottom and curving round and upwards until they projected some
four or five feet from the main body, then running up parallel with and nearly
to the height of it. It is full of
small sharp thorns and would weigh several tons.
About sun down we find some ponds of
water and grass that was dry but nutritious.
2 October Tuesday. Our journey today has been over barren waste.
We have been very scarce of drinking water.
That which we brought in our canteens from last night's camp was very bad
and we had not enough of it. We
passed today several more of the cacti large but not as large as that of
yesterday. At eleven o'clock we
came to some holes of muddy water where we water our stock and take a bite in
our hands as we travel on. There
being no grass and we have no knowledge of when we shall reach any or when we
shall see any more water, we hasten on as fast as the oxen can travel but the
day is hot and the cattle are very tired. We
have some fears that we may be a long way from water or grass.
Our prospects look rather gloomy as we have yet to go nearly one thousand
miles and our road is unknown to us and we cannot get
any reliable information concerning it, but trusting in a Kind Providence
we shall use every effort to accomplish our journey as quick as we can.
About five o'clock we perceive a change in the face of the country.
The mesquite which before was small shrubs is here growing in small trees
and soon we come to a brook which was dry but evidently had recently had water
in it. Many were disappointed and
had to wait a farther discovery before slaking their thirst but another hour's
travel brought us to a small running stream of good water and plenty of
tolerably good grass. This was
quite unexpected to us and it considerable lightened up our countenances. 18 miles.
3 October Wednesday. Soon after dark last night the wolves set up a most dismal
howling within a short distance of our camp on all sides.
The mesquite woods seemed to be full.
The wolves howl around our camp almost every night but last night their
howling was greater than we had ever heard before.
But about ten o'clock, the wolves were outdone by the Indians (Pima and
Apaches) as their village was about a mile and a half from us.
Their warriors had been out about ten days to fight the Apaches and last
night two of their party brought news of success.
They had taken several prisoners and killed several and the squaws and
the Indians in the village set up a loud yelling and singing and firing of guns
that we could distinctly hear from at our camp.
Myself and Major Atkinson were on
guard from the rising of the morning star until daylight.
We could not imagine what was the cause of their rioting and did not know
but they might be preparing themselves to attack us at break of day.
But the break of day came and still they continued their singing and
yelling. After an early breakfast,
Messrs. Atkinson, Howard, Richmond,
Munson, Foster and myself and several others went to the village to see what was
the cause of the doings of last night. After
walking a mile and turning a point we saw a
great many Indians on a high rocky hill. We did not know but they were looking
out for us and intended to give us battle, but we were all armed but myself and
we went on as soon as we saw a crowd of Indians around an image of the Virgin
Mary as large as life. It was
draped in gaudy colors with a gauze frock and a fan shaped crown on its head
having its hands clasped together and looking upward with a supplicating
expression on its countenance. It
was very well molded and must have been done by some other than the Indians.
Her dress came down and covered her feet upon a small platform which was
borne by six squaws. She had glass
eyes which looked very natural and they placed her so that she faced the sun.
Behind her stood an Indian priest draped in a white flowing scarf with
his hat in his hand raised a little from his head.
He sang or chanted a verse and the squaws answered him in concert.
His voice was good and he performed well.
He seemed in earnest and down his cheeks (at some touching points of his
minstrel) anon would roll the falling tear.
The words were in the Spanish language as far as I could learn and in
singing of Mary and the Savior many of the squaws shed tears but oh how they
have perverted that system of religion which the Prince of Peace came to
establish. They use it to
commemorate their deeds of cruelty and blood.
He introduced it that there might be Peace on Earth.
After about an hour's singing, some
signal was given from the hill that the warriors were approaching at a distant
point out of sight behind some mesquite trees in the valley. Several of the children (youths) first ran in that direction,
soon a gun was fired and a yell and another gun. An old squaw could hold in no longer. She began to dance and hollow.
Presently two warriors galloped up with painted faces and feathered caps
or hats. One of them had several
scalps tied to the saddle. They
both dismounted before the image and each went very reverently and raised the
dress and bowed and kissed the foot
of the Image and then rode off to the church.
More yelling, and now comes a squaw with a painted face.
Her only clothing was a piece of cloth tied round her waist and she had a
butcher knife in one hand which at every step of the right foot (which was kind
of a jump) she mechanically raised her forehead and as it glittered in the sun
presented a very warlike appearance. Her
eye was kept steadily toward that point from whence the yelling and firing
proceeded. She disappeared in the
mesquite after going about two hundred yards and soon, came galloping the
warriors bringing several prisoners. Some
of them dismounted and kissed the feet of the Image.
The squaws took down a boy about twelve or thirteen years old that they
brought in prisoner. They gathered
around him and danced and jumped and gave the most hideous yells and fiendish
expressions of joy at the capture of their enemies.
They jumped the poor child up and down and pressed him and everyone would
catch a lock of his hair as he was jumping up and down and hold on to it until
they cut it off with a butcher knife. Then
they would throw it up into the air and yell the louder.
Thus, they went on for some time and then all went into the church
following the Image.
After this, the squaws went round
from one dwelling to another and sang in their loudest strains until the sweat
ran down on them, praising the warriors until they would hand them something.
Some gave them wheat, some bread, some ears of corn, etc.
They would bring an Appache woman who they had brought prisoner into the
church, an Indian going before her round to all the Images and going through the
ceremonies of religion. She does
likewise and thus becomes initiated into their tribe.
Their religion seems to be a mixture
of Roman Catholic and paganism. The
church is a very fine building for this country.
It is gaudy and yet there is a good deal of taste about it.
Much of it is rude, but many of the paintings and Images inside are of
excellent workmanship. It is a
large building with two cupolas and several bells.
The woman above named had two little
children that were taken with her prisoner.
One of the children was shot in the back of the head and the flies had
blown the sores. The Pima Indians
are a civil tribe said to be honest. They
have taken many of the Apaches prisoners and made slaves of them and many have
come among them voluntarily and they occupy ground on the north side of the
Church and the Pimas on the south side. The
Apache wigwams are about seven feet in diameter and look exactly like a shock of
hay. They are made by first setting
up some brush wood and then putting long grass over it, entwining it to make the
inside tolerably smooth and throwing it loosely over the outside so that you can
see through some of them. Others
are built more close but they are mere hovels with a doorway left not more than
two feet square so that they have to crawl in on their hands and knees.
The Pimas build wigwams a little better being made of straw in the same
way as the others but laid up better and some of them nine feet in diameter.
They are all built round. The
squaws take wheat and lay it on a stone about two feet long and nine inches wide
hollowed out on the top, and take another stone, and rubbing hard with both
their hands pressing down, grind the wheat about as fast as another can sift and
make it into bread and bake it. And
they can make very good bread and this is the way they do at every meal when
they eat bread. But they live, many
of them, principally on pumpkins which they boil, and serve out in pieces of
gourd for plates. And they take it
up with their fingers; and soup, or a kind of gruel they make, they dip their
hand in and take up a handful and sup it while the most of it falls back into
the gourd. But they continue to dip
and eat. Camp same place.
October 4 Thursday. This morning we leave camp for Tucson which is the capital of
the state of Sonora. About noon we
arrive on a creek running close by the town.
The grass is very poor but the information we get in relation to the
prospects ahead for grass induces us to stay.
A note was left here by someone, I do not recollect his name, for
immigrants. It states that there is
no grass for thirty miles from Tucson and that the road on the other side of the
Colorado over the desert of ninety miles is strewn with dead oxen, mules, and
dead men, that immigrants in crossing were six days, their cattle being so weak
that they perished for want of water.
It is now sunset. We are going to eat supper and tie up our oxen and move off
at moonrise, nine o'clock. 9 miles.
October 5 Friday. In consequence of one of the oxen straying away last night,
we could not move as we intended. This
morning we found a stray ox and start early passing through the town of Tucson
which is the capital of the State of Sonora.
It is a poor looking place of some five hundred inhabitants.
Some Apache Indians live in the outskirts of town in the same kind of
huts as at the last town.
At noon we came to some holes of
water in a sandy, gravelly, barren plain and such we have traveled over ever
since we left Tucson. About nine miles and three-fourths of a mile farther on
ahead we find a spot covered over with excellent
gama grass. Here we stop to
graze. The weather is very hot.
The dust forms a perfect cloud so that we can scarcely see the wagon that
is but just before us. We leave at
four o'clock as we have a desert to travel over before we get to grass and
water. We travel through the mesquite brush and bare sand, for the
mesquite brush grows here in many places and not a vestige of anything else
grows for miles.
About midnight we are come to the
foot of a mountain where we find a little grass and some holes of water but very
few of our oxen would drink as it was night and cool.
We lay down and slept (those that were not on guard) until the morning
October 6. We got our cattle together, yoked
them up and by daylight we were on our way.
We traveled over the barren sand for some miles.
At some few places there were patches of dry grass but no water.
Night came on and we had found neither grass nor water until we came to
the foot of a mountain where we found some holes of water and pretty good grass.
It commenced raining in the night. We
left one exhausted on the road. When
the moon shone, we carried some water back to it and drove it to camp.
October 7. Sunday. We wait in camp on account of rain until nine o'clock.
The roads are muddy and make it hard for cattle to travel.
The sun shines very hot and we had intended to go only a few miles but we
passed the spot of grass which we intended to camp on, of which we were informed
by the Indian.
We had to travel through the mud and
in the hot sun in a barren sandy desert until after night being alarmed for fear
we might have to go on many leagues before coming to grass and our cattle almost
giving out. About two hours after night, we came to a few bunches of long coarse
grass. Turned out to graze, gathered up a little grass and sprigs of a kind of
shrub and made some coffee and ate some cold bread which is all we generally
have to eat.
Our provisions now consist of a
little rancid, very rancid, side bacon, some grudgings and some white flour,
coffee and a little sugar. We are
completely tired out with our manner of life and diet.
Another Sabbath is past. Tired
and hungry for some kind of a change of food, we lie down to rest.
The wide extended plain behind and before that is nothing but bare gravel
and sand with here and there a bunch of greasewood, the Rocky Mountains on the
right and on the left presenting their barren sides, the uncertainty of there
being any grass on reaching distance renders our situation truly appalling.
But confiding in His Goodness Who has thus far preserved us and supplied
our real wants, we lie down to rest. On
this day, we had to leave in the road the exhausted ox we had brought back to
camp. Camp in the desert.
8 October. Monday. We leave camp this morning early, travel but slowly as the
weather is very hot and our cattle live in a tired condition.
At two o'clock we come to some small holes of water from a recent rain
for we have been without water all day as there has been no rain on the ground
we traveled over this morning. Though
it has rained here to fill these holes. Here
Major Atkinson found a little grass in a long narrow low place, about as much as
his horse could eat. He stopped and
William Munson, a young man much
esteemed by all who know him and especially by our company started this morning
with James, his brother, and several others to try to strike the Gila River,
Indians having told us it is not far. But
after they had traveled until midday in the hot sun without water, until midday
they rested under the shade of some
mesquite bushes, after which William Munson alone took towards the foot of a
mountain southward in search of water and the rest went on the road that the
wagons would travel.
At a little before sundown we came
with the wagons to grass and a lake of water within five miles of the Gila
River. Here we all rejoiced for we
had had a toilsome day through the dust and in the hot sun. We were out of water and very thirsty. The oxen were almost given out and we had almost despaired of
reaching water with them. We found
the men that left us in the morning waiting for us but they were wondering where
William Munson could be as they had been seeking him and could not find him.
They had found some places in the bed of a dry branch where he had made holes in
the sand with his hands trying to find some water. We were all afraid that he had gone to the mountain
exhausted, laid down as he had nearly fainted for water (illegible) them.
Night came on and he did not come into camp.
(Illegible) fire of grass and spread in different directions (illegible)
kindled up several deserted Indian wigwams that we (illegible) from camp
to show him where we were. After
which, (illegible) he came into camp, coming first to another camp east
of us where he drank five quarts of water.
We were all pleased to see him.
We are in sight of California on the
other side of the Gila, the mountains rise one above the other.
The whole country that we can see seems to be a country of mountains.
The Gila separates Mexico from California.
We travel down the Gila one hundred
miles where we cross the Colorado at the mouth of the Gila and we shall be in
California. The opinion in regard
to the distance we have traveled from Tucson differs very much. I
shall merely state that Leaureaux, an old traveler, calls it seventy five miles.
We think it is more than that but do not know how much.
Tuesday. October 9.
We stay in camp today. Some Pima
Indians and Maricopas visit us with a few roasting ears.
They ask exorbitant prices. Nothing
of interest occurs. Camp same
Wednesday. October 10. This morning we move off to the Pima villages which we have
talked so much about on our journey and which we all so anxiously wish to reach.
These villages extend for twenty five miles down the Gila River.
They are Pimas and Maricopas united together.
They raise corn, wheat, beans, melons and pumpkins.
They are very friendly with the Americans.
They live in little huts or hovels built with straw thatched upon a frame
work of sticks one end of which is put into the ground and the other bent over
to the center where they all meet and are fastened together, a small hole being
left on one side large enough to crawl in at.
Here they lie on the ground and roll in the dust.
They are very dirty. Some of
them have an American shirt but the most of them have nothing but a small strip
of cloth around them and sometimes pieces not larger than a man's hand tied
around their loins with a string--that is all the clothing they wear.
We buy plenty of watermelons and muskmelons of them for one dime apiece
or a piece of tobacco or an old shirt or vest or a pair of pantaloons.
They are anxious to trade for clothes.
They prize their corn very high. They
bring it into camp in little lots of about a half peck or quarter peck for which
they ask in money or peso or half peso that is a dollar or half a dollar, but
they would rather have old clothes than money.
A red flannel shirt or drawers takes their fancy and they will trade for
them very readily. Calico of
brilliant colors would trade or sell for money, well.
They have no stock but horses. They
do not eat much meat. They live on
pumpkins, melons and parched corn. The
mesquite beans when ripe which look very much like the dried garden bean when it
is in the pod. They are sweet.
Partaking in some measure of the nature of honey locust beans and belong
to the same class. They pound or
bruise these pods and all, then put them into a large earthen pan or bowl, water
on them, let them stand a little while and they take up a handful being careful
to take so much water in their hand as they fill their mouth, chew the beans and
husks and then spit it out into a pan. I
have seen a dirty old squaw with a child at her breast leaning over a bowl and
chewing and spitting out till she was satisfied and then another would come and
do the same.
A strip of ground along the River is
all that seems to be eligible for cultivation.
The rest is a sandy, and in some places a light dirt surface of bare
ground with here and there a bunch of greasewood and there perchance a mesquite
bush. There is much salt in the
earth, it covers the ground in many places.
I think the quantity of salt the
earth contains is the cause of its barrenness as the water melons taste very
salty and are not nearly as good as those in the States.
The Indians love to lie on the ground
because it is soft and perhaps because there are not so many tarantulas and
centipedes which are very numerous and dangerous in this country.
This evening, Mr. Howard, Mr. RoBards
and myself walked to one of the villages a little off the road where we found in
almost all their huts some one or two sick or intoxicated.
We knew not which train had passed yesterday but perhaps they got some
spirits from them.
One squaw was putting small burning
coals on her husband's stomach at one place and putting sand all around the coal
and letting it remain until it drew a blister.
We supposed it to be intended to produce the same effect as a blister
plaster. These Indians were visited
by Col. Cooke in 1846 when he passed through their villages with his army.
He gives them the character of being friendly, virtuous and hospitable.
Probably they were the first Americans they had ever seen. They are at
war with the Apaches and are cruel like other savages.
A Mr. Woods from New York came by
wagon as far as Santa Cruz and there bought two horses to pack the balance of
the way to California. As soon as
he arrived in the village, the Indians said they knew the horse. It belonged to one of their warriors and was stolen a short
time since from them by an American and taken to Santa Cruz.
Many of the Indian children came up
to the horse and made signs that they knew it and seemed glad to see it.
Mr. Woods went away with the horse to Mr. Berry's train with which he
traveled about ten miles back. We
had stopped and corralled. The
Indians began to gather around us and the Chief came with an interpreter that
could speak the Spanish language. We
had with us a Mexican boy that had been taken prisoner by the Apaches, his
father killed, and he sold to some one in Santa Fe.
Afterwards sold at Albuquerque where he learned to speak English.
He was our interpreter. The chief demanded the horse of our hands. Our
Captain told him that we had nothing to do with the man on the horse.
He replied that we are Americans and an American had got his horse and we
could not leave until the horse was given up.
The interpreter made a flaming speech in the Indian language in which he
appeared to speak with great eloquence and vehemence.
The eyes of the warriors seemed to flash as he spoke some sentences
vehemently. Soon a great many
warriors came galloping into camp with their faces painted and feathers and
other ornaments about their heads.
Our situation seemed anything but
pleasant as they are said to have 10,000 warriors and we are in the midst of
their villages. We should not fear
them much as we number about thirty but would not like to kill any of them for
all the horse is worth (cost about $45.00) and we perhaps should have some of us
to die. Our Captain desired every
man to have his arms and ammunition in readiness.
Some of our guns were empty which was unusual, we supposing ourselves in
a perfectly friendly country.
As soon as we began to load, the
squaws with their children ran to the brush alarmed.
We were all in readiness not knowing how soon we might be in a fight.
But after much ado, our Captain gave him a letter to Captain Berry
informing him of the nature of the case and enjoining him to get Mr. Woods to
give up the horse. Captain Roberts going security that it, or its value, should
be given to the owner of the horse. They
went away and a few at a time dispersed until our camp was still.
Major Atkinson and myself were on
guard until twelve o'clock. The
Indians around us in their different villages kept up a constant singing all
night. They danced the War Dance
around the fires. Messrs. Henry
Stevens and Foster went to one of them to see their manner of dance and said
there were about 200 warriors and many squaws and children.
The warriors would, one of them make
a speech and make gestures and then they would all sing with a wild enthusiasm
Slantha! Wa! Ho.! Slantha! Wa! Ho! until they were exhausted. They thought they had some scalps to dance over but the crowd
was so great they could not be certain. The
Indians obtained a promise from Captain Berry that the horse would be given up
in the morning.
Thursday. October 11. Mr. Woods came to our camp and told us he had given up the
horse. The Indians came into our
camp again early this morning to trade their corn, melons and pumpkins.
Mr. Howard, who is taking his family to California has provided himself
with a boat which serves for his wagon bed and is well finished off and painted
and Mrs. Howard has hung up a blue mosquito bar net to keep the dust off and a
troop of Indians are following the wagon as we move along, some dressed in
strips of red flannel put on fantastically and some of their heads bedaubed with
mud, as many of them do up their hair in mud so that you cannot see any of their
hair which is black coarse and long. They
form different shapes with their hair and plaster mud all over it.
They present a grotesque figure. Mrs.
Howard is a fine looking lady and the Indian squaws follow the wagon and gaze
intently at the Americano Moharie. We
reach the extremity of the villages a little before sundown and camp in good
grass and water. 25 miles.
October 12. Friday. This morning we move three miles to get better grass.
Nothing interesting occurs. We
buy some corn to carry us through a desert of ninety five miles. We have to pass
over on the other side of the Colorado if the information we have received is
October 13. Saturday.
We left camp this morning thinking to find grass and water in about 8 miles but
we were disappointed. A few buckets of very muddy water and a weed something
like a dog fennel which the cattle would not eat was all we found.
We rested an hour and move on over the bare sand save where here and
there a bunch of wild greasewood sends forth its unpleasant odor.
Two oxen have given out, one Howards and one Roberts.
It is midnight and we are come to a pass in the mountains.
The road is stony and winding with gullies, etc.
It is so dark, there being no moon, we of necessity stop.
Here is neither water, grass, weeds or brush our cattle can eat.
It would be best to tie them up but some think we had better let them
loose which we do and lie down to take a little rest.
The night watch is set. We
are in a desert not knowing how far it is to water or grass.
Our prospects are gloomy but fatigue renders rest welcome and sleep easy.
October 14. Sunday. At daylight this morning when we awoke we found all our
cattle gone as some of us had predicted. Tired
as they were, they went in search of grass and water. We all scattered, except
the cooks in search of them. They
were found about three miles from camp following a dry ravine in search of
water. Some of them had traveled
five miles from camp. We partook of
some coffee, bread and rancid bacon which is now our only provision save a few
dried apples which we eke out very sparingly.
We got through the mountain pass without any difficulty.
We met two Indians with bows and arrows.
One of them had his face painted and was rigged up like a warrior.
We anxiously inquired of them by signs how far it was to grass and water.
One of them pointed to the sun and moved his hand downward and toward the
west before he pointed to the place of sunset, giving us to understand we should
reach it before the sun went down. Shortly
after, we met three more which gave the same information.
They had been out in the desert to get beef.
We saw some cattle they had killed and taken their hides and some of the
beef, the cattle belonging to Captain Tisdale's train which they passed through
the villages before us, the Indians knowing that some of the cattle must give
out in the desert, go in search of them and kill them.
At twelve o'clock our cattle began to give out.
We can scarcely get them along. We
leave some on the road. These are
trying times to any person of feeling. It
is painful to see a poor brute that has hauled you two thousand miles and spent
his strength lie down and perish for water and food.
Leaving them where there is no chance to get a living, they must either
perish for want, be killed by Indians, or the wolves.
There were thirteen of our oxen gave out today.
Some of them laid down and we could not get them up again.
We succeeded in driving six of them along with us to the River.
Seven were left in the desert. We
got to the River a little before sunset. Our cattle and mules and horses had had no water nor food to
speak of for thirty six hours. I
gave to two of the oxen a canteen full each of drinking water which revived them
very much. This was about eight
miles before we came to the River. We
found no grass on the river bottom so after they had satisfied themselves with
cooling water of the Gila we drove them over on an island where there was plenty
of cottonwood and willow. We were
very much fatigued as it had been almost constant travel for two days and half a
night and the desert and sand almost enough to suffocate.
He that ever comes to California thinking he will have a pleasure trip by
this route will miss his object very certainly.
Monday. This morning another
train arrived and brought one of our "given out" oxen with them.
They brought another part of the way but could not get him within three
fourths of a mile of the River. Captain
Robert's servant went back with water. We
move on three miles here. Mr.
Hubbard's mess, consisting of three wagons of his own, two ox teams and one mule
team of Mr. Arrington's with wagon and Mr. Clarkson and Mr. Rigg, leave and go
off the road south about two miles. Captain
Robert's mess consisting of five wagons of his own, four ox teams and one mule
team and Mr. Howard and family, one team go forward on the road about four miles
where we camp three miles from the River and about eight miles from the
morning's encampment. There is a
little grass and weeds which our cattle eat pretty well.
We found a notice put up to Captain Roberts informing him that there is
no grass for twenty five miles, that two of their company had gone ahead of the
wagon and had been chased by fourteen or fifteen Indians, were not hurt, v very
much exhausted in running away from them.
I omitted to name yesterday, we met
three Mexicans returning from California. They
state that there is mucho ore there and that the Americans get plenty but would
not let the Mexicans get much. Their mules are heavily laden and we supposed it was gold but
they denied having much for fear of being robbed. Every report we hear from California confirms that which we
have heard before, that there is plenty of gold in California, but indeed it is
attended with a great deal of difficulty to get there.
On the road is left not only oxen and mules, but good wagons, chains,
doubletrees, singletrees, new ox shoes and every little thing that will lighten
The Gila is a rapid stream of
tolerably clear water about fifty yards wide when it is within its banks which
is now, but in the summer, it overflows its banks.
Marks of it's rise are to be seen now.
The snow on the mountains melts and it swells it until it is eighteen
miles wide, the bottom near the river for two or three miles in some places.
Rich soil but it does not produce but little grass.
The weeds grow luxuriantly and render it very difficult to get about
through the entangled weeds and brush. Camp three miles from the Gila.
October 16. Tuesday.
This morning after traveling three miles, we came to the River where we watered
our oxen they having had no water since ten o'clock yesterday. We expected to
find grass or weeds today but travel all day and find none.
We meet today several Mexicans returning from California gold diggings
and saw some bars which perhaps weighed five pounds. The accounts we hear of the abundance of gold in California
are very flattering but we have a gloomy prospect before us as we have reason to
believe there is scarcely any grass and in several days journey no water.
Our oxen were very much jaded by this days drive and they are still
getting weaker. Everything that we
think we can dispense with, we throw away, crow bars, hammers, chisels, old
shoes, bags, yoke rings, kegs, barrens, etc.
We have passed today good wagons deserted by their owners, excellent
trunks, boxes, lead, new ox shoes, coats, vests, pants, socks, cotton, wool and
hair which had been used for mattresses, in fact almost everything an emigrant
carries except provisions -- all done to lighten their loads as their oxen and
mules are getting poorer and weaker and there is but a poor prospect of ever
getting them through.
Camped two miles from where we are is
Captain Tisdale's train. When they
got up their cattle to leave, about 14 head were missing.
They have been hunting them all day and cannot find but two which have
arrows shot in them by the Indians which has rendered them useless.
They have tracked them into the mountains and a party tomorrow are going
to follow them.
The Snake Indians claim this barren
soil though it is in, and belongs to, Mexico.
They are wild. Their hair is
cut off short as ours. They are in
a state of nudity wearing no kind of covering.
They have bows and arrows and are scattered all through this country.
They will not attack a train or caravan, being afraid, but will lie in
ambush and kill the white man whenever they can get an opportunity.
Two of Captain Teasdale's train were
a little before the wagons without arms yesterday and they were chased by
fourteen or fifteen Indians and narrowly escaped.
This evening at four o'clock we came to an old campground where a train
from Arkansas had encamped the fourth of September. A variety of articles which they had thrown away to lighten
their load were lying scattered around. There
is a mesquite bush on each side of the road leading from and close to the camp
ground, under each bush there is a newly made grave, mementos of man's depravity
and folly. The history on the above
named day: The Arkansas train came to this encampment that were teamsters named
Rickey and Davis, were out a mile and a quarter from the camp herding cattle.
They quarreled about some trifling thing. Rickey struck Davis. They
fought. Rickey hollowed and they
were parted. Rickey took a butcher
knife, went behind Davis and stabbed him to the heart.
He lived fifteen minutes and died. They
gathered all the immigrants together that were in reach, tried Rickey and found
him guilty of murder in the first degree and condemned him to be shot.
They put a ticket in a hat for every man.
All were blank but twelve. When
the tickets were shown it fell the lot of those who had the marked tickets to
fire the guns. They loaded secretly twelve guns. In six they put powder and ball.
Six they loaded with blank cartridge.
The guns were given to the men, none of them knowing whether they had a
ball in their gun or not. They
stood at the grave of Davis who was already buried and Rickey stood by the side
of his own grave which was ready to receive him.
They gave their signal when to fire and all fired at the same moment.
He fell, several balls having gone to his heart.
The graves are not more than ten or twelve steps apart.
A history of the affair is written and posted on a board at the mesquite
tree under which Rickey is buried.
We saw a grave today on the roadside,
a board lying by it which had been pulled up on which Rev. Ira M. Allen of New
York was carved. There are many
graves on the road we have traveled.
We could find no grass of consequence
this evening for our cattle. There
is on this bottom little that grows fit for oxen to eat although it is almost
all over grown with bushes and weeds except where there are large beds of sand.
The bushes and weeds are so entangled and so high it is useless for our
stock. We can scarcely keep them
together. It is very troublesome
and laborious to guard them. We
have information that we leave the River here and cross a mountain and have
neither grass nor water for twenty four miles.
Last night Mr. Hubbard's best mule died.
Wednesday. The day is very hot
and although we have but very poor fare for our stock, yet to rest them, we are
in a measure compelled to stay here today.
It is exceedingly difficult to herd the cattle.
The poor creatures they want to wander off to get something to eat.
Today we cut our wagon beds shorter to make them lighter.
We threw away some lead, a keg and some trifles.
We lost part of our cattle twice among the weeds but found them again.
October 18. Thursday. Last night at midnight, part of Captain Berry's team came up
and camped a few yards from us. It
was very dark and they were obliged to stop.
They have started again and we are to leave this evening.
The nights are very cold and the days very hot.
Several of our men are complaining.
Mr. Lockwood and Stevens have been quite sick.
This River Bottom is not healthy and it seems that it is not a safe route
to go to California. There is so
much desert to cross or gornado as it is called here.
We are informed that we have to pass over a barren country without water
twenty five miles. The days being
so hot we conclude to leave our camp ground at three o'clock. The Gila River makes a bend from this point away to the
north. Our road runs principally on
a plain and yet there are mountains all around us and have been ever since we
first struck Raton northeast of Independence.
Here we have to leave the River and
pass through a mountain gap and travel on a west course until we strike the
river where it again takes a general course.
At about 11 o'clock P.M. we came to
the River. It was not as far as we
were informed. It was, we judge,
fourteen miles. We have passed
through a rocky waste. There has
evidently been volcanic eruption here large stones that have been boiling hot
and black and cinders and lava are to be seen much of the way and some large
cavities having the appearance of craters.
We pass in this night's journey
wagons, dead oxen, single trees, harness, coats, pants, iron bolts, log chains,
wheels, yokes, rings, barrens, boxes in quantities.
We have to pass over a part of the River as the only road we can travel
is sort of a sand bar in the middle. The
mountain closes up to the east bank of the River.
We camp before crossing, tie up our cattle and lie down until daylight.
October 19. Friday. Our oxen look very thin this morning. We travel three miles and stop and get some coffee.
We turn out our cattle with a guard to browse on the dry brush here.
Again we try to lighten our loads. I
throw away my gaiters or wrappers, a yoke and some shoes.
The road is strewn with things that would be valuable in the States.
A good spur or a pound or two of sugar is worth vastly more than a good
wagon or a wagon load of log chains or a good harness.
We move on at ten o'clock rest a half hour at two o'clock and continue
our course over the most barren country we have crossed.
Nothing but sand and burnt stone or cinders, with here and there a
scrubby and almost leafless greasewood bush.
At sunset we came without six miles of the River.
Here the road which had been dusty all day became exceedingly so.
The teamsters could not see the wagon that was just before them or the
oxen that they were driving. It was very difficult getting along. Soon the fine
dust which was mostly sand became coarser and the wheels sinking deep in the
sand made it very hard pulling for the cattle.
They were almost giving out. One
had fallen and many others staggered in the yoke. Our loads are 1ight or we
could not get along. The strongest
had to pull the weakest. On we
traveled very slowly. We overtook
the carriage in which Captain Roberts went in advance of our wagons to find a
camping place. He had left it with
Dr. Bull, our physician and rode forward to the River with several others
promising to return when he had found one and take us to it.
It had been dark an hour when we came up to the carriage and the Captain
had been long gone and we were uneasy about him.
The Doctor went in search of him but could not find him. We fired guns and called.
We heard voices and thought he with others were coming but it was only
three Pima Indians with their bows and arrows that were in search of some worn
down cattle to shoot for beef. They
told us that Apaches in the valley had fired guns on them.
We were all fatigued and almost
suffocated with dust. We know not
how far it was yet to the river and supposed our cattle could not travel another
mile. We were about closing our
wagons and setting guard and lying down to rest when Captain Roberts came up and
informed us that two miles would take us to the river where our cattle could get
some cane to eat. We rallied them
up again and started. The cattle
seemed to smell the water for they evidently quickened their pace as they came
nearer the water. We got through
the coarse sand and again got into the deep dust which formed a perfect cloud
around us so that the darkness of the night and dust might be called
"total" darkness. We
ascended the little eminence just before coming to the river.
The cheering camp fires of three corrals were just before us and appeared
like a city in the desert. We drove
the cattle across the river on an island where there was cane brake and retired
to rest. Camp on the Gila.
Saturday October 20. The grazing for the stock is not very good and the high cane
renders it almost impossible to keep them together. Part of them get off and all hands are in pursuit of them
supposing the Indians have drove them away as they will creep among the bushes
on brake and drive them off whenever they can.
Captains Moore, Tisdale, Hubbard,
Berry and Robards train are at this place and the cattle are all herded
together. This evening we do not
suppose any are missing but the herders had much trouble to get them together.
Captain Moore has just finished
building a flat boat to take his provisions on down the Gila to its junction
with the Colorado about one hundred fifty miles.
Captain Moore has seven wagons and eighteen men.
Part of them go down with the flat and the rest take the cattle with the
wagons lightening their load as there is but very little the cattle can get to
browse on and the sand is very deep. Camp
October 21. Sunday. Mr. Howard (whose lady expects to be confined in a few days)
before he left the States had a light well-finished boat built for a wagon bed
in which he has traveled to this point. Yesterday
Mr. Howard unloaded it and we put her into the Gila.
No doubt the first boat of its kind that was ever on the Gila.
By his invitation, I accompany him and his family down the River.
The persons on board consist of Mr. Howard, Mrs. Howard and their only
daughter (a very interesting little girl of six years of age), myself, Mr.
Atkinson and Mr. James Munson. Our
freight, Mr. Howard's provisions and other effects with about two hundred pounds
for Captain Roberts, who brings along by land his team and the running gears of
his wagon. At noon we push off, our
friends waiting on the bank to see our departure bidding us farewell and wishing
us good success. We glide along
pleasantly for a mile or two but soon have to jump into the water and push over
sand bars. The channel is
constantly crossing from one side to the other and we have much difficulty in
finding it and at some places the river is very wide and cut up by islands which
renders it very difficult to navigate.
After running as we supposed fifteen
miles we put to shore a little before sunset took out our cooking stove, made a
fire and changed our clothes, cooked our supper and partook heartily of it.
Except Major Atkinson who was very sick.
He was very unwell when he came on board and in less than an hour
afterwards was in great pain having a chill and then a violent fever.
At about eight o'clock Mr. Moore came down with his flat boat and seven
men landed at our camp. We set
watch, wrapped ourselves in our blankets and laid down on the sand to sleep.
Mr. Atkinson for whom we had to make a brush arbor is a little better but
still very sick.
22 October. Monday. Mr. Atkinson being this morning too sick to get into the
water and our boat being occupied by Mrs. Howard, Mr. Moore very kindly offered
to take Mr. Atkinson with him on his flat.
They leave at eight o'clock. Mrs..
Howard being unwell, we send back to our train for our physician, Dr. Bull, who
arrived at eleven o'clock. We take
dinner and run down the river about ten miles having frequently to be in the
water to push over the sand bars. At half hour before sunset we put to
shore on the California side, moor our craft, pitch Mrs. Howard's tent in a
hurry and before dark we have a stranger guest, a new passenger to accompany us
down the Gila, who is named Gila Howard. Mrs.
Howard is doing well. We get our
supper and lie down on the sand to take our night's lodging.
Mr. Howard taking the responsibility to stand guard himself all night.
October 23. Tuesday. We pass over sand bars and shallow water a good deal today,
are constantly wet which is very dangerous to our health especially as we have a
desert to pass over of more than one hundred miles and if we should get sick
there is no way of being nursed nor any possibility of lying by so to be sick
here would be a great calamity. At
ten o'clock we pass by where Captain Roberts train were encamped.
They came by land and had a much shorter distance to travel than we had
and had out traveled us here. Dr.
Bull and M. James Munson were unwilling to risk the water any further and they
went on shore and Henry Stevens and William Munson came on board.
At four o'clock this evening we over
took Captain Moore's flat boat Major Atkinson was lying on it very sick, having
the flux very badly. We landed, put
up a shade with willow boughs and laid down on a buffalo robe and brought him on
shore and sent to Captain Tisdale's train which was close by for Dr. Miles who
came and left medicine which I gave to him every hour and half all night.
Henry Stevens and William Munson went to Captain Robert's train which was
ten miles back to get him to send for Mrs. Atkinson and Dr. Bull.
Camp on Mexico side.
Wednesday October 24.
Mr. Atkinson very sick and we are anxiously waiting for the return of Stevens
and Munson. At ten o'clock Mr.
Stevens with Dr. Bull and Yankee John arrive.
Mr. Munson being sick could not take the water any farther.
Mr. Atkinson's son, Peter, came to stay with his father until Captain
Robert's train came up which will be tomorrow morning.
We leave Major Atkinson on shore very sick, perhaps to see him no more
but we cannot stay as it is absolutely necessary for us to get to the mouth of
the Gila, our stopping place, as soon as possible on Mrs. Howard's account, who
is doing as well as could be expected. When we first embarked we did not think
we should be more than two or three days going down but the river is very
crooked and it is much farther even in a direct line than we had been informed.
I omitted to say that on the second night after Mrs. Howard's confinement, about
midnight there was a lantern with a waxen candle burning in it, hanging on the
boat. Mr. Howard was on shore and
we were all asleep. The candle
burnt down and caught the melted sperm at the bottom of it.
The tent covering the boat in which Mrs. Howard and baby and daughter
were sleeping caught fire. Mrs.
Howard called as loud as she could. Mr.
Howard soon awoke and ran, we all ran, and fortunately extinguished it without
any serious damage only the fright especially to Mrs. Howard who was in eminent
We were wet every day from having to
wade in the river to pull over sand bars until we get to the Colorado which is
the end of our water traveling.
October 25. Thursday. Mrs. Howard still continues to improve in strength.
October 26. Friday. Nothing interesting occurs but the river is falling and so
much wider and worse to navigate.
October 27. Saturday. The river has been much narrower and a strong current has
carried us down pleasantly for more than half the day.
We sleep without a guard, thought not safe, but we are much too fatigued
to stand guard.
October 28. Sunday. The river wide and channel difficult to find.
We camp at sunset where Col. Jackson's train camped last night.
A sand bank is our bed every night.
A little after dark five men packed with their provisions and blankets on
their backs pass along. One is Mr.
of Hannibal, Missouri. They were
tired of their wagons which travel so very slow and afraid the oxen would never
get through and so took their little provisions on their backs and were going to
walk to San Diego and there take a passage on a steam boat up to San Francisco.
They at first made a skiff out of an old wagon bed and three of them
tried to come down and bring the provisions for the other two but after trying
it for one day and being in the water much of the time, they were afraid of
getting sick and abandoned the skiff, throwing the provisions of the other two
away, as they did not expect to overtake them until they got to the Colorado and
thought they could buy more there. But
a days travel brought them up with their two companions.
They will have to be on short allowance as now we learn that provisions
cannot be had from here to Warner's Ranch, three hundred miles, at any price.
October 29, Monday.
The mountains seem to close in on every side and present a barrier to the river,
but as we advance we pass into a beautiful canyon where the river passes close
to the base of two mountains for some distance and presents a most picturesque
scene. We suppose ourselves close
to the mouth but the sun is nearly down and we camp.
October 30, Tuesday. The river is narrow and rapid.
The sand bars which were soft white sand are changed for black hard sand.
The boat rubs hard on it at places.
The current is strong and a stiff breeze has risen with a shower of rain
which we have not had before for more than three weeks.
The wind blowing up the river, we put to shore and stay a little while.
Here we saw much signs of Indians. Many
Indians have been here with their children.
The tracks are not very new but one horse track made today or yesterday
comes to the River where an Indian has dismounted.
Shows they may be near. There
is a great risk in traveling as we do of a party of Indians if they were to
discover us might be in ambush and pick us all off with their bows and arrows;
at noon the wind subsides and at 4 o'clock we arrive at the mouth of the Gila
where it flows into the Colorado.
On the opposite side of the Colorado,
Lieutenant Couch with American soldiers are posted. The Indians have committed many depredations on the
immigrants before the soldiers were stationed here.
It is good fortune for us immigrants that the government has sent out a
topographical engineer to survey the boundary line between Mexico and California
as the American soldiers being here affords protection to them in crossing this
river. It is infested with hostile
Indians. We hesitate whether to
camp here tonight as the Indians are close by us in their wigwams but the
garrison being near we conclude to stay here until morning.
An Indian draped in a red cloth coat with gold lace around it came to us
just before dark and ate supper with us. He
showed us a paper which was from the garrison signed by the officer stating that
he was a friendly Indian but that we must look out and be on guard as they are
under his control, would steal and murder, too that they had murdered a packer a
few days ago and robbed him. I
wished to leave and go to the garrison but was over ruled by the majority.
We slept, or rather, we stayed here until morning.
October 31, Wednesday.
This morning after breakfast we drop down a few yards and enter upon the waters
of the Colorado, a beautiful river of deep waters not very clear, but very good
water. We landed and went up to
Lieutenant Couch's tent who is the commanding officer of this post. He treated us very courteously.
He informed us that he had heard we were attempting to come down the
river in a boat but thought it would be a failure. He did not suppose that we could get over the sand bars and
was about to fit up a wagon and team and send up for us but he was agreeably
disappointed on seeing our arrival.
Mr. Howard, knowing nothing about
steering a boat or where to find the channel, yet wishing to have the honor of
guiding her down, ran over almost every sand bar and against many snags making
it necessary to get into the water much oftener than it would have been.
I aided Mr. Howard in pitching his
tent and we led his lady to it and I left him comfortably situated waiting until
Captain RoBards comes down who is bringing his team for him.
S. RoBards born December 25, 1797 in Kentucky.
Came to Hannibal in 1843 and engaged in milling business, and won
international prize for his flour. Married
Amanda Carpenter in 1832. Mayor
of Hannibal in 1846 and in 1854. In
1849 led a group of men to California, taking with him his young son and
slave, Green, whom he freed in Sacramento.
in Story of Hannibal as Solomon Funk.
April May June July August
September October November
Final Note Appendix