June 13-28, 1841

I’m playing catch-up here. I’ve been out of town for a few days, plus I should go back and pick up an incident I skipped over earlier in the month. So here is what John Bidwell was doing on the trail during the latter half of June, 1841.

“Sunday, 13th. A mournful accident occurred in the camp this morning–a young man by the name of Shotwell while in the act of taking a gun out of the wagon, drew it with the muzzle towards him in such a manner that it went off and shot him near the heart. He lived about an hour and died in the full possession of his senses.”

This was the only death during the entire dangerous trip. George Shotwell was “buried in the most decent manner our circumstances would admit of, after which a funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Williams.”

The company continued up the Platte River, passing Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff. On Tuesday, June 22nd they arrived at Fort Laramie, an outpost owned at that time by the American Fur Company. Bidwell spelled it Larimie, Jimmy John spelled it Laramy, and Father De Smet, giving it a French air, spelled it La Ramee. There was another fort nearby, Fort Lupton, and they camped in between the two forts. They stayed to rest on Wednesday, and “the things of Mr. Shotwell were sold at auction.”

“Monday, 28th. Passed an immense quarry of beautiful white alabaster; 3 buffalo killed, distance traveled 18 miles, encamped on a little rivulet affording as good water as ever run.” According the Father De Smet, the men spent the evening carving the alabaster; some of them made pipes that they might give as gifts to the Indians, but the alabaster could not withstand heat, and broke.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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