October 16, 1841

“Saturday, 16th.  This morning 4 or 5 men started to ascend several of the high peaks to ascertain if it was possible to pass the mountains. Just as they were going to start Capt. B. came up. He was in rather a hungry condition, and had been traveling several days without provision, excepting a few nuts which they had purchased from the Indians . . .”

Bidwell later recalled that Bartleson and his men had also obtained fresh fish from the Indians—fish which gave them all dysentery, and made them so weak they could hardly stand. No wonder they were eager to reunite with the rest of the party.

“We were glad to see them although they had deserted us. We ran out to meet them and shook hands, and put our frying-pans on and gave them the best supper we could. Captain Bartleson, who when we started from Missouri was a portly man, was reduced to half his former girth. He said, “Boys! If I ever get back to Missouri, I will never leave that country. I would gladly eat out of the troughs with my dogs.” He seemed to be heartily sick of his late experience, but that did not prevent him from leaving us twice after that.” (Echoes of the Past)

Bartleson did indeed return the next year to Missouri, having found California not to his liking, and there he died in 1848, missing out on the Gold Rush that might have made him a rich man, had he stayed.

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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