Last year I followed the Bidwell-Bartleson Party day by day as they crossed the continent from Missouri to California. If you are interested in their journey, check my past blog entries for May through November 2011. John Bidwell kept a daily journal of the expedition; his entry for May 19, 1841 reads:
“Wednesday, 19th. This morning the wagons started off in single file; first the 4 carts and 1 small wagon of the missionaries, next 8 wagons drawn by mules and horses, and lastly, 5 wagons drawn by 17 yoke of oxen. . . . Our course was west, leaving the Kanzas no great distance to our left, we traveled in the valley of the river which was prairie excepting near the margin of the stream. The day was very warm and we stopped about noon, having traveled about 12 miles.” (Bidwell-Bartleson Party, p. 28-29)
So began Bidwell’s historic journey to California, a journey that set the course of the rest of his eventful life.