From A Journey to California, 1841, by John Bidwell:
May, Tuesday 18th 1841. Having waited at this place (2 miles W. of Kanzas river) 2 days, and all the Company being arrived, except those heretofore mentioned, the Company was convened for the purpose of electing a Captain and adopting rules of government of the Company; when T. H. Green was chosen President–and J. Bidwell, Secretary.
After the rules were read and adopted, J. Bartleson was elected Captain; it will be understood that Fitzpatrick was Capt. of the Missionary Company and pilot of the whole. Orders were given for the company to start in the morning, and the meeting was broken up. (Bidwell-Bartleson Party, edited by Doyce B. Nunis, p. 28)
The Bidwell-Bartleson Party (as it is usually known today) was the first group of emigrants from the United States to make a planned overland journey to California. They left Missouri with the aim of reaching California. Half the group was persuaded to take the Oregon Trail to Oregon instead (which was the safer option), but Bidwell’s group, consisting of 32 men, one woman and her baby, maintained their determination to achieve their goal.
Bidwell and his friends traveled part of the way with Father Pierre Jean de Smet’s missionary party. They were lucky to have made this connection, because Father de Smet had hired a guide, Thomas Fitzpatrick, a man with many years experience in the Far West.