On the Trail — September 9-12, 1841

Thursday, 9th. The part of the Company that remained yesterday went on and overtook the 2 wagons. Capt. Bartleson & Hopper returned, bring intelligence that they had found the head of Mary’s river — distance about 5 days’ travel. Distance traveled today about 12 miles S.W. direction. The Indians stole a horse — day cool.

It would be much more than 5 days before they got to Mary’s river (the Humboldt River). They traveled for two days, then the Kelseys abandoned their two wagons.

Sunday, 12th. Mr. Kelsey left his wagons and took his family and goods on pack horses, his oxen not being able to keep up.

covered-wagons-1Two more days of travel and the other members would do the same. It was just too slow and difficult for the weary oxen to drag the wagons through the sand. Moreover, it was pointless since they no longer had any food to eat in them. Nicholas Dawson recalled:

Though we had been eating very sparingly for several weeks, our last provisions had been consumed just before we reached Salt Lake, and since, we had been subsisting on what game we could kill, and when no game was to be had, an ox out of our train.

They traveled onward, “between salt plains on the E. and high mts. on the W” across what is now Nevada, probably wondering why they hadn’t reached Mary’s River yet. Sometimes they found a spring, sometimes the land was “destitute of water.” The entire expedition was teetering on the edge of disaster.




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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