September 8, 1841 — Wagons and Messes

Wednesday, 8th. Exceedingly cold; ice in our water buckets. Part of the Company remained on account of the cold — 2 wagons with owners being contrary, went on.

James John says that six wagons remained at the camp and two went on. Before this there hasn’t been any indication of how many wagons were in the California company, but it looks like there were eight for 32 men, plus Mrs. Kelsey and her baby. The Kelseys had their own wagon, which they probably shared with brother Andrew Kelsey. John Bidwell was sharing his wagon with George Henshaw and maybe someone else.

Other members of the company had organized themselves into “messes,” each mess being four or five men. For instance, the Chiles mess consisted of Joseph Chiles, John Bartleson, Charles Hopper, Michael Nye, and Robert Rickman. They probably each had a horse or mule to ride, and they carried their food supplies, cooking gear, and blankets and other personal effects in the shared wagon.

Emigrants Crossing the Plains by Albert Bierstadt

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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