September 12, 1841 — Mr. Kelsey’s 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. Distance today about 12 miles.

The Kelseys have discovered what the rest of the company is about to find out — their worn-down oxen can no longer haul the wagons through the sand. In a few more days every wagon will be abandoned in the desert.

Ben Kelsey seems to have been well supplied with wagons and animals. It hade two wagons, at least four oxen to haul them, and extra horses.

Most of what pioneers packed in their wagons was food, and pretty much all the food supplies have been consumed. So why haul the wagons? It only slowed them down and the emigrants must have known that time was getting short. The wagons themselves may have been getting worn out as well and in need of repairs that only cost time.

Steve Ferchaud’s illustration for Nancy Kelsey Comes Over the Mountain

Nancy Kelsey later remembered, “We left our wagons this side of Salt Lake and finished out journey on horseback and drove our cattle. I carried my baby in front of me on the horse.”

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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