June 17, 1849
From letter published in the Missouri Whig, Palmyra ca 1849
FROM THE PLAINS
We have been politely furnished with the following extracts of a letter received in this place, from a member of the “Muldrow Company.” The letter is dated Sunday, 17th of June, 1849:
We have travelled two weeks upon the banks of the Platte river, the valley through which it runs varies from five to ten miles in width, the river generally running in the centre, but sometimes the bluff makes directly up to the river, on the side we are travelling; then we have to pass over them until we come to the bottom again. During the past two weeks we have crossed the south fork of the river, and are now travelling up the north fork, which we follow to its source at the South Pass. We are now encamped at Scott’s Bluffs, where we have found a fine spring and a plenty of pine wood, which grows scattering alone upon the side of the bluff. We are now 50 miles from Fort Laramie, and expect to reach it on Wednesday night next; then we shall be about 300 miles from the South Pass, which we are endeavoring to reach as soon as possible.
We have met with no accident since I wrote last; a few of our cattle have become foot sore, and we have been obliged to drive them along without working them. They are now improving and will soon be able to work again.–Some of the company have been troubled with the dysentery, in consequence of the continual change of the water as we are passing along. We are now travelling 125 miles per week; the road is very fine and our cattle get a plenty of grass and water; we have been favored with a fine shower of rain every night for the last week. The country around us was covered this morning with encampments, and the plain before us scattered over with cattle feeding; but now, nearly all have yoked up their teams and gone ahead, regardless of the command to keep the Sabbath day holy. Two weeks ago, our friends from our county left us, feeling that they could not afford to lose the travel upon Sunday, because so many were passing us.
This week on the 13th, we saw a new grave, and as we always do, every driver stept aside to see if any of his acquintantance (sic) had fallen. We were surprised to find that one of the stoutest men in a company which had left us, had died that day of a camp dysentery, his name was P. W. Tolle, belonging to Terrill’s company under Capt. Earhart’s command. Although the company to which he belonged travel every Sunday, still they were but five miles ahead of us when we saw the graves; to-day they will get still farther ahead, but by resting our cattle every seventh day, we nearly overtake them by the last of the week, and expect to pass them in a few weeks if they continue to work their cattle every day.
Last week we passed a small encampment at a time in the day when all other teams were in motion; and thinking they might be some acquaintances, I rode out to them to ascertain, and found six wagons from our county: Kirtly & Dudley, Mrs. Neighbower and son, Martin Gash and Young Ross and some others I did not know. I enquired if they were lying by on account of sickness, and they informed me, that they were all in good health, but that their cattle were failing and they were trying to recruit them. They left St. Joseph before us, and had travelled every day; their cattle were far better when they started than ours, but they had been rushing them on without rest and they expected to remain there three or four days, and then make up for lost time.
We shall be half of our journey in about three weeks, if we meet with no more obstruction than we have already met with; There is much less difficulty on the road than I expected; in fact since we left St. Joseph, we have had a good buggy road all the way. We hear of a great deal of sickness on the road, mostly Camp Dysentery, and occasionally we see a new made grave.
We had preaching to-day; an excellent sermon, from the sixty-first Psalm, 1st verse. Our preacher appointed a prayer meeting to-night, and I expect it will be well attended. We had eight or ten strangers attending our meeting to-day, having heard that we were to have preaching. There were some ladies among them, and I find that there are quite a number of respectable families on their way to the far west.
Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham