“This is the day set apart for taking a long leave of home & friends, yes, many & dear friends & a home which I have enjoyed eleven years. To break off these ties of association with a Father, Brother & Sisters is too much for cool regret. I have lost control of my feelings and the heart speaks language of tenderness in tears”—Peter Decker, April 4, 1849
“All the bad traits of the men are now well-developed, – their true character is shown, untrammeled, unvarnished. Selfishness, hypocricy, &c. Some, whom at home were thought to be gentlemen, are now totally unprincipled. All this I was prepared to see and encounter. Threw away our beans.”—J. G. Bruff, July 24, 1849
“We have camped in a beautiful spot of earth where the scenery from a bank of the river some thirty feet high is truly delightful. The bank is that of the Elkhorn River. It requires the pen of the poet or the pencil of the painter to portray its beauties…”—Harriet Ward, May 21, 1853
Journey with men and women who traded mid-19th century comforts for the seemingly boundless—yet still uncertain—promise of untamed wilderness. Quotes from more than fifty diarists share the apprehension and enthusiasm of leaving home, the sights and sounds of bustling jumping off places. Comments describe thoughts, encounters, observations, and events—some memorable, others mundane. Short biographies provide insight into the journal writers’ lives, and maps and summaries of the routes offer additional historical context. Organized geographically to follow the trails across the continent, this collection of diary quotes portrays a vivid picture of traveling West in the days of covered wagons.
Illustrations / photos / maps / bibliography / index / 286 pages (2009)