Joseph Ellis Johnson letter to Dear Mother, Harriet, Hannah & Friends in J. E. J. Trail to Sundown (1961) by Rufus David Johnson, 114-16.
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July 9, 1850
"I am seated on a buffalo skin on the ground, writing on a trunk, with all manner of cooking implements, harness, horses, wagons and men scattered in admirable confusion all around me . . . I am constantly busy cooking, fixing and driving team. We are getting along very fast as this is Tuesday evening and we are over 150 miles from Kanesville.
"Left Friday at 11 O'clock, went to Bellevue and found company had crossed above; went to Martin's ferry and crossed. Found company encamped 8 miles. Mosquitoes terrible, could not sleep. Prepared breakfast, started at 6, after a long time plagued with balky horses. Tried to sing, talk, laugh,—anything to forget, and finally went to sleep with the lines in my hands. Passed Brs. Heywood and Wooley's company; saw Miss Spence for a few moments (note this) and passed on. Before noon caught up with 70 wagons of Bishop Hunter's company . . . came in sight of 7 graves. Left company and reached a nice stream called Weeping Water (now a town of same name in Cass county, Neb.) Next day saw 4 graves, making 12 in all since the ferry. Have traveled 43 miles.
"Sun. July 7, 1850. Lots of trouble with balky horses; about everyone is troubled by this disorder. Came up with part of the Government Train at Salt Creek, 12 miles on. Stopped at noon in an ugly hollow . . . A hard drive of 45 miles, passed 10 graves. Laid on ground and covered the buffalo robe over me to protect me from mosquitoes. A poor night. Came up with our gold digging company and took breakfast. Camped at noon in country more level and ugly. At night camped in sight of the Great Platte. Beautiful ground and good water. Made shortcake, stewed apples, baked a big pie. Bed late in wagon. 46 miles today, passed 7 and 8 companies.
"Tuesday, July 9, 1850. Came to Sandy Bottoms and break an axle tree. Hauled wagon on [to]wards the river timber, I went ahead on horseback. Came up to Middleton and Riley's teams, also to Capt. Markham's company. Found George G. Johnston dying, saw no hope for him. Went back to our teams and fixed wagon. Muddy roads, saw plenty of sweet wild peas (wild sweet peas?) Came to the train and found George had died. I fixed a board for his grave while the others were digging it on a high knoll near the Platte. Gave two women some medicine and instructions, rode on, overtook the company near night. George had been sick nearly a week and was first one taken with cholera, the disease most prevalent now. There are eight helpless ones without a man to oversee them.
"Encamped after 35 miles. Find we have passed 46 graves that were visible. Our gold diggers conclude to go behind as they cannot keep up. Rice for supper. They say I am an excellent cook . . . am kindly treated by all, have not yet had to stand guard . . . River here 2 or 3 miles wide, timber, interspersed with little islands.
"Wed. July 10. Jogged along fast and came up with company of Bro. Snow. . . . Turned out close to the river, ate dinner and went swimming. River averages 1 foot deep, fine gravel bottom. Fine spree running crosswise and up and down. Now I am standing by the wagon writing and feel much better for my wash . . . Go 40 miles, more graves, hot, 90 deg. Again camped on river bank. Good supper. Perhaps you would like to know what we consider a good supper. It is first boiled rice fried and sweetened, crackers soaked and fried, fried ham, stewed elderberries, herring, coffee and ginger tea. This is what we call a feast. Have not tasted better."