Egan, Howard, "From the Plains," Frontier Guardian, 11 July 1849, 2.
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From the Plains.
May 19th, 1849.
BRO. ORSON HYDE-Dear Sir: According to promise I write to you a short sketch of my travels. This morning Br. Nathaniel Jones came up with us accompanied by two of his brothers with their families, with three wagons, and two young men, late from Baltimore, John Stewart and Charles Snow.
May 21st. A few miles east of Salt Creek, met three wagons on their way back to Nodaway county, Missouri, reported that a number of their company had the measles [measles]; the old man said that one of his sons was then very sick in his wagon. They left their company 15 miles west of Salt Creek which is sixty-five miles from the Missouri river.
About two miles west of Salt creek past a company, most of them from Gentry county, Missouri, had five cases of cholera, a Mr. George Thompson, of Atchison county, Mo., died on the 22d, the other four are said to be recovering.
May 23d. This morning Br. Winchester and family came up with us about 90 miles from the Missouri river, with four wagons, accompanied by two young men John Shackham [John Thackham] and James Dimond. This evening we came up with the Nodaway company: the Captain, Robert Patten, of Nodaway county, Mo., is very sick with the Cholera, and a young man by the name of Thomas O'Flowel of the same county, died last night with cholera, five miles east of the Platte river.
Our company now number 57 souls; 22 wagons; 46 yoke of cattle; 21 cows; 6 horses; 5 mules; 3 young cattle; 21 fowls; 6 dogs; 1 cat.
We are traveling at the rate of about 15 miles a day, feed is good, the weather very cool and our cattle are doing well.
We hear various reports concerning the Pittsburgh company which crossed at St. Joseph, we heard that they quarreled amongst themselves and killed eight of their company.
May 27th. Ten miles west of the Pawnee village, heard that the Pittsburgh company killed only one man, and were heaving out sugar, coffee, and tools of all kinds, and breaking up in small companies.
May 29th. Last night Alfred Campbell, of the Nodaway company, late of Gentry county, Mo., and formerly from Indiana, died with the measles, forty-five miles east of Fort Kearney at Grand Island. We met a lieutenaut from the Fort yesterday: He reports that a great many belonging to the companies from Independence has had the cholera: he said that sixty had died between Independence and Grand Island.
May 31. Eight miles east of the head of Grand Island; to-day we have passed where the St. Joseph and Independence road intersect this road; there is one continual string of wagons as far as the eye can extend, both before and behind us; all seem to be moving on peaceably and quiet. They reported a great deal of sickness in the different companies for the first two or three weeks ; but now mostly are enjoying good health, an our cattle are gaining. If the Platte river is low enough I think I shall cross over to the North side when I get above the head of Grand Island, in order to get out of the crowd, that I may have more sea room. This evening there is twenty-nine camps in sight, numbering from fifteen to forty wagons in a company.
June 1st. We arrived at Fort Kearney about noon to-day; I ascertained that there had 4131 wagons passed here up to the last of May, and there is probably about two thousand behind us. It is reported that there is 2000 wagons at the crossing of the South Fork of the Platte, awaiting as the river is so high that they cannot cross. There is some of the companies selling their wagons and packing from this place; wagons which cost $125 dollars in the States have sold for $10 and $20 dollars, bacon has been sold for one cent per pound, flour from one to two dollars per hundred, and other articles in proportion.
Captain Robert Patten of the Nodaway company who was left by his company 80 miles east from this place, died on the 29th, a few men with two wagons were left with him, part of them returned and part of them came on.
It seems morally impossible for all the wagons which are on the road to get over the mountains this season; those who start from the Bluffs in July will get along better than those who start earlier, as the feed will have a chance to start before they get in the mountains. I remain yours truly,