COVERED WAGON DIARY
Margaret Eachus, daughter of David Winchester Eachus
Started from Marshall (Wayland), Henry county, Iowa—April 24, 1865.
Copy of the diary kept by Margaret Jane Eachus of her trip in The Covered Wagon, made first by Margaret Russell Sparks Miller in the Standard Daily Journal 1925, and from that by Agnes Elizabeth Rider Fosberg, July 1960, assisted by Eric John Fosberg.
Oskalloosa, Iowa, April 24, 1865.We started April 24, 1865, and traveled about four miles without any difficulty but when we arrived at Henthorn’s school house and we were there attacked by a big Indian who caved and swore around for awhile but however we got through all safe and went on as far as Deedsvilleand camped for the night.We had a very pleasant evening.Lots of the Marshall folks were there.There we parted, perhaps never to meet again.George went back to or near Marshall tonight but I hope he will come back by morning.
April 25, 1865—KioKwokCounty.We crossed the river this morning and traveled on through Briton and on through Richland and we saw Ellen Pain.Camped at a big white house on a pile of cane stalks but we were very comfortable and had a very nice time.We did not have any music this evening.
Keakuk County—April the 26th 1865.We traveled until about three o’clock. We came through Ioka and Tremont.We had a very pleasant time today.We had a nice place to camp and after we had some supper we had some music. (it was very good) by Mike Snyder and Edward, it commenced to rain about 8 o’clock.
April 27, 1865.When we woke up this morning we were as wet as drowned rats.We got up and made a fire and got our breakfast and started on our way,and it was just pouring down rain.John and Majorstarted on with the oxen and when we caught up with them they had the cattle hitched on to the hind part of the wagon going back the other way but he got out of the way and started after us.It rained nearly all day.We came through Oskaloosa today and came on a piece this evening and camped if it was rainy.
April the 28th A. D. 1865We traveled through the rain all day and camped in front of a nice house and in the evening after supper we went up to the house and we had dome grand music by our two fiddlers and another gentleman that lived there and the boys had quite a dance.
April the 29th 1865—We got up this morning by daylight.It was cloudy but it cleared off in a little while but it was awful muddy.We came through Pella and on seven miles this side.We have gone into camp over Sunday.
April the 30th, 1865 Marion County.Sunday morning.It is very cold this morning but cloudy.We stayed in camp today.We have had a good social time today.Nothing special has taken place this evening so no more for this time.I wrote a letter to Ellen today
Marion County, Iowa May the 1st1865It is cloudy this morning and the roads are very muddy.We crossed the Des Moines River at Red Rock and came on through Pleasantville.We traveled eighteen miles today and camped in a grove.There was the largest hail storm there I ever witnessed.The hail was as large as quail eggs.
Warren County, Iowa, May 2, 1865.We traveled through Sandyville and Indianola (the boys all went to the hardware there)There were eight wagons already in camp on a creek bottom and so we stopped and went into camp there.We had music this evening.
Warren County, Iowa, May the 3rd 1865Trom started to see some of his old acquaintances up north.We came through Clarksville and Winterset.Winterset is quite a nice town.It is the county seat of Warren Co.George and Jennie rode on horseback from town to where we camped.We paid $1.09 per bushel for corn this evening.
Madison County, Iowa May the 4th 1865This has been a fair day.We have traveled twenty miles today.We are in camp on a beautiful prairie.We have traveled through prairie all day.Lou is sickthis evening and has the sore eyes too.Our horses took a right flank this evening.We paid ten dollars for feed this evening.John and Major and George and Charley are sick this evening.
Adair County, May the 5th 1865.The sick folks are better this morning.We have traveled though wild prairie all day again.We have gone into camp until over Sunday.We paid eighty five cents per bushel for corn and 60 cents for hay this evening.
Cass County Iowa, May 6th 1865Sunday morning.The boys all went hunting this morning.Tom came this morning.We are in camp on a creek bottom.This is a very pleasant day.We are having a very nice time today.I wrote a letter to Brother Tallman’s tent. (brother in law to my great grandfather—William A. Eachus; Tallman married a Porter girl.
Cass County Iowa, May the 8th, 1865
We started early this morning and traveled through wild prairie 15 miles and came to Lina Lurs which is the county seat of Cass County.We saw a great many movers today.We camped on creek again this evening.We traveled 25 miles today.
Potowatomy County Iowa May the 9th 1865.WE traveled thirty three miles today.We camped on a creek bottom.There are fifty wagons in camp here this evening.Hogn (sic) and I put up the tent and had supper ready when the ox wagon got here.
Potowatomy County Iowa, May the 10thI like to have frozin (sic) to death last night.It is the truth.I never suffered as much in one night with the cold.It is very cold this morning.Jennie slept with us last night.We started early this morning.Wetraveled 18 miles today and have gone into camp one mile and a half from the town of Council Bluffs.We are going to stay here a day or so.Tomp went to town to the post office but didn’t get any letters.I wrote a letter to Ike Allen this afternoon and one to Uncle William Pike.Melissa wrote one to Jim and Ann wrote one to Rissie Musgrove.
Potawatomy County Iowa, May the 11th 1865.We are still in our old camp yet.We are going to wash today for the first time since we left home.I ironed this afternoon.Jennie was doing up some white collars and just as she got them spread out on the table the wind blew dust over them so she just had to let them go till the next wash day.We all went to town this evening.You might bet that we had a gay time.They boys bought canned strawberries and beaches.We had a splendid supper.WE also went to the hardware to get some kid gloves.Jennie bought some calico and lost it.We got back to camp about eleven o’clock.Lou is going to sleep with us tonight.
Potowatomy County Iowa, May 12th 1865
We moved up to town this morning.The boys are getting their oxen shod.We have stayed here in town until noon.The loose teams have gone on to camp.Mother bought me a new pair of shoes today.John started to camp and missed the road and got lost and had to walk about ten moles to us.When father and Major got the oxen shod they started to camp and got lost and did not find old camp until midnight.George came today from Red OakJunction.
Saturday May the 13th.It has been very unpleasant today.It has been raining all the afternoon.The boys have all gone to town to get some hardware.We are camped on Crooked (‘Crucked’ in the original) Creek.
Sunday May the 14th, 1865.It is cool this morning.We are camped on Crooked Creek today.This is a beautiful place.The bluffs here are 100 ft. high and we have been climbing the bluffs.This afternoon I wrote Mont Allen a letter.The view from our camp is beautiful, indeed.We are surrounded with bluffs on the east.They run along the river for miles. The view from the top of some of the highest is perfectly delightful.The bottom extending from the foot of the bluffs away to the river is covered with green grass and clumps of trees making it altogether the most beautiful place I ever beheld.Nature has done a great deal in the way of beautiful scenery for this country.
May the 16thYesterday we left our camping ground and moved down the river about 18 miles to a small town called Plattsmouth where we intend crossing the river.We arrived here about two o’clock and found about 100 teams waiting to cross and all anxious to be first, consequently we did not are unharness the horses from the wagons until dark when the ferry stopped for the night.A heavy thunder storm came up before we got our arrangements made for the night and we had to just tumble in the shortest way possible.The thunder and lightning was terrible, owing to our being so near the river.I never passed over such a night before and I hope I will never have to again.But this morning the clouds have passed away and the sun is shining brightly.We did not have time to get breakfast this morning, but we made a little coffee on Mrs. Tallman’sstove and we took our lunch on a log that happened to lay near.I am seated on the eulirs while the drivers are in the act of getting their teams on the boat.Farewell Iowa.The boat is just now near pushing off in a few moments.The muddy waters will be between me and my native home.The bell rings and we are moving to the farther shore.All is over and we are in Nebraska.Beautiful steamboats are floating grandly up and down the river with as much ease apparently as birds fly.
May the 17th. Nebraska.This evening are camped on the south bank of Platte River.We have traveled all day long the river sometimes in full view of it and then it would be altogether hid from view for several miles.The country is mostly prairie with a little scrub timber on the creek bottoms but not enough to do much good.I have not seen any country for more than one hundred miles that a settlement could be made to any advantage - for the want of timber with exceptions of a few miles on the Missouri River bottom.The lady of the house, near where we are camped, has just come out to call on us.She is a regular Yankee lady and consequently a great talker.I wrote Jim a letter today.
May the 18th.This is a beautiful clear day and we camped on a large prairie without a stick of wood in sight.We are burning weeds and grass to get our supper and using water out of a frog pond.We had considerable trouble in crossing Salt Creek today, owing to its being so high.The wagon beds had all to be lifted up and chained to prevent the water from running in.Luckily we got over without an accident.There is a small town on the bank of the creek but I could not find out its name, it has any.I suppose it is not named yet, owing to its short life.We have seen several Indians already and the report is that there are several hundred not far ahead of us.I am afraid that we will have trouble with them yet but I must not borrow trouble as we will no doubt have enough without.
May the 20th.Today has been warm and dusty.The dust flew in perfect clouds almost blinding us, but not now as we are camped on ElmCreek surrounded by lofty hills that protect us effectually from the wind and making our temporary home pleasant and beautiful.Great elm trees sway their boughs gracefully to and fro in the air of evening,while birds of various kinds are chanting their evening lays.It all tends to remind me of my native home and pleasant evenings I have spent there with friends that are absent now.Oh! How I could enjoy their company this evening but many weary days of travel and many more spent in a strange land must pass before I will be permitted to see my friends again.
May the 21st.This morning dawned beautifully and clearly while everything seems to promise a pleasant day.After competing my toilet for the Sabbath, I retired from the noise and confusion of our camp and sought a cool and shady place beside the little creek that runs along near our camp.I have been thinking how differently I am situated this Sabbath from what I usually am.For the first time in my life I am deprived of the privilege of attending some place of worship but I am encouraged to think it will not always last.
May the 22nd.Today we have traveled along the bank of the Platte River over some of the best road I ever saw, but in other places it was very sandy.The wind blew hard, driving the sand in perfect clouds almost blinding and making it quite disagreeable.Platte is much larger stream than I expected to see.There is some beautiful scenery on the track we passed through today.Sometimes the siver was in full view for miles,all dotted over with islands covered with green cedar and sycamore trees.There is a belt of timber running along the river by which it can be traced as far as the eye can discern.The water however is of a very muddy, turbid appearance making it unfit for use.
May the 25th.We have had nice weather for the past few days.Nothing special has taken place.We have very nice roads.We are camped this evening on the bank of the Platte River.Just now, Lou and I sitting on the bank watching the setting sun.This is such a beautiful place.The works of the Lord are more beautiful than anything else in the world.His hand has made this place beautiful.
May the 26th.This has been a very pleasant day.We had a very refreshing shower today settling the dust and making every thing cool and pleasant.We traveled about 20 miles today.We came through a little town—City Valley.There are four or five houses in the town.It seems as if we are coming into civilization again.We heard today in town that the war was over and peace was proclaimed again throughout the United States once more and peace and harmony will reign over our nation again and the soldiers will be permitted to return to their homes and friends.My their home be pleasant and their end glorious.
Platte River Bottom May 27, 1865.We are camped in the wild prairies forty miles from any woods.We have had to burn buffalo chips all day to do our cooking.We moved up three miles nearer town today.This is almost a wilderness.There are no improvements in this territory, scarcely at all.The buildings are all of sod.There are ranches every fifteen miles.They have things to sell the emigrants.We paid three dollars and a half for corn today per bushel.
Platte River Bottom. May the 28th, 1865
This is a beautiful Sabbath morning.The air is cool and pleasant.We are camped in the center of the camp with tents all around us.Lou and I have been writing.I wrote Uncle Robert Kane a letter today and starched and ironed my bonnet this morning.I seldom work on Sunday but however sometimes circumstances alters questions, but however, I will try to get my work done on Saturday after this.
May the 29th 1865This is a pleasant morning.I got up just at the peep of day, everything looks beautiful this morning.The men have tone to the election for our company, 8 o’clock.We have started on our journey.We came through Fort Kearney this morning and through Dofetown.I rode in Ed Kyle’s wagon today and drove the team while he played the fiddle.There are about one hundred wagons camped here this evening.
June the 1st.Nothing has happened for the last two or three days.We have passed a great deal of wild country and every once in a while we passed a grave.It looks lonely to see a grave out in this wild country.We passed a grave yard where there were eleven men buried in one grave.They were murdered by the savage Indians of this western country.It seems sad to see so many men all going to seek a better land in the far west (for they were going to California) to be slain by the savage Indians of this wild country.We came through wild country all this week.
June 3rd A. D. 1865The sun dawned beautifully this morning the air is cool the wind blew very hard last night there was quite and accident happened this morning about two o’clock.There was one guard short another by mistake.He had a blanket around him andthe other guard took him to be an Indian.The guard shot him through the hip.They moved him up to Cottonwood.He lived until four o’clock in the evening.He was buried at the soldier’s grave yard in Cottonwood.He leaves five children and wife and mother on the road to the golden regions of the Pacific shore to find a better country but alas their hopes are blasted.The man that was short was a minister.He had gone to see about the stock and had a blanket around him and a young guard shot him.
Platte River Bottom June the 4th.This is Sunday morning.We are going to travel today for the first Sunday since we left home.The gentleman’s funeral is going to be preached this evening in camp and just after we got here there was a company of soldiers passed here today and Billy Frank was along with them.He stopped and stayed all night with us.He is just the same Billy as he used to be.Tallman’s and Uncle Will’s stayed to the funeral.We passed a stage today guarded by Indian soldiers.. There are lots of Indian soldiers here.
June the 5th 1865.This is a nice morning but windy and cool.We started this morning.Billy Frank started on to the station this morning.Lou and I rode horseback this morning.George overtook us about three o’clock this afternoon and Tallman’s and Uncle Will’s did not catch up until sundown.They traveled thirty five miles today.
Saturday June the 17th.This has been a very disagreeable day very dusty and cold.We have been uncomfortable with our winter clothes on.I never saw as cold weather in June in my life.There were thirty head of cattle dead all in one pile.They starved to death last winter.One of Uncle Will’s horses got kicked and had to leave it on the road.We have passed a great many of Uncle Sam’s boys in the past two weeks.There were two regiments at Juelsburg.They seem to be very well satisfied.Their camps look clean and nice.George and Father settled up their business this evening.We washed this evening for the first time in three weeks.George and Sam Parker went to town and came back feeling pretty funny.
Sunday, June the 18th.This is a beautiful Sabbath morning. We went to work this morning if it was Sunday.We ironed and baked.The boys (that is Sam and George Action), look very bad this morning.They look like they have been on a tear as the saying is.George and Father had a few words and he left.He has gone into a Missouri train that are going to cross the river this afternoon.Lou, Melissa, Jennie, Ann and myself took a walk this afternoon to pay Platte River its farewell visit.We all climbed a large tree and found it very pleasant and cool.There was quite a dreadful accident in a joining camp.There was a gun accidentally went off and shot a man and his wife.They were both living the last we heard of them but they were dangerously wounded.There were two men stayed here last night from the other camp.They said that there were fifteen men sick in their camp.
The following address was on the reverse of p. 11 in the original—158 Lilac, Los Osos, San Luis Obispo, California
[This was the end of the manuscript as I found in materials from my mother c. 1968—H. T. E.]