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Rebekah: The Diary of a Young Woman on the Oregon Trail

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April 1, 1848

Independence, Missouri

While Pa was busy buying supplies at Matt's General store, Ma went down to the bookstore and bought blank books for each of us to write in on our way to Oregon. She claims we'll all want to remember this journey.

I am not so sure. Oregon sounds exciting, but I am sorry to leave my friends. Already, they and our farm in Illinois seem so far away. I couldn't even convince my parents to put off our trip a little so I could stay for my best friend's wedding. And now I may never see her again.

It's different for Eli and Grace. Eli is 13 and excited for the adventure of it all and Grace is only 5. Will she even remember our farm? Our life here? I'm 18. I always thought I would marry one of our neighbors and be a farm wife. Who knows what'll happen to me now?

And Pa spent nearly all our money. $400 seemed like such a large amount back home, but now there's only $20 left. Other families have bought so much more. Their wagons overflow with food and clothing. Pa says we will hunt along the way, but I couldn't help but wish he were a banker and we could afford enough food to take us all the way to Oregon.

The wagons are moving now, so I suppose we are officially on the Oregon Trail.


April 4, 1848

We've been meeting some of the other families. At first, everyone clung to their own groups. Aunt Rebecca said that was as it should be and we shouldn't trust anyone outside our wagon. She isn't technically in our wagon herself, as she and Uncle Edwin are traveling on their own. But I knew better than to point that out to her. She's never been fond of me, as she considers my parents foolish for naming me after her, but spelling it Rebekah. But the "h" is for Ma's real name of Johanna, and I take pride in the spelling.

And she is wrong. Already, I have made friends. Celinda Hines is my age and, I think, a little spoiled. She complains about the long days on the trail. Like me, Celinda is traveling with her family. Her brother John is 20, and the three of us have taken to walking together. Sometimes Eli joins us. I suspect him of mostly doing it to look at Celinda. She is pretty, I admit. John says she cried over leaving her beau back in Boston, but the young men are showering her with attention.


April 7, 1848

Kansas River Crossing

Our first river! It stretches out before us 621 feet across and 3.9 feet deep in the middle. Celinda screamed when she saw it, but it doesn't look much worse than the river back home.

There's a ferry, but it costs $5 and there's a 4 day wait. Pa says that's ridiculous! Big Louie, the trail driver, says if we don't want to pay, we can caulk the wagon and float it across.


I must apologize to Celinda! I thought her a coward, but oh how I wish we'd been able to take the ferry. Our wagon tipped over halfway across the river. I thought we were going to lose everything! I have never been so scared in my life!

I can only be thankful we all know how to swim. We managed to right the wagon and only lost a wagon axle.

Now we are all shivering by the fire and trying to get dry.


April 12

It's been calmer since I last wrote. While we waited for the rest of the party to cross the river, some of the men went hunting. Pa shot two buffalo! We feel rich with food now! Ma and I felt like real pioneer women cooking buffalo over the fire.

It's rained the last several days, so we've all been cooped up in the wagon. Eli spent all of yesterday teasing Grace horribly and Ma and I were at our wit's ends. Then we heard a knock at our wagon. It was John!

He was soaking wet, but wanted to check in on us. Wasn't that sweet? We invited him in and shared some of our buffalo meat and he kept us laughing by telling us about his mother's fear of the rain.


April 17, 1848

Big Blue River Crossing

It's funny that this river is called "big" when it's so much smaller than the Kansas river. Only 228 feet across and 2.1 feet deep!

There's no ferry this time, so we all forded the river. Just drove right across! It was very muddy, which a lot of the ladies complained about. But then there are some people who are complaining about everything these days. I suppose after two weeks on the trail, the novelty has worn off and we're all realizing what we've left behind.
Celinda says she misses the shops and John misses working at the bank. I miss my friends and the barn cats.

But I love the trail and the long days walking with John and Celinda and sitting in front of a fire every night.

I think I will miss those things, too, when we get to Oregon.


April 18, 1848

We found an abandoned wagon today with 21 bullets in it. Pa celebrated and immediately went hunting, but all I could think of was the family who left it behind. Who was it? What happened to them?

My family has been lucky. We're all in good health, while we hear rumors of cholera and dysentery and typhoid. We're happy. How long can all of that last?


April 20, 1848

It is as if the world is reminding me how lucky we are. Today, we passed a gravesite that read:

Here lies andy
peperony and chease

Celinda told me to forgot about it, that nobody in either of our families would die, but I think John shared my worry. We promised to watch out for each other's families if anything happened to one of us.

It's wonderful knowing I have friends like him.


April 22, 1848

It's raining again! We stopped for the day and Pa went hunting and got another buffalo. Already, all of this seems routine. Maybe Celinda is right and our journey will continue without any mishaps at all.


April 26, 1848

Fort Kearney

Well, Eli has broken our family's lucky streak! He broke his leg today. Perhaps we are not entirely without luck, as it happened at the fort and the military doctor was able to set his leg. It'll be hard for him, I think, to remain cooped up in the wagon. He's always been one for running around and climbing trees and such. Perhaps this will take him to take more care.

Once we determined Eli was okay, the rest of us went out to explore the fort. It's so busy! One of the soldiers told me it was built to protect those of us bound for California and Oregon. He was handsome and, after we left him, John accused me of flirting. I was not. If anyone was flirting, it was his sister. Celinda fluttered her eyelashes at the soldier, and asked him for more details. John said the soldier was more interested in me, but, even if it were true, what does it matter? We're leaving tomorrow.

Aunt Rebecca was worse than John. She said I behaved in a shameful manner and shouldn't have talked to any soldiers at all. Moreover, I was spending too much time with John, and people would talk.

I told her John and I never spent time alone together, that we were always with Celinda, and she called me a foolish child.

I am not, but I'm not convinced that a relationship with John would be any wiser than one with a soldier. Who knows where we'll all end up when this journey is over?


May 12, 1834

This is the first chance I've had to write in a while. Ma had cholera. She's okay, but I've never been so scared in my life. I had to take care of her, amuse Eli, who's still laid up with his leg, make sure Grace didn't get into trouble, and cook.

If it hadn't been for John, I'm not sure I could've done it. He came by all the time to check if I needed something and just to chat. Celinda wouldn't come into the wagon (sick people make her nervous), but she'd chat by the fire as I cooked supper.

Now Ma is better and, as she's taken over most of the family responsibilities, I find myself daydreaming about a family of my own. Sarah, my best friend from home, is married by now. Marnie Steward, a couple wagons down, is one year older than me, and has a husband and a child.

I never before had a clear picture of me in a marriage before. Pa and Ma work wonderfully together, but I never found a boy I could be with like that back home.

There was nobody like John in Illinois.

Aunt Rebecca would call me foolish, if she read that. Maybe she'd be right.


May 16, 1848

Chimney Rock

We are camped in front of Chimney Rock. It is every bit as impressive as everyone said! We could see it from miles away! All of us spent the whole day staring at it and now we're here!


May 18, 1848

We've spent the last two nights at Chimney Rock and got back on the trail this morning. Celinda and John will be waiting for me, but I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts about last night.

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything as lovely as Chimney Rock by moonlight. There were so many wagons gathered around it. Many groups were singing and cooking and chatting with each other and it made me feel like we were all in this together. Like we were part of something bigger than ourselves.

And then John came by the wagon and asked me to walk with him. Celinda wasn't with him and I didn't ask him why. I like Celinda, but it felt right to be alone with John.

We walked until we passed by all the wagons and then sat beneath the stars. John held my hand. Maybe that was forward. I know Aunt Rebecca would say so, but it felt right. We talked about Oregon.

Maybe I'm making too much of this. We made no promises and Oregon is still a long way away.


May 19, 1848

We found wild fruit today! Grace and I went picking. I've been neglecting her a little, I think. She asked me if I liked Celinda and John better than her.

Have I been abandoning my family for my new friends? I asked Ma and she said that was a part of growing up. She said when we first started planning for Oregon, she and Pa worried I would meet someone and stay behind.

I told her that would never happen, and she hugged me and said that I shouldn't let them hold me back. That someday I would leave to start my own family and they would still love me.

It is strange, sometimes, to be considered an adult by my mother.


May 20, 1848

A thief stole five pounds of food from our wagon!

We'd been warned about thieves, but our wagon train has grown to feel like family. How could someone violate that? Maybe the lure of fresh fruit was too much.

Pa went out and shot an elk, so it's not so bad. We have more food than we did yesterday, but it's frightening to know someone came into our wagon while we were sleeping. They could've taken so much more.


May 25, 1848

Fort Laramie

We feel like seasoned travelers now! We spent today swapping advice with fellow travelers. Some people bought supplies or traded, but my family is doing okay.

Eli, Grace and I walked around the fort together. Eli's leg is still a little weak, but he insisted on being included. Being laid up with a broken leg was hard for him, but today he was back to his old self, as he chatted up soldiers. He says he's going to join the army when he grows up.

Grace said she was going to join, too, and Eli told her girls couldn't be soldiers. Then Grace started crying and hit him.

I love my brother and sister, but I almost wished I'd spent the day with John and Celinda instead.


May 27, 1848

The landscape has changed! After weeks of trees and grass, we're surrounded by purple mountains. They're gorgeous! We spend all our time staring at them.


May 31, 1848

Ma has typhoid. Can't write much, as we're all very worried.


June 7, 1848

I don't know where to start. Maybe with the good news: Ma is better.

But, oh, today there was a fire in the wagon! We don't spend much time in there, but Grace was taking a nap. John, Celinda and I were walking next to it, and as soon as I saw the smoke, I rushed in to get her out. Aunt Rebecca later said I shouldn't have put myself at risk, but Grace is my litter sister. How could I leave her? And she never even woke up. I put her by the side of the trail as we all rushed to
put out the fire.

Everything is very smokey, but we only lost one wagon tongue.


June 14, 1848

And now Eli has dysentery. I'm trying not to fret. He's young and strong. But the water has been bad and we're so far away from any real help.

Ma insists on taking care of him, but she's still so weak herself. I've taken responsibility for Grace. She spent the day walking with me, John and Celinda.

She and Celinda get along much better than I expected. John says she's always wanted a little sister. Celinda braided her hair and let Grace play with hers.

I'm grateful, for it allows me to often check in on Eli. Ma shoos me away every time, but I want to be there if she needs me.


June 16, 1848

Independence Rock

What a wonderful day! Eli is better and we reached Independence Rock. The rock is carved over with the names of previous travelers. We're following in the footsteps of so many people. John, Celinda and I read as many names as we could. We all decided to carve our own names in the rock. There wasn't any space near the bottom, so John and I climbed up to the top. Celinda wouldn't come with us, so we carved her name for her.

Aunt Rebecca saw us and gave me a lecture on being unladylike. She said no man wants a girl who climbs rocks.

But John smiled at me and pressed his hand against mine when we parted at the wagon, so I'm not so sure she's right.


June 20, 1848

Was I really so worried just last week? Today, everything is wonderful. The weather is cool and we're surrounded by evergreens. John and I walked among them today and it was like being in another world.

If it was always like this, I'd wish we could stay on the trail forever.


June 22, 1848

Pa shot a deer today! After so much buffalo, it was a treat to eat something different.

It's so hot now these days. Too hot to write. Too hot to talk.


June 25, 1848

One of our oxen died today. A couple of people accused us of pushing them too hard, but Pa is a farmer. He knows how to treat animals.

I blame it on the weather. All of us are miserable these days. John and I had a fight. I'm not even sure what it was about, but we spent all day avoiding each other and only just now made up.


June 30

South Pass

The trail splits here. One path goes to the Green River Crossing and the other to Fort Bridger. Some people wanted to go to Fort Bridger and pick up more supplies, but Big Louie says it's a waste of time, so it's off to the river!

Meanwhile, we met a group of Mormon families on their way to Utah. I met a girl my age who's the third wife to a man twice her age. Can you imagine?

Celinda says she wouldn't mind, but it's not selfish to want to keep your husband to yourself, is it? John said he wouldn't want more than one wife.

Celinda called him a liar, but I choose to believe him.


July 3, 1843

An ox wandered off and we lost a day.

But Pa went hunting and shot a bear! I never imagined eating bear, but it's so good. We shared the meat with several other families and it felt like a party. John and Celinda's family still have plenty of food from Independence, but even they tried some bear meat.

I think they feel a little guilty sometimes, having so much, while families like mine have to hunt along the way. John smuggled some food to us when Ma was so sick, but I know their mother worries about their supplies running out. She hasn't realized how we take care of each other out here.

Tomorrow is Independence Day, but we voted to travel instead of stopping to celebrate.


July 5, 1848

Another change in scenery, as it's suddenly nothing but dust. We cough all day as the oxen stir up dirt, but coughing is better than being cooped up in the wagon all day.


July 8, 1848

Green River Crossing

I try to stay positive, but days like this make it hard. We reached the river early this morning. It was 400 feet across and 20 feet deep in the middle. There was a ferry, but it cost $5 and we'd have to wait 6 days. We don't have the kind of money and we're all starting to feel the time crunch.

So we caulked the wagon and had nearly made it across when it tipped over. We were once again fortunate, as all we lost was a wagon tongue, but I'm having trouble stopping myself from imagining the worst. There are more rivers ahead of us. Someday, our luck might run out.


July 9, 1848

Pa has typhoid. Ma is spending all her time with him. We're low on food, so I took Pa's gun and went hunting. John offered to go with me, but what does the son of a Boston banker know about hunting?
I used more bullets than Pa would've, but I shot a bear and an elk.

So we won't starve, at least, as we take care of Pa.


July 13, 1848

Pa is getting better! I don't even mind the heat and dust. Eli, Grace and I had been staying near the wagon, but today we ran around the wagons until Aunt Rebecca yelled and called us hooligans.


July 20, 1848

Pa is completely well now! He shot another bear, so we felt rich tonight.

It rained today, so Ma made Eli and Grace stay in the wagon, but I went out and walked with John. We talked and giggled and jumped in the puddles like children. Ma scolded me for my muddy dress, but it was worth it.


July 29, 1848

Soda Springs

The springs are so pretty! Grace sits in front of them and laughs every time one spouts up. Eli and his friends dare each other to get close and all the parents are out of their minds trying to keep them from getting scalded by the hot water.

Celinda and I sat a ways back and talked about boys. She's walked with several of the different men in camp, but claims to be indifferent to them all. We even talked about John. I never spent much time with any boy back home and Celinda says John didn't leave any girls behind.

I looked back through this book and counted the months. Almost four since John and I met. It feels so much longer and so much shorter than that. Too short for me to make any assumptions. Too long to pretend I don't care for him.

I wish I knew what would happen when we got to Oregon.


July 30, 1848

After weeks of dust, we have grass! It almost feels like April and the start of our journey all over again. The oxen are stepping more briskly and everyone's laughing.

Eli and Grace chased each other around and around the wagon and even Aunt Rebecca smiled at them. Celinda went walking with the quiet widower from a couple wagons back while John and I watched his children.

The widower—his name is Benjamin—has a 2 year old and 4 year old girl, and they're adorable! And looking after them with John was like getting a little piece of my dream for the future.

Is it wrong to hope for that? Celinda thinks John is serious, but Oregon is miles and miles away. And who's to say our families will settle anywhere near each other?

Maybe we should've stayed home. This is all far too complicated. Sarah had such an uncomplicated courtship that I thought mine would be that way, too.


August 2, 1848

We ran out of bullets today and a thief stole 30 pounds of food.
I stayed cheerful in front of Eli and Grace, but told John all my worries. We don't have much food left and, without bullets, how can we hunt for more? John let me cry and he held my hand and promised he wouldn't let me or my family starve.

I think he was going to say more, but I left to go back to my family. They need me and John is wonderful, but I don't want us to make promises we can't fulfill.


August 9, 1848

Fort Hall

I've never been so relieved to see a fort! Pa rushed off to buy bullets right away! They were four dollars a box, which Ma called complete robbery, but it was the only choice. Pa bought two boxes, which leaves us with forty bullets for the rest of the journey. Before, Pa didn't pay any attention to our ammunition, but I think now he will watch every bullet.

It's a bit of a sad day, too, as our wagon train is splitting up. Some people are going off to California, Celinda's widower among them. She's spent a lot of time with him over the last week or two and is inconsolable about his departure.

John says she acts that way about every man and will be fine tomorrow, but then I wonder what makes he and I any different. If we were separated, would he forget me right away, too?

I didn't have the courage to ask him.


August 11, 1848

We can't find Grace.


August 12, 1848

Grace is okay! She wondered off and we lost the entire day looking for her. Finally, John and I found her about a half mile away from the wagon. She cried when she saw me. I think she was afraid of a scolding, but I picked her up and hugged her with all my might.
The trail makes you realize how important your family is. I was terrified we wouldn't find her or that she'd be injured or worse.

And John was there for me the entire time. I'm afraid I've grown to depend far too much on him.


August 21, 1848

One of our oxen is injured. We only have five now, and each is so important to our journey. It's hard, sometimes, not to be a little jealous of John and Celinda. Their family has ten oxen and they probably could've afforded more.

Maybe that's why I was grumpy with John today. He can't understand what it is to live like this, to have to hunt or starve, to depend on every single oxen, every single supply.


August 22, 1848

Pa shot an elk! Funny how excited we get over each new animal. We get so tired of eating the same food over and over.

And John and I are okay. I worried all night that he wouldn't want to speak to me after I was so cruel to him yesterday, but this morning I told him I was sorry, and he smiled at me like there was nothing wrong at all.

Oh, and Celinda has a new beau! His name is Todd and he's about John's age, but traveling on his own. The four of us walked together today and he made a good impression. He's a carpenter and says he's going to make his fortune building homes for all of us once we get to Oregon!

When he said that, John looked at me, and asked if Todd would build a home for him. Todd said he would and I spent the rest of the day imaging such a house.

But John has not asked me to share it with him and sometimes I think he won't. At least, not until we reach Oregon.


August 25, 1848

Eli broke his arm. I should be worried for him, but I'm just angry! Didn't he learn his lesson from breaking his leg? At least this time, he won't have to stay laid up in the wagon. He has a sling and is running around, same as ever.

The oxen are miserable because there's inadequate grass and the rest of us are miserable because there's very little water.

John, Celinda, Todd and I continue to walk together, but now we're silent, each lost in our own thoughts.


August 31, 1848

Snake River Crossing

We made it across the river with no trouble! I was so excited about it that I hugged John in front of everyone. I thought Aunt Rebecca would have a fit! She called me a shameless hussy and a lot worse.

But I couldn't help it. The river is 1000 feet across and six feet deep in the middle, and I wanted to cry when we first saw it. A lot of the others hired Shonshoni guides, but the one who approached us wanted two sets of clothing and we have none to spare.

So we caulked the wagon and I think all of us, even Grace, held our breath the whole way across.

But we made it! And now Big Louie says there are no more rivers until Oregon. That sounds so good, like we really will make it, like it's close.


September 5, 1848

The trail is impassible, so we lost a day. Pa ended up going hunting and got an elk and a deer.

Todd hunts, too. I think he has more money than we do, but not enough to survive on purchased food, like John and Celinda. Sometimes, when I learn things like that, I wonder if he and I are more suited to each other. But Ma's always said the ways of the heart are mysterious. Celinda cares for him. John is skeptical, but I see her eyes follow him everywhere.


September 7, 1848

Inadequate grass. Bad water. That's the constant refrain now. We're all watching our animals and each other, just waiting for someone to fall ill. I'm not sure how long we can survive like this.


September 14, 1848

We lost all of today due to heavy fog. Celinda came to our wagon and she and I spent the day talking. She's worried about Oregon now, too. She says Todd won't make any promises. He's had his eye on her for a while, it seems, and is afraid she'll drop him like she dropped all the rest.

Sometimes it's strange, talking to Celinda about her own brother, but I told her about some of my fears. She won't betray her brother's confidence, but I think John is afraid to make promises, too. We're all frightened now, as the nights are getting colder and we're still miles and miles away from Oregon. We've all heard the stories of parties getting trapped in the mountains in the winter, even if we won't talk about them.

I think we don't want to talk about our futures until we're sure we'll have one.


September 16, 1848

Ma has cholera. This journey has been so rough on her and I don't know what I'll do if she doesn't pull through. I'm not sure I ever really appreciated how she holds this family together until we left for Oregon.

Grace is too young to understand, but Eli asks me hard questions, and I can't lie to him. Pa is too worried to say anything much at all.
John, Celinda and Todd stop by frequently to ask if they can help. Mostly, it's just good to know they care.


September 17, 1848

Fort Boise

The fort is the same as every other one we've gone by, but there's a doctor here and that makes it glorious! He says Ma should be fine and the rest of us are in good health, so, as long as we take care of ourselves, we should make it to Oregon okay.

It was almost enough to make me run to John and ask him all sorts of unaskable questions. We're not to Oregon yet, and the Blue Mountains loom ahead.


September 22, 1848

We lost another day to heavy fog and Pa couldn't shoot anything when he last went hunting. Our food is so low now. Maybe we should've bought some at Fort Hall, but the prices were so outrageous. Even John and Celinda's family didn't buy any.

Ma tried to give her supper to Grace, Eli and me, but I made her eat it. She's still recovering. Instead, I slipped some of my food to Eli and Grace. Ma didn't like it, but I told her they were still growing. They need the food more than I do.

Later, John and Celinda brought me some food from their wagon. I didn't want to take it, but they insisted. I think they brought some to Todd, too.

It's funny. Once, I would've thought John and Celinda would be stuck up, the children of bankers and all, but the trail brings you together. Now, they're among my best friends. Maybe even better than Sarah. I've known her all my life, but now I'm not sure if I'll ever see her again.

She's been married for months now. I wonder how she's doing. Now that I know John, I have so many questions I'd love to ask her about married life.


September 23, 1848

Today was a good day. Pa shot a deer and a bear! And Ma is bright and smiling, like she's never been sick a day in her life.

I invited John, Celinda and Todd to eat with us. Our food won't last long, as plentiful as it is today, but I wanted to thank them. And Ma and Pa have been asking to spend more time with John. They like him, but Aunt Rebecca gets Ma worried with her stories of how often John and I walk together.

And Aunt Rebecca was there, too. She always is, when Pa gets new game, no matter how she complains about having to hunt for our supper. She picked on Todd this time, asking him about his plans and warning him away from Celinda, who Aunt Rebecca wrote off as a flirt long ago.

But Celinda hasn't looked at another man all month and Todd knows it.

Funny. She didn't say anything about John this time. Maybe she's accepted him.


Oct 5, 1848

Oh, I don't know if I'm glad or ashamed of myself! Celinda, Todd, John and I were walking near Todd's wagon three days ago when the snow started. I suppose we should've been frightened right away. It's the first snowfall and we're too far away from Oregon to relax, but it was so beautiful. The whole wagon train stopped for a couple of minutes, just to watch it come down. The flakes were large and all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, opened our mouths to catch them on our tongues.

We kept going in the snow for a while, but it got heavier and we couldn't see, so we stopped. We should've gone back to our own wagons then, but the four of us had been acting like children and throwing snowballs at each other and, by the time we realized how bad it was, we didn't want to risk walking any distance at all. So we all piled into Todd's wagon.

I'd never been in it before. It was smaller than ours, but very clean and snug. And we stayed there until this morning.

We were appropriate, of course! Celinda and I slept in Todd's bed and the men slept on the other side of the wagon. And it was more pleasant than I should admit to. With the wind howling, we couldn't hear any of the other wagons, and the snow came down so furiously that we couldn't see them, so it was like the four of us were in our own little world.

For the first time, we talked about Oregon. Really talked. John and I sat on one side of the wagon and Celinda and Todd across from us and we planned out our lives, like it would be the four of us forever.

Then today we woke up and the snow had stopped. The ground was covered in white, but the oxen were stomping their feet and everyone was preparing to leave, so we all departed for our own wagons.

My family was worried, of course, but had guessed where I was. Aunt Rebecca came by, heard about it, and called me a disgrace.
She's probably right, but I've decided to be glad.


October 7, 1848

We found an abandoned wagon today with three sets of clothes and two wagon wheels in it. It's horrible to think of the people who made it this far only to leave their wagon behind, but we needed the supplies.

There hasn't been any new snow, but none of it has melted, and we're all cold and could use the extra clothing.

John and I have spent a lot of time walking alone together. Todd and Celinda, too. Those days in the wagon changed us for good. I feel like I've put the last of my childhood behind me. I just want to get to Oregon and begin the rest of my life!


October 8, 1848

I've had my head in the clouds, and neglected my family yet again. I should've known Pa was short on bullets, but he used them all without telling any of us. And so today we had to trade for more bullets. John offered to help, but his father did all the talking and insisted on getting 50 pounds of food for 50 bullets.

John was angry at him. He said they don't need the bullets and we did, but I understood. His family is worried, too, and they don't have Pa's hunting skills. Pa can shoot more game. It's harder for John's family.

In fact, as soon as the deal was completed, Pa went out and shot a bear. Whenever I think we're in trouble, we manage to pull through.


October 10, 1848

The ground is completely covered in snow now! It snows off and on throughout the day. Nothing like before, but enough to keep the trees constantly white.

I like the snow. I think it'll forever remind me of those days when John, Celinda, Todd and I planned our futures together. Even if we're wrong, even if we part ways in Oregon, I will always remember those nights together.

And sometimes John will look at me and smile and I know he's thinking of it, too. We don't have much time left on the trail, but I'm going to make every minute of it count.


October 15, 1848

Blue Mountains

We reached the Blue Mountains today. They're the last big hurdle and you can feel the excitement in the air. Everyone is alternating between sticking close to their families and running to their friends. We know we don't have much longer on the trail. We're all so tired, but got a new burst of energy seeing the mountains. Big Louie warns us that they'll be tough, but if we've made it this far, we can do it.

The trail splits here, between Dalles and Fort Walla Walla, but nobody wanted to go to the fort this time. We can all taste Oregon!

Onward and upward!


October 23, 1848

Maybe Big Louie was right. We'd barely made it on the mountains when we got stuck for a week. An entire week going nowhere! The entire party was unhappy and sick of each other. I fought with Ma. With Eli. With Celinda. With John.

I forgave John first. We went on a walk. I'm so used to walking alongside a wagon that it was almost a shock to take a walk for pleasure. The ground and branches dumped snow on our heads, but it was good to get away from the wagon for a while.

We talked about Oregon like it was a dream and it almost feels that way right now. Was it just a couple of weeks ago that we planned out our futures together? Now it feels as though we'll be stuck in the wagons forever. It's almost November and if we don't make it to Oregon soon . . . No, now I sound like Aunt Rebecca. We will make it. And John and I will be happy together.


October 25, 1848

Hunting is hard among the trees, but Pa shot a bear and a deer! It's things like that that keep us going now. The promise of a good supper. An extra mile or two on the trail. John touching my hand as he says good night.


October 29, 1848

Grace has typhoid. She's been healthy for so long. How could she get sick now, so close to the end? Ma and I take turns watching over her. She's so small and so quiet now. What will we do if she doesn't make it?


November 4, 1848

Another blizzard. We lost a day. But perhaps it was for the best, as it allowed Grace to rest without being jostled by the wagon. She's doing so much better now. I held her in my lap and told her stories as the snow whirled around the wagon. After a while, she insisted on climbing down, and ran to the end of the wagon to watch the snow. She held out her little hand and caught snowflakes and brought them inside.

And this was a nice kind of closeness, too, the whole family being together in the wagon. We're so often with our friends that the five of us don't spend much time together.

Eli asked if I was going to marry John. I couldn't find the words to answer, but Ma stepped in and told him that was my decision to make. Eli said I should because he wanted a brother!

Later, when Eli and Grace went to bed, Ma and Pa asked me about John themselves. I told them of my hopes and fears and they told me they loved me and thought John was a fine young man.

I feel nervous and excited and grown up. And I wish I could see John right now.


November 6, 1848

The trail's gotten rough. John and I spend almost all our time together now. Nothing is settled or maybe everything is settled, just not said yet, but Big Louie says we'll reach the Dalles in two days and that feels like a deadline of sorts.


November 8, 1848

The Dalles

The Columbia River rushes before us. Oregon and the Willamette Valley wait downstream. And it is a deadline. The trail splits once more here. Once, the only choice was to raft down the Columbia River, but last year the Barlow Road opened. The Barlow Road is much safer, but it costs $10. That's more than half our money. Aunt Rebecca is insisting on taking it, but we can't spend that money.

Of course, money isn't a problem for John and Celinda. They will be taking the Barlow Road. Todd is, too. He doesn't have much money, but he says he'll make it up right away in Oregon. I suppose he's right. People will want houses.

John almost asked me to go with him, but he stopped himself. I think he knew what my answer would be. I can't leave my family on this last stage of the journey. No matter what happens in Oregon, I started this with them, and I will finish it with them.

So he took me behind the wagon and I'm not ashamed to write that he kissed me and we told each other "I love you."

And now I wait for us to float down the river, and all I can think is, what if we don't make it?


Willamette Valley

OREGON! We made it! We're all wandering about, stunned that our journey is over. Were we really in Independence seven months ago?

Now all I can do is wait for John.


November 15, 1848

John arrived today! And Celinda and Todd, but all I can focus on is John.

The Barlow Road wagons started coming in early this morning and I couldn't see their wagon and, at first, I was convinced something had happened to them. But then their wagon pulled in and John rushed over and grabbed me in his arms!

He took my hand and asked me to marry him. It wasn't at all romantic, except for it was. We'd waited so long for Oregon and now we were here, and wanted to get everything settled right away.
We're going to spend the winter getting our families settled and get married in the spring. Celinda and Todd are taking things slowly, but I imagine they'll be married soon after us.

And now that we're in Oregon and John is here, I must bring this account to the end. And as Eli lost his book, Grace only drew pictures, and Ma and Pa gave up on theirs when they were ill, it is the only record of my family's journey on the Oregon Trail.