Saturday, May 15, 2010

A trip to California

Spyrock and I have figured out how to paste his aunts story into this blog. I'll add pages as soon as I see how well this works! Move your curser over the page and Left-click. It should enlarge the page, to make it larger, left-click again. Good reading!



spyrock said...

thanks ernie, great job.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I love reading stories like this. The trip to California was treacherous to say the least. There was no real safety in numbers. Large groups of immigrants could carry a variety of supplies with them that smaller groups couldn’t, so they were somewhat safer, but they were always raided by Indians. They were able to “Circle the wagons” to protect their livestock, and transport a variety of goods that one would not normally carry, but nothing stopped the raids.

I was amazed to hear that the one man wanted to put strychnine in a beef for the Indians to eat. The wagon master knew that would cause the Indians to kill the whites to follow them, so they didn’t poison the Indians. Old jack Farley made it known that he would kill twenty-five Indians for every white man killed. To me, this really points out that, strange as it seems to us, what they did back then was about survival. Lives were saved with the philosophy that the white man would get even. The Indians feared killing a white man because they knew that there would be dreadful retaliation against the innocent. The same with the wagon master, he knew that the Indians would kill all the whites to follow him if he killed Indians. Kind of an early day Mexican standoff that we would find unconscionable today, but it worked back then. Just one more important difference from today and yesteryear. Today we wouldn’t even think of killing innocent people to make a point.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Also, I smell a heavy handed editor in this story. The story includes that most of their livestock was killed by Indains, but it was not mentioned to any great degree what they might have had to leave behind. Most of the stories that I have read about the trip to California told the story of the agony of what they had to leave behind.

The Indian raids seem to be edited also. Many of the early manuscripts that I have read had much hatred toward the Indians, and many descriptions about how sneaky they were. I read Asbil’s Manuscript “The Last of the West”. In HIS story their was much racial hatred toward the “heathen Chinees”. and he swore prtty liberally. If you read the edited version the lady wrote and had printed, it could be used to read to kindergarteners. I’m sorry, but why not just leave the story alone.

spyrock said...

this story was written by w. w. ferguson jr. who was born after they arrived in yuba city in 1855 so he probably heard this tale for most of his life and wrote it down for posterity. in other words, it was his parents and brothers and sisters version of what happened on the trail that he was obviously impressed by.
critical for my family was susan hooking up with lumber man paul hagler in yuba city. their daughter sarah catherine caught the eye of frederick simmerely and hazel ethel simmerely was their daughter and my grandmother grace's cousin. i would see her, her children and grandchildren at family events throughout my life and they were the sweetest and nicest people you could meet.

omr said...

Love these travel stories, thanks Spy and Ernie.

Ekovox said...

I found this family story to be hauntingly similar to the Rowley family history of relocating West decades at a time. I'm guessing this might have been most family's stories of heading West. And California truly became the land of milk and honey. With the plentiful natural resources, ability to grow food , both animal and vegetable, without the harsh winter conditions.

For our family to land in Sunol California via wagontrain in 1880 they found it too damn hot after living in Colorado for three years awaiting finances to join a wagontrain. Northern California proved to be perfectly suited for those families that could strike out on their own.

Great post, Spyrock and Ernie!

~Ross Rowley

Idaho said...

Thanks for sharing this family history "jewel" Spyrock.
These stories of survival crossing the plains are riveting and such a real reminder of how survival was the main concern of most folks back then.
The role and history of the Mormons during the migrations west is something I wish I knew more about.

Robin Shelley said...
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