There was an old diary dated 1854 found in our grandmother’s belongings… Artha Pearl Dayton Kettendorf… Now we’re not sure of the origin and I don’t even remember if Grandma knew, and there are no names included in the diary. It may be connected to our James Cornish / Phoebe Larrabee line.
Nebraska May 30th 54 Tues 30. I have just crossed the boundary of civilization, the Missouri River. Here the savage enjoys civil rights & savage rule, but the touch of the white man will soon drive him from his cherished & happy home. He is already made to stare (?) from his silent reverie & inquire where next must I go to escape from the bane of the red man. I am now 500 miles from home, the burial ground of departed hopes & happiness. What is in reserve for me in the future I know not, but trusting in the directing arm of Divinity, I will let time determine & be content with the result. Truly this life is but a shadow trembling on the page of time; tis but a dream, at best. A prelude to a ____ (looks like p l a z.) The men are in good spirits, generally, but some of them have to much spirits in them. Of a very bad thirst. The country here looks well yet there is nothing ________________ (may be “unusual” but written as unusually, but it also looks like it has a dotted I somewhere in the word) about it. It is covered with drift, no rock outcroppings of any kind. There is but little timer here even on the river & farther back in the country there is none of any account. They are now hitching up the teams to start & I must look up my long-eared companion & get ready. She kicked my shins yesterday & I don’t feel in the best humor towards her!
Weds 31. Camped last night on Spring Creek; got to it, sun two hours high and commenced crossing. It is a small but deep & very bad stream to cross & such a time whew—Ward slipped off of a log & got ducked; one ox nearly got his neck broke. & two of the wagons nearly spilled the provisions into the stream. It was 9 ock before we got over and just as we crossed the last wagon a tremendous thunder storm struck us, & it rained as if the whole heavens were converted into water. I went to bed without any supper but most of them ate some crackers. Our chance for breakfast is about as poor as it was for supper, but I have the advantage of the rest. I don’t want any. I have the quinsy (acute inflammation of the soft palate around the tonsils) this morning and expect to have a severe time of it. Some of our horses re-crossed the creek last night. & the boys are after them trying to get them over, Dick the Irishman is after my mule & he had better let her be: there he has got her into the water & trying to make her swim across but she won’t don’t: out she comes and up the band with Dick hold of her tail trying to pull her back but its no use. Up she goes, & when she gets him to the top, stops & deliberately kicks the Irishman’s highness (?) about twenty feet down the bank. Dick rolls over, groans once or twice, gets up rubs himself a little & concludes the _________ ________________ is a wicked beast & will have nothing more to do with her: Wise conclusion Dick, especially if you intend to hold her by the tail, for her prefers to handle that herself. We are not on the plains proper.
Thurs June 1st. Started yesterday morning in good order after some trouble & made 20 miles, which brings us to Elkhorn, a branch of the Platte. We are now in sight of the Platte itself. The country here is very fine if there was more timber. The ferryman tells us the Indians are very troublesome on ahead. My throat is better this morning, which I didn’t expect. John is baking some biscuits this morning and they won’t come up except as he picks them up. The boys are all preparing for a war with the Indians this morning & telling how many they can whip & I believe half a dozen old squaw would run the whole camp of us out of their territory.
Frid 2nd. Made a good drive yesterday. 18 miles. We are now on the Platte bottom, which are from three to five miles wide and a perfect inclined (?) plains. Here would be a good stock growing country on account of the grass which is very fine, nothing of importance occurred. Last night the wolves commenced their nightly orgies about 10 ock & their howlings were most hideous. Some of the boys took them for Indians and they fairly trembled in their boots for fear. We are now in the Pawnee country & they are quite warlike this year towards the emigrants. They stole some cattle at this place a few days ago & may trouble us some.
Sat 3rd. Gone about 20 miles yesterday & camped on the prairie near Platte River. Crossed Shell Creek where Indians require toll of most of the emigrants. Some of the emigrants have spunk enough to tell them to leave & if they are not willing they make them. I saw about fifteen on the other side of the river but it was to high for them to swim their ponys & therefore could not get over or I suppose we would have had to shoot some of them. We all know they cannot get over for the high water. And the boys are quite anxious for a fight. I suspect on that account. I saw some antelope but was not near enough to get a shot.
Sun 4: We are now camping on Loup Fork of the Platte. I saw some large wolves yesterday but no Indians. We are now in the most dangerous part of the Pawnee Country. This being Sunday, I take a little more time to think of home. I expect my friends are attending church & doing other good works. I hope so at least. The Indians rob every train that they dare attack here & have done much damage. Last night they drove off 20 very fine horses from one company about 8 miles from here. Yesterday they attacked a train of 10 men several wagons with their teams & 2000 sheep destroying their provisions, most of their oxen, some sheet & killed one man while sitting in his saddle. I expect they will give us a call before we get back.
Mon 5th: Lea___ (?) in camp all day. The ferryboat got loose from the water suction by rising and left two of our men on the other side of the river for which we are detained.
Tues 6: In camp yet. I saw three Indians lurking about camp last night. The boys have got over this morning.
Weds 7: Still in camp waiting to get some emigrants across the ferry. This morning, about four ock an Indian got into the corral among the stock & was going off with a horse but one of the guards saw him; the guard snapped (?) a gun at him but it misfired & he got away. It is the first time they have troubled us & meeting with such poor success I think they will be more cautious. You had better believe it made some confusion in camp when the guard bawled out “Pawnee- Pawnee!” for we were all asleep.
Thurs 8: Started again on the road, no more trouble from the Indians passed the place where the man was shot. Found him disinterred (?) by the Indians. Scalped and stripped of his clothing. We again buried him. Camped again on the Loup Fork, expect Indians tonight.
Frid 9: Camped again on Loup Fork by some fine springs. No Indians last night. Getting along fine.
Sun 11: This is Sunday morning again and a very beautiful one, it reminds me of home & friends far away.
Mond 12: Camped on Woods Creek, a branch of Platte. There is a trading post and it is near the geographical center of Nebraska. The country here is _________ a considerable above the Missoura (sp) & is becoming perceptibly cooler . The land is getting poorer, also.
Tues 13: This morning is one of the finest I ever saw, & quite cool. We are now 200 miles from the Missoura & getting along fine. Tuesday night: Camped on Willow Creek. Fine water but wood scarce. Good roads. I enjoy myself well. We are now opposite Fort Kearny and on the edge of Sioux Country & I presume shall have no more trouble from the Indians.
Thurs 15: Last night camped here on Buffalo Creek which derives its name from the abundance of them in the vicinity. This morning we discovered some about three miles from camp & I started for them got one shot about 60 rods (?) but did not kill him. Dr. (?) Crosby went in another direction & got a shot at one, about 8 rods but did not get him. They are very hard to kill unless shot through the heart. We had some fun out of it and that was all.
Sat 17: Today we passed the big springs & it is one of the finest I ever saw. It is situated on the Platte bottoms, we took a good drink all around and filled our containers from it. We got along fine & have no trouble except to get wood which is very scarce.
Mond 19: Last night we camped on the prairie without wood except chips & weeds but they answered a very good purpose until they were wet & then we made a poor out of cooking with them. It was my watch last night and I had the satisfaction of being thoroughly drenched. It began to rain about dark and we had one of those storms the plans only can afford, the wind blew a perfect blast & it seemed as if the heavens and earth were rolled together in _______________ ___________ ruin. And to make matters worse, two of the guards would not come out on account of the storm so two of us were left to do all of the work until it was over but it is passed and we are enjoying a fine morning after it. We shall soon be in sight of Laramie Creek and other points of note. So the monotony of the journey will be relieved in a measure.
Weds 21: Camped on Snake Creek. We have fine water & good frass all through this portion of the ____. Two horses got loos last night & have not been brought back yet. They were driven off by musketoes (sp). I find here the Pigweed, it is indigenous to this part. The first rock I have seen out cropping is here, it’s a greyish conglomerate sandstone.
Thurs 22: Camped on Bluff Creek, weather hot, heavy clouds over sand hills. Some complaining of diarrhea. I have a man quite sick with gastroenteritis.
Sund 25: Another Sabbath. Con_______ to be spent as usual. I wish I could hear a good sermon today. I haven’t written regularly every day for the want of an opportunity. Nothing has transpired out of the usual routine of business.
Mond 26: Today we have the first sign of a new or strange object of any interest & that is Chimney Rock with its smokestack just rising above the horizon. There is something grand about it. It is a very singular object well known to all travelers and journalists & most of the people. We can also first discover Courthouse Rock in the distance. There are 4 Sioux in camp today & are quite friendly, they are a very fine looking race of men. Weds 28: Camped tonight on the Platte in full sight of Laramie Peak, there it stands as grand and imposing as a monarch on his throne. It is one hundred miles from here yet in full sight. The wolves are numerous enough here to devour all mother’s chickens, in one _____ _____ know they had ______ anything for a month.
July 3 (Mond): I have been sick of dysentery for a few days but have nearly recovered and am very fortunate in escaping as I have. We passed Fort Laramie on the 1st July which brings us into the Black Hills. The road has been very rough since we left the fort, which has caused our cattle to get footsore & have to go slow. Some of them are giving out. There is but a small garrison at the fort yet it is sufficient to protect itself.
July 4th 1854: Hurra for the Fourth of July. Hurra for my Country and Liberty forever. Let these solitary mountains catch the glowing _____ & echo & re-echo it until every hill & valley shall hear it, & every ______ of the forest shall know it & receive its benediction. Let the mountains speak to the plains & the plains to the valleys & the valleys to the rivulets & let the rivulets dance attendance to it. To the rivers; let the river waft it on their foaming bosoms to the oceans & amid the congregation waters of the mighty deep be thundered back & that other sentiment dear to every true American heart. Liberty & Union now and forever, one and inseparable; but I am getting to futuristic, I must think of the more prosy part of my situation. We are going to have a very good dinner today but I shall be unable to eat any of it, except a piece of cake that had presented by my sister. I must eat a slice of that at all h________
END OF DIARY… not sure of the last word and there is no punctuation to finish the sentence. What happened? Did the diary simply fall out of the wagon and get picked up by someone else in the next wagon train? Did he die? Was it his illness? An attack on the camp? His sister’s cake?? I hope not…
I do wish we knew his name and where he might belong on this family tree…