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Journal of a Trip to California by the Overland Route Across the Plains in 1850-51   By: (1820-1879)

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Waukegan: Tobey & Co., Printers 1852


In offering this Journal to the public, the publishers believe that a benefit will be conferred on many who are desirous of visiting the Eldorado of the nineteenth century. This is one object we have in publishing it; but our principal object is to gratify the numerous friends of Judge Ingalls by furnishing them with his journal in a form easily transmitted through the mails to the different parts of the country. Without claiming any merit as a literary production, the author has simply given us a plain statement of incidents as he saw them. Without further remark, we present his work to the public.



In offering this journal to the public, the writer makes no pretensions to authorship, but believes that, although it be written in plain, off hand style, nevertheless, some portions of it may be interesting to the public, and that if any who may chance to read it are about to start for "Eldorado," they may derive some benefit from it, whether they go over the Plains, or by water. The writer will only attempt to describe objects and incidents as he saw them.

We commenced our journey from Lake county, Ill., on the 27th day of March, (or rather I did, the team not being ready, and I having some business to transact at Rock River.)

March , 28 I left Hainesville, and traveled to Franklinville, McHenry Co., at night a distance of 30 miles.

29th. Reached Belvidere about noon, and spent the remainder of the day with John S. Curtis, Esq. Belvidere is a thriving village in Boon co., situated in the midst of a fertile and beautiful country.

18 miles.

30th. Left Belvidere about noon, after having made a very agreeable visit with Mr. Curtis, and traveled as far as Rockford, on Rock river, where I found E. Ford, one of our company, and several others from Lake county. I found Ford taking care of a California emigrant from Wisconsin, by the name of Maynard, who was very sick at the Rockford House.

12 miles.

31st. I remained at Rockford, it being Sunday. Rockford is one of the most active and prosperous villages on the Rock River, and when the contemplated railroad from Chicago to Galena shall be completed, it will double its size and population. The water power furnished by damming the Rock River is unequaled. It is used now to some extent, but is capable of driving six times the machinery which it now does.

April 1st. Remained at Rockford. Maynard died this night about 11 o'clock. He had the satisfaction of seeing his wife before he died, she having been sent for by the landlord of the Rockford House. How many will be cut down by disease on this crusade to California. How many will die where they can have no friendly hand to alleviate their sufferings, time only will tell.

2d. Started down the Rock River travelled thirty miles through a very good country, and stopped over night at the house of an old townsman and friend, L. Scott, Esq.

30 miles.

3d. Stormy and cold; went over to Mr. J. R. Merrill's, another old townsman, and spend the day.

4th. Remained at Merrill's visited Grand de Tour, a thriving village on the Rock River, about four miles from the house of my friend.

5th. Remaining still with Merrill. Disagreeable, stormy weather. This evening J. and I. B. Ingalls came up with team which left Hainesville, April 2d.

6th. Bought a horse of Merrill to day. Bade Mr. M.'s family adieu, and felt like leaving home again, so agreeably had the time passed in the society of my friend and his accomplished family. Found one of our horses lame with a sprained ankle; got the materials and made some liniment (by directions of Mr. Merrill,) and I must say it proved the most effectual remedy for sprains, galls, and other injuries to horses, that I ever saw used, and we had good reason to be thankful to Mr. Merrill for imparting the knowledge of making it to us, before we got through with our trip... Continue reading book >>

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