The discovery of gold, and the wonderful stories of the mild climate and rich soil were reasons for my family, like most other pioneers, to go West. Our 2,000-mile journey along the Oregon Trail commenced April 1, 1852, from Independence, Missouri with twelve wagons.
We heard stories of meeting Indians along the way. The Indians scared me at first, but I became curious about their customs. I can tell you about one particular incident in which an Indian warrior, our guide, fell in love with my sister and wanted to take her as his wife. He asked my father how many horses it would take to buy her. My father jokingly said it would take ten spotted ponies, which he mostly said to humble my sister who had become intolerable on the long trip. Unexpectedly, the Indian came back with ten spotted ponies. My father realized his little joke with my sister had turned against him.
My father refused to give the Indian his daughter. The next day, the Indian came back with twelve ponies. My father refused again and the Indian scout left — he did not return. Our group of wagons was left without a guide for the next five days in some of the most dangerous stretches of the trip.
Soon after that, my mother came down with cholera, and she was in great pain and died two days later. We buried her in the dry desert land and mournfully left her behind as we moved on.
Everyone was very helpful as we neared Oregon. We were given food, supplies, and shelter and not a penny was asked for in return. We were very grateful to all who helped us.
Adapted from " Oregon Trail Diary" by George Waggoner
cholera (n.) – a disease commonly gotten from drinking infected water
commence (v.) start
humble (v.) – to make less prideful, proud, self-important
incident (n.) – event; happening
Indian – Native American, Amerindian
intolerable (adj.) – having an unpleasant character
journey (n.) – long trip
mournfully (adv) – feeling or expressing sorrow or grief, (used after a loved one dies)
near (v.) – approach, become closer to
shelter (n.) – a temporary place to live (a covering such as a roof)
spotted ponies (n.) – small native American horses with spots, Pintos
stretches (n.) – passages, parts of a trail
supplies (n.) – things that are needed to live