Nicholas Turner's first Wagon trip to California in
Hearing of the gold fields in California, Nicholas
Turner left Layfatte County in 1849, but they wanted to make some money while
coming to California so the advertised in the St Louis paper. Captain Allen
and Captain Turner, advertised to take anyone to California for $200 apiece
and the trip would take sixty days. They got 20 wagons besides their own and
the extra supply wagons. All things did not go according to plans. They did
their best, but they had underestimated the difficulties, and everything
rapidly went wrong. The partners were in an impossible situation. First the
rains fell, and some pioneers blamed their troubles on the rains.
(The following was written by John Benson)
We are now at Fort Kearny after a month of traveling, when
we had expected to be halfway to the gold fields. The passengers are angry and
close to mutiny, though Captain Turner was a man of energy and was doing
everything possible to make the journey as fast as possible. The leading
trains will go faster than the last ones and it is hard to get the slower one
to keep up. Captain Turner has to keep going back and urging the last ones to
go faster. The people that brought more than the Captains had told them to
bring are jettisoning their items everywhere on the trail. The only hopeful
note is that the rain, while it made the trail muddy, had produced luxurious
grass for the animals.
We are now leaving Fort Kearny, and the last of the train
is not ready. Captain Turner had those that were ready to head out, we being
one of the first wagons in the train. Captain Turner had to ride back more
than once to get the last of the wagons to get on the trail. He finally got
mad and told them to stay at Fort Kearny if they couldn't get in line and move
Not even counting the stragglers, the wagon train stretched
to the point where the Captains could no longer protect the last of the wagon
train from the Indians. The train is getting longer with more people joining
as we go by. It is impossible to believe that so many people are going west at
Captain Nicholas has disappeared on his ride back to the
end of the train. We have to carry on and go forward as we are too far to turn
back now. I sometimes wish we hadn't come.
Aside from the thoughts of home (on which we do not dare to
dwell too much for fear of that dread distemper (homesickness) and what may
wait us at the end of the road--our thoughts, our hopes, our fears and our
anxieties are all centered about the train-- and now the disappearance of
Captain Turner as he was the stability of the train. Rumors of hostile Indians
are floating in the air most of the time, and they say that Captain Turner was
taken captive. We cannot altogether dismiss the rumors from our minds, so that
you can see that the world in which we actually live scarcely extends beyond
the dust of the train by day and the smoke of the camp fires at night.
Captain Turner came back into camp tonight with scary tale.
He said he was captured and held in an Indian camp. They made him run a
gauntlet of some kind and he was bloody and exhausted. He said he had either
injured or killed a few Indians and we had better leave the area now. We
packed up and moved out.
We finally got to Carson City in September and decided to
stay until spring. We finally made it California in late April and were glad
to be were it was safe. The one thing nobody told us was that there
were Indians in California and so we decided to stay in the City of Angeles,
hopefully we can make a life for ourselves.
Captain Nicholas and Captain Allen headed to the gold
fields near town called Mariposa.
Contributed by: Carol Lackey