Tuesday, February 10, 2009

John R. Shinn Journal, Vol. 1

Here is the first installment of my ggggrandfather's covered wagon journal. It was written in 1850 on John's first trip to California (he would eventually settle there in 1854). John was from New Jersey but began his journal after crossing the Missouri River. He was a farmer and a surveyor so the journal is a little dry and mainly notes geographic and weather conditions during their journey but it is an interesting read nonetheless. I believe it can be found in the Bancroft Library at UCBerkeley and it is mentioned at Paper Trail.

"John R. Shinn's Journal as kept by him in crossing the plains to California 1850.

Commencing at Traders Point where the company crossed the Missouri River.

May 24 Crossed the Missouri River. Traveled 10 miles over fine Rolling Prairie land. Camped on the Pappea Creek. Water good, and grass plenty and some wood. Weather very warm.

May 25 Traveled 18 miles over about the same kind of country as the day previous. Camped on the Elk Horn River. Very good place to camp, this is a stream of considerable size, so much so as to cause us to ferry our wagons. Weather still warm.

May 26 Crossed the River. Traveled 6 miles. Camped on the Platte River. Plenty feed, wood and water. Weather pleasant.

May 27 Traveled 20 miles over a level country. Camped by a small Lake on the Platte Bottoms, good place to camp. Had quite a hard shower in the morning, saw some Indians they were quite friendly but great beggars.

May 28 Traveled 24 miles, country level. Crossed Shell Creek, had to bridge, camped by a small Lake south of the road. Food and water good but very little wood. Plenty of Indians, they seem disposed to be friendly. Weather cool.

May 29 Traveled 18 and a half miles. Road good. Camped on the Loup fork at the place where they ferry. Good camping place, weather pleasant.

May 30 Crossed the River Loup Fork, this a very rapid and somewhat dangerous stream to cross, traveled 12 miles. Camped by a small lake or pond south of the road. Plenty of feed and water but little or no wood. Weather fine.

May 31 Traveled 23 miles. Road tolerable good. Camped about one mile from the Loup Fork by a small Lake. Plenty of feed and water but no wood nearer than the water. Weather good."

For a map of his route, click here. I will post scans of the original journal soon. I've stuck to the journal pretty faithfully but he wasn't big on periods so I added a few to break up the sentences.

Note: John seems to have followed the Mormon Trail, though he wasn't Mormon. I've seen him also mentioned on a site for the Hastings Trail, though I don't know much about this route.

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