Cecilia and Parthenia Adams
Twin sisters who traveled the Oregon Trail with their family in 1852.
Marilla R. Washburn Bailey
"My most vivid recollection of that first winter in Oregon is of
the weeping skies and of mother and I also weeping." 1852
Keturah "Kit" Belknap
A strong woman who had helped her father log their land as a teenager,
Keturah left Ohio for Oregon with her new husband in 1839 at the age of
In 1857, Helen Carpenter wrote about the endless chores a woman had to
perform during the trip. She wrote with revealing detail and humor.
"Although there is not much to cook, the difficulty and inconvenience
in doing it amounts to a great deal. Then there is washing to be done
and light bread to make and all kinds of odd jobs. Some women have very
little help around the camp. Being obliged to get the wood and water,
make campfires, unpack at night and pack up in the morning." 1857
Lucy Ann Henderson Deady
Lucy was only eleven when she traveled the Oregon Trail in 1846, but she
wrote with great detail about the agony of leaving prized possessions
on the side of the trail and the fascinations of meeting groups of Indians.
Elvina Apperson Fellows
Only ten years old during the trip in 1847, her father died on the trail
and her mother finished the trip with her family.
"When we reached Portland our family consisted of my mother and
nine children. Mother had no money and had nine hungry mouths to feed
in addition to her won. So she would go to the shops that came and get
washing to do." 1847
Leaving home for Oregon in 1852, Lodisa Frizzel wrote in her diary about
the sadness of leaving home and later passing the graves of those pioneers
who had died before them.
"Who does not recollect their first night when started on a long
journey. The well known voices of our friends still ringing in our ears.
The parting kiss still warm upon our lips and the last separating word
'farewell!' sinks deeply into the heart." 1852.
A pioneer in 1851, Amelia Hadley wrote about the daily life on the trail
and the pleasure they had playing music at the end of the day in camp.
"We are a merry crowd. While I journalize, John of the company is
playing the violin, which sounds delightful way out here. My accordion
is also good as I carry it in the carriage and play as we travel."
"We may now call ourselves through they say, and her we are in Oregon
making our camp in an ugly bottom and no home except our wagons and tent.
It is drizzling, and the weather looks dark and gloomy. This is the end
of a long and tedious journey." 1851
Pioneer in 1849 who wrote about the daily activities along the trail,
including the quick burial of their dead.
"Our trunk of wearing apparel consisted of bare back underclothing
a couple of blue checked gingham dresses, several large stout aprons for
general wear. A pink calico sunbonnet and a white one intended for dress
up days." 1849
"I wore a dark woolen dress which served me almost constantly throughout
the whole trip. The wool protected me from the suns rays and penetrating
prairie winds. It also economized in laundering which was a matter of
no small importance, the chief requisite water being sometimes brought
from miles away." 1849
Mary A. Jones
"In the winter of 1846, our neighbor began talking of moving to the
new country. My husband was carried away with the idea too. I said "Oh,
let us not go." It made no difference. We sold our home and what we could
not take with us and what we could not sell we gave away." 1846
"The first part of the route is beautiful and the scenery surpassing
anything of the kind I have ever seen. Large rolling prairies stretching
as far as your eye can carry you. The grass so green and flowers of every
"I almost wonder how I could have undertaken such an expedition.
I was in good spirits and little daunted by the vastness of my enterprise."
"Camille and I both burnt our arms very badly while washing. They
were red and swollen and painfol. Our hands are blacker than any farmers.
And I do not see that there is any way of preventing it. For everything
has to be done in wind and sun." 1853
Amelia Stewart Knight
In 1853, Amelia Knight wrote about the many hazards the pioneers faced
on the trail, including poisonous alkali water and lightening strikes.
She also wrote about her fear of the Indians, which proved to be unfounded.
"We are creeping along slowly, one wagon after another, the same
old gait, the same thing over, out of one mud hole into another all day."
Margaret W. Inman
"I carried a little motherless babe five hundred miles and when we
would camp I would go from camp to camp in search of some good, kind,
motherly woman to let it nurse. And no one ever refused when I presented
it to them." 1852
Jane D. Kellogg
"There was an epidemic of cholera, think it was caused from drinking
water from the holes dug by campers. All along was a graveyard most any
time of day you could see people burying their dead. Some places five
or six graves in a row. It was a sad sight. No one could realize it unless
they had seen it." 1852
Martha Ann Morrison
A thirteen year old during her journey in 1844, Martha Morrison wrote
about the strength she saw in the mothers of the group.
"Their mothers had the families directly in their hands and were
with them all the time. Especially during sickness. Some went through
a great deal of suffering on the trail. I remember one girl in particularly
about my own age that died and was buried on the road. Her mother had
a great deal of trouble and suffering. Mothers on the trail had to undergo
more trial and suffering than anybody else." 1844
In 1860, Lavinia Porter wrote about her internal struggle when it was
time to leave her sister and family and go west with her husband and child.
"I would make a brave effort to be cheerful and patient until the
camp work was done. Then starting out ahead of the team and my men folks,
when I thought I had gone beyond hearing distance, I would throw myself
down and give way like a child to sobs and tears. Wishing myself back
home with my friends and chiding myself for consenting to take this wild
goose chase." 1860
"As I sit writing by the campfire, Johnny keeps piling on the sticks
to see them burn. Henry is sitting on a campstool saying 'Oh dear, I believe
I'll die of joy.' Indeed we are all as happy as can be." 1878
Agnes traveled with her family on the Oregon Trail in 1853. One of her
sisters and her husband were left behind along the trail because their
over-loaded wagon could not keep up with the rest. That sister would make
it safely to California, but Agnes and the rest of her family continued
"The seven girls slept in the loft and the younger ones slept
on the floor in the front room by the fireplace. Father in exchange for
our housing taught school to the tenant children and at night made furniture
consisting of chairs, tables, brooms and bedsteads." 1849
"At noon we stopped about a fourth of a mile from Devil's Gate and
it surpassed anything I ever saw in my life. The Sweetwater River passes
through a gap or gate as it's called of the Rocky Mountains." 1852
"I saw a woman on a very poor horse with a little child in her lap
and one strapped on behind her and two or three tied on another horse.
I felt thankful and imagined I was only on a picnic." 1854
Elizabeth Dixon Smith (Geer)
Described the dusty and thorny trail in her diary of the journey in 1847.
"You in the states know nothing about dust. It will fly so that
you can hardly see the horns of your oxen. It often seems that the cattle
must die for want of a breath. And then in our wagons, such a spectacle.
Beds, clothes and children completely covered." 1847
"It rains and snows. We start this morning around the falls with
our wagons. I carry my babe and lead or rather carry another through the
snow, mud and water almost to my knees. I went ahead with my children
and I was afraid to look back behind me for fear of seeing the wagons
turn over into the mud. My children gave out with cold and fatigue and
could not travel. And the boys had to unhitch the oxen and bring them
and carry the children on to camp. I was so cold and numb that I could
not tell by feeling that I had any feet at all." 1847
She and Narcissa Whitman were the first two white women to cross the Continental
Divide in 1836.
She and Eliza Spalding were the first two white women to cross the Continental
Divide in 1836. Narcissa Whitman helped her husband, Marcus, build and
operate a Mission in what is now southeastern Washington state. Narcissa
and her husband were killed in the Whitman Massacre in 1847.
Lily Dixon Williams
Left home with her family from Missouri to Washington in 1880 at the age
of ten. Listen to her tell her own story.
Margaret Herford Wilson
Pioneer woman who faithfully followed her husband to Oregon in 1850 and
left her home behind.
Traveled the Oregon Trail in 1851, and recorded with vivid detail such
events as the Three Island Crossing on the Snake River in Idaho.
"I have a great desire to see Oregon. The beautiful scenery, the
wild animals and Indians and natural curiosities in abundance." 1851
"For your amusement, I will give you a description of my dress for
the occasion, a red calico frock, made in the wagons, a pair of moccasins
made of black buffalo hide ornamented with silk instead of beads as I
had none of the latter. And a hat braided with bull rushes and trimmed
with white, red and pink ribbon." 1851 (talking about the 4th of