**Grant's 4th grade class has been studying the Oregon Trail all year. They took a couple of months to keep a pioneer journal of what it would be like to travel the Oregon Trail. Grant's real journal had pencil drawings and barely legible handwriting, but I just loved how descriptive he was and how much history he packed into his entries. I typed it up so we can decipher it later in life and so you can enjoy it as much as I did. Happy trails to you.***
Francis’ Oregon Trail Journal
Written by Grant Stilp, age 10 years
No edits made for spelling or grammar
February 2, 1848 (entry from my son) Peachy Beaches, Florida
Today after I came in from milkin’ Betsy, Ma told me that we were movin’ west. I’ll miss all my family but Ma said that Aunt Bella was movin’ to. That means I’ll get to see cousin Josh. I am very sad that we’ll have to leave Betsy but at least we’ll have a fresh new start in Oregon.
March 4, 1848 (entry from my son) Independence, Misouri
We bought the wagon today. What a barigan. $90.00! Pa bought me a rifle for hunting and I got to show it to cousin Josh. We are buying livestock, 5 head of oxen and 2 horses for Ma and the little kids and one for me to help with the hunting. We sold the farm for $5 an acre and have $130 extra dollars. Pa gave me ten to spend. I’m writing and eating the candy I bought.
March 13, 1848 (entry from my son) Independence, Missouri
Today we are buying food. Yum! There is so much to by. Bacon, flour, fruit, meat and vegatables. I had fun target shootin’ with cousin Josh. We also packed the wagon today.
March 7, 1848 5 miles out
Today we circled the wagons and chose positions. I was chosen to be guide because of my trapping and trading experience from back in the day. We named our oxen today. There names are Big Boy, Pattie, Bull, Joe, bill, Little guy, Big Horn and Tough One. And they did great taking us on the first day.
March 14, 1848 Alcove Springs
We made it to Alcove Springs today. I helped the wagon master fill water barrels in the spring. After everybody got their barrel filled, I took a hunting party out to look for deer. We found 4 but were only able to take two. When we got back my family they already had a fine buffalo chip fire going and we got to have deer stew for dinner. Before we went to bed, I carve my name in the rock.
May 2, 1848 Near Fort Kearney
I can’t believe it! Little Lucy was chasing a fawn and got lost. It’s all Lottie’s fault! The captain and I are going out to loo while the train pushes onto Fort Kearney. My wife is so scared and sad. I wonder if we’ll find her. (Next day) We found her! She is riding on my horse and all she said was thank you Daddy, thank you.
May 28, 1848 Fort Kearney, Nebraska
I caught up to the wagon train with wagon train right before we made it to Fort Kearney. I saw some old trading and trapping friends at the fort. We also bought some food and gun powder and lead. We are all glad to have a fort to rest at. I wrote a letter to my parents back home to. We will also rest for 1 day.
June 5, 1848 Platte River
We’re crossin’ the Platte today. We’ve decided to double team the animals. 9 oxen on one wagon as one is sent across the scouts send the other team back to us. It took us almost all day to cross all the wagons.
June 12, 1848 Chimeny Rock
Today we made it to Chimeny Rock. We are 550 miles from Independence. Quinn’s feelin’ poorly. It looks like the elephant has found our wagon train. Chimeny Rock is such a beautiful site. We decided to rest for a day so Bella can have her baby.
June 19,1848 Fort Laramie
Today Jamal is lookin’ poorly. She has been vomiting and has the chills. We hope that she doesn’t die. At Fort Laramie we traded and I saw an old trappin’ buddy. We found a heard of antelope. We took 3 out of the five. The antelope meat tastes much better than jackrabbit. We had antelope stew last night. Yummmm…
June 26, 1848 South Pass
SSHHHH… Crack! We are crossing South Pass today and there is a violent thunder storm. My wife and kids had to get behind the wagon and push it while I tried to get the oxen to move. Our wagon is slowly sinking in the thick mud. I am heartbroken that we had to dump my plow. I better get to work now.
July 3, 1848 Oregon Trail via Fort Bridger
We’re at Fort Bridger now. We’ve waited 3 days and the 8 wagons that took the cutoff finnaly got to the fort. There were only 7 wagons that showed up. The wagon that didn’t show up was Jane’s wagon. Quinn told us that all their oxen died and their wagon was smashed on the cliffs. We fixed our broken wagon tongue in the blacksmith shop.
July 7, 1848 Fort Hall
Ouch! Garsh! I hit my head on the axel agian. That’s the third time in a row. I wish that Ma and Pa wouldn’t make me sleep under the darn wagon. The dark silloehete of the fort freaks me out. At least we’ll be moving out tommorow.
July 10, 1848 Soda Springs
Eeewww!!! That stinks! The women and children are making soap with the fat of the deer I just shot. I’m helping with the lye water that we brought. I can’t wait to have soap and warm water! A bath would be great after 3 months!
July 24, 1848 On the trail
Wow! That is a buetiful field of camas. The Indians were right. When the wind blows it does look like an ocean. It’s bright colors give me so much inspiration. I hope we will make it to Oregon country. Theses mountains are dangerous but I’ve trapped in them so I now my way. Well goodbye now.
August 1, 1848 Snake River
Bang! Not again. Five more minutes. IO don’t want to go hunting right now. It’s the same old thing every morning. Get up after only 4 hours of sleep. I’ve got to go tie Bessy’s legs before Isac wakes up. Hopefully we’ll get a bighorn sheep or 2. I’m tired of sage hen.
August 8, 1848 Register Rock
Today we finally made it to Register Rock. I carved my name and son’s name in the rock. Quinn was trading with a young Indian when the chief attacked him. We stopped him without any deaths but Quinn has a tomahawk wound on his shoulder. We thought that the Indian was drunk on wiskey because Regiseter Rock was a sacred place no one would attack.
August 15, 1848 Fort Boise
Every step on my throbbing feet is agonizingly painful. Wagon wheels are cracking and snapping all over the place. I bartered with Gus from another wagon train for a spare wheel. Jacob got bit by a rattle snake while taking a spare wheel from a furniture junkyard. I had to cure him. He’s probably going to have to ride in the wagon for a spell but he’ll be ok. I’m just glad he didn’t die.
August 22, 1848 Farewell Bend
I can’t bielive we’ve made it to Farewell Bend. I am weary and our oxen are almost dead of fatigue. The river water is a refreshing delight. I will savor every drop because I have not had good water for a week. I’m sure our oxen are extatic to have lush green grass to eat. There is an abundance of fish in the river. An Indian taught me to posoin the water with Jack-in-the-pulpit root and I caught tons of fish.
September 17, 1848 Blue Mountains
Shh! The snow is pounding down and the wind is howling. We’ve only lowered 2 wagons because Bella’s oxen bolted and her wagon was destroyed. Jacob our wagon master offered to let them ride in his. The journey across these dreaded mountains is so treachures. I’ve decided to take the Barlow Trail when we make it out of these mountains.
September 24, 1848 Barlow Trail
We are on the Barlow Trail. Yesterday we first saw the summit of Mt. Hood not two hours ago. I thought it was beautiful. I can’t beilive we are only one week away from the Willamite Valley. I’m still dreading having to go down Luarel Hill in about two days. I’m really excited to make it to our final destination after 2,000 miles of treachours country.
October 3, 1848 Laurel Hill/Oregon City
Going down Laurel Hill was a disaster. 2 more wagons were smashed and an oxen died from rhododendrin. We are now in Oregon City. Dr. John McLoughlin and I traded for a plow. We will live on Chehalem Mountain and be neighbors with my brother-in-law. I have started preperation for our house.
November 4, 1848 Chehalem Mountain
We have setteled on Chehalem Mountain. We planted corn, beans, and beets. Quinn is doing good on the mountain to. We see them daily and help them with their cabin. There is a creek on the other side of the mountain to get water from. We bought 320 acres of land for ourselves and so did Quinn.