Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Harriet Scott Palmer on Crossing Over the Great Plains


http://lcweb2.loc.gov/mss/wpalh2/29/2909/29091524/29091524.pdf (Full Account)

This is an account from the point of view of 11 year old Harriet Scott Palmer, travelling with her family from their home in Illinois, to California, in 1852.
I enjoyed this, as Harriet describes how her family prepared for the journey west, with relatives preparing gifts, her parents selling their farm etc. This emphasises the magnitude of the move from East to West during this era.
Another interesting aspect of the account was the danger of the journey highlighted in it. Harriet talks about quicksand, "impassable" roads, and an occasion in which her family couldn't find her, as she was "nearly smothered" underneath the bows.
Harriet also laments on the death of her mother, who suffered from cholera, and didn't live to make it to California. They buried her in Wyoming, but couldn't find her grave in the later years when they returned, unfortunately.
The journey remained dreadful, as the company often had to travel through the night, and after a tiresome attempt at saving cattle from across a river, the animals ended up poisoned and dying anyway, at the expense of Harriet's father's sanity.
Harriet later faced yet another loss, as her four year old brother fell sick during August, and died, presumably from the immense heat.
Running low on provisions, and plagued by their oxen continually dying, things didn't look good for Harriet and her family.
I think this account is incredibly interesting as it describes the hardships and losses faced by Harriet's family and their company on the journey West.

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