This is from the diary of Alvin Coffey, an African American man, who travelled as part of an ox-team journey accross the American Plains. He details in first person the difficulties they faced on their travels. He writes about how they started in St. Louis, Mo. travelled along the mississippi river before detailing the many dificutuies him and his team had with their oxen while crossing the plains. Particularly one event where he had to kill one of his oxen because it was being attacked by wolves. The diary extract closes with Coffey discussing his experiences with mining in the Sacremento Valley.
Alvin Coffey's story is particularly exceptional as despite being slave during his journey out to california, he was still one of very few African American men to take part in the settlement of western America. He used the money he earned in the west to buy his freedom, which strongly links with the fundamental ideas upon which the American Dream is built.