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Some of those that traveled across the United States before the Transcontinental Railroad was completed kept journals and diaries of their journeys. This page provides some suggestions on where to find these records.
Trail Bibliographies[edit | edit source]
- Bashore, Melvin L. and Linda L. Haslem. Mormon Pioneer Companies Crossing the Plains (1847-1868) Narratives: guide to sources in Utah libraries and archives. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Historical Department, 1990. (FHL 289.3016 B291m 1990; film 1592752 item 6).
- Etter, Patricia A. To California on the Southern Route,1849: a history and annotated bibliography. Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clarke, 1998. (FHL 979.4 H2et)
- Heckman, Martin L. Overland on the California Trail, 1846-1859: a bibliography of manuscript & printed travel narratives. Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clarke, 1984. (FHL 979. h23h)
- Kurutz, Gary F. The California Gold Rush. A Descriptive Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets Covering the Years 1848-1853. San Francisco: Gelber-Lilienthal, 197. (not at FHL, find local holdings via WorldCat)
- Lester, Robert E., ed. The American West: Overland journeys,1841-1880: research collections on the American West. Bethesda, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1998. (FHL 973 W2Les)
- Mattes, Merrill J. Platte River Toad Narratives: a descriptive bibliography of travel over the great central overland route to Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and other western states and territories, 1812-1866. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988. (FHL 978 E63m)
- Mintz, Lannon W. The Trail: a bibliography on the Overland Trail to California, Oregon, Salt Lake City, and Montana during the years, 1841-1864. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987. (FHL 973 E63m)
- O'Bryan, Frank. Overland Chronicle: emigrant diaries in Western Nevada Libraries. Reno: Nevada Historical Society, 1979. (FHL 979. 3 J530)
- Townley, John M. The Trail West: a bibliography index to Western American Trails, 1841-1869. Reno, Nevada: Jamson Street Press, 1988. (FHL 973 W22t)
- Wagner, Henry R. and Charles L. Camp. The Plains and the Rockies: a Critical Bibliography of Exploration, Adventure and Travel in the American West, 1800-1865. San Francisco: John Howell, 1982. (not at FHL, find local holdings via WorldCat)
- White, Kris and Mary Catherine Cuthill, eds. Overland Passages: a guide to Overland Documents in the Oregon Historical Society. Portland: Oregon HIstorical Society, 1993. (FHL 973 W20)
Selected Trail Narratives[edit | edit source]
Oregon Trail[edit | edit source]
- Akin, James, Jr. The Oregon trail diary of James Akin, Jr. in 1852: the unabridged diary with introduction and contemporary comments. N.p.: Webb Research Group, 1989. (FHL 921.73 Ak52a)
- Belshaw, Maria Parsons. Crossing the Plains to Oregon in 1853. Fairfield, Washington: Ye Gallon Press, 2000. (FHL 979 H 2bj)
- Bowers, Fidelia March. An account of the Wagon Train Mastered by Solomon Tetherow. N.p.: n.d. FamilySearch Digital Library.
- Cummins, Sarah J. Autobiography and Reminiscences of Sarah J. Cummins, Touchet, Washington. La Grande, Ore.: La Grande Priting Co., 1914. (FHL digital images)
- Davis, Charles George. The Oskaloosa Company : last wagon train to Skinner's in 1847, a history of the southern road to Oregon: untold story of the Scott-Applegate Trail overland journey guided by the 1847 pilot of record, life and death in a frontier settlement, maps of the southern road to Oregon. Portland, Oregon: Frontier Publishing, 1996. (FHL 979.5 H2do)
- Doyle, Susan Badger and Fred W. Dykes, eds. The 1854 Oregon Trail Diary of Winfield Scott Ebey. Independence, Missouri: Oregon-California Trails, Association, 1997. (FHL 921.73 Eb27d)
- Hanna, Esther Belle. Journal of Esther Belle Hanna. N.p.: n.d. FamilySearch Digital Library
- Lenox, Edward Henry. Robert Whitaker, ed. Overland to Oregon: in the tracks of Lewis and Clarke, history of the first emigration to Oregon in 1843. Oakland, California: E. H. Lenox, 1902. FamilySearch Digital Library
- McBride, John Rogers. Overland to Oregon: Yamhill County, 1846. Lafayette, Oregon: Yamhill County Genealogical Society, 1996. (FHL 2055388 item 10)
- Meeker, Ezra. The ox team, or, the Old Oregon Trail, 1852-1906 : an account of the author's trip across the plains, from the Missouri River to Puget Sound, at the age of twenty-two, with an ox and cow team in 1852, and of his return with an ox team in the year 1906, at the age of seventy-six, with copious excerpts from his journal and other reliable sources of information; a narrative of events and descriptive of present and past conditions. New York: Era Meeker, 1907. FamilySearch Digital Library
- Miles, Majorie Ellis. The Kennedy Company. Boise, Idaho: Idaho Genealogical Society, 2001. (FHL 979.5 H2mkc)
- Packard, Patricia L. ed. Harvey H. Jones, 1864, Oregon Trail Journal. Boise, Idaho: Idaho Genealogical Society, 2001? (FHL 979.5 H2p)
- Rumer, Thomas A. The Wagon Trains of '44: A Comparative View of the Individual Caravans in the Emigration of 1844 to Oregon. Spokane, Washington: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1990. (FHL 978 W2r)
- Rumer, Thomas A. ed. This Emigrating Company: the 1844 Oregon Trail Journal of Jacob Hammer. Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clark, 1990. (FHL 973 W2ha)
- Thomson, Origen. Crossing the Plains: narratives of the scenes, incidents and adventures attending the overland journey of the Decatur and Rush county emigrants to the "far-off" Oregon in 1852: printed from a diary of daily events. Greensburg, Indiana: Orville Thomson Printer, 1896. (FHL 973 W2tor)
- White, Thomas. Edited by Oscar O. Winther and Gayle Thornbrough. To Oregon in 1852. Letter of Dr Thomas White, La Grange County, Indiana emigrant. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1964. FamilySearch Digital Library.
- Wilbur, Sanford R, and Sally H. Wilbur. https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/581397-the-mccully-train-iowa-to-oregon-1852?offset=1 The McCully Train. Iowa to Oregon, 1852]. Gresham, Oregon: Symblos, 2000. FamilySearch Digital Library
California Trail[edit | edit source]
- Ball, Nicholas. The Pioneers of '49. A History of the Excursion of the Society of California Pioneers of New England... Boston: Lee and Shepard publishers, 1891
- Bennett, James. Overland Journey to California: Journal of James Bennett whose party left New Harmony in 1850 and crossed the plains and mountains until the Golden West was reached. New York: Edward Eberstadt, 1932.
- Bruff, joseph Goldsborough. Excerpts from vol. I and vol. II of Gold Rush, journals and drawings of Joseph Goldsborough Bruff. Manuscript. 10 leaves FHL Digital images
- Bryant, Edwin. What I saw in California: its soil, climate, productions, and gold mines, with routes, and advice to intending emigrants. London: G. Routledge, 1849. FHL Digital images
- Chamberlain, Welton Curtiss. Marching to California on the emigrant trail, 1852 : a journal kept by Benjamin F. Chamberlain from Dexter, Michigan to Virginia town, Placer County, California. Pinckney,MIchigan" W.C. Chamberlain, 1995. FHL 921.73 C355c
- Goulding, William R., Patricia A. Etter, ed. California Odyssey: an overland Journey on the southern trails, 1849. Norman, Oklahoma: Arthur H. Clark, 2009. FHL 979 H2gw
- Griffin, Mrs Kenneth E. comp Gold Rush Days, 1852 – 1853, from Huron County, Ohio to California, accounts by three men Lewis Beers, William Hubbard Palmer. Typescript FHL 979.4 D3gr
- Haight, Henry H., Edwards, Richard A. transcribed, indexed and edited. We Walked to California in 1850. Olympia,Washington: house Arkeep Press, 2013. FHL 292.273 H125hh
- Harris, Benjamin Butler. The Gila Trail: The Texas Argonauts and the California Gold Rush. Edited & annotated by Richard H. Dillon. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960
- Hutching, James Mason. Seeking the Elephant, 1849. Glendale, California: Arthur H Clarke, 1980. FHL 921.73 H97h
- Johnston, Wm G. Overland to California: A member of the wagon train first to enter California… in the memorable year of 1849. Oakland: Biobooks, 1948.
- Kilgore, William H.] Edited by Joyce Rockwood Muench. The Kilgore Journal of an overland journey to California in the year 1850. From the original manuscript journal of William H. Kilgore. New York: Hastings House, 1949.
- https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1568673 Lamore, John. ed., Alex M. Cowan. Oswego goes the gold; the journal of a Kosciusko County group in the Gold Rush of ’49. Warsaw, Indiana: Kosciusko County Historical Society, 1994. FHL 977.282 H2ca]
- Leeper, D.R. The Argonauts of forty-nine: some recollections of the plains and the diggings. South Bend, Indiana: J.B. Stoll & Co., 1894. FHL Digital images
- Loomis, Leander V A Journal of the Birmingham Emigrating Company. Salt Lake City  FHL 979.453/S1 W2L/1697615 it 6 (from Birmingham,, Iowa to Sacramento, Calif in 1850)
- Dillon, Richard H., ed. Loveland, Cyrus C. California trail herd: the Missouri to California journal of Cyrus C. Loveland. Los Gatos, Ca.: Talisman Press, 1961. FHL 2056031, item 13
- Ingalls, E. S. Journal of a Trip to California by the Overland Route Across the Plains in 1850-51. Waukegan: Tobey & Co., Book Card and Job Printers, 1852
- Mclhany, Edward Washington. Recollections of a ‘49er. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company, 2006. [ed & annotated by Scott J. Lawson … biographical sketches of the Charlestown Virginia Mining Company. FHL 921.73 M187m]
- Miller, Harvey. Journal of 1852 trek from Quincy, Ill. to Eldorado County, Calif. Original manuscript, Historical Society of Quincy & Admas County, Quincy. FHL 1863527 item 10
- Parke, Charles Ross. Dreams to Dust: A diary of the California Gold Rush, 1849 – 1850. Edited by James E. Davis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,  Dr. Parke, a resident of Illinois, formed a small company….
- Parkman, Jr. Francis. Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life: or, the California and Oregon Trail. Columbus,J. Miller, 1856. FHL Digital images
- Peltier, Jerome, editor. Journal of Edmund Cavileer Hinde. Fairfield: Ye Galleon Press,  […St. Louis to California in 1850. ]
- [Pritchard, James A] Edited by Dale L. Morgan The Overland Diary of James A. Pritchard from Kentucky to California in 1849…. [Denver:] Fred A Rosenstock,The Old West Publishing Company, 1959. Mexican War veteran, from Petersborough, Kentucky, left on 10 April, 1849…
- Russ, Carolyn Hale. The Log of a Forty-Niner: journal of a voyage from Newbury-port to San Francisco in the Brig. Gen'l Worth Commanded by Capt. Samuel Worth kept by Richard L. Hale. Boston,MAss., B.J. Brimmer Company, 1923
- Shackelford, Mrs. Frank. Diary,1865,1868: copy of a diary kept by Mrs. Frank Shackeford on a wagon train from Missouri to Los Angeles California, 1865; from California to Texas, 1868. (typescript) FHL 928376 item 7
- Shaw, Reuben Cole. Across the Plains in Forty- nine. Edited by Milo Milton Quaife. Chicago: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co, 1948. … from Boston to California in 1849.
- Smith, C.W. Journal of a trip to California: Across the Continent from Weston, Missouri, to Weber Creek, California, in the summer of 1850. Edited by R.W.G. Vail. New York: The Cadmus Book Shop, [ca.1829] …crossing the Sierra via the Humboldt-Carson route.
- Wayman, Dr. John March Hudson. A Doctor on the California Trail: The Diary of Dr. John Hudson Wayman from Cambridge City, Indiana, to the Gold Fields in 1852. Edited by Edgeley Woodman Todd. Denver: Old West Publishing Co, 
- Zeamer, J. Across the Plains by Immigrant Wagon 1865: my trip to California and what I saw on the way: a true story. [S.l.: Warren County, Illinois Genealogical Society,1993. FHL 973 W2z]
Mormon Trail[edit | edit source]
Published[edit | edit source]
- Bagley,Will,ed., Bullock, Thomas. The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: the 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals. Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clarke, 1997. FHL 289.373 H2b v. 1
- Clayton, William. William Clayton's Journal: a daily record of the journey of the original company of Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo,Illinois, to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Salt Lake City, 1921. FHL DIgital Images
- Gudde, Edwin G. Bigler's chronicle of the West : the conquest of California, discovery of gold, and Mormon settlement as reflected in Henry William Bigler's diaries. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1962. FHL 979 H2bc
- Hafen, Mary Ann. Recollections of a Handcart Pioneer of 1860: with some account of frontier life in Utah and Nevada.La Verkin, Utah: P.L. Hardy, 1980. FHL 929.273 H119hm
- Madsen, Carol Cornwall, comp. Journey to Zion:voices from the Mormon Trail. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1997. FHL 978 H2ma
- Turner, Lynne Slater, comp. Emigrating journals of the Willie and Martin handcart companies and the Hunt and Hodgett wagon trains.S.l.: s.n., 1996 FHL 973 w29t
Manuscript[edit | edit source]
- A Journal of the Emigration Company of Council Point, Pottawatamie County, Iowa in the summer of 1852. FHL 977.771 W2j; film 25789
- Archer, William. Journal of… Enroute from England to Utah, U.S.A., March 18, 1856 to September 5th, 1856. (transcript 5 leaves) FHL 1421859 item 17
- https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/2041793?availability=Ogden%20Utah%20FamilySearch%20Library Diary of Captain James Brown’s 2nd Company: left Carroll County, Kentucky, June 18, 1854. [S.l:s.n.] 1854 FHL 289.309 D3wmb FHL Digital images]
- Forsyth, Thomas. Diary and Account Book of Thomas Forsyth, father of Thomas Forsyth Born in Scotland, 1813. (Manuscript) FHL 375863 item 2
- A journal of the Company of Saints on the Ship “Lucas” which landed at San Pedro Bay, California, October 13, 1857 FHL 979.4 A1 #61/ 928396 it 3
- Letters, 1846 – 1872 [Jacob Zundel FHL 1321368, item 3. 1852 pioneer to Utah]
- Letters written by Zundel, a native of Wertheim, Wuerttemberg, Germany, and pioneer to Utah in 1852, from Nauvoo, Council Bluffs, and Willard Utah.
- Letters, 1842 – 1844, to Flora (Heydon) Drake at Nauvoo & then Montrose, Hancock Co, Illinois, FHL 1320815 item 4
- Letters, 1842-1844, written to Mrs. Flora (Heydon) Drake (b.1817), a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois and later in Montrose, Hancock County, Illinois. The letters were written by her mother, Betsey Heydon of *Palermo, Oswego County, New York; by Sarah G. Heydon, a sister, also of Palermo; by Helen Mar Heydon, a sister or sister-in-law, also of Palermo; and by Jane Ball, another sister, of Galesburg, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Also included is a patriarchal blessing given on 18 January 1844 to Flora Drake by Hyrum Smith, church patriarch, Nauvoo, Illinois. The letters tell of births, marriages and deaths within the Heydon family and its relatives. Flora was apparently the widow of Jacob Drake.
Related Sources[edit | edit source]
- Holmes, Kenneth L., ed. & comp. Covered Wagon Women: diaries & letters from the western trails, 1840-1890. 11 volumes. Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clark, 1983-1991. (FHL 973 D3hoL)
- Palmer, Rosemary Gudmundson. Children's Voices from the Trail: narratives of the Platte River Road. Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clark, 2002. (FHL 978 H2pr)
Utah[edit | edit source]
- Utah Pioneer Biographies. 44 volumes. ( 1935-1964) FHL 979.2 D3u
- Index to Utah pioneer biographies : volumes 1-44.Salt Lake City, Utah : Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Library, c2015 FHL Digital images
- Utah State Historical Society. WPA Biographical Sketches, ca. 1930-1941 ".. Utah's remaining pioneers and historical figures.
- Utah State Historica Society. WPA Utah Section. Biographical Sketches. Personal Pioneer History questionares.
- Utah State Historical Society. Digital Collections. Work Progress Administration. Biographical Sketches.
- Pioneer History Index, Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Oregon[edit | edit source]
- George W. Kennedy. The Pioneer campfire, in four parts : With the emigrants on the great plains. With the settlers in the log cabin homes. With the hunters and miners. With the preachers on the trails, at campmeetings and in the log cabins. Anecdotes, adventures and reminiscences.Portland, Oregon : Clarke-Kundret Print. Co., 1914. FHL Digital images
- Leslie L. Haskin. Pioneer stories of Linn County, Oregon : W.P.A. interviews. 5 volumes. Albany, Oregon : Early Pioneer Publications, 1984- FHL 979.535 D3h v.1-5
Washington[edit | edit source]
- Washington Pioneer Project. Told by the pioneers : tales of frontier life as told by those who remember the days of the territory and early statehood of Washington. 3 volumes. Washington: Washington Pioneer Project, 1937-1938. FHL Digital Images
Libraries and Archives[edit | edit source]
- Additional trail journals, narratives, diaries and letters of the pioneers to Oregon, California and Utah may be available at the the following libraries, archives and societies:
- Merrill J. Mattes Collection. Merrill j. Mattes Research Library at the National Frontier Trails Museum, Independence, Missouri
- FamilySearch Catalog Family History Library
- Church History Library Catalog
- Oregon Historical Society Library
- Oregon Historical Society - Pioneer Card File (Mss419 and Mss420)
- Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco
References[edit | edit source]
- Walker, Margaret. "... Written Under Very Adverse Circumstances,the Awful Hard Work of Chronicling the Westward Journey." Overland Journal 15 (Summer, 1997): 4-12.