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Pioneer Journals

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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)
  • 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)
  • McBride, John Rogers. Overland to Oregon: Yamhill County, 1846. Lafayette, Oregon: Yamhill County Genealogical Society, 1996. (FHL 2055388 item 10)
  • 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)

California Trail[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
  • Loomis, Leander V A Journal of the Birmingham Emigrating Company. Salt Lake City [1928] FHL 979.453/S1 W2L/1697615 it 6 (from Birmingham,, Iowa to Sacramento, Calif in 1850)
  • 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, [1989] Dr. Parke, a resident of Illinois, formed a small company….
  • Peltier, Jerome, editor. Journal of Edmund Cavileer Hinde. Fairfield: Ye Galleon Press, [1983] […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…
  • 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, [1971]

Mormon Trail[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.


Published[edit | edit source]

Manuscript[edit | edit source]

  • 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]

Oregon[edit | edit source]

Washington[edit | edit source]

Libraries and Archives[edit | edit source]

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.