I decided to take a short break from the topic of Reservations after I read a story that mentioned the Relief Companies formed in California to help the pioneers arrive here safely.
According to Wikipedia, the memory of the Donner disaster prompted Californians to fund relief teams during the gold rush. They sent men eastward along the trails to take food and water to overland emigrants. In her diary, Sarah Royce, a woman who began the journey with her husband and two-year old daughter, Mary, in 1849, credited such a Relief Party with saving the lives of herself and her family.
I think it is easy to overlook the fact that many, if not most, of the emigrants seeking their fortune in California didn’t know what they were doing. The Royces prepared for their journey across the country by reading the book Fremont’s Travels, and noting the often conflicting suggestions of other travelers, who, like the Royces, were “were utter strangers to camping life and were setting out for the ‘Golden Gate’ “.
Pioneers set out for the west and experienced floods, food shortages, broken wagons, hostile natives, and more. If they survived these challenges and reached Utah, the Great Salt Lake Desert and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range awaited them. The Royces got as far as Salt Lake City and then found “two small sheets of note paper, sewed together and bearing on the outside in writing the title, ‘Best Guide to the Gold Mines, 816 miles’, by Ira J. Willes, GSL City” to help them the rest of the way.
The “book” was handwritten by Willes, who had been to California and back the previous year. Royce said the description of directions, distances and good camping places seemed pretty clear until the author mentioned the Humboldt River [not connected to Humboldt county in any way], “when poor camping and scarcity of water was mentioned with discouraging frequency.” After that point, author Willes suggested they look for a new track the previous fall, which “might be better.”
As life and other work calls, I will continue this topic tomorrow…