View of Rogue Valley from Wagner Butte

1864 Crossing the plains account by Sabra Goddard Coleman

                                                 Sabra Goddard at Peter Britt's Studio, Jacksonville, OR

THE DIARY OF SABRA ANN GODDARD COLEMAN                            
on her crossing of the United States from                                                       
Ray County, Missouri beginning May 7, 1864,
with her parents Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Goddard.

My Journey across the plains as I remember it 51 years ago.
    We left our home in Ray County, Mo. the 7th day of May 1864, I being 16 years of age. We went to my father's brother William Goddard's the first night as he and one of our neighbors, Leonard Babcock, was going to cross the plains too, as it was called at that time and the next morning we all started from there and as near as I can remember there were 7 wagons. My uncle with 2 wagons and 2 span of horses; Mr. Babcock with 2 wagons and 5 yoke of oxen; 3 yokes for 1 wagon and 2 for the other and Mr. Hickman from Richmond, Mo. with 4 or 5 yoke of oxen and 2 wagons and he, Mr. Hickman, agreed to bring Mr. and Mrs. Kirkman with him. Mr. Kirkman driving 1 of the teams. Mrs. K. was Mr. Babcock's sis­ter. All told 23 people in the train.
     We arrived at St. Joseph and crossed the Mo river the 11th, on a stream ferry. The Mosouria (Missouri) being as muddy as could be. Well from there on for a while 1 day was much like another. I think we had   been on the road about 3 weeks when we came to a nice stream of water and as there was good feed for the stock the men concluded to rest a day and let the stock feed. I forgot to say we (had) no horse stock except 2 head of horses.
     The first stream we crossed was Little Platte in Mo. The river was high on account of recent rains and my uncle being in the lead drove right in the river and when he got across and going up the steep bank on the other side, the water just poured out of the wagon box. The rest of the wagons boxes was blocked up that is the men cut blocks of wood and raised the wagon boxes and sliped the blocks of wood between the box and bolster, so the rest crossed over dry shod.
My father 1 and Mr. Babcock 1 and we had 2 dogs, 1 shepard and 1 Little dog. The small dog belonging to my fathers family. Well, the day we lay be to rest was washday too. My cousin Kate G_______ and my self doing the washing for our own families and Mr. Babcocks family as Mrs. B_____was sick; was sick when we left home. About the time we got the washing hung out one of Mr. B's girls fell in the creek. Well, that was a good deal like the cloths line breaking when you have just hung out a big washing as we had her cloths to wash.
      I will here state that when we started from home we intend to go to Cal but when we were on the Platt river 3 more families joined our train as they were traveling alone and they thought it safer to fall in with some other train and we were glad to have them as our train was not very large. Their names was Mr. Ar­nold, Mr. Trose, Mr. Bailey. All 3 had families and 2 young men, Mr. Carter and Breeding, that were crossing with the. Mr. Bailey had 2 friends here, Mr. John Robison of Wagon (Wagner) Creek and Mr. Conrad Sergeant of Phoenix and they had written to Mr. Bailey glowing accounts of Rogue River valley.
     I tell you these little incident just as they happened, as they were part of our journey. The next thing that happened was the cattle stampeding, I think. We must have been in Nebrasky. They started in the night and all of the noise you ever heard. Bells ringing, cattle running, bauling, you could no more stop them than you could stop the wind. The men found them next day and brought them to camp about noon. We got started again and traveled on day after day until we come to the Platte river. I think we must have struck the Platt near where Kearny city is now in Neb. the Platte river was a broad shalow stream at that place and here we seen our first indian, a man and little boy. They came to camp shooting their arrows in the ground to let us know they were friendly. The men would put targets for them to shoot at in the shape of little pieces of tobacco. The camp gave them some sugar and coffee as presents they said their wigwams was up the river aways. We never seen them any more nor did we see any more indians untill we were away up on the Platte R. We drove into camp about half mile from their the indians camp. They said they were Siouix. They did not pay any atention to us. We stopped there a few days to rest the stock and do some washing and clean up our wagons. My cousin Kate G__ and myself visited the indians camp and bought us each a pair of mocisons. There was a frenchman did the talking and they seemed very friendly. He had a squaw for a wife and they had 2 little children and they seemed as happy as larks and fat as butter and here was our first and last experience in cooking with buffalo chips as father always kept a log of wood swing under his wagon and when we could not get wood he would cut some off of the log and by doing that way we always had wood.
     One day we come to a indian burying ground or rather scafold. They had set poles in the ground and built scalfolds on top to bury their dead. The dead seemed to wraped up in hides and tied tight and fast and I will state that we did not see any buffalo from the time we started till we got to the end of our journey and but very few wild animiles. I remember father kill­ing 1 antilope and 1 young rabbit. The antilope he divided with the train. We had no trouble with the indians East of the Rocky mountains. There was nothing of importance happened untill we got to Julesburg, where we found a city of tents and wagons. As the Platte river was so high they could not cross. The cause of the rivers rising was rain and warm weather melting the snow in the mountains. As I remember Julesburg there was 1 or 2 houses. I think it was a trading post as they had articles to sell such as tobacco, sugar and coffee, nuts, dried fruit and the like and skins and buffalo robes. The men at Julesburg said they had lumber for a ferry boat and if the men would build the boat they would ferry our train across free and uncle William and father were both good carpenters and had some tools with them, they built the boat and then they began crossing the river. They could only take 1 wagon and 1 yoke of oxen or 1 span of horses at a time. The rest of the stock were made to swim the river. Some of the men on horses to keep the cattle going well. We finally all got across, that is our train and camped that night on the north side of South Platte and next morning again started on our journey and must have traveled in a North westerly direction untill we come to North Platte. We crossed this stream on a bridge and as I remember we left Fort Larrima on our left. Here some of the men rode into Fort Larrima for our mail, the first since leaving home. We received several letters from home and there was great rejoicing in camp that evening. Well we traveled on day after day, do not remember all the names of rivers we traveled by or crossed. I remember our passing by Independence and chimney rocks. I think they are in Wyoming. Some of the people went up on independence rock and carved their names. I remember us coming to a little stream 1 evening and stoped to camp. We had been traveling along on a bench or land higher up. We drove on the little stream to camp. I don't thing there was any more water in it than there is in Wagoner creek, today. Next morning we started and drove up on the road and had traveled but a little ways, we saw something ahead of us so far off we couldn't tell what it was. Some of the men thought it was buffaloes but when it got closer we seen it was a wall of watter rolling and tumbling, carrying logs of wood, dirt and trash of all kinds. We had just drove out of camp and up on the tableland just in time to miss the wall of watter but there was a train camped below us that was not so lucky as it caught them in camp yet and they lost some of their camp outfit which was a serious thing out there away from every place. Well we traveled on untill we come to the crossing of this little creek and there we had to wait for the watter to run down before we could cross and I think there we used the dirtiest water on the whole journey. We traveled on from there to the south pass and I don't remember of any thing of any importance hapening.
      I know we must have had some rough road coming over the rocky mountains. It was a gradual rise till we arrived at the summit and there when we seen a little stream of water, it was always running west towards the Pacific, where on the Eastern side of Rockies it ran to the east. It seemed to me we had the roughest part of our journey on this side of the Rockies. I remember us coming to some hot springs. The first I remember us seeing they were very large and so hot you could not hold your hand in them. My oldest brother and my cousin James G___ found and old wagon wheel there that had been left by some emigrant train and rolled it down in 1 of the springs and it went down and down. I don't know how far it did go before it stoped, as it was going as long as we could see it and that was several feet.
     The next river of any size was Green River and as usual with all the rivers I remember it was full from bank to bank and we had to block the wagons up again to keep the water from running in the wagon beds. We camped after we crossed the river. We started from there the next morning and traveled on untill we come to the first Mormon settlements. I don't know how far East of Salt Lake City this was. We stoped there and stayed a day or so. The men shod the horses and oxen as some of the oxen was very tender footed. We bought some butter there and some young onions and they surely tasted good to us. We traveled on untill we come to Salt Lake City and I thought when we come in sight of the city it was the purties sight I ever seen. We camped close to the citty that night and next day. We started and passed through the citty. The streets were wide with shade trees on each side with little streams of watter running on each side. You don't know how nice and cool it all looked to us. We went about 2 or 3 miles north of Salt citty and stoped as father had a brother, Stephen Goddard living there, and mother was verry sick, so Uncle S. got her some medicine and she comenced to get better so we started on. Here we got our first good suply of vegetables since we started from home. We traveled through Ogden and around the north of Salt lake where we had to cross Bear river. It emptied in salt lake I think. It was a nice ford after we got down the bank but we had to dead lock our wagons and the men cut down a small tree and fastened to the hind end of our wagons and also tied some rope to the wagon to hold them back as it looked like they (the wagons) would tip right over on the oxen and it was just as steep as we come out of the river. I cannot remember much of journey untill we struck the Humbolt we had our worst trouble with the indians. They were plenty of them and we would hardly stop at our camp before they would be poping up all around us. You had to watch them all the time. I remember 1 old indian in particular as he followed us for 2 or 3 days. He rode a big roan horse and he would pass us every day on the galop, neither looking to the right or left. We never did know what his object was in following us.
     We had spindled feed for our stock and plenty of wood for fire. The grass was waist high, after we struck the Humbolt and had traveled several days we come to several men cutting and putting up hay. There were lots of indians around there; we stoped there an hour or so and talked to the men and the indians just swarmed around our wagon and would peep in and point to the grass and talk to beat the band. We asked the men that was cutting hay if they wasn't afraid of the indians. They said they were peaceful and they were not afraid of them but we heard after wards that the indians had killed them and burnt their houses.
     One evening before sundown we drove in the bottom near the river where it made a bend something like a horse shoe and camped. We did not see any more indians than usual. We got our supers as usual and at night brought the stock in, tied or picked them near the camp and put out a guard. The men always stood guard after we got in the indian country. 2 men till midnight and 2 men from midnight untill daylight to watch that nothing disturb the stock and stampede them if possible. Well that night some time in the after part of the night we heard a shot ring out on the night air. The men come hastening out of the wagons and tents to see what the trouble was. The men on guard would walk around camp or sometimes lay down as you can see objects better between you and the skye line, and the guard saw an indian on 1 of my uncles horses. The guard shot at him and I guess hit him as he gave a big grunt and jumped off and ran in the willows that borded the river and the men commenced to look after the other stock and they had started the rest of the stock the other way. I remember my cousin Kate that night jumping up in the wagon and shouting, Oh Sabra we will all be killed. I caught hold of her and pulled back in the wagon and told her to lie down or she would get shot. We did not have any more trouble with the indians from that time on.
     We traveled down the Humbolt river some ways after the trouble with the indians and then we seperated from the rest of the train. My uncle W. Goddard and Mr. Hickman and Mr. Arnold going on down the Humbolt to Cal and my father, Mr. Babcock and Mr. Baily and Mr. Swope left the Humbolt for Oregon. The first place we found after leaving the Humbolt where any one lived was honey Lake valley and when we got to Susanville we camped for the night and then we bought our first vegtables since leaving Salt Lake. I remember father buying potatoes, cabage and turnips and Mother cooking a great camp kettle full. We could hardly wait for them to cook we were so hungry for them. About the time we got super ready the wind commence to blow and the sand and dust flew in clouds. We had to get up in the wagon to eat our supper and father would say, children don't eat too much it will make you sick, and he was eating grub just as fast as he could all the time. Well that night the stork visited our camp and left a little baby girl at the wagon of Mr. and Mrs. Bailey. We rested 1 day there and come on for we were anxious to get to our jour­neys end, from there on I drove 1 of the light wagons for Mr. Bailey into the valley and did the cooking for the family. Their oldest boy come down with the typhoid fever after we left Susan­ville and died after we got here and is buried in the Wagon Creek cemetery.
     When we were at Susanville the men met a couple of freigh­ters that had brought flour to Susanville so they said they would come with us and it was a great help to us as they knew all of the good camping places. We come on day by day. I don't remem­ber any thing happening till we got on the Sirrie Nevedda Mount and were driving along a road as level as this floor but in heavy timber and the road wound around in and out between and Mr. Bab___ run against a tree and upset his wagon and his wife and children come crawling out from under the canvas cover unhurt. When we found there was nobody hurt we had a big laugh at his expense. When we come to the Siskyius we stoped at Lower Coles and bought rool of butter for which we paid $l.00 and I don't think we ever injoyed butter any better. We come on over the Tole road and paid our tole. Dollarhide didn't own it then and I have forgotten who did. We come on down to what was known as the Hill place, this was 29 day of Sept, but known now as Kings Burry Springs and there we stoped and bought some potatoes and Mrs. Russell, now of the Marbel works of Ashland told us to help our selfs to tomatoes as there was going to waste so we had another good feed that evening. We drove down the creek below their house and camped and 1 of the women come into camp after we got there with her dress skirt gathered up and filled with tomatoes she said she wanted more than enough for 1 meal. The next day we come on down the valley to Ashland. There was just a few houses and 1 store. It stood where the citty hall is now and was owned by Robert Hakidine* and 1 flouring mill owned by Jacob Wagonor. The town being built on the Plaza. We come on down the valley that evening and camped down on bear creek just back of where Mr. Alford used to live on the Pacific highway and that night Mrs. Britain (Grandmother of Mr. High that lives up here on the corner) visited our camp. The first woman in the valley to visit us. In a day or 2 we moved on over bear creek and up just above where the big red barn stands. We stayed there 3 weeks and then father rented a house of Fairman Anderson, a brother of E.K. Anderson on Anderson creek. It was a log house but good and comfortable and I tell you we was glad to get in a house once more. There is not much more to tell. The people we met were verry good to us expescially Marion Anderson, a brother of E.Ks, and his wife and uncle Johnnie and auntie Robison. Grandfather and Mother of John R. that is here tonight. I think this is all of my story of our trip as I remember it from the time we left home 51 years ago till our arrival in this valley the 29th of Sept 1864.
      When we crossed Wagoner creek Mr. Bailey and family drove on up the creek to uncle Johnie Robisons where their little boy died. Mr. Swope and family went on towards Portland and the last we heard from them he lived near that citty. Mr. Babcock stayed here 1 winter then moved to Cal. Mr. Bailey stayed here 2 win­ters then moved back to Iowa.


This last paragraph is the final page in the diary but does not have a place in the preceding story. Sabra must have thought of this later.

the train and got our supper and let the stock rest an hour or so. When the men got the ox rope and we started on again and traveled till near midnight. When we came to a station and plenty of watter. The men bought feed for the stock that night. My father always carried watter for the family. He had a 5 gallon keg for that purpose and it come in handy that evening as he divided it up with the rest of the folks for their tea or coffee as the case might be.