Digital History>eXplorations>Children and the Westward Movement>The Trail to California>Sarah Ide

Sarah Ide

On April 1st we bid our good friends farewell. It was a sad day for us. All our old neighbors came to help us pack our things into our three wagons, and we set off…. We packed our cooking utensils, tin cups, tin plates—with provisions to last six months. Mother, my little brothers—Daniel, aged ten, and Lemuel, aged eight, and Thomas Crafton, all rode in a wagon. Our drove of cattle numbered 165, including 28 working oxen….

Some of our best oxen became poor and unfit for work, and were left on the sandy desert, some 40 miles this way of it, to shirk for themselves; and they probably died, or were “cared for” by the Indians. An ox would lie down in his yoke, and could not be got up; so we would unyoke and leave him.

After passing the 40 mile desert, and crossing the Truckee River thirty two times, we came to Truckee Lake…some of the way being obliged to drive our wagon the edge of the Lake; some of the time the water coming almost to our feet—keeping the women in constant dread of being drowned. It was a fearful time for the timid female passengers, both young and old. At night we camped at the foot of the Sierra Nevada; and were told by the Pilot that we would have to take our wagons to pieces, and haul them up with ropes.

[The men built a road out of stones and dirt.] It took us a long time to go about two miles over our rough, new-made road up the mountain, over the rough rocks, in some places, and so smooth in others, that the oxen would slip and fall on their knees; the blood from their feet and knees staining the rocks they passed over. Mother and I walked, (we were so sorry for the poor, faithful oxen), all those two miles—all our clothing being packed on the horses’ backs. It was a trying time—the men swearing at their teams, and beating them most cruelly, all along the rugged way.


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