"WENT TO KANSAS" by Miriam D. Colt



        All our good-byes have been spoken, -- hands shaken, -- kisses pressed in token of love and friendship that will burn in hearts like ours, where e'er we turn.

        APRIL 16TH. -- ANTWERP, N. Y. -- Bade our friends good-bye, in Potsdam, this morning, at the early hour of two o'clock. Have ridden forty miles in a stage-coach, over very rough roads. In some places we found the snow four and five feet deep -- we were obliged to get out and walk some distance. The men had to work hard to keep the stage right side up. We found ourselves very much crowded; even our own family was enough to fill one stage, there being seven of us, father, mother and sister Lydia Colt, my husband; self and two children. We have now arrived safely in this place, but a few minutes too late for the five o'clock train; we saw the train start out just as we were coming in. We are all very tired, and glad to lay ourselves down to rest.

        APRIL 17TH. -- STANW1X HALL, ROME. -- We took a freight train this morning, at nine o'clock, for Watertown; arrived there about noon; were in hopes to find a passenger train going out at twelve o'clock, but were disappointed. A dark, rainy day. I need not say how long the hours seemed, nor how tired the children got, nor how many times Willie asked me, " How long before the old iron bonny will come?"

        We tried to amuse ourselves by reading the advertisements of different routes and the faces of strangers, who, like us, were waiting for the five o'clock train; but it is exceeding hard to amuse one's self while waiting for the cars.

        We find ourselves well cared for here in this splendid, neat, and quiet hotel after our weary day of waiting.

        APRIL 18TH. -- Here we are, at the close of another day, in Buffalo. Have journeyed through a most beautiful country to-day. This Western New York is not to be equalled in this northern country for beauty of scenery, or fertility of soil. My husband wishes to take very good care of s all, particularly the old people; so we have left the cars and are resting in this nice hotel, "The Stranger's Home." My head aches so hard, that I care but little where I am, if I can only find a place to be quiet, and rest my poor head.

        APRIL 20TH. -- INDIANAPOLIS, IND. Am resting this pleasant Sabbath day, after being on the cars twenty-four hours. From Buffalo, took the Lake Shore route to Cleveland, Ohio, from thence to this place. Lake Erie looked blue and boundless, and we could see the white sails in the distance. Have passed beautiful green fields of wheat, and fine tall trees all in leaf; have seen gardens being made, and wild flowers blooming. Here is an apple tree close by the window, almost in full blossom -- surely we are moving southward! southward! How quick the transition from winter to spring. In four days have travelled from snow banks and ice-bound streams, to green fields, leafy woods, smiling flowers, and the merry notes of birds.

        Willie and his papa have been visiting the cemetery. Willie brought a sprig of cedar to his mamma. Mema is contented if she can get a book. This hotel is full of people -- all strange faces -- truly we are among strangers, bound for a new home. This Indianapolis is a beautiful place. The people are coming, from church. The day seems long.

        APRIL 22D. -- Have been on the cars again since yesterday morning. Last night was a lovely moonlit night -- a night of thought, as we sped almost with lightning speed, along in the moonlight, past the rail fences.

        The sun is just rising in the east, casting his golden rays all over this beautiful country, with its trees in leaf. Here we come into Illinois Town; right before us the great Mississippi, "the father of waters," while just over, the city of St. Louis, in all its compactness, rises step by step, a city on a hill side, almost enveloped in smoke. Truly this has been called "a city of smoke."

        Found ourselves in this miserable hotel before we knew it. Miserable fare -- herring boiled with cabbage -- miserable, dirty beds, and an odor pervading the house that is not at all agreeable. Mistress gone.

        APRIL 23D. -- On board steamer "Cataract," bound for Kansas City. Our company that we expected to meet here are all on board. They seem to be very fine people.

        APRIL 24TH. -- A hot summer day. The men of our company are out in the city, purchasing wagons and farming implements, to take along on the steamer up to Kansas City.

        Am amusing myself in viewing this wonderful river. Here is a floating city of steamboats; they lie wedged in so close to each other, that it is a wonder to me how they are ever going to start out, even when they want to. Still I see them go out and come in, above and below, as difficult as it looks. If one should take fire, I am sure we should all be burned. The levee is piled almost mountain high with merchandise, enough, I should think, to supply all America. The negroes are loading and unloading it on to and off from the steamers all the time.

        APRIL 25TH. -- The "Cataract" has liberated herself from the mass of steamers. Am viewing the city as we move along up the river. One dark column of smoke rises and curls over her house-tops, domes and spires.

        Twenty-five miles up the river. Now enter the dark, muddy waters of the Missouri; large trees have been washed from its banks during high water, and lie along in its bed, with their limbs extended, always ready to "snag'' the steamers as they ply up the river. The channel of the river, they say, is continually changing, so that it requires much tact and experience to be a pilot on the steamers.

        APRIL 26TH. -- Was kept awake most all night; it seemed as though we were on a sand-bar once in five minutes; then how the steamer would puff and wheeze to liberate herself.

        A lovely morning. What beautiful, grand moving scenery -- high bluffs, sloping woodlands, green fields, blooming flowers, little cottages, fruit trees all in blossom, nestling in between the craggy cliffs. Here is the town of Herman, noted for its wine. These cliffs and bluffs are wild and grand in the extreme; some are 200 feet high, perpendicular and smooth; they remind one of the descriptions of eastern castles, and you can easily imagine that the chisel marks are to be seen on the massive walls.

        The evening is dark; the thunder is roaring, the lightning flashing, and the rain comes in torrents. Here at Jefferson City, have more of our company come on board. Good news from our southern home -- our company happy and hopeful.

        APRIL 27TH. -- Sunday. Have had preaching on board the Cataract -- good attention. These 200 passengers all eat at the same table three times a day, are very friendly, and seem like one large family.

        Have just passed a beautiful little place in between the cliffs. Now we come to the pretty town of Booneville, situated on a bluff. An old woman comes on board to sell apples; Oh! she tarries too long, the plank is taken up, and she is left on board. Is making a great fuss; she is brought along three or four miles, and is being set off on a bluff.

       APRIL 28TH. -- The steamer struck a "snag" last night; gave us a terrible jar; tore off a part of the kitchen; ladies much frightened. Willie is not very well; the water is bad; it affects all strangers.

        A lovely eve. We are going on up the river. All seem happy. Some of our company are out on the guards, singing the following song:

CALL TO KANSAS. -- AIR: "Nelly Bly".


Yeomen strong, hither throng --
        Nature's honest men --
We will make the wildness
        Bud and bloom again.
Bring the sickle, speed the plough,
        Turn the ready soil;
Freedom is the noblest pay
        For the true man's toil.
                Ho, brothers ! come brothers!
                        Hasten all with me,
                We'll sing, upon the Kansas plains,
                        The song of liberty.

Father haste! o're the waste
        Lies a pleasant land;
There your fire-side altar-stones
        Fixed in truth shall stand;
There your sons, brave and good,
        Shal1 to freemen grow,
Clad in tripple mail of right,
        Wrong to overthrow.
                Ho, brothers! come brothers!
                        Hasten all with me,
                We'll sing, upon the Kansas plains,
                        A song of liberty!

Mother come -- here's a home
        In the waiting West
Bring the seeds of love and truth,
        You who sow them best;
Faithful hearts, holy prayers,
        Keep from taint the air;
Soil a mother's tears have wet,
        Golden crops shall bear.
                Come mother, fond mother,
                        List, we call to thee,
                We'll sing, etc.

Brothers brave, stem the wave,
        Firm the prairie tread;
Up the dark Missouri flood
        Be your canvas spread.
Sister true, join us too,
        Where the Kansas flows;
Let the Northern lily bloom
        With the Southern rose.
                Brave brother, true sister,
                        List, we call to thee:
                We'll sing, etc.

One and all, hear our call
        Echo through the land --
Aid us with a willing heart
        And a strong right hand --
Feed the spark the pilgrims struck
        On old Plymouth Rock;
To the watch-fires of the free
        Millions glad shall flock.
                Ho, brothers! come brothers!
                        Hasten all with me,
                We'll sing upon the Kansas plains,
                        A song of liberty.

        APRIL 29TH. -- Rainy and cold; fire very comfortable. These steamers have been truly called "floating palaces." The waiters are just beginning to lay the table for dinner; I like to watch them, to see what order and precision everything is brought on; such a variety of meats and fish, and all kept smoking hot on the table. Then comes tea, coffee, cakes, pastries, nuts and candies, enough to tempt the palate of the greatest epicure, and please the tastes of children. We plain eaters have to pick here and there to get plain food. That disk of hominy that is coming on looks tempting -- it is as white as rice. "Hog and hominy," they say, "is western fare." I am sure I can thrive on such white "hominy," let alone the "hog." Bell rings for dinner; all seated and served, when, here we go! "tables tipped," fast on a sand bar. Fire all out, and boiler full of sand, we are floating down the river; an anchor is thrown out, "it drags;" one negro says, "if she passes that point yonder, all h--l can't save her." We are trying to be frightened. Another anchor is thrown out; it "holds her."

        Six o'clock P.M. -- "She is righted," steam on, and we are moving up the river again -- 50 miles below Kansas City.

        APRIL 30TH. -- Here we are, at Kansas City, all safely again on terra firma. Hasten to the hotel -- find it very much crowded. Go up, up, up, and up stairs to our lodging rooms.

        MAY 1ST. -- Take a walk out on to the levee -- view the city, and see that it takes but a few buildings in this western world to make a city. The houses and shops stand along on the levee, extending back into the hillsides. The narrow street is literally filled with huge merchandise wagons bound for Santa Fe. The power attached to these wagons is seven or eight and sometimes nine pair of long-eared mules, or as many pair of oxen, with a Mexican driver who wields a whip long enough to reach the foremost pair, and who does not hesitate to use it with severity, and a noise too.

        Large droves of cattle are driven into town to be sold to emigrants, who, like us, are going into the Territory. Our husbands are all out to-day buying oxen, provisions and cooking utensils for our ox-wagon journey into the Territory.

        This is the eleventh anniversary of my wedding day, and as I review the past pleasant years as they have passed, one after another, until they now number eleven, a shadow comes over me, as I try to look away into the future and ask, "What is my destiny?" But,

"Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state."

        Ah! Away with all these shadowings. We shall be very busy this year in making our home comfortable, so. that no time can be spared for that dreaded disease, "home-sickness," to take hold of us, and we mean to obey physical laws, thereby securing to ourselves strength of body and vigor of mind.

        MAY 2D. -- A lovely day. Our husbands are loading the ox-wagons. We have hitherto travelled by steam-power, now we are going to try the virtue there is in ox-power "slow and steady win the race." All ready! Women with bonnets on, and children waiting impatiently.

        Women and children walk along up the hill out of this "Great City" -- wait under a tree -- what a beautiful country is spread out before us! Will our Kansas scenery equal this?

        Here come the ox-wagons with their white tops; we shall look like a band of Mormons bound for Salt Lake City-"Come, now, Mrs. V., don't get into that wagon that is drawn by one red ox and one white one! the driver being a small man with a blue frock on -- you know you have a seat in Dr. Thorn's wagon."

        One mile from the city, and Dr. Thorn has broke his wagon tongue; it must be sent back to Kansas City to be mended. Fires kindled -- women cooking -- supper eaten sitting round on logs, stones, and wagon tongues. This I am sure is a " pic-nic." We expect "pic-nic" now all the time. We are shaded by the horse-chestnut, sweet walnut, and spreading oak; their branches interwoven with the clinging grape vine. Flowers blooming at our feet, and grasshoppers in profusion hopping in every direction. This is summer time.

        MAY 3D. -- The women and children, who slept in their wagons last night, got a good drenching from the heavy shower. It was fortunate for mother, sister, myself, and children, that lodgings were found for us in a house. My husband said not a rain drop found him; he had the whole wagon to himself, besides all of our Indian blankets. Father, it seems, fell back a little and found a place to camp in a tavern, (not a hotel,) where he fell in with the scores of Georgians who loaded a steamer and came up the river the same time that we did. He said he had to be very shrewd indeed not to have them find out that he was a "Free States" man. These Banditts have been sent in here, and will commit all sorts of depredations on the Free State settlers, and no doubt commit many a bloody murder. Have passed Westport, the foothold for Border-Ruffianism. The town looks new, but the hue is dingy. Our drivers used their goads to hurry up the oxen's heavy tread, for we felt somewhat afraid, for we learned the Georgians had centered here. Here, too, came in the Santa Fe and Indian trade -- so here may be seen the huge Mexican wagon, stubborn mule, swarthy driver with his goad-like whip, and the red man of the prairie on his fleet Indian pony, laden with dried meat, furs, and buffalo robes. "What! fast in the mud, and with our wagon tongue broke?" "Why, yes, to be sure." So a long time is spent before my husband and Dr. House can put our vehicle in moving order again. Meanwhile, we women folks and children must sit quietly in the wagon to keep out of the rain, -- lunch on soda biscuit, look at the deep, black mud in which our wagon is set, and inhale sweet odor that comes from the blossoms of the crap-apple trees, that are blooming in sheets of whiteness along the roadside.

        "All right" again -- our company come along up, (for we had gone along in advance,) and think we have been well paid for our smartness. Find lodgings -- "turn in" -- head aches hard.

        MAY 5TH. -- For two days have traveled at a slow rate, over muddy roads, fording rivers, which are swollen from the late rain. Our company are all glad to unpack themselves form their emigrant wagons, and take shelter in what would only pass for apologies for houses at the north-cook our own suppers, and accommodate ourselves to a narrow space (not enough to turn over) while the poppies are being shaken o'er our heads. Our Philadelphian Dr.'s wife (Mrs. Thorn) thinks this is hard fare; she is sick to-night. We find our host once to have hailed from New Hampshire, the "Old Granite State." So he and father are having a familiar dish on times of yore. He is the father of half a dozen children, who with frizzled heads and staring eyes, (the mother having gone to her long home) are gazing upon us as though they did not often see so many persons at a time. This family are very kind to give up their beds and floor to the weary travelers and take themselves to the loft above.

        MAY 6TH. -- Dined on the prairie, and gathered flowers, while our tired beasts filled themselves with the fresh, green grass. These prairies spread out far and wide, like a green ocean, and they present something of that optical illusion seen in deserts, called "mirage, causing distant objects to be seen double, as if reflected in a mirror, so as to appear as if suspended in the air;" in deserts it presents the appearance of water -- here it makes the next wood seem nearer. The sun is just setting; this broad carpet of green will soon take on a darker hue. Yonder is a little wood, and just beyond that they say is a house where we can find lodgings for the night.

        Have driven 18 miles to-day, "right smart" for the country. So here we are, all huddled into this little house 12 by 16 -- cook supper over the fire with the help of "pot hooks and trammels" fill the one bed lengthwise and crosswise; the family of the house take to the trundle-bed, while the floor is covered "two or three times one" with men, women and children, rolled in Indian blankets like silk worms in cocoons.

        MAY 8TH. -- Found ourselves near the ferry of the Big Osage this morning. Our good host of last night, of whom we bought a cow and calf, paying him $25 in gold, said he would see us all safely over the river, and would pilot us through the water that had flowed over the river's bank for some distance in consequence of the late rain; so our "wagon beds" were raised up with blocks to keep ourselves and trunks above water. Our wagon was just on the point of tipping over, women, children, trunks and provisions, all into more than a yard deep of muddy water, when our good host rode up by the side of our wagon to assist us. I gave Willie into his arms, and so frightened was I, that I jumped astride behind him on the horse, (waiting for no ceremony,) and rode safely out. Sent him back for the rest, but the men had righted the wagon, and they were safe. Are safely over the Big Osage river, and are hospitably received here at a Mr. Sells.

        MAY 9TH. -- Have had our washtub filled with little peach and cherry trees to set in our Kansas orchard. Have been traveling along the Missouri border, but now we turn into Kansas Territory. A broad green sea of prairie is spread out before us, and in the distance large mounds stretch themselves along the horizon; some in the form of cones, others roof shape-not a tree or shrub shade their summits or sides, but the bright rays of the morning sun illumine their whole surfaces.

        Forded "Mine Creek," and dined again on the prairie. Nine miles to the next wood. Here we count the miles from wood to wood, not from hotel to hotel, or tavern to tavern.

        A very large drove of cattle passed us this forenoon, bound for California. We come up to them now -- they have stopped to bait -- their drivers with their mules are watching them that they stray not away, for their pasture is bounded by no fence; scattered over these rolling prairies, and quietly feeding, they remind one of the "cattle upon a thousand hills." The appearance is rich -- it must be an oriental picture.

        Our slow coaches have come 18 miles to-day -- women and children are all tired, tired, tired -- find comfortable lodgings, and here on this bed canopied with white curtains, I will lay my aching head -- don't want any supper.

        MAY 11TH. -- "Made" but a few miles yesterday. Forded the Little Osage; the last river, they say, we have to ford; and it was a very difficult one too, on account of such steep banks and muddy bottom. Our "noble lords" complained of the great weight of the wagons. They were obliged to attach all the oxen to one wagon, draw that through and up the steep bank, then take another, and so on until all were through and up the bank.

        That our wagon is heavily loaded, have only to make a minute of what we have stowed away in it -- eight trunks, one valise, three carpet bags, a box of soda crackers, 200 lbs. flour, 100 lbs. corn meal, a few lbs. of sugar, rice, dried apple, one washtub of little trees, utensils for cooking, and two provision boxes -- say nothing of mother, a good fat sister, self, and two children, who ride through the rivers.

        At nightfall came to a log-cabin at the edge of a wood, and inquired of the "Lord of the Castle" if some of the women and children could take shelter under his roof for the night; the masculine number and whichever of the women that chose, couching in the wagons and under them. He said we could. His lady, who was away, presently came, with bare feet, and a white sack twisted up and thrown over her shoulder, with a few quarts of corn meal in the end that hung down her back. I said to myself -- "Is that what I have got to come to?" She seemed pleased to have company -- allowed us the first chance of the broad, Dutch-backed fireplace with its earthy hearth, and without pot-hooks or trammels, to make ready our simple evening repast.

        A bed was made for us on the floor; she bade us put our shoes and stockings under our heads, or the rats would carry them off. And we thought before morning that they would take us bodily, not minding the small articles, such as shoes and stockings, there came such "a power" of the "critters," as these southern people say.

        A large, black wild turkey lay with its head stretched over a log this morning, which our host had just shot. He said, "There's a right smart chance for game here." His better-half thought we had "mighty fine children" and a "power of folks."

        Are now crossing the 20 miles prairie, no roads -- keep pilots ahead to pilot us around ravines and keep us out of gulches, (as the deep places are called). Think Mrs. Voorhees will get walking enough crossing this prairie. She is quite a pedestrian surely, for she has walked every bit of the way in, so far, from Kansas City, almost 100 miles.

        Arrive at Elm Creek -- no house to lodge in to-night -- camp-fire kindled -- supper cooked, and partaken of with a keen relish, sitting in family groups around the "great big" fire. Some will sleep in wagons, others under the canopy of the blue vault of Heaven. The young men have built some shady little bowers of the green boughs; they are looking very cosily under them, wrapped in their white Indian blankets. It was very fortunate that we took along the bale of blankets from Kansas City, belonging to the company. My husband paid $20 freightage on them, but we are getting that much good from them while emigrating.

        We ladies, or rather "emigrant women," are having a chat around the camp-fire -- the bright stars are looking down upon us -- we wonder if we shall be neighbors to each other in the great "Octagon City." The Dr.'s wife says, a lady in Philadelphia has promised to send her embroidery. I am thinking we shall have little call for embroidery for the next three years.

        MAY 12TH. -- Full of hope, as we leave the smoking embers of our camp-fire this morning. Expect tonight to arrive at our new home.

        It begins to rain, rain, rain, like a shower; we move slowly on, from high prairie, around the deep ravine -- are in sight of the timber that skirts the Neosho river. Have sent three men on in advance to announce our coming; are looking for our Secretary, (Henry S. Clubb) with an escort to welcome us into the embryo city. If the booming of cannon is not heard at our approach, shall expect a salute from the firing of Sharp's rifles, certainly.

        No escort is seen! no salute is heard! We move slowly and drippingly into town just at nightfall -- feeling not a little nonplused on learning that our worthy, or unworthy Secretary was out walking in the rain with his dear wife. We leave our wagons and make our way to the large camp-fire. It is surrounded by men and women cooking their suppers -- while others are busy close by, grinding their hominy in hand mills.

        Look about, and see the grounds all around the camp-fire are covered with tents, in which the families are staying. Not a house is to be seen. In the large tent here, is a cook stove -- they have supper prepared for us; it consists of hominy, not soft Johnny-cake, (or corn bread, as it is called here,) stewed apple, and tea. We eat what is set before us; "asking no questions for conscience' sake."

        The ladies tell us they are sorry to see us come to this place; which plainly shows that all is not right. Are too weary to question, but with hope depressed go to our lodgings, which we find around in the tents, and in our wagons.  

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