Letter from Daniel Rhoads to Jesse Esrey - Summer 1847
I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all well and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. We all arrived safe in California except John Patterson He died and was buried near the plains of California.
We made our arrival the first day of October through many difficulties and troubles. The first part of our journey was pleasant and beautiful traveling and on tel we got about half way. We began to get tired and out of heart. The grass was failing and our cattle was weak. After we came to the mountains grass was very scarce.
Our travel was principally up rivers. We traveled up the plat river to the mountains. Up sweet watter to the South Pass. The mountains was passable about 15 our 20 miles at the pass. From there on we traveled down the streams. We come to mary's river at the head and traveled down 300 and 30 miles to the sink.
On the old route there is but one long drive. The route we come there is two a day and a night's travel each without water or grass. The first is from big sandy to green river green woods cut-off. The second is from the sink of Mary's river to Truckey's river.
Between Mary's river and Truckey's is boiling springs. There is rocks blown out half as big as a house. These springs is not like other springs. The water does not run from them unless there is a blow-uo. It is boiling like a pot. There is a number of wam and hot springs on the road. salt and sulpher springs. Soda spring. At these soda springs there is about five in the bounds of 10 feet, a clear water, a red, a black and two soda springs.
We travelled hundreds of miles without seeing a stick of growing timber, but plenty of small willows. We had exceeding good roads until we come to truckey's River, which is about 300 and 50 miles from Calafornia(sp). We crossed truckey's river 27 times. One day the rocks from the size of a wash bowl. to the size of a kettle. so plenty that neither oxen nor wagon ever touched bottom. The last 300 miles is very near all rocks. The nearer California the worse the road. From the bottom of the cascade to the top is about 4 miles. It took us 3 days to take our waggons and cattle up. the oxen could be trailed from bottom to top by the blood.
Since we crossed their has been a new rout found that is a great deal better. 6 or 8 yoke of oxen can pull up a wagon in 2 hours. on the top of this mountain is a lake and every 4 or 5 miles through out the mountains is lakes. some of them are so deep in places there is no bottom to be found. the three last days travel we had nothing but oak bushes for our cattle. our old wagon brought us through safe and we then sold it for 30 dollar. we got in with 3 yoke of oxen, 2 horses and 1 cow. one ox died when we got in after halling us 2 thousand miles farther. Rhoads got in wit 7 or 8 yoke of oxen and 18 head of loose cattle only and 3 head of horses.
our provisions gave out before we got in. it would have lasted us if the ballance had a had plenty. John Rhoads gave out and we divided with him. then the old man finally. we all gave out. we kild cattle and eat alone until we got near the plains. John Rhoads went in a horse back and brought out corn. we boiled corn and eat it until we got in.
the first house we came to they sold wheat bran at 3 dollar a hundred. it was hard times. wheat 2 dollars a fanaker flour, and meal 8 dollars by the hundred. peas 2 dollars per bushel. a good fat cow 10 dollars. evrything is dear. white and yellow domestic 50 cts per yard. calico and apron check 50. tea 2 dollars a pound. Coffee is 50 cts. sugar 25 cts a pound. plates tea cups and saucers 50 cents a peace. nives and forks are from 4 to 8 dollars a dozen. castings 16 cents a pound. shoes from 2 to 5 dollars a pair.
the fannon boys and Thomas Rhoads enlisted for 3 months and went in the army and all the emigrants that could leave their families went along. they was determined to gain the country or die in the persuit of it. And without help they could never have gaing it. there is none of our boys returned but Joseph house he cried a many a day to see his aunt betsy before he got back. the other boys hasen't got their discharge yet.
tony patterson has settled on a creek crossing between the cosina and the mekelima. She has in 12 akers of wheat. her and the children is well and she wants to go back to Mo. turner elder is mooving up and down dry creek farther
Rhoads is making him a farm. on the cosima river on a tract of land presented to him by 2 sons in law. John R has no stationary place but has a fine crop of wheat. it was the commencement of the rainy season. It was to late to build a house and I was obliged to have a shelter. I hired to a work from the 1st of November til the harvesting is over, which will be about the last of August. I am to get 25 dollars a month, a house to live in, and my family considered. I am to be paid in young cattle cows at the calving at 5 dolllars a head. Bulls at 3 dollars. I shall be able to drive home 40 to 50 head. I do not know were I will settle but somewhere in the sacrament valley. The rainy season set in the 1st of November. It rains perhaps 2 or 3 days, then a week or two dry weather, then more rain. It rains this way on til April or May. then dry, warm weather. This a last winter is the coldest ever been known in California. We had one lite shift of snow. It is moderately cool in the winter. In the summer it is very warm. The heat gets up to a 100 and 10 degrees. The climate is mild and pleasant. When we came in last fall everything looked horrible. (i.e. no person was pleased with the country). But now everything is in full bloom and looks beautiful. The young grass came on in the months of January and February. Some places the wild oats and clover is waist high. The sail is as rich in places as the Mo bottom, but not generally so. This country is excellent for wheat, corn and garden vegetables will not grow to do much good without watering. In the sacrament valley on the coast they can raise everything but wheat.
Tony patterson requests you to write to david patterson about his misfortunes and if either he or his patterson clan collect any money either here or in clark county to try to send it to her. She stands in great need of it. when you write to david patterson direct your letter to notify county sullivan post office.
Mother Rhoads girls is married. Sally married a man by the name of William Daly. Caty is ms. Sheldon. and elizabeth a ms. Kaiser, a German. They have all done well. Elizabeth has done exceedingly well.
About half of the emigration went to Oregon. A part of what came to California went a new rout with hastings, through by the salt flats. About half of them got in before the snows. The balance got to the fort of the caskade and campt overnight. And the snow fell about two feet deep. They concluded to stay an other day for the snow to melt of. The next nigh they have eight feet. It snowed the cattle all under and them without and provisions. They found some of these cattle which done them til the 1 of February. Some of them attempted to come out two or three times. The snow being too soft they turned back. They finally concluded they would have to die somewhere and they started again--18 of them among them was 5 woman and 2 indians. They started with 2 pounds of meat, each of them. They didn't know the rout to come and they wandered about in the mountains 4 weeks. They all died but 7 and subsisted on the dead bodies.
They got in the 15th day of January, the 5 women and 2 men. They gave the alarm that the people would all die without assistance.
They wasent more than 15 men to the sacrament valley. It was sed that every company of men that would go should have 5 dollars per day. It was 2 weeks before any person would consent to go. Finally it was concluded that we would go or die trying. For not to make any attempt to save them would be a disgrace to us and to California as long as time lasted. We started-- a small company of 7 men myself, John Rhoads, Mr. Glover, Joseph Forster, [Riley Moutrey] and some sailers
We took 50 pounds of provisions and a heavy blanket to each man and started. We walked on snow shoes over the snow it was from 5 to 25 feet deep. At the end of a days travel we cached provisions so as to lighten our loads. We was 7 days going to them Their tents and cabins they had been living on rawhides for 3 weeks. They was dieing every day. in some of the tents the was 3 and 4 on a pile of dead persons.
We gave them these allowance and started with 23persons all that was able to walk. We had but very little provisions to leave the ballance. On our way back a "back a bear" had to one of our caches. That left us 3 days with anything to eat but a tent bag and our snow shoes which was rawhide strings. We met another party bring out provisions. They divided with us or we never would have got in. We manged so as to get in with 19 persons. 3 died on the way. Th 2 nd company started with 14 and got in with 3. the most of those people lived on dead baodys from 4 to 6 weeks. There were but two hole families got out`and a number of orphant children. We saved 30 out of 80 persons. The most of them were from spring field illinois and plat city. It was the awfulest and most horrible sight that ever was seen to go to their cabbins and see the human frames that was theirs. There is now men started to meet the emigrants and hurry them on. There is a large emigration coming from Oregon here this summer. I am not able to tell you how many persons came in last year but the was 200 waggons come over the mountains and 2 or 3 ship loads come by sea. The most of them is Mormans. There is 2000 waggons of mormans between here and the states. Apart of them is on the plat river living on buffalo. The balance is at the salt plains. They don't calculate to embody themselves as they did in the states.
California is improving very fast. In the plains of California there is no good timber. The greater part of it is oak large heavy scrubby timber. The top will cover a bundance of groung There is very fine pine timber in california as was represented but it is in the neighboring mountains. Also on the opposite side of the caskade from us is some of the largest fur and pine that I ever see or heard of. It is were it will do no person any good. Pine timber is 10 dollars a thousand. Horses is from 10 to 25. Heard from the boys matthew fannon is dead and robert was very low. Thomas Rhoads was with him. They are 600 miles below.
We are all heayer than we have been for a great while all but mother Rhoads she is very lean she is determined to go back.
Arnanda is heartier than she has been for the las 4 years. Her weight is a hundred and fifty pounds. We've a fine young son, born the 4 day of November. Amanda calls him for her father and her brother Jesse Esrey. Over here a coat will you
manda sends her compliments to all of her friends. I would like to see you all. As yet I advise you all to stay where you are. We are coming on a visit after a while.
Such weddings. All the girls from 14 up is getting married. Nothing more at present let my best respects to you all,
Daniel Rhoads to Jesse Essery