Organized…every ounce of our beings must be organized for this trip. From the train ride in Chicago, to crossing the Mississippi River, to boarding a covered wagon in Missouri…organized. I learned how to organize wagons through my experience of being a wagoner in the Civil War as I traveled with Generals Grant and Sherman to Vicksburg. Just six years ago.
In this year of 1871, our family is going to Kansas from our current home in DuPage County, Illinois. President Lincoln’s Homestead Act is calling us there for a claim of free land. My married son John and family along with daughter Mary and family are coming along. Three families will be organized with all it takes to make the journey.
We need oxen, barrels of dry goods and food, and water along with the wagon. Every crate and barrel has to be carefully weighed as the oxen can pull a limited amount along the trail. We can travel about 15 miles a day as the family will be walking beside the wagon to ease the load for the oxen. My wife of 27 years and mother of nine is carrying a child as we travel along so she can ride in the wagon along the way…Mary says the ride will be bumpy and unsteady…she will get jostled…she will walk part of the way.
There are about 30 other families traveling with us. At night, we will sit by the fire as we eat our evening meal. Some of them will share their stories of why they are going to Kansas for a new start. Like me, many of the men have served in the war and gained experience in going to new places. They are restless and need the dream of claiming lands.
Our first stop will be in Washington County, Kansas. There is a Pony Express Station there where we can refresh ourselves and, perhaps, restock some goods. From there it is about 100 miles to our final destination of Osborne County…about a week’s travel. I am worried for Mary as the due date for the baby will near.
May God grant us the resilience and courage to make this journey. We pray that being organized and ready to venture forth will be hallmarks of His Providence.
~Amos H. Boultinghouse 1871
Final note: Mary’s baby was born a few days after their arrival in Osborne County. Mary and baby Lafayette shared a tent for the birth. Amos and Mary lived in the county for about 25 years before their deaths. They are my 2nd great grandparents…Lafayette is my great grandfather.