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the Historical Society of Southern California, vol. vni (1911);
and A Diary of the March with Kearny, Fort Leavenworth to
Santa Fe (1846) by G. R. Gibson gives details concerning that
part of the journey. Gibson also wrote two other diaries on a
trip to Chihuahua and return in 1847. The journals of Captain
Johnson and of Colonel P. St. George Cooke on the march from
Santa Fe to California appeared in House Executive Document
41, ist Sess. joth Congress, and Colonel Cooke's "The Journal of
a March from Santa Fe to San Diego 1846-47" was printed in
Sen. Ex. Doc. 2 Special Sess. Jist Cong. Other literary pro-
ductions of Colonel Cooke were The Conquest of New Mexico
and California (1878) and Scenes and Adventures in Army Life

(1857).

Kearny, before proceeding to California, planned for the

holding of New Mexico, and one of the memorable expeditions



*44 Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

of the war resulted, that of Colonel A. W. Doniphan. It was
accurately recorded by John T. Hughes in Doniphan 's Expedi-
tion; Containing an Account of the Conquest of New Mexico,
General Kearny's Overland Expedition to California, Doniphan 1 s
Campaign Against the Navajos, his Unparalleled March upon
Chihuahua and Durango and the Operations of General Price at
Santa Fe, with a Sketch of the Life of Colonel Doniphan (1847).
Hughes wrote another book now very hard to obtain, California,
Its History, Population, Climate, Soil, Productions, and Har-
bours, and an Account of the Revolution in California and the
Conquest of the Country by the United States, 1846-47 (1848).

William E. Connelley has reprinted the Hughes Doniphan
with Hughes's diary and other related matter in Doniphan's
Expedition ( 1 907) . With the advance guard of the Army of the
West went Major William H. Emory, and his Notes of a Military
Reconnaissance from Fort Leavenworth to San Diego, California,
1846-47 (1848) is an important contribution to the documents
on this famous march.

The Rev. Walter Colton was in California before the con-
quest and he wrote an exceedingly valuable book, Three Years in
California, 1846-49 (1850), as well as another, Deck and Port,
or Incidents of a Cruise in the United States Frigate Congress, etc.
(i 850). Still another volume of this period is Notes on a Voyage
to California Together with Scenes in Eldorado in 1849 (1878)
by S. C. Upham. The name Eldorado enters so commonly
into the literature of the Far West that we may at this point
note the volume The Gilded Man (1893), by A. F. Bandelier,
which describes and explains the term and its origin. In a cer-
tain ceremonial in Peru a man was covered from head to foot
with gold dust and this gave rise to the expression as meaning
fabulous wealth.

With the prospect of closer contact with the Orient by way
01 the Occident, relations with some of the far off Eastern coun-
tries began to be more intimately considered. Caleb Gushing
as Commissioner of the United States went to China in 1843 and
in 1845 negotiated the first treaty between the United States
and China. Missionaries, too, were at their task. Volumes
of the Chinese Repository edited by Dr. Bridgman were pub-
lishing at Canton, and from these volumes, and his own personal
observation and study of native authorities for twelve years,



Gold in California X 45

S. Wells Williams, who went to China as a printer for the Board
of Foreign Missions, who mastered the Chinese language, and
who lectured in the United States to obtain money to pay for a
font of Chinese type, produced The Middle Kingdom. A Sur-
vey of the Geography, Government, Education, Social Life, Arts,
Religion, etc., of the Chinese Empire and its Inhabitants (1848),
a book that remains today one of the supreme authorities on
the subject.

Another traveller in that region was the afterwards eccen-
tric George Francis Train. Only twenty-four years of age,
he met with much success in commercial ventures in China,
and a book was the outcome : An American Merchant in Europe,
Asia, and Australia (1857). The last years of Train's life were
mainly spent on a bench in Madison Square Park, New York,
refusing conversation with all adults.

The year following the conclusion of the Mexican War, which
completed the sway of the United States over the entire West
between the Gila River and the forty-ninth parallel, one of the
large events of the world happened. A certain Marshall was
employed by Sutter in the construction of a saw-mill up in the
mountains, and one morning in January, 1848, when he picked
from the sluiceway a particle of metal half the size of a pea, shin-
ing in the sun, it made his heart thump, for he believed it to be
gold. Gold it proved to be. The great news was quick in reach-
ing the outermost ends of the earth, calling men of all kinds,
of all nationalities, pell-mell to Eldorado to pick up a fortune.
Men of Cathay, men of Europe, men of the Red Indian race,
all mingled on common terms in the scramble. Centuries of
creeping along the fortieth parallel had at last tied together
the far ends of the earth. "Marshall's Own Account of the
Gold Discovery" appeared in The Century Magazine, vol.
xix. Gold had been discovered some years before, but the
psychological moment had not arrived for its exploitation. A
vast literature developed on the subject, one of the earliest books
being The Emigrant's Guide to the Gold Mines, and Adventures
with the Gold Diggers of California in August 1848 (1848), by
Henry I. Simpson, of the New York Volunteers. This book
has become rare. Another early but not scarce "gold" item
is Theodore T. Johnson's Sights and Scenes in the Gold Regions.,
and Scenes by the Way (1849)-



146 Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

The gold seekers got as far as Salt Lake over the Oregon
Trail by Bear River; or from Ft. Bridger by the new way Hast-
ings had found a little farther south, and more direct, through
Echo Canyon. From Salt Lake the chief trail west led down
the Humboldt River to the Sierra and over that mighty barrier
by what became known as Donner Pass to commemorate the
Donner party and the shocking result of their miscalculation,
the details of which are given in The Expedition of the Donner
Party and its Tragic Fate (1911) by Mrs. Eliza P. Donner
Hough ton. "The Diary of one of the Donner Party" by Pat-
rick Breen, edited by F. J. Taggart, is given in Publications of
Pacific Coast History, vol. v. (1910); and C. F. McGlashan
published a History of the Donner Party (1880). This ill-fated
caravan originated in Illinois. John Carroll Power in a History
of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, III. (1876) gives the
daily journal of the "Reed and Donner Emigrating Party."

The difficulties of travel by ox and mule team, the necessity
of obtaining communication better from a military point of view,
and other considerations led to talk of a railway to California.
George Wilkes published in 1845 a volume now rare, Project of a
National Railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, for the
Purpose of Obtaining a Short Route to Oregon. In 1848, Asa
Whitney made addresses, memorials, and petitions for a trans-
continental railway, and he gave his plan in a Congressional
document, Miscellaneous 28, Senate, joth Congress i: "Me-
morial of Asa Whitney for grants of land to enable him to build
a railway from Lake Michigan to the Pacific. " Whitney issued
a volume in the same line, from personal exploration: Project
for a Railroad to the Pacific with Reports and Other Facts Relating
Thereto (1849).

No one was more enthusiastic or confident of the feasibility
of a railway than Fremont, unless it was his father-in-law, Ben-
ton. They were both positive that neither rivers, nor hot
deserts, nor the deep mountain snows of winter would interfere
seriously with the operation of trains. Fremont projected his
fourth expedition especially to prove that winter would be no
obstacle, and he attempted crossing the highest mountains in
the winter of 1848-49. He met with sad disaster in Colorado,
for which he blamed the guide for misleading him. This
dreadful experience he describes in his Memoirs, and it is



The Indians H7

related in other books on Fremont's expeditions; and Micajah
McGehee, who was of the party, gives all the terror of then
struggle in "Rough Times in Rough Places" in The Century
Magazine, vol. XIX. After this catastrophe Fremont pro-
ceeded to California by the far southern route of upper Mexico
and the Gila, arriving just as the great gold excitement was in
its first heat.

Thousands were now preparing to follow thousands to the
fortune-field that lay against what Fremont previously had
named the Golden Gate. It mattered not that the way was
beset with impossibilities for the greenhorn (or in later nomen-
clature, the tenderfoot) ; to California he was bound through
fair and foul. Not the least of the troubles arose from Indians,
those people who already possessed the country and were
satisfied with it. They disliked to see their game destroyed
by these new hordes, their springs polluted by cattle, their
families treated with brutality or contempt according to the
physical strength of the pioneer party. The latter on their
part regarded the Indians as merely a dangerous nuisance, to be
got rid of by any possible means. Sometimes when the trap-
per's or pioneer's confidence ran high with power, the Indian,
armed only with a bow and arrows, was pursued and shot as
sport from horseback, just as the sportsman chases antelope
or buffalo.

The misconception of Indian life and character so common
among the white people [remarks Francis LaFlesche, himself an
Indian, in his preface to his charming little story of his boy life, The
Middle Five: Indian Boys at School (1900)] has been largely due to
ignorance of the Indian's language, of his mode of thought, his
beliefs, his ideals, and his native institutions.

We have heretofore viewed the Indians chiefly through the
eyes of those who were interested in exploiting them; or of
exterminating them. Perhaps it is time to listen to their
own words.

Another educated Indian, Dr. Charles A. Eastman (Ohi-
yesa), a full-blood Sioux, writing on this subject in The Soul of
the Indian (1900), declares:

The native American has been generally despised by his white
conquerors for his poverty and simplicity. They forget, perhaps,



148 Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

that his religion forbade the accumulation of wealth and the enjoy-
ment of luxury. To him as to other single minded men in every
age and race, from Diogenes to the brothers of Saint Francis, from
the Montanists to the Shakers, the love of possessions has appeared
a snare, and the burdens of a complex society a source of needless
peril and temptation. It is my personal belief after thirty-five
years experience of it, that there is no such thing as Christian
Civilization I believe that Christianity and modern civilization
are opposed and irreconcilable and that the spirit of Christianity
and of our ancient religion is essentially the same. . . . Since there is
nothing left us but remembrance, at least let that remembrance be
just.

With reference to the treachery of the whites, at times,
in the treatment of Indians it is permissible to refer the reader
to the Massacre of Cheyenne Indians, j8th Congress, 2nd Sess.,
House Doc., Jan. loth, 1865, wherein the Committee on the
Conduct of the War, Benjamin F. Wade, Chairman, reports on
an unprovoked attack by Colorado militia on a Cheyenne
village in which sixty-nine, two thirds women and children,
were killed and the bodies left on the field.

The Indian side of much of the trouble of the years following
1 86 1 may be read in "Forty Years with the Cheyennes," written
by George Bent for The Frontier, a Colorado Springs monthly.
Bent's mother was Owl Woman of the Southern Cheyennes,
and his father, Col. William Bent, the widely known proprietor
of Bent's Fort on the Arkansas, also called Fort William.
Young Bent left school to join the Confederate army, was
captured, paroled, and sent to his father. He then went to his
mother's people and remained with them.

There was at least one American of early Western days who
looked on the Indian with more sympathy. This was George
Catlin, now famous for his paintings and books. Thanks to a
kind Providence, not to our foresight, his invaluable painted
records of a life that is past are now the property of the United
States. Thomas Donaldson gives an exhaustive review of
Catlin, his paintings in the National Museum, and his books
in Part V, Report ^ the U. S. National Museum (1885).

We are not here concerned with Catlin 's paintings and only
note his literary output. His Letters and Notes on the Manners
and Customs of the North American Indians, Written During



George Catlin J 49

Right Years Travel Among the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North
America in 1832, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39, with Four Hun-
dred Illustrations Carefully Engraved from his Original Paintings
was published first in London, at his own expense, in 1841.
The same year it was brought out in New York. Another of
his volumes was Catlin' s Notes of Eight Years Travels and
Residence in Europe with his North American Indian Collection,
with Anecdotes and Adventures of Three Different Parties of
American Indians whom he Introduced to the Courts of England,
France and Belgium (1848). A book of his that raised strong
doubts as to his veracity was Okeepa, A Religious Ceremony, and
other Customs of the Mandans, which was published in Philadel-
phia in 1867, and gave one of the earliest accounts of the extra-
ordinary Okeepa ceremonial : a self-sacrificial affair akin to the
Sun Dance of the Dakotas. The book today is recognized as
veracious and valuable. He wrote Life among the Indians
(1861) for young folk, and in 1837 ne brought out a Catalogue of
Catlin s Indian Gallery of Portraits, Landscapes, Manners,
Customs, and Costumes, etc. His well-known, and now rare,
North American Indian Portfolio, Twenty -five large Tinted
Drawings on Stone, some Coloured by Hand in Imitation of the
Author's Sketches, appeared in London in 1844; his Steam Raft
in 1850; Shut your Mouth in 1865; and Last Rambles amongst
the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and the Andes in London
in 1868.

His viewpoint was totally different from that of the trapper
or pioneer, explorer or traveller. Catlin was interested in the
Indian as a man. 'The Indians have always loved me," he
declares, "and why should I not love the Indians ? " He wrote
a "Creed," part of which was: "I love the people who have
always made me welcome to the best they had. I love the
people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my
property, where there was no law to punish for either."

The Mormons soon adopted a conciliatory policy towards
the Indians, feeling it was more profitable to deal justly with
them, to pay them, than to fight them. It was obligatory to
have a cool clear-headed man to carry out such a policy, and
Brigham Young selected Jacob Hamblin for the service. No
better choice could have been made. Slow of speech, quick of
thought and action, this Leatherstocking of Utah was usually



Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

called "Old Jacob." He tells an interesting story through
James A. Little in Jacob Hamblin, a Narrative of his Personal
Experiences (1881). A devoted Mormon, he was never un-
friendly to other sects and often assisted persons of opposite
faith, at least on two occasions saving lives.

The list of books on Indians is enormous, the Bureau of
Ethnology alone having produced a great many, including
the series of thirty-two invaluable Annual Reports inaugurated
by J. W. Powell, as well as more than fifty-eight equally impor-
tant Bulletins. George Bird Grinnell's Indians of Toda\
(1900) and The North Americans of Yesterday (1901) by Fred
erick S. Dellenbaugh are two volumes which present a wide
general survey.

A famous man associated with Indians throughout his
3ife was Kit Carson, one of the most remarkable and upright
jharacters of the Far West. Dewitt C. Peters persuaded
Carson to dictate to him the story of his life. The last and
complete edition is Kit Carson's Life and Adventures (1873).
George D. Brewerton in Harper's Magazine (1853) wrote an
account of "A Ride with Kit Carson through the Great
American Desert and the Rocky Mountains." This ride was
made in 1848 and was over the Spanish Trail eastward from
Los Angeles. The springs are few and far between in South-
ern Nevada and South-Eastern California, and in studying this
route and the literature pertaining to the region Walter C.
Mendenhall's Some Desert Watering Places (U. S. Water Supply
Paper 224, 1909) is most useful.

Some experiences were published long afterward, as in the
case of William Lewis Manly's Death Valley in '49, which
was never printed till 1894. It is deeply interesting. The
author, arrived at Green River, decided with several others to
shorten the journey by taking to the river, and was hurled
through the torrential waters of Red Canyon and Lodore
Later he joined a California caravan to suffer terribly in Death
Valley.

John Bidwell, an "earliest" pioneer, has contributed to
The Century Magazine, vol. xix, and to Out West Magazine,
vol. XX, some invaluable reminiscences. He was with the
first emigrant train to California. It crossed in 1841. In
1853 Captain Howard Stansbury made a report on his Explo-



The Pacific Railway '5*

ration and Survey of the Valley of Great Salt Lake, the valley
where the Mormons already were proving by irrigation the
accuracy of Fremont's statement as to its fertility.

Congress took up with energy the matter of a railway to the
Pacific, and several exploration routes were planned. Fremont
was to survey one, but the leadership was given instead to
Captain Gunnison, who proceeded by the "Central Route"
over the Sangre de Cristo Pass. Gunnison was killed by
Indians at Sevier Lake. He had been stationed at Salt Lake
when assisting Stansbury, and while there made a study of
Mormonism, The Mormons, or the Latter Day Saints in the
Valley of the Great Salt Lake (1852). Mrs. Gunnison believed
that the Mormons had instigated the murder of her husband,
and Judge Drummond, who tried the case, was of this opin-
ion also, and so stated in a letter to Mrs. Gunnison printed
in the edition of 1890. He believed that the murder was car-
ried out by Bill Hickman and eight others. One Mormon was
among those slain.

A series of large quarto volumes (thirteen in number, as the
last or twelfth volume was issued in two parts) was published
on railway surveys by the government : Reports of Explorations
and Surveys to Ascertain the most Practicable and Economical
Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific
Ocean (1855 to 1859). The explc 'ers wrote with grace and
facility, as a rule, and these reports form an indispensable
library of information on the Far West of the fifties.

While these surveys were going on, an epoch-making link
in the chain that was forging between Europe and Cathay was
placed by Americans cruising in Asiatic waters: Commodore
Perry visited Japan and negotiated the first treaty between
a Western people and the Japanese. The record of this achieve-
ment is given in a Narrative of the Expedition of an American
Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the Years
1852, 1853, and 1854. Compiled from the Original Notes and
Journals of Commodore Perry and his Officers at his Request and
under his Supervision by Francis L. Hawkes (1856).

A transcontinental railway became more and more a neces-
sity from numerous points of view, not the least of which was
the interchange of products across the Pacific. Preliminary
wagon roads were surveyed, and for this purpose Lieutenant



'52 Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

E. F. Beale in returning to California struck across a little
ahead of Gunnison on the same route. With him was Gwin
Harris Heap, who wrote the narrative of the journey: Central
Route to the Pacific from the Valley of the Mississippi to Cali-
fornia (1854), an attractive and interesting story.

Following almost the same route, as far as Gunnison 's
crossing of Green River, came later in the same year the
indefatigable Fremont on his fifth expedition. At Gunnison
Crossing he swung to the south through the "High Plateau"
country, a southern extension of the Wasatch uplift, and after
much suffering in the midwinter of 1853-54 the starving party
dragged into the Mormon settlement of Parowan with the loss
of one man. Every family in the town immediately took in
some of the men and gave them the kindest care. When
able, Fremont proceeded westward till he met the high Sierras
icy wall, where he deflected south to the first available pass.
To the end of his life he never forgot the generous behavior of
the Mormons.

At this time Mrs. Fremont reports in her Far West Sketches
(i 890) a most remarkable vision she had of her husband's plight,
which came to her in the night at Washington. Mrs. Fremont
wrote other interesting books, The Story of the Guard (1863),
A Year of American Travel (1878), Souvenirs of my Time (1887),
and the ' ' Origin of the Fremont Explorations ' ' in The Century
Magazine (1890). The Recollections (1912) of her daughter,
Elizabeth Ben ton Fremont, belong to the story of Fremont's
career.

Fremont published no account, and no data, of the fifth and
last expedition excepting a letter to The National Intelligencer
(1854), reprinted in Bigelow's Life. The narrative was to
appear in the second volume of his Memoirs, but this was not
published. His exact route therefore cannot be located. The
main reliance for the narrative is Incidents of Travel and Adven-
ture in the Far West with Fremont's Last Expedition (1857), by
S. N. Carvalho, artist to the expedition.

One of the phenomenally reckless, daredevil frontiersmen
was James P. Beckwourth, a man of mixed blood, who dictated
a marvellous story of his escapades to T. D. Bonner. This was
published in 1856 as The Life and Adventures of James P.
Beckwourth. Somewhat highly coloured, no doubt, by Beck-



Scouts and Hunters J 53

wourth's fancy, it still remains a valuable record of the time.
Another book in this class is The Adventures of James Capen
Adams of California, edited by Theodore H. Hittell (1860 and
191.1); and still another is William F. Drannan's Thirty-One
Years on the Plains and Mountains, or The Last Voice from the
Plains (1900), wherein he describes his intimacy with Kit
Carson and other frontiersmen, all apparently from memory,
as was the case with the life records of most of the rougher
class of hunters. Drannan published another book, Captain
W. F. Drannan, Chief of Scouts, etc. Joe Meek was a brilliant
example of the early trapper and had a varied experience which
Mrs. Frances Fuller Victor records in her fine work The River of
the West (1870).

An extremely scarce volume is Reid's Tramp: or a Journal
of the Incidents of Ten Months' Travel Through Texas, New Mex-
ico, Arizona, etc. This volume by John C. Reid was published
in 1858 at Selma, Alabama. The United States, after the
Mexican War, had bought from Mexico a strip south of the
Gila River known as the "Gadsden Purchase," and to this
many pioneers flocked expecting a new Eden, Eldorado, Ely-
sian Fields, or what not. Reid remarks: "We may review the
history of the fall, death, and interment of these hopes in a far-
off country of irremediable disappointment." We know of
the existence of but four copies of Reid's book.

After the Gadsden Purchase the matter of the Mexican
boundary was ready for determination. The work was under
the direction of Major W. H. Emory, who made an excellent
Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey (1857)
in two fine volumes, the first two chapters of volume I con-
taining a very interesting personal account. One of the bound-
ary commissioners, John Russell Bartlett, published his own
account in two volumes of Personal Narrative of Explorations
and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and
Chihuahua During the Years 1850, '57, '52, and 1853 (1854),
a valuable addition to the literature of the South-west.

On the north the boundary was also surveyed, and Archi-
bald Campbell and W. J. Twining wrote Reports upon the Sur-
vey of the Boundary between the Territory of the United States
and the Possessions of Great Britain from the Lake of the Woods
to the Summit of the Rocky Mountains (1878). Previously the



154 Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

boundary along the 49th parallel had been surveyed to the Gutt



Online LibraryWilliam Peterfield TrentThe Cambridge history of American literature → online text (page 93 of 144)