Nicholas Turner's first Wagon trip to California in 1849

 

 

Hearing of the gold fields in California, Nicholas Turner left Layfatte County in 1849, but they wanted to make some money while coming to California so the advertised in the St Louis paper. Captain Allen and Captain Turner,  advertised to take anyone to California for $200 apiece and the trip would take sixty days. They got 20 wagons besides their own and the extra supply wagons. All things did not go according to plans. They did their best, but they had underestimated the difficulties, and everything rapidly went wrong. The partners were in an impossible situation. First the rains fell, and some pioneers blamed their troubles on the rains.

 

(The following was written by John Benson)

 

We are now at Fort Kearny after a month of traveling, when we had expected to be halfway to the gold fields. The passengers are angry and close to mutiny, though Captain Turner was a man of energy and was doing everything possible to make the journey as fast as possible. The leading trains will go faster than the last ones and it is hard to get the slower one to keep up. Captain Turner has to keep going back and urging the last ones to go faster. The people that brought more than the Captains had told them to bring are jettisoning their items everywhere on the trail. The only hopeful note is that the rain, while it made the trail muddy, had produced luxurious grass for the animals.
We are now leaving Fort Kearny, and the last of the train is not ready. Captain Turner had those that were ready to head out, we being one of the first wagons in the train. Captain Turner had to ride back more than once to get the last of the wagons to get on the trail. He finally got mad and told them to stay at Fort Kearny if they couldn't get in line and move out.
Not even counting the stragglers, the wagon train stretched to the point where the Captains could no longer protect the last of the wagon train from the Indians. The train is getting longer with more people joining as we go by. It is impossible to believe that so many people are going west at one time.
Captain Nicholas has disappeared on his ride back to the end of the train. We have to carry on and go forward as we are too far to turn back now. I sometimes wish we hadn't come.
Aside from the thoughts of home (on which we do not dare to dwell too much for fear of that dread distemper (homesickness) and what may wait us at the end of the road--our thoughts, our hopes, our fears and our anxieties are all centered about the train-- and now the disappearance of Captain Turner as he was the stability of the train. Rumors of hostile Indians are floating in the air most of the time, and they say that Captain Turner was taken captive. We cannot altogether dismiss the rumors from our minds, so that you can see that the world in which we actually live scarcely extends beyond the dust of the train by day and the smoke of the camp fires at night.
Captain Turner came back into camp tonight with scary tale. He said he was captured and held in an Indian camp. They made him run a gauntlet of some kind and he was bloody and exhausted. He said he had either injured or killed a few Indians and we had better leave the area now. We packed up and moved out.
We finally got to Carson City in September and decided to stay until spring. We finally made it California in late April and were glad to be were it was safe. The one thing nobody told us was that there were Indians in California and so we decided to stay in the City of Angeles, hopefully we can make a life for ourselves. 
Captain Nicholas and Captain Allen headed to the gold fields near town called Mariposa.   

Contributed by: Carol Lackey