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The voyages of the first steamers have naturally retained a great interest, as initiating steam commu
confirmed the privileges of the canal concession, while lessening its obligations. Nic. Convenio, 1-2; Scherger's Cent. Am., 245–6. Meanwhile a hasty sur vey had been made by Col Childs. Squier's Nic., 657-60; Gisborne, 8; followed by an inflation of the stock of the company and the purchase of steamers for bimonthly trips. Among these figured, on the Pacific side, the Brother Jonathan, Uncle Sam, Pacific, S. S. Lewis, Independence, and Cortes. S. F. Directory, 1852, 24; Alta Cal., June 9, 1859, etc. Grey Town on the east, and S. Juan del Sur on the Pacific, became the terminal ports, the latter replacing Realejo. On Jan. 1, 1851, the first connecting lake steamer, Director, reached La Vírgen. Squier, ii. 278; Reichardt, Nic., 165; Cent. Am. Pap., iii. 206; and not long after the line opened. Reichardt, Nic., 173, 181, estimates the traffic to and fro two years later at 3,000 per month, fare $250 and $180. From Grey Town a river steamer carried passengers to Castillo Viejo rapids; here a half-mile portage to the lake steamer, which landed them at La Virgen, whence a mule train crossed the 13 miles to San Juan del Sur. Scenery and climate surpassed those of Panamá. See detailed account in my Inter Pocula. But the management was inferior, the intermediate transportation insufficient and less reliable, owing to low water, etc., and little attention was paid to the health or comfort of the passengers. Holinski, Cal., 246-79; Cent. Am. Pap., i. 3, iv. 2, v. 100, etc. Disasters came, in the loss of two Pacific steamers, the bombardment of Grey Town, etc. Id.; Perez, Mem. Nic., 55-6; Pan. Herald, April 1, 1854; Alta Cal., March 27, 1854. With the advent of Garrison as manager business improved; but Nicaragua became dissatisfied under the failure of the company to pay the stipulated share of profit. The unprincipled steamship men complicated their accounts only to cheat Nicaragua, relying on Yankee bluster and the weakness of the Nicaraguan government to see them out in their rascality. Then came Walker the filibuster. He was at first favored by the company, but subsequently thought it necessary to press the government claim for nearly half a million dollars. This being disputed, a decree of Feb. 18, 1856, revoked the charter and ordered the seizure of all steamers and effects, partly on the ground that the company favored the opposition party. Vanderbilt came forth in protest and denial, claiming that the contract so far had been carried out, and demanded protection from U. S. The property seized was valued at nearly $1,000,000. Inventory and correspondence in U. S. Gov. Doc., 34th cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 68, xiii. 113 et seq.; Id., 35th cong. 2d sess., H. Ex. Doc. 100, ix. doc. ii. Walker transferred the charter to another company. Vanderbilt enlisted Costa Rican aid and recaptured his steamers. Concerning attendant killing of Americans, etc., see Wells' Walker's Exped., 170-5; Nicaraguense, Feb. 23, July 26, 1856, etc.; Perez, Mem., 27-30; Nouv. Annales Voy., cxlvii. 136-41; Sac. Union, Dec. 20, 1855, April 17, June 4, 16, 1856; Alta Cal., March 22, Aug. 13, 1856, etc. Vanderbilt resumed business under the succeeding governments, but with frequent interruptions, partly by political factions, with annulments of contracts, changes in management, and even of companies. Vanderbilt was at one time charged with allowing himself to be bought off by the Panamá line for $40,000 per month and pocketing the money. Id., Jan. 9, 1859. In 1860 an English company obtained a concession, but the American company resumed its trips, and in 1865 its steerage rates were $50. In 1868 the Central American Transit Co., then operating, was reported to be bankrupt. The opening soon after of the overland railroad to California rendered a transit line across Nicaragua useless, since it depended solely on passengers. In 1870 contracts were made with the Panamná and other lines to merely touch at Nicaraguan ports. Nic. Informe Fomento, iii. 2-3, iv, 4; Gac. Nic., Jan. 11, Feb. 22, 1868; March 12, 1870; Kirchhoff, Reise., i. 313-59; Rocha, Codigo Nic., ii. 133, 141-2, with contract annulments in 1958-C3; Nic. Decritos, 1859, ii. 78-9; Alta Cal., Sept.
nication, and as bringing some of the most prominent pioneers, for such is the title accorded to all arrivals during 1849 as well as previous years. They also ran the gauntlet of much danger, and no one of the Argo's heroes was more proud of his perilous exploit than is the modern Argonaut who reached the western Colchis with the initial trip of the Panamá, the Oregon, or, better than all, the California. Annual celebrations, wide-spread throughout the world, abundantly testify to the truth of this statement. And it is right and proper that it should be so. The only regret is, that so few of the passengers by early sailing vessels should have left similar records, and that as year after year goes by the number of our Argonauts is thinned; soon all will be with their pelagian prototypes.
16, 1857; Jan. 21, May 30, July 30, Aug. 16, Oct. 26, Nov. 8, 1858; May 26, June 9, 10, 1859; S. F. Bulletin, Feb. 12, May 25, June 2, 1859; March 29, 1860; Aug. 21, 1862; March 23, 1865; S. F. Call, July 19, 1865; Pim's Gate 221-43; Boyle's Ride, 33-8.
THE JOURNEY OVERLAND.
ORGANIZATION OF PARTIES-BRITTLE CONTRACTS OF THESE ASSOCIATIONSMISSISSIPPI RIVER RENDEZVOUS-ON THE TRAIL-OVERLAND ROUTINEALONG THE PLATTE-THROUGH THE SOUTH PASS-CHOLERA-THE DIF FERENT ROUTES-ACROSS THE DESERT-TRIALS OF THE PILGRIMS-STARVATION, DISEASE, AND DEATH-PASSAGE OF THE SIERRA NEVADA-RELIEF PARTIES FROM CALIFORNIA-ROUTE THROUGH MEXICO ESTIMATES OF THE NUMBERS OF ARRIVALS-BEWILDERMENT OF THE INCOMERS-REGENERATION AND A NEW LIFE.
A CURRENT equal in magnitude to the one by sea poured with the opening spring overland, chiefly from the western United States. It followed the routes traversed by trappers and explorers since the dawn of the century, and lately made familiar by the reports of Frémont, by the works of travellers like Bidwell, Hastings, Bryant, Thornton, and by the records of two great migrations, one in 1843 to Oregon, and the other in 1846 to California, the latter followed by the Mormon exodus to Utah. Organization into parties became here more necessary than by sea, for moving and guarding camps, and especially for defence against Indians.
Contributions were consequently levied for the purchase of wagons, animals, provisions, and even trading goods, unless the member was a farmer in possession of these things. The latter advantage made this journey preferable to a large number, and even the poor man could readily secure room in a
wagon for the small supplies alone indispensable, or obtain free passage as driver and assistant.1
The rendezvous at starting was on the Missouri River, at St Joseph or Independence, long points of departure for overland travel, either via the western main route, which is now marked by the Union and Central Pacific railroad line, or by the Santa Fé trail. Here they gathered from all quarters eastward, on foot and horseback, some with pack-animals or mule-teams, but most of them in vehicles. These were as various in their equipment, quality, and appearance as were the vessels for the ocean trip, froin the ponderous 'prairie schooner' of the Santa Fé trader, to the common cart or the light painted wagon of the down-east Yankee. Many were bright with streamers and flaring inscriptions, such as "Ho, for the
1Some of the associations were bound by formal contracts, often by an agreement to sustain the partnership in Cal. Instance Journey of the California Association, in Ashley's Doc. Hist. Cal., MS., 271-377. The association was formed at Munroe, Mich., in Feb. 1849, and consisted of ten members, intent on mining and trading. Two persons who remained at home defrayed the expenses with an advance of $5,000 in return for half the prospective gains. The company failed in its plans and separated. Ashley settled at Monterey as a lawyer, and represented the county in the state assembly in 1856-7. In 1859 he was state treasurer, and subsequently moving to Nevada, he twice represented that state in congress; he died at S. F. in 1873. Salinas City Inder, July 24, 1873. Another association is recorded by Cassin, Stat., MS., 1, who left Cincinnati with 40 others; 'we each paid in $200 to the company's fund.' Further: Pittsburgh and Cal. Enterprise Co. of some 250 members, in Hayes' Scraps, Ariz., v. 29; Miscel. Stat., MS., 17-8; Seneca Co. of Cleveland. Van Dyke's Stat., MS., 1-2. Ithaca Co., in Cal. Pioneers, pt 30, 2-3. The overland express train of 230 men under Capt. French, of 1850, suffered many mishaps and horrors. Alta Cal., Dec. 17, 1850, Mar. 5, 1872; Pac. News, Dec. 26, 1850; S. F. Picayune, Dec. 18, 1850. The Cumberland Co. was a trading association of 50 men, subscribing $500 each. Most of the emigrants, however, combined merely for defence and aid during the journey in a train known by the name of the captain elected to direct it. Instance the parties under Egans, Owens, Alred, Gully, Knapp, H. S. Brown, Latham, Parson, Townsend or Rough and Ready, Lee, Sullenger, Taylor, Staples, Word, Cooper, Barrow, Thorne-Beckwith, Stuart, etc. References in Ashley's Doc. Hist. Cal., MS., 271-377, 395-6; Miscel. Stat., MS., 1 et seq.; Morgan's Trip, MS., 3-14; Kirkpatrick's Journal, MS., 3 et seq.; Brown's Stat., MS, 1-11; S. F. Bulletin, Sept. 18, 1860; Pearson's Recol., MS., 1-2; Nevada and Grass Valley Directory, 1856, 43; Dameron's Autobiog., MS., 19; Placer Times, Aug. 11, 1849, etc.; Grass Valley Rep., Mar. 8, 1872; Staples' Stat., MS., 1-7; Vallejo Indep., June 1-8, 1872; Hayes' Diary, MS., 8-110; Barrow's Twelve Nights, 165-268; U. S. Gov. Doc., 31st cong. 2d sess., Sen. Doc. 19, p. 15.
The long geared prairie schooner differed from the square-bodied wagons of the north-west, in its peculiar widening from the bottom upward. See description in Hutchings' Mag., iv. 351.
THE PRAIRIE SCHOONER.
diggings!" and presented within, beneath the yet clean white canvass cover, a cosey retreat for the family. Heavy conveyances were provided with three yoke of oxen, besides relays of animals for difficult passages; a needful precaution; for California as well as the intermediate country being regarded as a wilderness, the prudent ones had brought ample supplies, some indeed, in excess, to last for two years. Others carried all sorts of merchandise, in the illusive hope of sales at large profits. Consequently such of the men as had not riding animals were compelled to walk, and during the first part of the journey even the women and children could not always find room in the wagons." Later, as one article after another was thrown away to lighten the load, regard for the jaded beasts made walking more complusory than ever.
It seemed a pity to drag so many women and their charges from comfortable homes to face the dangers and hardships of such a journey. As for the men, they were as a rule hardy farmers or sturdy young villagers, better fitted as a class for pioneers than the crowd departing by sea; and appearances confirmed the impression in the predominance of hunting and rough backwoods garbs, of canvas jackets or colored woollen shirts, with a large knife and pistols at the belt, a rifle slung to the back, and a lasso at the saddlehorn, the most bristling arsenal being displayed by the mild-mannered and timid. There was ample opportunity to test their quality, even at the rendezvous, for animals were to be broken, wagons repaired and loaded, and drill acquired for the possible savage warfare.
3'Men, women, and children, even women with infants at their breasts, trudging along on foot.' St Louis Union, May 25, 1849. 'We were nearly all afoot, and there were no seats in the wagons.' Hittell's speech before the pioneers. Many preferred walking to jolting over the prairie.
Indignant at the frequent allusions to Spanish-Californians as half-civilized Indians, Vallejo points to some of the Missourian backwoodsmen as more resembling Indians in habits as well as uncouth appearance. Vallejo, Docs, MS., xxxvi. 287. The western states were almost depopulated by the exodus, says Borthwick, Three Years in Cal., 2-3.
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 10