Life on The Oregon Trail Journal

By: Arthur Treaty

Journal Entry #1

Today we set out for the start of our journey on the Oregon Trail. The date is April 25, 1854. The first few days out on the trail were fine. We hadn't hit any obstacles yet and our future seemed bright and optimistic. But then on day four we had a problem. We had hit the Missouri River and had to cross. I was afraid that we wouldn't quite make it across and be swept downstream. But luckily an Indian was offering ferry service across the river for $25, and we paid to make it across. As far as I know, all of our wagon train made it across safely, but all I'm worried about is my family making it safely to Oregon right now.


After the crossing of the river we kept on going without running into any more rivers, but the leader of our wagon train decided that we should try to hunt. I decided to save my ammunition for a time when we were really low on food, but others decided to hunt. In all, I think we managed to catch 20 pounds of meat, which was good. We set off again and later ran into an Indian who wanted to gamble with us. He told us that he would give us a reward if we passed his test, or he would take something if we failed. I decided not to play in order not to lose anything of value. That concludes my first journal entry, but there will be more to come shortly.

Journal Entry #2

We have been on the trail for three weeks so far. I don't quite know what the date is, but I think it's sometime in May. We stopped at a stream to fill up our water barrels and our flasks. We are lucky to have streams and rivers to fill them up with, otherwise we would die of thirst. We kept on going and then tragedy struck. All I remember of that time was that we each got 5 boxes of ammunition from an Indian man, which was good, and then we set off again. We rode on for quite some time again before reaching the Sand Flats River, where we had to choose whether we wanted to cross or not. But lucky for us there was an Indian there again with a ferry to help us cross for a fee of $45. I paid to cross again and made it safely across. It was just my luck that the ones who forged the river made it safe too.


We left the river and the Indian and once some ways away decided to go hunting once more. This time I decided to hunt because we had already eaten some of our food and the more we had, the longer we would last. Apparently I'm a pretty good shot because I managed to kill ten pounds worth of rabbit! That should keep my family and a few others going for awhile. Our future was quite fortuitous because not too far down the road we arrived safe and sound at Prairie Crossing where we got food and shelter for the first time in what seemed like forever! Unfortunately our stay will not last forever. We now have to choose which trail we want to go on to get to our next destination. I don't quite remember the names of the trails, but I know that, since we have a minister, our wagon train decided to take Burial Grounds Trail. This one is the most dangerous one because of Indians, but we have our minister, which the Indians consider a holy man, and so we should be safe.

Journal Entry #3

We start out on the Burial Grounds Trail today. I have now completely lost track of how many days we have been on the road, and so dates won't be a part of my entries any more. The start of this leg of our journey was not a smooth one though. Right away we managed to run into Indians. They threatened us with death if we did not turn back, but we decide to forge ahead. Apparently they missed the part about the holy man. After that little encounter, our spirits our down and we tread cautiously ahead. But then a tragedy struck and we managed to lose 50 pounds of food each. I still have more food left to last awhile, but if we don't go hunting soon, than our group will be in big trouble. Apparently our wagon leader had heard my thoughts, because he decided that we should hunt again. After my last experience with hunting, I took a gamble and decided to go ahead and hunt. Luck is on my side because I managed to catch 20 pounds of elk this time. That almost makes up for all of the food that I lost earlier. With this, at least I'll be able to feed my family for longer than I would have with those Pinto Beans.


After hunting and skinning our catch, we went on ahead. But eventually we hit a river. Which river, I'm not sure. But all I need to know is that we needed to make it to the other side alive, safe, and with our belongings all in tact. This time, the price for the Indian ferry was to high, and so I had no choice but to forge the river like the majority of my wagon train. With everything on board, we crossed. And who would have guessed, we made it there safely. I don't dare to see who didn't make it, because it would just make the the idea of any one of my family members dying more real, and I didn't have the strength right then to bear that burden. After the river crossing and the re-shifting of supplies, we headed on out back to the trail. But we weren't out of the woods yet. Because after we set out, going along down the trail, a group of Native Americans started to shoot at us. We quickly circled the wagons and defended ourselves the best we could. After minutes of gunfire and yelling, we had succeeded in defending our wagons from the Native Americans. But alas, the Minister and German man, who also happens to be our wagon leader, got shot in the right arm and can't use it for fear of it getting worse. That's two wounds we must take care of and two less arms we could use in case of attack. I hoped we wouldn't get into any more trouble now. And luckily we didn't. We make it to the next safe house without further incidents, and took food and shelter gratefully. But, like the last shelter, we must choose our next path soon. These though, don't all look so inviting. Two of them are perilous and home to Indian invasion, and the last one isn't completely safe either. So that leaves us the choice of fastest, second fastest, and slowest paths to take. And, as I guessed, we choose to take the Massacre Canyon Trail. The most dangerous, but the fastest of the the three. I just hope that luck is on our side this time.


(P.S.- I didn't mention this earlier, because it was too painful to write about until this time, but my beautiful daughter Peri Treaty passed away from the deadly epidemic of Cholera. I was in too much shock to quite remember when it happened, and with the rest of the family grieving over her death, I didn't have time to document it in my notes. I will remember if something like this happens again. We will miss you Peri, and we hope that you rest in peace in the better place where you are now. We are all praying for you, and we have had the minister set holy prayers amongst the flowering weeds where we buried you. We sadly had to go forward on our westward journey, and leave our little angel behind.)

Journal Entry #4

Now that we're on the Massacre Canyon Trail, we are all wary of what could be around the next bend. We tread carefully, but are still making good time knowing that this is the last leg of our journey. Our hopes are high that we'll get there fast, but they are soon dashed when we see that there was a landslide on the trail. We had to clear it away if we wanted to keep going, but it slowed us down. But since we were stopped anyways, our wagon leader decided to give a go at hunting. Since this was the last leg of the journey, I decided to use my second to last box of ammunition and hunt. This was a good choice. I managed to catch 40 pounds of buffalo! This, plus the food that I still have will no doubt be enough to get my family to the end of the trail. After the quite successful hunt, we kept going, as to not waste any more time than we needed to. Our spirits were soaring because we knew our long journey was coming to an end, and we seemed to have enough supplies to last us, so it seemed like nothing could get us down. Until tragedy struck. We didn't realize that it had gotten so hot out so fast, and so some weren't drinking the amount of water needed to keep going. And so, sadly, I must write the end of my darlings Delilah Treaty, Benjamin Treaty, and my dear wife, Kaya Treaty. They were struck down from the heat, and were too far gone to be saved. I will miss you, my family, and let your graves be passed and prayed on by other seekers of the Oregon Territory. We mourned and then sadly had to continue on, for we more than ever needed to get away from that horrible place. With four out of five of my family now gone, all that I have left is my 17 year old son George Treaty. I just hope that he makes it.


After we continued on down the trail, we eventually met the mountains. They were the last obstacle we needed to pass before we were safe in our new home. But in order to get over the mountains, we needed to each get rid of 500 pounds of supplies so that the wagons would be light enough to get over the crest. This was not an easy task, but we needed to keep the essentials, and so things like family heirlooms and guitars had to be left behind, along with the guide. He told us that we had three options.We could go ahead through the mountains, but if we got stuck when it snowed, then we would be trapped and would die of hunger and hypothermia. Or we could send a scout in front, and tell us if it was snowing or not, but that would take too much time, which we didn't have. And or the last option was go back to the last camp and wait out the winter with food, shelter, and grass for the animals. But that means we would be late to arrive, and all of the good land would be gone already. We had a tough choice to make, but we all finally decided to take the risk of going through the mountains and risking death. We said our prayers, got ready to go, and finally started out. We had made it into the mountains and about halfway up the slope when our luck ran dry. It started to snow. Slow at first, and then all at once, like it didn't have the rest of the winter to get the snow down to the ground. We then circled the wagons and tried to stay warm the best we could. We still had some food left, but that wouldn't last us for the whole winter, and since the snow was wet and cold, we would likely die of hypothermia first. I think I can already feel it coming on. My fingers are turning a light blue, and I'm getting really tired. I think I'll lay down for a nap, and see how things are going when I wake up. If I ever wake up, that is. I'm now to tired to write, and so I will end my accounts of the last few months journey here. It was a hard trip, and one that, if we all die, will have turned out to be pointless. I just wish that I could've seen the place where my new home would've been. But that's okay. Now I can finally see the rest of family again, in peace, quiet, and warmth. George has already gone to sleep, so maybe he's already with Kaya and the kids. just waiting for me to join them. If anybody finds this journal, please know that the risk of death to get to a better place was worth it. I know that whatever lies to the west will be a new land full of adventure and wealth, and that if you are ever on the fence about going for an adventure to an unknown land, take the risk. They're meant to be taken.


Arthur Treaty