Oregon Trail Journal-Leslie Kerman

By Wesley Little, Core CL

Journal Entry #1: May 30th, 1854

Greetings Diary, my name is Leslie Kerman. I thought I'd bring you along, as I predict that I will have nothing else to entertain me while on the trail. My family and I had planned to cross the Oregon Trail, but just as we were preparing to leave, both of my parents became ill. A week later they died. On their deathbed, they gave me all of their money and rasped, "Go forth, and find your destiny." Our old wagon train had departed without us, so I had to join a new one. I found one and proposed that I join them; they thought I was joking. However, I insisted, so they reluctantly added me to the group. I am the head of my wagon, which consists of all of my siblings: Jebidiah Kerman (14), Louisa Kerman (12), Linda Kerman (11), Caleb Kerman (8), Bill Kerman (7), and Lulu Kerman (5). I had my wagon packed to its full extent with everything I thought that we needed, along with the $400 that my parents gave me.

My wagon, along with seven others, departed on our journey on April 25th, 1854. We had high spirits at the start; we were all excited to see what the West would be like. On our third day, we came across our first obstacle: a river. Luckily, there was a ferry that offered its services to us, so I obliged and paid the $25 toll. Everyone made it across safely.

We were then faced with the crisis of water. The nearest river was miles away. Fortuitously, almost everyone had a barrel filled with water in our wagon, so we did not have any delay. A few days later, we came across a field full of game. Our wagon leader (a kind but starfish-like man, we came to call him that behind his back) decided to stop the wagon train and have a hunt. I decided not to partake in the activity, as my wagon was already filled to the brim with supplies, but others hunted. Some caught rabbit, one even got a buffalo, but tragedy struck when someone broke their rifle. That person will have to eat their dried meat for a while.

About a week after that, we came across an Indian. We approached him warily at first, but his behavior told us that he was friendly. He told us that we had the choice to gamble, and we took it. We won! He gave each of us $25 dollars, and showed us a trick to make our wagons go a little faster.

Recently, we were finding that firewood was a necessity. Thankfully, most of us (including me) had brought along a box full of firewood, so we kept traveling unhindered.

And that just about brings me to the present. Nothing bad has happened yet, but I have a premonition that misfortune can strike any second.

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Swainboat. Wagons, Ho! Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, 17 Aug. 2008. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Journal Entry #2: July 10th, 1854

I'm sorry that I haven't written in a while, but things have been hectic. It all started with a rock. That's right, a rock! While we were traveling on the trail, our wagon hit a rock and tipped over! Thankfully, we did not lose any supplies, but poor Bill's leg was broken! Fortunately, we had materials to make a splint, and he recovered in a few weeks.

After that horrible incident, we came across an Indian chief. He demanded that we passed the test that they did to become an adult in order to proceed by him. Unfortunately, we did not pass the test, so we were delayed a little. We then came across another river with a ferry, this time costing me $45. I didn't want to take the risk of fording the river, so I took the ferry. It turns out I was right. Those who forded the river lost some of their supplies, and we were delayed while they reorganized their wagons.

Once again, we came across some good hunting grounds, but again, I decided not to hunt. However, soon after, the need for a rifle was in high demand. Thankfully, I had come with two: One for me, and one for Jebidiah.

Next up was an important decision. We came across a fork in the trail. There were two choices: The safer yet longer Cheyenne River Trail, or the faster, more dangerous Burial Grounds Trail. We decided to risk it and go for the Burial Grounds Trail.

Almost immediately after we took the trail, we were faced with a challenge. An Indian wanted to know how good our geography was. We didn't do too well, so we had to cope with an enormous delay.

And that's all that has happened so far. I'm surprised that we haven't had any casualties yet; there have been many close calls. I've heard that diseases have wiped out entire wagon trains... I can only pray that we don't encounter something like that. I'm not the only one worried; people in the wagon train think that a casualty is bound to happen now. However, I was reassured by another wagon leader. "Don't worry," he said, "we'll make sure you're the first to die."

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Emerson, Jimmy. Oregon Trail Hill. Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, 10 July 2007. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Journal Entry #3: September 15th, 1854

We have finally made it out of the Burial Grounds Trail! However, it wasn't easy...

First, we came across some Native Americans who told us to turn around, but we decided to keep going along the trail. Then we were delayed, and I lost some of my wagon supplies around a bend. Thankfully, our wagon train soon after came across a hunting opportunity; I hunted, and was able to get 10 pounds of elk.

Things were then peaceful for a while, we came across an area without water, but since we all had water we could keep going without delay. We then found a river that we had to cross. I paid $50 for a ferry, so I made it across safely. Soon after, some food was spoiling, so we had to get rid of it.

The most terrifying thing happened next. We were trying to outrun a pack of Native Americans, but it was getting dark, and we had to stop. Suddenly, at dawn, the attack began. Luckily, we had no casualties, but our minister was shot in the arm.

After that exciting adventure, we made it to Choice Fort, at the end of the Burial Grounds trail. We were glad that we had made it out of that trail with no one dead, but we were then faced with another important decision. The trail forked again, this time into three paths: The short and dangerous Massacre Canyon path, the longer and safer Long Trail, or a mystery path. It was called the Salt Flats, which we were told was a huge shortcut but the map didn't show where it led. We decided to risk it once again and take the Massacre Canyon trail.

We are planning to depart from Choice Fort tomorrow, and I pray that we make it through safe to Oregon.

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Lund, Ken. Oregon Trail Ruts, Guernsey, Wyoming. Digital image. Flickr. Flickr, 6 Oct. 2005. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Journal Entry #4: November 16th, 1854

This will be my last entry, as my journey has come to a close.

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that we lost Lulu, my 5-year-old sister, to the cholera. Soon after we started on the Massacre Canyon trail, someone in our wagon train picked up the dreaded disease, and it spread. At one point I thought that we were all going to die, for we all showed the symptoms, but God must have smiled upon us, for only one family member from each wagon died. One person was even happy, for their elderly father died. Oh well, I guess that's one less mouth for them to feed.

Soon after, we came across a hunting opportunity; I hunted and caught 5 pounds of gopher. However, the triumph did not last long. As we were making our way across the canyon, Native Americans began firing at us from above; in the chaos, our wagons tipped over and we lost almost half of our supplies! At least no one was injured. Once we recovered, we noticed that our animals were getting tired, but we fed them and moved on.

Next came a desert. Once again, we were threatened with the cholera, but with much luck we made it through safely.

It was almost winter, and all we had to do was travel through a pass and our journey would be complete. To prepare for the journey, we got rid of our supplies so that our wagons were half full(I didn't have to get rid of anything because of the accident we had earlier). However, we were warned that the pass would close any day now because of winter; we still decided to go for it. Somehow, through the cold and the snow, we made it through to Oregon! To our dismay, we learned that another wagon train had come through just days before us and had already claimed the best land, but I was just ecstatic that we... well most of us, had made it through alive!

Now my siblings and I have settled down in a log cabin that we built. Every day, I think of Lulu, and of all the hardships we faced along the way, but if I had to do it again, I would. I feel happy now, for I have done what my parents asked: I found my destiny in Oregon.