(My ancestors, the Lawsons,
leaving Missouri to move West in about 1908,
the lady near the middle
in white is my Grandmother, Laura Lawson)
Where The Trails Began
what it would have been like to be a pioneer in America in
mid-1800s and working your way westward in a covered wagon.
was where the trails began and Independence became known
“The Queen City of The Trails”, because all of the trails west
be accessed from there.
wagons carried mainly tools, food, and supplies. If a wagon
too heavily loaded, the oxen, or mules could not handle the load
it came to the steep pulls. It was said that you didn’t have
venture far out of Independence to find the trail strewn with items
had been left behind to lighten the load.
the pioneers crossed the Missouri River, they left
behind them and began their journey on
became known as The Oregon Trail.
the journey began something like this:
Future and A Hope
some news in town today”, Papa began cautiously as
sat down with his family around the kitchen table.
Momma and I been talkin’ bout it for a spell,” he said as
glanced Momma’s way and then buttered a piece of cornbread.
know this kind o’ thing is hard to get a handle on for you youngins
it just might be our big chance to make a new life. You know how
been wantin’ to buy us some land of our own to farm but
can’t seem to get ahead… an’ all we’re ever gonna have here
we are now is just gittin’ by or workin’ for somebody else
no hope for a future.”
voice began to rise as he continued, “And I’ll be switched if I’m
keep on workin’ for nothin’ when there’s a chance for somethin’ better.”
all knew what Papa was talking about, at least those of us old enough to
understand. I’d heard about it down at the school but I never thought
it having anything to do with us. I guess I should have thought about
Papa was a dreamer, so Momma said, and he didn’t hold much
depending on or working for anyone else.
they’re a sayin’ that there’s this land to be had out
the Oregon Country and it’s there for the takin’. A man and
wife can have a square mile of land apiece…that’s 640 acres by
figurin’ and that would be something a man could sink a plow into
sure.” Papa continued.
glanced around the table at the other children who were intently watching
and waiting for what he would say next. Benjamin and Paul
looked excited but that was because they were the oldest
they were twins. They were always excited about anything to do
Papa because they looked up to him and wanted to be just like him.
was all just a big adventure to them.
Elizabeth was pushing her food around on her plate and not eating a bite.
little sister, Sarah, was sitting next to me at the table.
was clutching her rag doll that Momma had made her and looking
paused to dip another helping of Momma’s stew when
year old Sarah touched my shoulder, “Becca”, she whispered,
Stray go wif us too?”
Sarah, Papa is talking! We’ll ask Papa later about Stray.”
was a little yellow dog that showed up at the barn one day,
as if he hadn’t eaten for days. Papa pretended not to like the dog
Rebecca had seen him pat him on the head and feed him scraps
he thought nobody was watching. When little Sarah had come out
the barn one day, she spied the dog and asked his name.
said, “He’s a stray.” Sarah began petting him, saying,
dog seemed to answer her as he wagged his tail
licked her hand, and the name had stuck.
turned back to her plate, as she decided to obey Rebecca,
stuck out her lower lip and slipped a pinch of the cornbread
the table to Stray who was forever at Sarah’s feet.
that time my baby brother began to cry. Momma picked him up
the little wooden crate Papa had worked over into a fine
cradle that would even rock. He was just three weeks old
hadn’t been named yet. Momma wanted to name him from the Bible
the rest of us but Papa was holding off because he thought
of the names Momma mentioned seemed to fit the little guy.
1842 now”, Papa said emphatically as he took up his conversation again.
have changed some and they say the trip across the land is easier now.
the Whitmans went out in ’36, lots more folks are going… women
children too. Why they say that Oregon is so fertile and the weather
fine that a man can grow a cabbage as big as a wagon wheel!”
looked straight at us children and laughed excitedly
he motioned with his hands as to the size of the cabbage.
Zachary!” Momma scolded, “Don’t you be storying to the children.”
Martha, what I’m telling is for sure a fact. Well… maybe not
as big as wagon wheels but almost!” Papa conceded grudgingly,
face turned serious again as he looked at Momma,
I hear there’s a lot of wagons headin’ out next spring and
have no trouble makin’ it to Independence by then.
not that far away, already bein’ here in Missouri. We’re a
sight closer than those already tryin’ to get out here from
back east. We got the farm wagon and if we sell what we can here,
have enough to buy us supplies and maybe even another wagon or two.”
knew from the way Papa was talking that his mind was settled. He
to do it. We were really going out to the Oregon Country.
Pamela Perry Blaine
other race of men with the means at their command would undertake
great a journey, none save these could successfully perform it,
no previous preparation, relying only on the fertility of their own invention
devise the means to overcome each danger and difficulty as it arose.
have undertaken to perform with slow-moving oxen a journey of
thousand miles. The way lies over trackless wastes, wide and deep rivers,
and lofty mountains and is beset with hostile savages."
Applegate was a pioneer who crossed the Oregon Trail in 1843,
later helped establish the Applegate Trail in an effort to find
safer route after his nine year old son drowned while crossing the Snake
I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
of peace and not of evil,
give you a future and a hope.