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CROSSING THE DES MOINES

Sunday, April 7, 1850

John mentions the weather in almost every diary entry. The experiences they have had with mud would discourage most of today’s travelers enough to turn back, and they have not yet even reached the beginning of the California-Oregon Trail. But, John is on a mission. You can feel it. Today they crossed the Des Moines River at Keosauqua, Iowa after having arrived there yesterday. It was a good place to get supplies, maybe send mail back east, and wait their turn for the ferry to cross the river. There were 20 to 30 teams waiting to cross, according to John, so it was a busy place. Once on the other side they camped and did a lot of housekeeping as he describes in today’s diary entry for April 7. You have probably noticed by now that John forgot to bring along his “spell checker.”

Stopping Point: About 3/4 mile south of Keosauqua, Iowa across the Des Moines River
Approximate Miles Traveled: 1
GPS Latitude: 40° 43.062′ N; Longitude: 91° 57.023′ W

Saboth Evening April 7th – Last night we slept in the wagon for the first time; Did not sleep so comfortable as in the Tent; Previous to this, Took our grub with Jakes old Friend, Mr Shepherd this morning. then made for the Ferry, Crossed about 10 oclock Traveled about 3/4 mile then stoped and piched our Tent, Fixed our mules, I then put some water on the stove, and Commencd washing, I washed six shirts, 2 pr trawsers, 3 pr socks, 2 Hdkfs, 2 Towels, making 15 pieces and done it first rate, streched our Cards, Hung out all our Clothes, and aired Every thing, greased our wagon, and now Every thing is in order to start in the morning, all Clean and nice, I was very Busy this day, in fixing up things, therefore passed off the day very well, thought of Home several times But still not Homesick Yet, We have Been rather Lonesome since we left haveing no Company as yet. We Camped alone Every night since we left Home accept this Evening this Evening we have some company

Catching up with his previous two days’ diary entries:

Stopping Point: Camped in the prairie about 20 miles west of Ft. Madison, Iowa
Approximate Miles Traveled: 20
GPS Latitude: 40° 38.331′ N; Longitude: 91° 35.463′ W

Friday Evening Apr 5 – waked up rather Late this morig  Looked out of the window and found it Cloudy as before, But I was determined to start this day; for I began to think if I did not start soon I would not get to St Joseph this season, saying nothing about California  Traveled about 20 miles this day and camped in the Prarie, rain and sunshine all day, It was awful muddy Hub deep at a great many places- the meanest road that I Ever Travelled- If we had our full Load In we could not get along  But as it is. we get along first rate, I cannot forget Mrs Rhinehart.  she seemed to take so much Interest In our welfare, done Every thing to make us Comfortable, In short she was a mother to us, She mad us a present of a Bottle of Horse Raddish (½ gall), done up fine, she thought we had not Bed Clothes Enough, Therefore gave us a very heavy Comfort, and a good many other little presents, in short could not do enough for us,

Stopping Point: City of Keosaequa, Iowa
Approximate Miles Traveled: 25
GPS Latitude: 40° 43.784′ N; Longitude: 91° 57.690′ W

Saturday Evening April 6th – this morning it was Clear  the sun shone, and the roads dried up very fast to day, this day was wors than Yesterday.  it was mud all the time. and often times draged the axle, mules in mud to their Hocks & Bellys often times, ploughing and wallowing Through the mud, I dont think It can be any wors from this on, we are now In Keosaequa Iowa, Travelled 25 miles, took supper with one of Jakes old Friends, I Killed 2 [prairie] P. Chickens this day, there is 25 or 30 Teams in this town waitig to cross the river des moin  they say that there has about 250 Teams Crossed at this ferry on des moin River.  grain and hay is very scarce, Oats 35 c Hay 25 to 50 ct per Hundred, we Have Been very Lucky as Yet always getting what we want at reasonabl Prices, as I told you, when they get a dime out of me, I get value for It certain and shure, take all that I can get Honestly and Keep all that I have got. with all my saving it is very Expensive Traveling

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