Letter from Ephraim Cranston – Oregon Trail – 1850
This is a letter from an ancestor, Ephraim Cranston, son of John Cranston. Ephraim left Woodstock, Ohio in 1850 and captained a wagon train on the Oregon Trail. This letter was written at a place approximately 100 miles northwest of St. Joseph, MO. The letter was written to an attorney, Mr. Joh A. Corwin, Esq.
(Copied the best that I can)
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Indian Territory; Sunday, June 16, 1850
Mr. John A. Corwin Esq.
My dear sir:
We are here in camp about three miles west of the Missouri river and about 100 miles N.W. of St Joseph. We arrived at St. Joseph about three weeks ago. We remained there about two weeks to buy our team and outfit. Teams and provisions were very high there. Almost any price was asked for oxen and they of the poorest kind and unbroken and very young at that. But we have succeeded in getting some of the best of new oxen at a very fair price. I bought two yokes and my provisions and then started up on the east side of the Mo. River of old Fort Kearney or Fort Childs about 100 miles above St. Joseph and there crossed the river and not the least accident has happened worth a notice. Have so far had a pleasant and healthy trip, not the least sickness has happened to any of our crowd and we have seen none among any of the emigration that we have passed for we have passed many, but none have passed us. My team consists of thirteen oxen and cows and seven horses which we work by turns. After I had bought the two yokes of oxen we started and then we commenced buying young dry cows and tying them to the chain between the oxen making the chain very long so that there would be room and driving them there for a day or two and then put on the yoke and they work straight away. I think they break easier than steers and they are equal if not superior to them. We have passed the last habitation of the white man except at the forts until you come to salt lake valley which is about one thousand miles west of us, where we shall winter if we can get no farther. But we shall try and think we can go through to Oregon before cold weather. The grass where we are encamped is as good as the best of your meadows in June, and so all through the western plains. The plains being very dry and of a sandy character the grass is different from the wild grass in your county and far better. The country over which we have passed (after you pass Indians) is capable of raising any amount of grain for (on an average) superior to Ohio in my opinion. You may ask whether I, in Neb, expressed my opinion freely on the subject of Slavery, to which I reply yes, and here let me state that as far as I could obtain public sentiment nine tenths of the people of Neb are in favor of Benton and emancipation as they call it. I universally told the people of Neb I was what they call an ultra-abolitionist and met almost universally a hearty response. Those living on the disputed line between Neb and Iowa to a man that I have seen that when the line is run you will find them in Iowa in order to clear them from the curse that hangs on them. They say (and rightly) that their lands would be worth double in Iowa than in Missouri. In six miles from Quincy, IL.