Excerpts from "The Oskaloosa Company" by Charles George Davis
"David D. Davis was born in 1807 to a Welsh family in Pennsylvania. His mother was the former Ann Rees...Little is known of David D. Davis' father except that he was probably killed in action in the War of 1812...was a Welsh farmer. David learned farming from his stepfather who was a good farmer and blacksmith. David D. Davis apparently was fond of his step-father and half brothers and sisters, as well as his mother, Ann Rees Davis Roberts. It was said that he named his own children after his half brothers and sisters.
"The Donahoes probably emigrated from Germany to the United States several years earlier...The exact spelling of the family name is unknown, however Donahawer appears to be the spelling used by John's father.
"David D. Davis, Hannah, and family left Indiana and moved on to Iowa Territory in 1838. Family tradition says that they traveled down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi River to Burlington, Iowa on a flat boat or scow. David D. Davis purchased a farm in Green Bay Township, Lee County, Iowa. It was a few miles southwest of Burlington near the Mississippi River.
"...Alice Sims Davis...said that D D Davis started west...with seven wagons loaded with supplies for the trip and goods to start a business in the new country. [Seven wagons, Six full time drivers in addition to David, seven six-ox teams, men to drive the loose stock. 42+ oxen, 30-0 milk cows and calves, a band of sheep, saddle horses. There were twenty or more people in the Davis entourage during the journey westward...12 in their own family] David was leading a forty seven wagon train. She said that the Davises were very well off before they started on their overland journey to Oregon. They arrived in the southern Willamette Valley with only themselves, their worldly goods tied to the front end of a wagon pulled by two horses, and some loose stock. They left Green Bay IA the last week in April 1847 and headed in the general direction of Keosauqua, IA. At Keosauqua they crossed the Des Moines River into Missouri, then traveling west crossed the Missouri River into Kansas at Elizabethtown the last week in May 1847.
Some companies joined them along the way until they grew in numbers to about eighty-one wagons.
They soon found that it took too much time for all of those wagons to get in camp at night and out in the morning, and too long to corral the wagons if Indians attacked.
The Oskaloosa Company camped in two camp grounds some seventy miles west of St. Joseph. They picked up the pilot, Lester Hulin, the evening of May 31, 1847.
About forty-one wagons formed a separate Company, with Mr. McKee captain. He was with Davis in the Oskaloosa Company...Those leaving the Oskaloosa Company included Cooper, Fullison, Read, Cline, McKee, and the Abe Peak families.
Forty wagons remained with the Oskaloosa Company...Later seven wagons of the McKee Company returned to the Oskaloosa Company on June 17, 1847.
David D. Davis was camped at the forward camp ground and led the Oskaloosa Company as captain. James N. Harty reported the election of David D. Davis as Captain. Lester Hulin remained as pilot.
Lester Hulin's Diary -- Hulin was the pilot for the Oskaloosa Co. 4/23/1847 On this day I took my last leave of the friends in Iowa and commenced a journey of more than 200Ms. over the Rocky Mts. or to the territory of Oregon. After a travel of nine days I Arrived at St. Joseph a distance of 250 Ms. Here I waited one week for the man I expected to accompany. Spent the next week in making our preparations to leave the land of civilization. Accordingly on the 20th day of May we emerged from the land of society so long dear to us and night found us on the opposite bank of the Missouri River. Camped here in the bushes.
5/21/1847 With some difficulty we traveled through the muddy bottom and camped in the edge of the prairie. Distance 5 miles. Wood, water and grass.
5/22/1847. Traveled over a ridges and in 5 miles camped at a fine spring. Sun. 5/23rd. In camp to day.
M24th. Made about 6 miles through rain and camped on Musquito Creek.
T.25th. To day we passed over fine ridges (for this road runs altogether over ridges) and 15 miles brought us to the agency of the Saux & Fox. Passed it a mile or two and camped.
W.26th To day we made 20 miles and camped at the usual camping ground of the emigrants. Grass nearly eat up, water good.
T. 27th. Passed on over the ridges and sought out a new and very good camping grounds 1/2 mile from the usual place. Weather fine.
F.28th. In camp all day.
S.29th. To Day McKean and Ross went back to meet company and ascertain how long we must wait. In the after noon we had a very heavy shower with wind.
S.30th. In camp today. Morning rainy, evening fair.
M. 31st. To Day a large caravan of emigrants came in sight. Some camped with us, others passed on 2 miles and camped.
June 1st. This morning we left those with whom we have been camped and overtook those who passed last night. Today we made a good drive and camped on Big Burr Oak Creek.
W. 2nd. This morning being fine and feed good we yoked early but missing a few of our oxen we were detained an hour or two before we could start. Followed the ridges 12 or 14 miles and camped on a fine neck of prairie with groves of hickory, oak, etc. on 3 sides of us.
T. 3rd. Passed over the ridges, crossing (Burr Oak), Little Burr Oak, headed one branch and crossed another. Passed over a large level prairie, turned off to the right and camped with but little wood, good grass.
F.4th. Passing on, we soon came to Republican Creek and nooned. Republican is a large fine stream, plenty of timber and wide bottom. Again over ridges. In about 3 miles came to the Independence trail or the junction. This now in the big road to Oregon. 2 miles more to Wyeth's Run. Two graves here on the right + over one. In two miles more we camped.
S. 5th. Moved over a high ridge, crossed some branches and camped on the bottom of a branch. Distance to day about 14 miles.
Sun. 6th. Passing finely along, we crossed Cannon Ball Creek, well timbered. stopped about noon during a shower, dined. Continued farther on and at night turned off left and camped with grass, wood & water.
M. 7th. Left the branch and passed on to Otto Creek (probably so called from its being the residence of the Otto Indians). Passed Dry Sandy, Big Sandy and camped on a sandy branch. Game consists of antelope, wolves, &c.
T. 8th. Passed Middle Sandy and Little Sandy. We, in about 6 miles came to Little Blue. Went up about miles and camped. Good Grass, wood and water.
W. 9th. No traveling done today. Hunting, fishing, &c.
T. 10th. Left camp this morning with a good sun and fine roads. Followed up Little Blue until near noon. We then left the (river?) for about 3 miles and thereby went about 2 miles out of the way. We should kept the bottom. About the time we came in the bottom again our cattle were scared by two horses galloping by, and commenced running. We did not succeed in stopping them until 3 of the oxen had fallen and each one lost a horn in the scrape.
F. 11th. This morning some of our cattle being among the missing, we were detained until near noon and of course made a short drive, perhaps not more than 12 miles. The day warm and dry.
S. 12th. having left our place of our camping which is the last on Little Blue, we marched up it until near noon. Here we dined and left Blue. Passed up the ridge. Soon crossed a branch and in about 6 miles came to the last camping place between Blue and Platt. There we camped, wood, water, & grass.
Sunday 13th. Today we had to make a long drive, 23 or 25 miles. We could not do better but we crossed and was in camp before sunset. Good grass but no wood. Here it might be well to mention that there is no wood along Platt except on the islands. M. 14th. Moved about 15 miles up Platt. Good roads and good grass. To day we passed the grave of J.H. Fisher who died June 6th, 1847. The miserable Paunees had dug him up or rather dug down to him. We covered him again and some mourned with his bereaved wife and children.
T. 15th. Continued coasting along up Platt. Always camping on the river. Generally good grass.
W. 16th. This morning Mr. Hill and myself went back after a cow that had left during the night. In about 6 miles we met McKee's Co. They had been visited by Pawnees and seemed much scared. We again overtook our Co. by camping time but did not find cow. T. 17th. To day we are obliged to lie by to attend to the case of a Mrs. Balch who upon this day gave birth to an infant son. So our company has not only increased one by birth but has also increased 7 wagons and about 10 men who being dissatisfied with McKees Co. joined ours and so our Co. now consists of 47 waggons and about 75 men. To day we saw buffalo at a distance.
F. 18th. Continued coasting up Platte. Made about 15 miles and camped without wood but with plenty of Buffalo chips.
S. 19th. Last night a child of Mr. Kimballs met the king of terror and we had to remain in camp to bury her.
Sun. 20th. Last night the prowling Pawnees succeeded in leaving one of our men minus a horse. Myself and 50 others ran them close but caught them not. Made about 15 miles and camped near the lower end of Bradys. [Brady, NE]
M. 21st. This morning we soon crossed several hollows upon which was considerable timber. Road passed over high prairie and ran nearer the bluff than usual. Turned off to the right and camped on a stream of running water. Good Grass.
T. 22nd. Today we moved on with good progress. Buffalo plenty. The road running along and over the bluff having traveled about 18 miles we camped on the S. fork of Platt about 4 miles above the mount. No wood, poor grass, and muddy water.
W. 23rd. Made an early start and a good drive but bad luck. One of our men lost 2 horses by one going after buffalo, the other followed and both got away and ran off with the buffalo with which the plains abound. I killed a good cow to day and the camp got their first meal of good buffalo meat. 2 men were in pursuit of them but returned about 12 at night without them. Camped about 12 miles below ford.
T. 24th. did not leave camp today on account being out after those horses but had no luck. Conclude the Indians got them.
F. 25th. Traveled up the south fork and camped about one mile from the ford.
S. 26th. Crossed Platt. Made up it about 6 or 8 miles and camped with good grass.
Sun. 27th. Five miles found us at the place the road turns off to the north fork of Platt. Passed on over fine roads and camped about 5 miles from the river without water. Cool night.
M. 28th. Sun arose pleasant. We passed on and soon came to the bluffs. They are high and ragged. Descended into the sandy bed of Ash Creek. About 1/2 mile brought us to the river. Timber pleanty, ash and cedar. Here we camped for the day.
T. 29th. To day we made coal and repaired our waggons which by this time began to get out of repair.
W. 30th. Traveled over a very sandy road. Poor grass and no wood but buffalo sedament.
July 1st. to day we still found the roads still sandy. Distance about 15 miles.
F. 2nd. Moved finely along. came in sight of two noted works of nature, Castle Rock and Chimney Rock. Roads yet sandy. About 6 miles back we passed a fine creek and soon a fine spring.
S. 3rd. Continued up Platt. Found the roads good. Crossed another creek the ??? of which is bout 100 ft. wide. Nooned at or opposite Castle Rock. It looks 1-1/2 or 2 Miles from the road and yet it is said to be five miles. This deception is owing to the purity of the air and want of objects by which to judge distances.
Sun. 4th. Upon this Columbus natal day we passed the towering and interesting natural object. ****This is said by some to be 250 ft high. I ascended it to the 2nd bench. Nooned here. Distance 10 miles. [Chimney Rock]
M. 5th. To day we gradually receded from the river in order to pass up behind Scotts Bluffs. Follow up a broad valley and about 16 miles found us at the spring near the gap in the bluffs. Camped here without grass for our animals.
T. 6th. Made an early start. By sun up we were on our road. Passed down another valley. Roads being fine, we soon found ourselves on Horse Creek. 12 miles here by passing down toward the river we found grass and good spring water.
W. 7th. Left Horse Creek. Crossed points of bluffs, sometimes sandy and sometimes good roads. Passed a very large spring and camped on the river. Grass not good.
T. 8th. Having good roads today. We soon found ourselves within 3 miles of Mt. Laramie. Camped here. Grass very poor.
F. 9th. To day we moved on across Laramies Fork (this is a fine stream) taking the right hand road, we passed up Platt about 3 miles and camped.
S. 10th. All day in camp. Somewhat troubled by our Sioux visitors which we met yesterday and gave presents.
Sun. 11th. To day after a late start we passed up Platt on the bottom. Found some good grass and camped 1/2 mile below good springs.
M. 12th. This morning through remisness of guards or carelessness of Company, about 1/2 of our cattle were gone which we did not succeed in finding all until afternoon when it was too late to make another camping ground. So we were obliged to lay in camp. We employed ourselves part of the day in making some new officers and regulating matters so that we might have things go straight another time. Day cool.
(James N. Harty: "We passed smoothly along for several days, nothing worthy of notice taking place, except the organization of our Co. which terminated in the election of D.D. Davis Capt. of Green Bay (Township), Lee Co., Iowa." [This was actually a re-election since Peter Crawford had identified David D. Davis as Captain early in the journey.]
T. 13th. This morning we left Platt and wound our way among the hills and valleys for about three miles. Pat warm springs and soon was on the big road again. For the first two or three miles we had a rough hilly road. It then grew better, running over high ridges and about 8 miles from W. Spring brought us to Bitter Cottonwood creek. We passed up this creek about 3 miles and camped. Good Spring water, tolerable grass for this country and wood pleanty. Distance about 14 miles.
W. 14. Marched up B Cotton Wood about 5 miles, then turned off N by W. We followed up dry fork 8 miles to a spring. This spring is nearly dry. Camped here. Distance to day 13 miles.
T. 15th. Left this dry and baren campment early and six miles brought us to Horseshoe Creek. This part of our road was rough, hilly, crooked and dry, and at H Shoe we found a fine spring. Stoped here an hour, then rolling on we crossed two or three branches with wood and some grass and water. Tolerable camping might be found here. We camped at the third. Distance 14 miles.
F. 16th. To day we traveled over a hilly, though, very good road and in 10 miles came to Rock Creek. The after noon being rainy we camped here.
S. 17th. Left Rock Creek. Upon starting, passed over the hills and in about 3 miles came to Cotton Wood Fork. Passed this and one or two branches and camped on the branch near a creek. This creek, we have been informed, is Table Fork, a fine creek affording pleanty of water.
Sun. 18th. In about one mile we crossed Table Fork. In about 3 miles more we crossed a small stream. Nooned on the hill and passing on, we in about 2 miles, came to a fine clear stream and in about 3 miles farther, came to Mark Head Fork. This is a good sized stream and afording good camping. From here, 6 miles brought us to Platt. Up Platt about 4 miles we camped, turned our animals over the river, found good grazing.
M. 19th. Upon leaving camp, in about 1 mile we passed Deer Creek. Passed up the river about 14 miles and camped on a fine stream of water. Good grass but little wood.
T. 20th. Crossed the stream on which we camped and continued to coast along up the river passing one or two small streams and camped about 2 miles above the Mormon Ferry at what I shall call Cotton Wood Grove, a fine place. Distance about 14 miles.
W. 21st. This day we passed up the river about 3 miles, acme to the ford, crossed and camped for the day. Grass short.
T. 22nd. Left Platt and also left a co. of travelers from Oregon. Some like the country, others did not. Pursued our way along the road. About 5 P.M. came to the red Butte spring. This would be a fine camping ground if it had wood. distance 12 miles.
F. 23rd. Left the Red Butt Camp and pursued our way over very good roads. Passed about noon what I should call the Chinese wall. About one mile from this, we came to the soap mine. A place so marshy that it is dangerous for man or beast to go in it. In about 5 miles we came to the Willow Spring. This a good camping ground for a small co. but large Co's had better divide and part camp about 1-1/2 miles from this before we get here. Distance to day 15 miles.
S. 24th. Left the Willow Spring and going over the hills we, in about 4 miles, came to very fine creek. This small creek on our left affords very good camping ground. Passed on about 6 miles farther and camped on Horse Creek.
Sun. 25th. Left this creek. Pursued our way over sandy roads and in 10 miles came to Independence Rock on Sweet Water. This rock bears the names of many travelers. We crossed Sweettwater. Passed up six miles to a pass of the river through the rock called the Devils Gate. The bluffs tower up on each side for 3 to 5 hundred feet. Good grass and water.
M. 26th. Upon leaving this Devils Gate and having separated in small CO's, we started early and passed rapidly along considering the sandy roads to sepparate enough so we would not be oblige to camp together. Made 20 and 23 miles and camped on Sweetwater. During the last two days we passed large ponds of saleratus and saltpeter. Both a curiosity and useful to travelers.
T. 27th. Following up the river, we passed some grass and the roads sandy running away from the river. about 1 PM came to the river. Nooned. Passed up a gap, crossing and recrossing. Found good grass and camped behind a bluff on the river. Distance about 16 miles.
W. 28th. Left our beautiful camping place this morning. Followed up the river about 2 miles, crossed and saw no more of it for about 16 miles. When we again came to the river again but found the grass nearly eaten up by the thousands that have grazed there. Camped here having traveled 18 miles but called 20.
T. 29th. Crossed Sweet Water. Passed over the hill and down on the bottom again. Followed up about 6 miles and camped near another gap through the Mts.
F. 30th. To Day we left the river and passed up the Mts. for several miles. Our road was much better than one would expect for an ascent of the Stony Mts. In about 14 miles crossed a branch of Sweetwater. In 2 miles crossed another and in about 4 miles, we turned off to the left and camped on Sweetwater. Distance to day 20 miles. A good drive for a Mt road, yet easier tan many days in the sand.
S. 31st. Upon leaving Sweet Water we gradually arose the Mt. For about 6 or 8 miles and then the descent was just perceptable and 12 miles from Sweet Water brought us to a green marshy place affording plenty of water but so miry cattle could not approach it with safety this is called the Pacific spring. The water runs to the western Ocean. From this spring we traveled 12 ms farther to Dry fork and camped almost without grass after a stride of 24 Ms across the south Pass. Dry Fork has some water in it now but goes dry sometimes. For the last 2 days Snowy Mts has been in sight and one of our Co found a drift in S.W. valley. Surely it seem strange to have snow in July and August. [Continental Divide crossed]
Sun. August 1st. left Dry Fork. Pursued our way over good roads and crosing Little Sandy, we camped about one mile below the ford. Distance 15 miles, grass & water good, no wood but willow.
Between dry fork and Little Sandy we passed the forks of the road, one leading to Ft. Hall and the other to Ft. Bridger.
M. 2nd. This morning we left Little Sandy and having good roads, by 11 A.M. we were at Big Sandy. A distance of 8 miles. Crossed this, watered and in one hour nooned. Then rolled on about 15 miles and found the road approached the river at a place where we found good feed. Camped here. Distance 23 or 24 miles.
T. 3r. Left camp about 8 o'clock. About noon arrived at Green River. This is a clean cool and rapid stream. had but little trouble in crossing. Passed down it about 4 miles and camped. Distance to day about 12 miles.
W. 4th. In about 2 miles we left Green River. Then gradually arose for about 4 miles to the dividing ridge. Then descended most of the time until we arrived at Blacks Fork. Here we camped. Good grass. Distance about 17 miles.
T. 5th. Left camp following up the river 2 or 3 miles. Then crossing the two forks, we traveled until about 5 P.M. before we came to it again. Here we camped on Black's Fork again. Distance about 16 miles.
F. 6th. Followed up Blks Fork. Crossed and recrossed. Ten crossed a branch of the river and after a stretch of about 10 miles, came to Ft. Bridger and Camped. The whole distance from Laramie to Bridger is 409 miles.
S. 7th. Remained in camp today visited there &c.
Sun. 8th. Left the fort. Our general course was N.W. over crooked, hilly, and rocky roads. In 8 miles we crossed Little Muddy. No camping ground here. In 9 miles more we came to Big Muddy. Up one mile found very good camping for the night. Distance 18 miles.
M. 9th. Followed up Big Muddy all day. Roads rough and hilly. Found very good camping in about 16 miles.
T. 10th. Upon leaving camp this morning we in about 2 miles passed 3 fine springs. Soon left Muddy. Then up a dry branch 4 miles to the divide across the Mt. Down a dry Branch again 4 miles to a spring. Still down to Bear River or to the valley, it being impassable for wagons. We were obliged to camp on a creek after following down the bottom 3 miles. No grass here but our cattle went to the river (where we might have went ha it not been dark) and found grass. Roads rough and crooked. Distance 20 miles.
W. 11. Upon leaving camp this morning we passed down the river. In 2 miles found a very large spring. Followed it down over a very smooth bottom to the cut off road and camped. Distance 10 miles.
T. 12th. Continued down this smooth bottom. In 12 miles we passed Miles camp. In 8 more we passed Smith's camp known a Peg Leg Smith. In about 5 miles more we camped on Bear River. Good grass, willow wood &c.
13th. Continued down this bottom about 3 miles to _______Fork. Crossed it. Turned up the Mts. In 4 miles came to Little creek again. Over Mts. and in about 6 miles more descended into the Bear River Bottom. Followed down the bottom about 6 miles and camped on a fine stream.
S. 14th. To day our roads were good and we soon made distance called by Mountaineers, 18 miles. We crossed several very fine streams tumbling down from the Mts. At length we crossed one larger tan the rest and camped at the foot of a hill. Good grass and water.
Sun. 15th. Passing up the hill and down again, we were (going) along in sight of the river the rest of the day. In 8 miles passed a branch. In 7 more another fine stream. Just across this stream what are called the Soda Springs commence. There at the creek one hundred yds or less from the crossing below. I call the best though no great similarity to soda. The Steamboat Spring is about 3/4 of mile from the creek on the river bank. This night as well as one other of Bear River has been frosty.
M. 16th. To day in about 4 miles we left Bear River. Turning to the right we passed up a broad valley about 14 miles and camped in the bottom of Fourtneth Creek. This is a broad and fertile valley. The grass being like a meadow but no timber. During the day about the middle we passed some very fine springs. On of them being a large and beautiful soda fountain.
T. 17th. Followed up Fourtneth about 10 miles. We left the creek and in the course of the afternoon we passed several small but fertile valleys with good grass. Camped in one at a fine spring. Distance to day about 16 miles.
W. 18th. This morning is cloudy and about 9 AM. we had a fine shower. Passed over hills and down valleys. In one long valley we found good grass or wild rye and a good spring. Continued down to a small creek and in about 6 miles came to Snake River. Distance today abut 20 miles.
T. 19th. Followed down Snake Rive a piece, then to Black Foot Fork. Crossed and then crossing the plains in about 9 miles came to a creek within about 5 miles of the Fort Hall. Camped here. Pleanty of grass and water. The route came is 25 miles out of the way.
F. 20th. In 5 miles came to the fort. Drove below on Ross's Fork and camped and repaired waggons and done other business.
S. 21. Left Ft. Hall. Made 10 miles it being in the afternoon when started and camped on a branch of Snake River. Good Grass.
Sun. 22nd. Good bottom about one half the day. Then left the river and in about 18miles camped on Little Fall Creek.
M.23. Made about 12 miles and camped on Big Fall Creek. For the last 2 night, grass was poor.
T. 24th. Pushed on over dusty roads and in about 12 miles came to Raft River. Passed up (Raft River) about 2 miles and camped. W. 25th Continued up Raft River. Found good grass on the river in most places. Made about 12 miles and camped.
Th. 26th. Followed up Raft Creek to the head, a distance of 16 miles. The whole distance up Raft Being 30 miles.
F. 27th. Passed a divide into a valley affording plenty of grass and water. Nooned here. Continued on over a small creek, then up through a gap in the Mts. to a small valley with a spring branch in it. The whole presenting a very rocky appearance. Over another ridge or two, then into a broad dry valley. About the middle of this valley is good grass and about 1-1/2 miles above the road is water. We camped here after a drive of 20 miles.
S. 28th. After crossing the valley we came to a spring. made a halt here, then passed on over rough hilly roads to a spring branch. Then over to Goose creek. Up the same about 3 miles and camped. Distance to day 15 miles.
Sun. 29th. Followed up Goose Creek about 14 miles and camped.
M. 30th. After following up Goose Creek about 3 miles we crossed and left it. Then we had very good hilly roads for 12 miles and no water during the 12 miles. Came to a spring branch and camped with tolerable grass and water. Distance to day 15 miles.
T. 31st. Left camp. Passed down the branch and in 5 miles came to Horse Spring. Passed down a smooth valley 12 miles to Prairie Spring and camped. Distance to day 17 miles.
Sept 1st, 1847. After leaving Prairie Spring, we found good water in 5 miles. Then passing some hot springs, we came to another small branch. Nooned here, then on to the bluff and camped at a spring in the bluffs. To day 15 miles. Good grass all day and water or small spring every little way.
T. 2nd. Crossed over the divide. Then down to a creek. Followed down to a pass. Here we nooned. Then passed through this narrow horrible rocky pass about 2 miles long coming out into a level bottom with good grass. We camped on the creek we nooned on but it being enlarged by a warm spring, the water was disagreeable to drink until it cooled by standing in a vessel over night. Distance to day 12 miles.
F. 3rd. Followed down this creek or Mary's River as it is called 12 miles & camped.
S. 4th. Continued down the river 20 miles and camped.
Sun. 5th. last night these miserable root diggers took the liberty of driving off a couple of our cattle. I with 4 others hunted them up after a hard days drive and scaring one of the M diggers nearly to death. To day we made 15 miles.
M. 6th. We kept a strong guard last night and lost no cattle. But this morning there being but two men to guard, the Indians crept along in the willows and soon put arrows in 7 of our oxen. We killed one of them (oxen), the others are living. Myself and one other got a shot at them but do not know whether we hit or not. Passing on we soon came to the co. ahead of us and found them in the same trouble we had, only worse. We united with them and passed on toward night: Distance to day 8 miles.
T. 7th. Passed on down the river about 20 miles we saw no diggers.
W. 8th. Today we soon crossed a clear cool stream and passing up a low Mt. was 16 Ms away from the river about half way or 8 miles we passed small spring but did not camp and night overtook us before we reached the river. But finally camped at about 9 o'clock with poor grass. Distance 20 miles.
T. 9th. Did not leave camp until late. Passed about 12 miles down the river and camped.
F. 10th. Continued down the river with good roads for about 18 miles and camped.
S. 11th. Continued down the river about 18 miles and camped. Roads good.
Sun. 12th. Down the river 20 miles and camped. Roads first rate. Good grass.
M. 13th. Made today about 20 miles down Mary's River [now called the Humboldt River, NV]
T. 14th. Today we traveled about 18 miles and camped in good grass with some of the Mormon Battalion from California.
W. 15th. About 28 miles brought camping time. No wood on this river but willow.
T. 16th. In about 3 miles we crossed Mary's River for the last time. Crossed a bend about 12 miles and camped about 4 miles above the forks of the road. Distance 15 miles.
F. 17th. When we came to the forks of the road we watered. 12 miles farther brought us to the foot of the Mts. Here is a spring but no grass. Camped here. Distance 16 miles.
18. Moved off by sunrise in hopes of finding grass but found none but found a small spring at 15 miles. We used up all the water we could get. Took supper and moved on about 15 miles and stopped in a place deserted by everything living. Distance 30 miles.
Sun. 19th. In about 3 miles we came to a muddy creek. Watered our animals and pushed on about 5 miles to Black Rock, or a blk Mt. near some redish looking (rocks?). Here is a hot spring and course grass. We of coarse camped here. Distance 8 miles.
M. 20th. This morning we yoked and moved on to the hot spring (5 miles) and camped until about 4 o'clock P.M. Then pushed on by moonlight about 15 miles and stopped until morning. Distance 20 miles.
T. 21st. This morning we moved early, about 5 miles, and finding some grass and water we stopped until about 8 P.M. Then on again about 5 miles farther and camped in a valley with grass and water. Distance 10 miles.
W. 22nd. Did not start very early. Found our road ascending for about 5 miles, then down a steep rocky hill through kanion. Then on about 4 miles and into another kanion to good grass and water. Camped here. Distance 12 miles.
F. 24th. Last night Towner and Belnap of the other Co. came up and informed us 12 of their cattle had been shot that morning by the Indians. They wished help from us so we sent 2 or 3 yoke of oxen to help them up and we laid in camp waiting for...
S. 25th. Continued our journey up the creek. In 1-1/2 miles we passed a spring branch. In 1 mile farther we entered a kanion, very rocky, about 2 miles long. Here the branch heads. Passed on over good roads and in 6 miles more we passed a fine piece of grass. A spring near. Then on about 5 miles and camped without water. (Good grass.) Roads fine except in the kanion. Distance about 14 miles.
Sun. 26th. Moved on by day break to the little pass and camped for the day. Good grass & water. Here lay an Indian that had been shot about 4 days. Distance about 8 miles.
M. 27th. Passed on over the divide and in 12 miles came to hot springs and camped. Grass and water not very good.
28th. Pushed ahead. In one mile we passed another hot spring, then on over good roads. Crossed a naked bottom or plain and came to a fine stream in 8 miles. Then down the foot of the Mt. to Plumb creek and camped near the foot of the Mt. Road distance 14 miles.
W. 29th. To day we only passed over the Mt. and camped in the valley below. Distance only about 4-1/2 miles. (To be continued.)
Sept. 29th. (Continued) This night we were sadly visited by savages. They approached and finding they could get no cattle, vented their spite at a young lady who had been baking and was then by the fire. They shot 3 arrows at her. Two of them hit her. One passed through the calf of her leg and the other through her arm into here side. We fear she is mortally wounded but hope for the best. Her name is Ann Davis. Four arrows more were found that had been shot at a man on guard. These prowling indians are as hard to find as the deer.
T. 30th. To day 5 of us laid in the bushes to watch for indians. We heard them halloo but they kept at a proper distance. We think they saw us go in the willows. Or caravan moved on to the lake, then about 3 miles up it and camped. Distance about 10 miles.
F. October 1st. passed around the lake about 10 miles and camped on a small cool stream.
S. 2nd. To day our roads were very rocky, so much so that Miss Davis could not ride. She had to be carried on a stage and a waggon broke so we did not make more than 6 miles. Camped without water.
Sun. 3rd. Moved this morning at sun rise down to a branch about 1-1/2 miles and camped until noon. Then pushed on about 6 miles down the branch and camped. Distance 8-1/2 miles.
M. 4th. After traveling down this branch about 4 miles, we turned to the right, passed a ridge and in 6 miles from branch we came to Goffs springs. Camped here. Distance to day 10 miles. The roads here are very rocky and have been since leaving the lake.
5th. Upon leaving the spring, In 4 miles we came to another fine spring and followed down the branch about 3 miles. Then crossed a ridge to another good camping place. Down the same to its confluence with the first branch and camped. Distance today 12 miles.
W. 6th. Passed around a large swamp filled with ducks, geese and cranes. Then passing a good spring, we came to a lake. Watered our cattle and passed on over stony roads and at last camped without water, good grass, in sight of another lake. Distance about 14 miles.
7th. This morning we moved by 5:30 A.M. Soon came to a broad rich bottom. Good grass and in about 12 miles came to the Sacramento River [Lost River] and camped. This water stretch is about 18 miles. About 3 miles farther brought us to the ford where we camped for the day. Here we saw Indians who appeared more brave than the Diggers. They are probably the Clamet Indians.
F. 8th. Crossed the Sacramento, over the hill or divide to a large swamp. Down this to a like (Clammet) about 3 miles down the lake and camped. Distance about 12 or 14 miles.
S. 9th. Continued around the lake and swamp. Then through a small pass and in about 5 miles from our last camp we came to a small creek. I call it crooked creek. On about 2 miles and crossed another stream & camped. Distance 7 miles.
Sun. 10th. We found plenty of water for 5 miles today. We should have come here to camp, but did not so we did not make the next camping but took a ridge in the timber and found a small opening with good grass but no water. Camped here. Distance 16 miles.
M. 11th. This morning we, in about 6 miles, came to Clamett River. Crossed. Then passing in the timber we did not come to grass or water before dark. We were obliged to camp in heavy timber. Distance 12 miles.
T (12)th. Passing on over this mountain we, in about 9 miles, came to the beaver dams and camped for the day.
W. (13)th. Followed down this branch over hills &c. and about noon came to big hill creek. Nooned there. Then on to Little Prairie and camped. Distance about 11 miles.
T. (14) Th. Continued on over the Mts. through the timber. In about 8 miles we descended a steep hill to a creek up to the top of the Rogue River Mt. Then down for about 2 miles and camped. Distance abut 10 miles.
(15)th. Continued descending the stream on which we camped last night. The valley increased in width and the face of nature became more interesting. During the day several Mt. branches had increased the main stream considerable. At noon we saw some Indians and their lodges or shanties. They ran like wild men from us. passed on to one of these streams and camped. The grass and water, timber and soil is of good quality. Distance today about 10 miles.
S. 16th. The roads today were excellent and the face of nature appeared full s interesting as yesterday. Followed down Rogue River about 12 Ms & camp. Sun. 17th. Our cattle have good grass but do not appear to eat early while the frost & dew is on. So we concluded to travel while the dew was on and stop about 9 o'clock but not finding a convenient place we were obligee to travel until 11 A.M. Then, we took breakfast and moved on again about 1 P.M. Found very good camping ground about 5 on the river bank with plenty of Indians who brought us fish to trade. Distance to day about 15 Ms.
M. 18th. Followed down the river (with some of our too neighborly indians) about 12 Ms and camped.
T. 19th. In about one M we crossed the river and left it after following it about 50 MS in all. passed among the bluffs and camped after a distance of abut 12 Ms. Some of the Indians are yet following us. Their room is better than their company.
W. 20th. Upon leaving camp we soon came to a fine creek. Then bad roads ensued (rough hilly and sideling) but by night we were in a valley with good camping ground at hand. Distance 8 Ms.
Thurs 21. Today we had bad roads and reached a good camping ground at dark. Distance 9 Ms.
F. 22. We today made about 8 Ms farther and camped at the entrance of the Umpqua Mts. During the day we followed a creek and passed several fine pieces of grass.
S. 23. To day we entered the worst roads we ever traveled and made only 6 Ms by dark.
Sun. 24. Continued over these horrible roads and dark found some of most of the company in the timber. Only 5 waggons got through. The rest had to keep their animals over another night without feed. Distance to day 5 Ms.
M. 25. This morning after 1 1/2 ms of toiling over these horrible roads they all reached the valley after upsets, breakdowns and losses of various kinds. 2 1/2 Mss to day.
T. 26th. This morning we moved about 2 Ms down the creek (or one branch of the Umpqua river) and camped for the day to wait for those who were back after lost cattle, broken wagons &c. Last night was rainy but to day is clear.
W. 27. Last night was another showery night, but today is clear. The rainy season appears to have comenced & today we made about 4 Ms down the river.
T. 28th. Continued down the Umpqua valley to the crossing of the N.W. fork of the river about one M above the forks. Camped here. Distance 18 ms.
F. 29th. Spent the whole day in crossing the river which was done by means of the assistance of Indians and canoes.
S. 30th. Left the river and made the calipooya rover in 10 ms, then on about 4 ms and camped. 14 Ms in all.
S. 31. Passed on about 10 Ms and camped. Good camping anywheres but it has rained for the lst 4 days.
M. Nov. 1st. In about 3 Ms we commenced ascending the Calipooyah Mts. Passed up one or two hills and camped about 2 o'clock P.M. on a large hill with good grass. Distance to day about 7 Ms.
Nov. 2nd. Tues. Continued across the Mts. where we camped in the Walammett valley at sunset. Distance 7 ms. Last two days rainy.
3rd. Passed down the valley about 10 ms and camped on the Wallamette river. Cloudy in the morning but little rain for the day.
4th. Continued down the valley crossing the river once or twice and at sunset we arrived at Mr. Skinners, the first settler of the valley. Distance 18 MS. No Rain.
5th. laid in camp near Skinners all day. Very rainy.
6th. Moved down (the river) about 4 Ms and camped. Day Rainy.
At this point the wagon train disbanded... each settler traveling his own way. "The roads ahead were almost impassable because of heavy rains. Travel over the trail during the rainy season was dangerous and slow...Ann Davis needed professional medical attention that was available at Lee's Mission on the Willamette River in Salem, over seventy miles down the river...It would have taken the Davis family a month more to reach the settlements.
David Davis chose to float down the Willamette River. He went to a point on the Willamette River, probably near Goodpasture Park and cut down a large fir tree. It was much larger than anything he had ever seen in his life before reaching Oregon Country. He copped out a "dugout" canoe and put it in the waters of the Willamette River. He loaded his family into the canoe and headed for Salem in search of medical help and supplies.
David and Hannah Davis were in Salem with their children in the winter of 1847-1848. A doctor at Lee's Mission checked the injuries of Ann Davis and found that she was recovering nicely. Everything was back to normal after several months in the Salem area recuperating from the hardships endured on the Scott-Applegate Trail. The Davises were in high spirits, ready to settle in on their "land of milk and honey."
First, they had to find their own place in this magnificent new country. Then they had to recover their cattle and other property left near the Willamette River north of Skinner's cabin. They left Salem in the late winter or early spring in 1848. David was looking for a place he could build a flour mill and needed water he could harness to operate the mill. He had to abandon his millstones on Sweetwater River on his journey to Oregon but they could be replaced. Historians have told that Meshach Davis operated a wagon-making business and that he had a lathe and turned out furniture and wagon parts. Soap Creek rapids were in the yard of the Davises first home. It furnished that power needed to power the lathe.
David D. Davis harnessed the power of the water in Soap Creek and used the power to turn a lathe to turn out wheel spokes and furniture parts. He built a blacksmith and carpenter shop next to the creek on the shelf between the bluff and the creek. The lathe was probably run by an undershot water wheel powered by the pressure built up by the rapids as they flowed between the perpendicular banks of Soap Creek. He was unable (or decided not) to build his flour mill, instead deciding upon a wagon factory.
The first year in the Soap Creek settlement was little different for the Davis family than for most other setters. An outbreak of measles took Hannah's life on June 15, 1848. That was only one month after the Davises arrived in Soap Creek on May 15t.
In 182 David D. Davis married Sarah Bowman. Then "in (18530, D. D. Davis bought the land and built the first residence in the town site of Tampico. This residence was used as a store and hotel.." He sold the store and way station to William J. Crouch in 1857. Soap Creek Post Office was the first David D. Davis residence, and Tampico Post Office was in the second David D. Davis residence.
Disease took it's toll on the Davis family in the early years. First their mother in 1848, then, Rebecca Davis in 1851 at age sixteen. In December of 1853 Jane Davis Winters died at age twenty-one and in 1854 Rachel Davis died at age ten. It is thought the tree girls may have died of typhoid fever although it could have been tuberculosis or measles, all were feared by the pioneers. David D. Davis, himself, died of consumption at the age of 54 in 1860, a year later, in 1861 his second wife Sarah, died.
David D. Davis and his two oldest sons, Meshach and Thomas were accomplished musicians on the mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. Each of them could play most other instruments. Meshach preferred to play the mandolin. Tom was in demand on the fiddle. Their father liked to play almost any musical instrument. They made their own instruments. Each of them played at Saturday night dances where-ever he was, until his death.
The family did not record their experiences in life on Soap Creek. These were not the "good old days." Their years on Soap Creek appear quite miserable...starting with the death of his wife, Hannah,..and ending in his own death, that was soon followed by the death of his second wife.
These factors controlled the life of Thomas Davis, son of David and Hannah, so much that the sadness was instilled in the life of his son, Charles Elmer Davis. It is thought that some of the family moved to the Prineville area to be in a healthier climate.
Return to Main Oregon Page
Return to Pioneer Biographies
Copyright © 2000 by Jan Phillips
Last updated Thursday, 15-Jun-2000 20:37:26 MDT.