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Roster of KENNEDY Company 1862 Wagon Train

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Re: Roster of KENNEDY Company 1862 Wagon Train

Posted: 5 Jan 2012 2:21PM GMT
Classification: Query
I don't know how to find this story online anymore. I had it saved in my files. I have no way of knowing if the errors are from typing or transcribed from the actual story. I also do not know the source of the story or I would attach the information.


The “Covered Wagons Are Real to Her”

“Mrs. Christena Chambers of Lewiston, Idaho, usually called Aunt Teen, is 92 years old. She doesn’t have to read books and try to imagine what pioneer life was like. She knows. When Teen was five, her parents, Ephraim and Nancy Taylor, started from Iowa in May, 1862. They had oxen and two covered wagons. There were eight children, and two men traveled with them. A neighbor, John K. Kennedy, led a train of 62 wagons. Likely they followed the Mormon Trail north of the Platte River and joined the Oregon Trail near Fort Kearney in south central Nebraska. Cows wre brought along. Cream in a crock in the wagon made butter during a day’s jolting. Hot biscuits were baked almost every morning in a reflector oven. Raised bread was baked when a stop was made for clothes washing. There was always food for all, though some of the bacon was crammed down the throats of the oxen poisoned by alkali. Boys old enough to stand guard with the men were very proud. One of the men scoffed at the boys. When it was his turn to watch he went to sleep. The boys dragged him down into the creek, and laughed all the way to Oregon. Teen’s mother went to the first trading post, but there wre no fresh vegetables except one 4-pound onion. The trader made her a present of it. Aunt Teen remembers only two trading posts. The other may have been at Fort Laramie, in Wyoming, or Fort Hall, Idaho (*Not Fort Hall..it was closed up years before*) She says they did not see any buffalo. On July 6th there was a murder. Two men with a mule team had joined the train. The younger man shot the little old man who owned the outfit but did not get him buried before the train came up. A jury of 12 men assembled in a rough inclosure of logs. A fire was kept going, and the accused man was there under guard. Children clambered on the logs and others drew near and listened. The sentence was death by shooting. The man had little to say for himself except that he didn’t know there was any harm in killing a man on the plains. He had a family back east and spent most of the night writing letters. In the morning the oxen were yoked and the train prepared to move. A firing squad of 12 men was ready, some of the rifles carrying blank loads. A grave had been dug and a coffin made of boards from the decking of a wagon. The man sat on the coffin and waited. Teen’s father, face white, held the horns of his oxen to keep them from stampeding. ’I can hear those guns yet,’ says Aunt Teen.

‘Indians were met several times. The bucks always looked ready for battle, though seemingly friendly. Squaws carried their children tied to their backs with horsehair ropes. They wore blankets or buffalo robes and moccasins. Even ’friendly’ Indians couldn not always be trusted. The tribes were realizing finally that the whites were taking the country away from them and they were desperate.’

‘Aunt Teen came very near to being trampeled to death by her father’s oxen in a sudden stampede one morning during yoking up. Her neck was gashed by a boot. In a stampede on the prairie her brother, nine years old, was running, trying to catch up. A following team and wagon would have run him over had not a man yanked him out of the way.’

‘Of course there were happier or more amusing times on the trip. For instance, the fix Teen’s mother got into. She was barefooted, and became marooned in a bed of cactus. Another woman carried her out.’

‘And then there was the Great Cream Fight. Two Irish women were partners in a churn; but they had a quarrel and ended up with cream splashed all over themselves and around.’

‘A young woman was hurt fatally in a stampede of the oxen. Her baby was born dead. The children noticed the woman under a wagon and went to find out what was going on. They wre told the injured girl was sick. When they saw a woman holding the baby they knew without being told that it was dead. Teen is still haunted by this memory.’

‘An unknown man was found dead. There was nothing to show the cause of death, and he had his gun and also a fair sum of money.’

‘One man often left the train and went hunting alone, though warned of danger. An arrow almost struck him but he outwitted the lone Indian and shot him. Thereafter the hunter struck close to the train.’

‘Aunt Teen does not remember seeing any soldiers on the trail. A day came, August 9th, when they needed help but there were no soldiers near. The Indians were well aware of it. Near the American Falls of the Snake River, a train of 12 or 5 horse drawn wagons, the ‘New Yorker’s’, was ambushed. One man rode back a few miles to get help from Kennedy’s train. A number of armed men hurried to the scene and later the ox train was brought up and encamped. Teen says it was the most awful sight, with dead people on the ground, dead and wounded horses, women and children crying, wagons burning; flour, sugar and feathers scattered on the earth where the Indians had ripped sacks, beds and wagon covers to get cloth.’

‘The Indians had driven off the horses. Kennedy led 25 men (Colin’s note: Ephraim Taylor amongst them) and tried to capture some of the horses. (Colin’s note: by foolishly attacking the encampment of over 200 braves and families). The party was surrounded and fought for hours that hot day. They reached a few trees on a hill, but even so the situation was desperate and they might have been killed had not another group of emigrants, The ’Missouri Train’, come in sight about sundown. The Indians withdrew.’

‘Seven men were killed and six were wounded, including the captain. The weapons then commonly used, even by soldiers, were muzzle-loaders. Breech-loading rifles were very scarce. A few Indians had guns but most of them fought with bow and arrow and scalping knife.’

Among those counted dead were two wounded men who had to be abandoned and could not be found later. Undoubtedly Indians took them away. One had said all he wanted to do was stay and kill Indians.’

‘Five dead men were carried in and laid down in the circle of wagons. Among the wounded was Ephraim Taylor, shot through the side and back. The wound was cleansed by drawing a silk handkerchief through it, and he recovered. A few wagons in poor condition were replaced by better ones that had belonged to the New Yorkers and the ox train went on.’

‘A woman wounded in the massacre died and was buried beside the trail August 12.’

‘Word was received of two captive children in an Indian camp and several men went there and bought them. Teen says, but she doesn’t know what was traded for them, nor what became of them. They were white, a boy and a girl, 4 or 5 years old. Seemingly they could not speak English, and were thin and ragged. The women cut off their tangled hair, which was full of lice, and cleaned them up. Captain Kennedy took charge of them.’

‘At camp on an alkali flat an Indian shot a guard. He was watched till daylight, and killed when he tried to gt away. Later 12 mounted Indians met the train and asked questions. They got no information but found the Indian. The emigrants feared trouble but nothing happened.’

‘On throught September the weary caravan went on. “Lots of peoplle wished they’d never come,’ Teen says. Every morning there were dead oxen with legs sticking up stiffly, poisoned by alkali. Finally the emigrants looked down into the Grande Ronde valley. It was beautiful, but the fall weather was chilly. ’Don’t you think after a country is settled it’s not so cold?’asks Teen. Emigrant trains usually began breaking up in the Grande Ronde. A few shacks could be seen and many stopped and took farms in 1862. John K. Kennedy settled there. The Taylors and the two men traveling with them reached Walla Walla with one wagon dragged by one horse and one cow. Walla Walla was the largest town in Washington Territory, but was mostly shacks and ragged tents fluttering I the cold wind. It was October.’ (Christena Taylor married J.M. Chambers in 1873 and the couple raised seven children. She died in 1926 at the age of 80.)
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
mcguirepv 17 Nov 2010 2:14AM GMT 
jayne_mccarle... 17 Nov 2010 6:21PM GMT 
PattyStarritt 22 Jan 2010 8:20PM GMT 
jayne_mccarle... 23 Jan 2010 11:34PM GMT 
shrp6 18 Aug 2011 3:20AM GMT 
diggingaround... 5 Jan 2012 9:21PM GMT 
PatsySkeels 12 Jun 2014 8:40PM GMT 
jayne_mccarle... 13 Jun 2014 1:44PM GMT 
Fskeels60 13 Jun 2014 2:24PM GMT 
diggingaround... 14 Jun 2014 4:03PM GMT 
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