Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Margaret Clark Journals

May 14, 1997

Location: Gothenburg, Nebraska - Location: 40:55:46N 100:09:37W Elevation: 2567 feet

Summary: P.M. A rest day in Gothenburg.

Journal entry: The thought of a rest day in the middle of the week was just wonderful. I really didn't have anything I had to do, but now I could do things I WANT to do. And the day was just beautiful; sunshine, warm, a slight breeze.

I got up early, actually for the camp it was late: 6:00. The high school was open for showers and I took myself out to breakfast-- at McDonalds. I ate two full meals. I did a little writing and listened to the local conversation. A couple of guys had their comments about the wagon train. One guy said he would be more impressed if we would give up our deodorant, toilet paper, and toothbrush. Wow. Wouldn't we smell good! We already smell bad enough as it is. Let see. I would trade all of those for no trains, soft prairie trails (instead of shin splint-creating pavement), and privacy from the crowds. That would be a deal.

I had a most welcome visit today from a great guy, Jeff Payne. He was nothing what I expected. He was decked out in his mountain man stuff with the real leather suit and mocassins and all the chains and beadwork. He looked great and fit right in. He works for the University of Utah UtahLink which is the website for this program. He has come to work out the kinks and make my life easier. I love you, Jeff. We're going to put him on the trail tomorrow with a handcart and see how a day on the trail compares to a day on computers. I'm sure it will be much less stressful. The rumor is that it is a 21 mile day. I am groaning already.

The day at camp today was a great day. It was an Education Field day for many of the schools in this area. Anne Anderson, the local coordinator for our stay here in Gothenburg, said there were 16 schools represented. The entire Sand Hills school came. Others were McCook, Amherst, Farnam, Brady, Gothenburg, McDaid from North Platte, Kearney Christian and several rural schools. They had a chance to climb on the wagons, see and touch the horses, pull the handcarts, talk to the cowboys, have rides in the wagons. All kinds of neat stuff. It was great having all of you here.

I did mention that I would put two of the essays from the Dudley Elementary fourth grade on the page today.

The Mormons formed in New York in 1830, but the Mormons later were forced out of New York and they went to Nauvoo, Illinois. Their actual journey started in Feb. 1846 in Nauvoo, Illinois, and their destination was Salt Lake City, Utah. Their leader was Joseph Smith until he died, then it was Brigham Young. He and 144 men, 2 boys, and 3 women went on the first 211 day, 1300 mile trip. They would wake up a 5:00 a.m., start their journey at 7:00 a.m., and would go to bed at 9:00 p.m.. The Mormons were poorer than most people, pulled handcarts, and killed animals only for food. In 23 years 70,000 people traveled the trail with 6,000 people that died, but all the Mormons wanted was religious freedom.
Jillian Brown


Life on the trail was not easy with all the hardships the Mormons faced. Storms, rivers, and diseases, were some of these things. Some of the storms were hail, snow, thunder, and tornado. The storms did more damage to people, carts, and food. Rivers were the worst. They often had to make a ferry or cauk the wagon to ford the river. Many people got killed by drowning and being carried away in the water.
Kara Schnackenberg

Thanks for your essays, girls!

Gothenburg, you have been great to us. We appreciate your warmth and friendliness and hospitality. Again we are seeing the fine Nebraska people hard at work. Thank you Anne!