May 26, 1853
Summary: From a letter to Richard Eatough covering the Armitstead journey between April 30 and May 26, 1853.
Journal entry: Oskaloosa, Iowa, May 26, 1853
Having occasion to stay here a few hours, I improve the time in writing to you. I sent you a letter the day before we left North Ville [, Illinois], and another a few weeks before that. These, I hope, you have received, and, that this may also may come safe to hand and find you in good health, even as it leaves us at present.
We left North Ville on the 30th ult. Our company consists of 3 wagons, 18 persons, 2 yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows to each wagon. You may think it is a strange notion to hitch up cows, I thought so too. They do very well, after they have been worked a while. But, let me tell you that, if there is any business, more than another, calculated to try a man's patience, it is driving these sturdy horned-horses, particularly if they are young and raw, like most of ours are.
We have had much bad weather, and very heavy traveling. The 3rd day out we made only 5 miles, and had to travel after sundown to make that. Sometimes both men and teams would be belly deep in mud and water: indeed we had to lay over 6 days, it being almost impossible to travel. The weather has been finer and roads much better of late. We have traveled for six days together through the most splendid and thickest timber ever saw. We traveled 150 miles before we got out of the state of Illinois. We crossed the Mississippi at Rock Island; Davenport is situated on the opposite side of the river. These places are about 70 miles above Nauvoo; which at one time I thought was destined to become the place of my future home. But, I discover that it is not any particular place, or city, I am seeking, but a people. That people are now far away in the west, and where they are is home to me, and home without them cannot be.
Brother Richard, I have not time a present to describe the beautiful scenery which almost everywhere presents itself in this country. I hope you may soon have the privilege of seeing some of it for yourself. The country even its wild and natural state unimproved by the art of man, is beautiful. Just for a moment imagine to yourself a vast meadow illimitable to the eye in every direction, covered with most luxurious verdure, decorated with flowers of almost every hue and color, and undulating like the waves of the ocean, and you will have some idea of an American prairie. And then again, fancy to yourself a forest, equally illimitable, composed of almost sorts of trees, in full bloom; and you will have an idea of our timberlands. But, in traveling in a new country like this we cannot expect to find good roads always. There are sloughs, mudholes, rotten grounds, creeks to ford and rivers to ferry. But we have got along very well this far.
We have just learned that there are 30 or 40 wagons of the Saints about 40 miles south of us. We take a south west course from here in order to fall in with them.
Source: James Armitstead Letters (1853)