Where Did the Settlers Go?

Just where did those settlers go you ask?

They made their way to Missouri to join a wagon train company. Hopeful Americans and immigrants alike longing for a better life. The free land in the West, and especially in Oregon, seemed the stepping stone to that life of plenty.

Just imagine that first day of walking the hundred miles to the other side of the continent. Here’s how I pictured it for my latest heroine in Beau’s Elegant Bride:

The oxen slowed even more than their typical crawling speed. One even tried to snatch a mouthful of grass from beside the road. Using the small whip in his hand. Beau carefully snapped it above their heads. At the same time, he crooned a command.

“Giddup now. Day’s not done.”

The cattle resumed their walk, pulling slightly faster. It seemed they were no happier to be on this trail than Francy was. Never in her life had she imagined to feel any kinship to stupid beasts.

While more than an estimated 400,000 people left from Missouri on wagon trains for Oregon, very few made it to that spot. Only about 80,000 actually settled in Oregon.

If you’ve played the popular Oregon Trail game, you might think these overlanders simply died. That works for a game, but is historically untrue. Very few actually passed away.

The trail ended some pioneers’ dreams merely because of broken wagons. If a traveler didn’t bring an extra axel, he had to settle near where he was stuck. That is, if someone couldn’t help repair the wagon.

Even then, discouragement might have been enough to make the man decide to stay on the plains. After all, land for farming could be claimed there and if a man had served in the Union Army during the war between the states, he could stake a claim for little or nothing.

As wagons reached the Rocky Mountains, travelers could see distant towering shapes growing daily larger. Imagine how intimidated those people felt. Already tired from crossing the plains, they saw those distant peaks and knew they needed the energy to get over the mountains. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oregon-Trail

At the junction of the Raft and Snake Rivers, trails verged to other parts of the country. These promised a bit easier going or even the chance to settle and leave the trail behind.

Denver had a boom of miners. The young city, not much more than a collection of tents as you can see by this picture, desperately needed the produce from farmers.

Many settlers veered toward the land available there. Word had been passed to these travelers that the soil was good. The promised of building a home and even planting a late summer garden lured some from their goal of Oregon.

My characters in Beau’s Elegant Bride consider this very thing:

Panic flashed through her. “Do you think we might farm near the Crooks? Are they going all the way to Oregon?”

“Might be we could change plans. The Crooks are leavin’ the company and followin’ the South Platte in a few days.”

“Are there mountains that way?”

Beau squeezed her tighter and rested his chin on her head, not something easily done as they were similar in height. With her head bent against him, he managed it. “I’d need to study my map or ask William Crook ‘bout it. He says the people in and around Denver need farmers bringin’ in vegetables.”

News from California circulated in the East about the rich soil and crops that could be grown. California, with its warmer temperatures or even the promise of gold, also had some separating from the wagon trains to make up a smaller train as they headed away from the company to take a southern trail.

Where did all the settlers go? The easy answer is they simply settled, lived, and helped change the face of our nation.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think you’d have had the strength needed to stay on the path to Oregon? Or would you have stopped or veered off course long before? I’m giving away an ebook copy of Beau’s Elegant Bride to three (3) lucky commenters.

The Sweepstakes Rules posted on P&P apply.

About Marisa…………

A retired high school English teacher, she and her husband reside in Saginaw, Michigan. Her sweet historical romances focus on her home state of Wisconsin. Inspiration to write came in part from hearing family stories about her pioneering Wisconsin ancestors.

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36 thoughts on “Where Did the Settlers Go?”

  1. I do not think that I would have continued to Oregon. I think after a while, I would give up. Thank you for the opportunity. God bless you.

  2. I am persistent and usually finish what I start, so I night have stuck it out. Growing up in that time period, I would have been more used to the discomforts and some of the hardships, especially coming from the Appalachian Mountains..

  3. I know I would of tried going west and trying a new life. It would be hard, but I think I’m adventurous enough to try.

  4. Definitely! I’ve always thought I should have been a pioneer on the Oregon Trail. Growing up in an immigrant family, hardships were common. Though we had food, necessities, a roof over our heads, there wasn’t much left over for extras. I possess a very determined (my husband says ‘stubborn’) so I would have pushed on to prove to myself and others that I could do it. Great blog, Marissa!

  5. Good morning! Loved your blog. First and foremost, I’m sure my decision would be based on exactly how had the trip had been up to the moment of making the decision to climb those mountains. Secondly, it would depend on the amount of time I had to cross before winter was due to set in & I’d then take that & try to figure how how hard the trip had been so far versus the time & the condition of who was traveling with me to decide if we could make it across in time. Lastly, I would consider what stories I had heard & if I found them to be factual or merely rumors to make my final decision. Of course, being a woman in the time period I’m guessing the decision wouldn’t have been mine or at least not solely. I’m adventurous but I know that the trip so far had to have been grueling so I’m thinking I would have been easily inclined to go south. Being a woman that loves to cook I could have easily help my family earn extra money by cooking for miners or any number of single men that had moved west and I love Colorado. I have to keep in mind that unlike now, that we most likely or any of the others in our wagon train had any true idea what California or anywhere else South was truly like. Flip a coin, take a vote….

    I’d love the opportunity to read your book. A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list. Thanks for getting my mind working this morning. Sorry this was so long! ??

  6. Yes in my younger days I would have finished what I started, right now no I would not have made it. Your book sounds really good and I would love to read it.

  7. I’m pretty stubborn. I’d my little family remained healthy, I would have kept pushing through to the end.

  8. Good morning. What a wonderful post. And a great question. I am not one to shy from hard work, improvisation and perseverance. God is my guide and strength. I would definitely go on one of those trains. My relatives on my mom’s side got land grants (some signed personally from the President of the United States) in Ohio and Iowa. they lived in the same house or same area for generations. When moms grandparents died in Ohio, that was the end of that line where they lived and of the family name. She had five girls. But I could see how great grandma and great grandpas work ethics even then. And what they made by hand (that is where my love of quilting started) and the animals.

  9. Good morning Marisa! Yes … I would have persevered right alongside my husband. Just to dream of a new beginning is inspirational. Yes, hardship would be very difficult. But I would want to succeed at a new life.

  10. I probably would have stopped close to the mountains by a shady stream. Growing a huge garden to feed hungry people appeals to me.

  11. I think we would have gone for it if we were young and healthy!?, it would have been The Great Adventure!! In our old age, we would sit in our rockers on the front porch, overlooking the beautiful Rockies, and tell our grandchildren and great grandchildren all about our trip through the Wild West!!

  12. I don’t think I could have done it. The thought of all they went through makes me cringe. The pioneer women were made of much sterner stock than I am.

  13. I truly admire the early pioneers who traversed the country to get out west, but I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go through all that. I always joke whenever we drive over the Mississippi River that if I’d been in a wagon I would have gotten to the river, looked at it and said “this looks like a good spot to saty” just to avoid crossing it with a wagon and livestock. Thanks for sharing, and for the chance to win!

  14. Wow, what a trip. I think I would have kept on going also, especially if I didn’t have a choice and if it was for the better for my family and I. Thank you for sharing about this. Have a Great weekend and stay safe.

  15. In my youth, I would likely had been able to make the trip all the way to Oregon or California. Now, I doubt I would leave an established home. I think if I had been heading West and found a place I really liked along the way, I would have stopped to settle and established a home and living. Knowing how very different life was then and is now, even in my 70’s I might have moved with my family just to make life better for them.

    Thanks for an interesting post. Stay safe and healthy. Congratulations to your winners.

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