I just read a story by a woman who journeyed from Iowa to Tennessee in a covered wagon. The woman was my mother-in-law’s grandmother. Keeping a journal seemed to be her way to stave off the monotony of travel. She recorded changes in landscape, climate, building materials and architecture as they traveled. She was particularly taken by the churches in the different towns along the way.
They camped along the side of the road or in open fields as they went. On at least one occasion, they slept in a cemetery. Out of the six weeks or so they were on the road, they slept under a roof one night. They paid 25 cents for seven loaves of bread. Feeding the horses proved more challenging than feeding themselves.
The sad part of this story is that parts are missing. Someone found the journal back in 1984 and transcribed what could still be read. She or he preserved the original dialect and spelling, which definitely adds to the flavor of the story. However, there were torn pages and pages that were completely missing and some of the pencil had faded away. In particular, both the beginning and the end of the story are unknown.
I asked my 90 year old mother-in-law and she remembers hearing the story. She said she thought her grandmother actually died during the journey, which would explain why the end is missing. However, after some research, I found that her grandmother died in Tennessee, four years after they would have arrived.
Eventually the family ended up back in Iowa where my mother-in-law was born. Unfortunately, no one kept a journal of that so that part of the story is gone forever.