A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE LIFE OF ISAAC CONSTANT
As told in part by his daughter Lavinia Jane (Constant) Robinson to her son Thomas Maury Robinson
contributed by Kevin R. Biersdorff
Mr. Constant was born on April 11, 1809 in he state of Kentucky and on February 4, 1833 married Lucinda Merriman, born February 12, 1813, also in the state of Kentucky. Shortly after his marriage he purchased a farm in Sangamon County, Illinois (near Springfield) and moved there. On this farm all his children were born.
He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and enlisted as a soldier in Lincoln's company during the Indian wars in that section of the state.
"Father was prosperous while residing in Illinois; but on account of poor health he was advised to leave his farm for a time and take a trip 'Over the Plains.' "So he and two young men friends started on the trip west, taking the Oregon Trail. This was sometime in the year 1849 and without much difficulty they arrived at their destination in what was then known as the Oregon Territory, now defined as southern Oregon.
"Father returned after being away for about two years and was accompanied by two of the young men. I had been on a visit to Springfield, the home of a cousin of mine, and while on my way home, someone told me that my Father had returned. He was standing on the lawn and I thought to myself, 'why that looks like Father, but he seems too young!' But it was my dear Father.
"Our home and surroundings were beautifully situated, a blue-grass lawn almost surrounded the house. Many large trees and flowering shrubs and flowers made a charming picture. "Father wanted to sell his farm and move with his family to southern Oregon, but mother said 'you wait a year and if your health begins to fail, we will go and never say a word.'
Isaac Constant sold his farm and made ready for the long trip west. "On March 2, 1852, we left Springfield taking the train to St. Louis, remaining there two or three days, visiting with my Aunt Jones. I was then eighteen years old, my brother, Tom, was fifteen, sisters Julia and Margery were little girls, and Alice a baby. Sister Elizabeth was a beautiful girl, about sixteen and proved a wonderful helper along the way. While visiting Aunt Jones, she had my picture taken. (This photograph of mother - Lavinia Constant - has been enlarged and is in the keeping of her son, Maury Robinson).
"We were to take the boat from St. Louis to Independence, but when we arrived at the wharf, we learned that the boat was over-crowded and so had to wait for another boat, and it was fortunate for us that we did as the one we intended to take was blown up, killing and wounding many of its passengers. It was reported that this and another boat were in a heated race, and that the Captain had stated 'I will pass that boat or blow this one to hell'.
Isaac Constant's outfit was well planned, consisting of five large covered wagons, built strongly and also when encountering high water in the rivers, the wagon beds were constructed so that if necessary could be raised two feet or more. The wagon beds were also made water tight. Horses and mules were taken to pull the wagons, and as a precaution he took along well broken oxen to the yoke. For the convenience of his immediate family he had ordered made a four-seated "hack" to be drawn by four mules.
"Mother says there were two large perfectly matched mules at the wheel and two white mules to lead. The wagons, mules, horses, oxen and cows were shipped out ahead of us by water from St. Louis.
"Uncle William Merriman, mother's brother decided to make the trip with us. His wife was very sick when we started. They had two small children, a boy and a girl.
"The early days of April, 1852, everything was in readiness for the start. There were many other families with their wagons who desired to join the 'Isaac Constant Train', making a setup of some 25 wagons. Permission was granted and Isaac Constant was elected Captain and so continued until the journey's end.
Sunday was always to be considered a day of rest for families and livestock. "The 'Indian Country', so called by many, was said to commence about eight miles southwest from Independence, where in early days was established the "Methodist Shawnee Mission".
It was here that many Indians were taught farming, some becoming quite expert in that line of work. This Mission was the first stopping place of the wagon train, taken in order to arrange the wagons into a better workable position.
"Uncle William's wife, as stated, was very sick when we left Independence. She died at our first stop and it was necessary to send back to Independence for a casket. On the night she died a few Indians came into our camp, perhaps to investigate, and ascertain our strength. I remember that I was very much frightened on seeing them.
Continuing our journey - some 41 miles north-westerly from Independence the train reached the junction of the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails and another trail running northerly to Fort Leavenworth, a government military fort. Here it is said was the real beginning of what is known as the "Oregon Trail."
Continuing - the train proceeded northwesterly, crossing several small streams without difficulty. Good feed was found for the stock most of the while paralleling the Kansas River. Two trails, the upper and lower, followed the meanderings of the river. Captain Constant took the lower trail as it was reported to be the safer of the two, where it crossed the Kansas. The water of the river seemed to be quite high, yet but little trouble was experienced from crossing over to the North from the South bank. This crossing of the Kansas is near the present site of Uniontown, and distant about eighty miles from Independence. The train was soon passing through the territory of the Kaw Indians, known to be a lazy lot as well as a bunch of sneak thieves, but we had no trouble with them.
Rain and snow storms were frequent, and some of the emigrants found that it was hard to keep things dry on account of improper coverings on their wagons, and flimsy material used in making their tents.
Mother said, "I don't remember how long we had been on the trail when a young man was taken down with cholera. We could hear him screaming with pain. Father took him in charge, doctored him, and soon he was fully recovered. We passed many people who had turned off the trail, administering to their sick and burying their dead, resulting from the ravages of cholera."
"Our train had increased in size to such an extent that Father deemed it necessary to divide it, forming two trains. Father named the Captain of the new train and it soon started out ahead of ours. The haste they made in getting underway, one would suppose that the new Captain thought we were traveling too slow. In about two days we overtook them, learning that they were forced to stop and rest their stock. Father cautioned them, telling them to go slower, or their stock would be worn out before reaching their destination.
"Our train overtook the new train several times and some of my girl friends would visit me, but Mother would not allow me to visit in any other tent other than our own. Doctor Henry of Springfield was with the other train. The young man who had been sick with the cholera was his nephew. One day he said to my Father, 'Captain, you gave me the same kind of medicine you took, and see, now I am well.'
"We stopped one day each week to wash clothes, iron and bake. Mother was not well, so it was my lot to assume and do these tasks. I made it a rule to prepare dough in advance for baking, and consequently we had hot rolls for breakfast. We also had a special milk can in which milk was kept for churning, but found it was not necessary to churn, owing to the swinging and jolting of the wagon and in the evening would be found a large ball of fresh butter, and a good supply of delicious buttermilk.
"Father, before leaving Springfield, purchased a fine new, large cooking stove to be used on the trail and for our home to be made in southern Oregon. We also had a large dining tent, room enough to accommodate the family. One wagon was used entirely for carrying necessary food supplies; the tent, kitchen utensils, tables and chairs, and at the rear end of the wagon the cooking stove so arranged that it could be lowered to the ground without lifting."
The wagon train traveled westerly along the north bank of the Kansas River to St. Mary's Mission, and continuing, crossed the Little Red River, about 119 miles west from Independence. Here was found a good supply of timber and quite a quantity was cut and packed away for future use. Along this section of the trail many severe rainstorms were encountered which somewhat retarded the advance of the train.
"Father had a man to drive the four mules of our 'hack'. A very heavy rainstorm was encountered, and the mules becoming frightened, started to run away. Some of the men ran out and seized the bridles and held them until they were over their fright.
Continuing - 'Soon the train reached the crossing of the Big Blue River, near the site of the present town of 'Marysville', about 170 miles from Independence. Here a rest was taken in order to again rearrange the train and give the travellers time to relax and rest, and the stock to feed and regain lost strength. This was certainly a most beautiful place to pitch our tents for a few days.
The grass had a blue tinge, and so the early emigrants gave the place the name of 'Blue Prairies.' "Crossing the Big Blue River, the train continued on until it came to the Little Blue River. This country was the favorite hunting grounds of the Pawnee Indians, said to be a rough and daring tribe.
The Indians here gave the train no trouble, possibly, for the reason that it was well picketed with armed guards, ready for any emergency.
"Leaving the Little Blue, the train slowly meandered its way north and west until it come to the Platte River, some 316 miles westerly from Independence, at or near 'Fort Kearney', established as a U. S. Military Post in 1848.
"The Platte River, some writers say, 'is the most magnificent river and the most useless of rivers, During the dry season it is a small and sandy stream, while during the wet season and after heavy rains or melting snows in the mountains it is a big and roaring muddy stream, abounding in treacherous quicksands and a very difficult river to cross, and no time should be lost in taking the emigrant wagons across.'
'The train arrived at the Platte River a few miles below the head of 'Grand Island.' DeSmet gives another picture of the Platte River, a more pleasing picture than the one just quoted, 'Abstracting from its defects, nothing could be more pleasing. . . its islands. . . have the appearance of a labyrinth of groves floating on its waters.
Their extraordinary position gives an air of youth and beauty of the whole scene. If to this be added the undulations of the river, the waving of the verdue, the alternations of light and shade, the succession of these islands varying in form and beauty, and the purity of the atmosphere, some idea may be formed of the pleasing sensations which the traveler experiences on the beholding a scene that seems to have started into existence fresh from the hands of the creator.'
"There was but little timber between the Little Blue and the Platte Rivers, excepting Cottonwood trees and Willows, but Grand and the other islands in the Platte were will wooded.
"Captain Constant's train arrived at the Platte River early in the afternoon and camped; and everything was made ready to begin the crossing of the river early the next morning. The river was deemed low enough to make safe fording. As previously stated, Captain Constant's wagons had been specially built for fording streams containing high water, as the beds of the wagons could be raised some two feet in order to protect their contents from becoming wet and damaged. A wise idea it proved to be for the crossing of the Platte, not so much on account of high water, but from quicksands which were at all times shifting, forming and re-forming shoals, alternating with deep water which had to be taken into account while fording.
"Captain Isaac Constant, as he had planned, was ready in the early morning to move his wagon train through the waters of the Platte to the far shore or bank. All stock not to be used were driven across before the wagons were taken over, resulting in the loss of only one animal. To the first wagon to make the venture, twelve oxen were yoked, and eight more taken over to Grand Island, yoked to a long cable or rope securely fastened to the tongue of the wagon to be first taken across. The command was given to start, and into the river drawn by the twelve oxen, assisted by the oxen on the island yoked to the long cable. Each section did nobly and not a moment was lost during the time the wagon was on its way through the water and over the quicksands to Grand Island, its midstream destination. All the wagons of the train underwent the same procedure and were safely moved over. The same method was followed in conveying all wagons of the train to the island and from the island to the opposite bank of the river. This was a two days hard and wet work, successfully accomplished, and after a few days rest the train moved west on its way to Oregon.
"The Captain of most every train, as well as the emigrants, learned that the personnel of the train must be protected from Indian and outlaw raids, as well as safeguarding the horses, oxen and extra livestock. Most every night, particularly while traveling though infested country, this kind of a corral would be formed. The wagons would be formed into a circle, the front of one interlocked with the next and securely fastened together with chains, until the circle of wagons was complete. Safely within this circle the men, women and children felt that they were reasonably protected from molestation from Indians or outlaws. After feeding time the livestock would be driven to a safe haven within the enclosure, and sufficient guards were posted as an additional protection.
The train was now entering the 'Buffalo Country' and there was no trouble in keeping all well supplied with fresh wild meat. On account of the scarcity of fire wood, it was found necessary to gather large quantities of 'buffalo chips' to be used in the place of wood, and many substantial meals were cooked over these burning chips, and were also a means of driving away swarms of annoying mosquitoes.
"On leaving the Platte River, the train began a gradual climb to higher altitudes, and a dryer and more desolate country was for awhile to be traveled. The train continued along the trail and many changing scenes appeared. [They left] behind the rolling plains, and the rivers abounding in quicksands, where the buffalo lived at one time by the millions, later reduced in numbers to only thousands by ruthless slaughter, not for food but for their hides. Now in the railroad days, the wild life of the plains as seen by the emigrants of the wagon train days is a thing of the past. Gradually these great plains of the middle west have become the homes of many people.
Like the early pioneers who settled farther east, built their homes of logs or adobe, and their habits and modes of living were simple and frugal. Personal wants were very few; all are workers, and the boys and girls as soon as the acquired muscular power were taught to apply it to some useful purpose. Everyone was required to work and to make the most of life and none were allowed to waste it in idleness. All this can be said of the courageous wagon-train emigrants who wended their way to the far west to establish for themselves and loved ones, new homes in which to begin life anew.
When Chimney Rock came into view, it was a wonderful sight to behold by the people traveling 'over the plains'. Its massive foundation and its tall chimney formation was before their eyes, and many wanted to pat a visit and carve their names in this great stone monument, perhaps, to give notice to others following along the trail, that friends had safely arrived here before and that all was well.
"Before reaching Chimney Rock, traveling along the trail, our hack leading, our attention was called to a little dead calf lying in the road, our mules became frightened and dashed off the trail, running at great speed toward a deep gulch. Our regular driver was holding the lines, but Father, who happened to be in the seat with the driver, took the lines from him and in his gentle way, talked to the mules, quieted them just a short distance from the hazardous pitch. Some of the men left their wagons to help and in the excitement one of the wagons was overturned, and a woman, a very dear friend, was seriously injured."
Some few miles to the east of Chimney Rock, the 'California Ford Trail' again joins the old original trail, and another day's travel brought the train to 'Scotts Bluff'. Continuing, the train halted at the south of 'Horn Creek' some 630 miles westerly from Independence. Scotts Bluff was the place where an Indian Council was held in 1851, and a treaty of peace was signed by the U.S. government and the warring Indians, so no trouble was expected along this section of the trail and none was encountered.
The women of the train seemed to enjoy the journey and its excitements and did their share of the work most nobly, even during the rainy days which were very depressing, their work was difficult and disappointing. Often they were forced to dispense with cooking their meals as water was everywhere.
Mother says, "Father prepared for every known emergency. We had not only the big dining tent in which to partake of our meals, to shelter us from the storms, and during the severe rain storms we had a large cover tent to hag over our stove to protect the cooking, by lowering the side and end strips not only from the rain but from the dust storms which at times whirled in clouds everywhere. As I told you (Granddaughter Ethel Robinson) Ethel, mother was not well and it was my work to do all the family cooking, washing and ironing, and noticed that many families of the train were not properly equipped for this kind of work, consequently they did but little cooking or washing on rainy or dusty days. After washing, drying and ironing the family clothes, I know that I had done a good job and was happy. Some of the families just washed their clothes but never ironed them and, of course, I enjoyed to see our folks wearing nicely ironed clothes.
"Before reaching Fort Laramie we crossed the Laramie River, quite a large stream, considering that the train was high in the Rocky Mountains and as far as we could judge near the source of the river."
At the Fort, the Oregon and Mormon Trail unite. After a two day's rest at Fort Laramie, the train came to a halt at 'Big Springs', and another day of rest was taken. The journey up to this point had consumed about fifty-five days, at least that was the report, which all considered to be very good time, as frequent snow and rain storms had retarded our journey to some extent. So far no real Indian trouble was experienced, just a scare or two, making it necessary to quickly form the wagons into a circle and station out the guards.
The camping ground at Big Springs was delightful, an abundance of pure, fresh water and meadows of rich green grass. The supply of wood was good, and the weather perfect. After viewing these splendid surroundings, Captain Constant ordered the train to stop and rest for a few days so that the weary travelers could be relieved of the strain of mind and body consequent to the long and fatiguing journey. The livestock too would have an opportunity to recuperate.
From Big Springs on, the trail was going to be more severe and more difficult, the hills becoming much steeper and covered with rocks and boulders. Leaving the springs and crossing Horseshoe Creek the train arrived at the North Platte River Canyon, after having taken a short cut and again reaching the main trail, crossing LaBonte Creek and several small streams the train came to a halt at Deer Creek, 760 miles westerly from Independence. The Deer Creek country was found to be well watered and wooded, and [there was] a good growth of grass for the stock.
The train arrived at and crossed Muddy Creek, a few miles above where the present city of Caspar, Wyoming is now situated, and is about 790 miles westerly from Independence. In due time the train arrived at the crossing of the North Platte River, crossing from the south to the north bank. The river was not at flood waters and no trouble was had in negotiating the crossing. The train followed the course of the North Platte River in a southerly direction, passing the Red Buttes, often mentioned by travelers who have passed that way before . . . these two Buttes, quite high and on the left of the trail. Here the train finds the river flowing though a deep canyon, called the 'Firy Narrows', and it was at these narrows where J. C. Fremont was wrecked in 1842. Since then the trail had been greatly improved, consequently the train had but little trouble in passing though the narrows. On reaching Willow Springs Creek another day's rest was enjoyed. This certainly was as delightful place, good pure water, rich green grass and an abundance of Willow wood for fuel.
Continuing - the train now seems to almost encircle 'Independence Rock'. This rock is said to be one of 'the most solitary pile of gray granite, standing in an open plain, one-eighth a mile long, six or eight rods wide and sixty or seventy fee above the plain, with the beautiful Sweetwater River running along the south side, leaving a strip of grassy plain for a roadway.' Independence Rock was sometimes called the 'Great Register', for the reason that so many of the travelers took time off to cut their initials or names on its granite surface. This general practice was followed by many of the men and women on this train. Captain Constant halted his train for a week at Independence Rock on the banks of the Sweetwater. It was a large granite rock, white, solid and smooth. Father cut his name there and so did many others of our train. I went up some steps to its top, probably these steps were natural, or cut or hewn out by some people who had camped there before. To me it looked as if there had been a house built on top of the rock and that portions of a cellar wall had fallen into an excavation. Camping on the Sweetwater was perfectly delightful and a charming place for rest and quiet. By the train's log, Independence Rock was 838 miles westerly from the town of Independence.
Continuing - the train leaves this beautiful sweetwater camping spot and winds its way up ;the river to where begins the eastern approach to the 'South Pass', passing the well known 'Soda Lakes'. The South Pass has no perceptible grade, seeming like a broad valley some twenty miles wide, and so gradual was the slope of the pass that the ascent on the eastern side and the descent on the western side that it was almost impossible to determine just when the summit of the pass was reached.
Continuing - the train is now traveling along the old 'Oregon Trail' to the Big Sancy River, then along its north bank, down its course to a few miles above where the Big Sancy flows into the 'Green River', and then continuing along the trail, in a southerly direction the train comes to a rest at the crossing of Green River, a distance of about 1,014 miles westerly from Independence.
The Green River at this season is a beautiful clear running stream, and now recognized as the main branch of the Colorado River. It was this river that for untold ages used its mighty powers to carve one of the scenic wonders of the world, the 'Grand Canyon of the Colorado', and then comes into life the massive 'Hoover Dam', the achievements of man's power, which in time will back the waters of this river, forming a lake extending up the canyon for a distance of 115 miles, and in time will be the largest artificial lake in the world. These wonders, both natural and artificial were unknown to the wanderers following along the Oregon Trail, yet many of these early emigrants have had the opportunity to visit and view the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
The Green River was found to be fordable if proper care was taken. The wagon beds were raised as heretofore when encountering high water. The train was conducted to the far shore without any difficulty.
Continuing - along the trial southwesterly, soon pulled up at old 'Fort Bridger', established in 1843, about 1070 miles westerly from Independence.
Continuing - the train slowly winds its way over the 'Bear River Divide', descending Bridger Creek to the Bear River and then on to 'Soda Springs'. The following is what Mr. Bidwell wrote of these springs and their beautiful surroundings. " It is a bright and lovely place. The abundance of soda water, including the intermittent gurgling, so called Steamboat Springs, the beautiful and cedar covered hills - all these, together with the river (Bear) lent a charm to its beauty and made the spot a notable one."
The train was camped here for several days, and the delightful days spent at Soda Springs were long to be remembered by all. Again the train was in motion and on its way to Fort Hall, well known to all who had traveled the trail. Fort Hall is located on the banks of the celebrated Snake River and was erected by one Nathaniel J. Wyeth in 1834, while on his way to Oregon with two missionaries.
Fort Hall was the place where all trains stopped for rest, reorganization, refitting and rerouting. Those of the emigrants who desired to continue along the old Oregon Trail toward Fort Boise and the Columbia River would elect their officers and make up their train, Those bound for California and southern Oregon would do likewise. Both the Oregon and California trains would travel together through the Humboldt Country before parting for their different destinations. Those bound for Oregon by way of Fort Boise and the Columbia River would turn northerly from Raft River. Fort Hall by the train is 1288 miles from Independence.
Continuing - after a few days spent at the Fort, the train took to the trail once more, following the south bank of the Snake River to where the Raft River flows into the Snake. While travelling along the Snake many Indians were encountered. They were friendly and visited the train, bringing fresh and smoked salmon to sell or trade with the emigrants. The Indians did good business, everyone appreciated their friendship as well as the eating of good fresh salmon, this being the first salmon most of travelers had ever seen.
At this point, the junction of the Raft and Snake Rivers, all emigrants bound for Oregon via Fort Boise and the Columbia River would take the trail leading north keeping to the Oregon Trail. Those bound for California and southern Oregon would turn southerly and follow the California Trail. Consequently, the train was divided, good-byes said and each division started on its way.
Isaac Constant continued as Captain of the train traveling westerly along the California Trail, crossing the northeast corner of what is now Elko County, Nevada, and joining the old California Trail from Utah, at or near the present town of Wells, Nevada, and the source of the Humboldt River. Wells is about 1410 miles westerly from Independence.
Captain Constant was more than pleased with his progress "OVER THE PLAINS" up to this point and expressed his sincere hope for continuing success. No serious accident happened to any of his fellow travelers. Only one death, bringing sorrow to his immediate family, that of his wife's brother, William Merriman. The health of his wife, having shown wonderful improvement, and the health of his children was the best.
It was certainly pleasing news to the emigrants when Captain Constant informed them that the next few hundred miles would take the train through the Humboldt Springs country, a country with a thousand springs, furnishing an abundance of good water, and that the meadows along the Humboldt River would supply a harvest of wild timothy grass, and that the livestock would be in fine shape when the time comes to bid farewell to the country and river at the next turning point to the north.
Continuing - the train pulled out from Wells and proceeded on its way down the Humboldt. The trip down the Valley of the Humboldt was enjoyed by all, and that every prediction made by the Captain was fully confirmed.
Mother says, "I don't remember ever seeing such wonderfully green meadows. The wild timothy was waist deep, and the water from the many springs was pure, cool and invigorating. Hot springs too were encountered at many different places, the weather warm, and bathing in the river was pleasant and enjoyable. The Indians seemed to be quite friendly and appreciated many little gifts handed to them."
Before leaving the valley at Humboldt Lake, all water casks and every receptacle that would gold water were filled so that the coming desert could be negotiated without much loss of livestock. The desert was said to be a barren waste and waterless.
Continuing - leaving the lake, the train turned northerly approaching the desert, all wondering what the outcome would be. The train is about 1840 miles westerly from Independence. "We entered the desert in the evening, just after we had passed through a plum thicket, and the trees were loaded with delicious red, ripe plums. The trees looked as though they had been planted and possibly they were by the Hudson Bay Company. We took time out to gather several baskets of this delicious fruit.
"While camped at the lake we found many gooseberry bushes with ripe berries and, of course, the young folks rushed in to pick what they could, picking and eating seemed to be the rule, and we were surprised to see an Indian boy emerging from the thicket. We all hurried back to the wagons for protection, for as a rule when you see an Indian dog, the Indian is not far away. My brother, Tom, had eaten so many of the berries he was taken very sick and in a day or two was about well. Mother would not let us see him until he had fully recovered.
"We finally entered the desert, sagebrush and sand was all one could see, and the whirling sand almost blinded the emigrants. We passed many skeletons of animals, toll of the desert. We come to a deserted carriage just off the trail, and Father exclaimed, 'why that looks like Mr. Riddle's carriage', and sure enough it was; for Father, on examination, found his name on it. Father said the family must have lost their mules and had to abandon the wagon. He knew Mr. Riddle had left to cross the plains, but did not know he had come this way.
Continuing - "The train succeeded in navigating the desert with no loss of livestock nor any of the equipment, and but very little sickness. The train was now approaching 'Goose Lake' country and grass becoming more plentiful and the water contained less alkali. Everyone seemed to be in better spirits as they drew nearer and nearer to the end of the long journey.
"Our first camp site was Goose Lake. Father, in making his usual survey of the camp grounds noticed that wild parsnips were growing where the stock was to feed and instructed his men to pull them up and burn them as wild parsnips are poisonous when eaten. Uncle William kept the milk of one cow for the baby. This cow must have eaten some of the wild parsnips, for the baby became sick with convulsions and only lived a few hours. The baby's mother, as I told you, died soon after leaving Independence.
"In crossing the desert the train had to travel during the day and most of the night, and did not reach the lake until midnight of the third day. Making camp was so late that the guards went to Father and said, 'Captain, can't we lie down and get some sleep?' Father thought for a minute and answered, 'Well, I guess you can as you deserve a good rest, but see that the wagons are formed into the circle and that the mules and horses are securely fastened within the circle'. This was done, and everyone being so tired they must have slept soundly, for in the morning there was there was not a mule or horse to be found, as all had been stolen and driven away.
"Breakfast was hurriedly prepared and eaten, and most of the men left the camp to try and locate the stolen animals if possible. The old men and boys were left to guard to camp. The searchers came to a high and rocky portion of the mountain and could see the animals being led to the top. They also found where the thieves had camped, that one of the mules had been killed - one of the blue mules - and one quarter was on the fire roasting, and the rest hanging in a tree close by. Everything else had been thrown on the fire, including the baskets of ripe plums we had gathered. The thieves, probably Indians, kept urging the animals up the steep mountainside, so steep that the animals seemed to be standing almost straight up. The men were crazy to go after them, but Father said, 'Not one of you shall go, for I would rather lose them all than one of you brave men.' Returning on their way to the camp they located the two white mules and Father's riding pony wandering back toward camp. Supper was ready when the men returned and it was then that this story was told.
"Just outside, and very near the camp, after the men left for the chase, we girls located several cherry trees and gathered what fruit we could. My share of the cherries I made into pies, baked hot rolls and in fact cooked other good things to eat for the tired and hungry men.
"When we camped that night we failed to see another train camped but a short distance from ours, They had five wagons. Father asked them if they had any horses for sale. They said, 'no', but that a large train had passed them that day and if you can overtake them, you may be able to purchase a few horsed or mules. Father mounted his pony and soon overtook the train and succeeded in buying two horses, which he used for the wheel of the hack, putting the two white mules in the lead.
"The next morning we continued our journey and as usual Father went ahead scouting, and soon came to a fork in the road, one the old emigrant road, and the other a new road which skirted the lake on its far side. Father followed the old road and had followed it for quite a distance when some voice seemed to say to him, 'turn back'. He could see no one and continued on, and again the voice seemed to say 'turn back'. Once more he halted and listened and could see or hear no one. For the third time he started on his way, and again the warning 'turn back'. He paused, looked and listened - nobody. 'Well,' he said, 'this third warning 'turn back' does the trick and I will go back. He returned to where the roads forked, posted a sigh for the train to take the new road. When the wagons reached the forks of the road, one of the men came to mother and said, 'Mrs, Constant, it is too early to camp and what does the Captain mean by taking this new road?' Mother replied, 'Obey your Captain'. 'Of course we are going to obey him, we believed this to be only a camp road'.
"Father followed the new road until he located a good place to camp and it was not long before a company of soldiers arrived at the place he had selected for the train to camp. The officer in charge told Father, 'We are out on the road to protect the emigrants'. Father then related to him the mysterious warning he had received. The officer said, 'It was a warning, and you did well in following it, for the train ahead of you train was ambushed by the Indians while camped for the night in a little prairie, many of the emigrants were killed - but few escaping!' Father always claimed 'That it certainly was a warning from on high'.
"The officer gave Father instructions as to the best and safest way to travel to reach southern Oregon. He said that he had heard of our train from trains ahead and had been sent out to protect us. I felt at the time and ever since, that the Lord had been with us all the way as ours was a good Christian train.
"The train continued on its way from Goose Lake, crossing the mountains to the headwaters of the Pitt River, climbed the reaches of the Cascade Mountains, up and over the pass of the Siskiyou Mountains, and down the mountain to Rogue River Valley, and then on ;to Jacksonville, Oregon, about 2210 miles by the log of the train from Independence.
"Thus ended the trip 'Over the Plains' of the Isaac Constant wagon train, starting from Independence on the Missouri River early in April, 1852 and arriving at its destination in September of the same year, having partaken of its many joys as well as hardships during the months of traveling along the many miles of the trail to the Rogue River Valley, southern Oregon, all to begin life anew in a beautiful pioneer land.
"On arriving at Jacksonville, Oregon, we pitched our tents. Father purchased a fine ranch at and adjoining what is now called Central Point. Bear Creek intersects the farm from north to south. On the ranch was a small log cabin, but not large enough for our family, so a larger one was built for accommodation. Also a barn and several other log houses essential for the use of a good rancher.
"After these improvements were finished we moved to the ranch to begin life anew in the 'Great West'. During the spring months Father planted a fine garden of potatoes and other vegetables, some forty acres of wheat and half that acreage in oats.
"The following winter was very severe, cold and with deep snow in the mountains, driving starving Indians down into the Rogue River Valley, and along Bear Creek the Indians set up their wigwams. Father saw that they were starving so visited their camp and took the Indian Chief to the potato patch and pointed out to him where he could dig all the potatoes he needed as he desired to save their lives. The Chief was very grateful, and later when the Rogue River Indians went on the war path, young white men came out from Jacksonville and picketed our house. The Chief came to Father and told him not to go away, 'As I have Indian guards out to protect you from them'. The Indians had murdered many people along the river and in the valley. Families had been gathered together for protection and we were urged to go, and Father said 'Take the family, but I shall stay at the ranch'. One of the Indian guards came to Father and asked him why he sent the family away, and he replied the people wanted them to go.
(Mother told of many outrages perpetrated by the Indians, but I will not quote these stories in this review).
"Before peace was declared, it was necessary to select a few young men who would cross the Rogue River to hold council with the Indian Chiefs. The men selected would not go, and so Father went alone to the meeting and held council with them, which finally led to a peace agreement. The Indians said, 'Your young men are cowards'. Father said they were not cowards and 'The reason of my coming to the meeting was, that I had faith in the promise of your Chief, your old Chief, given to me when his Indians were starving for lack of food which I cheerfully furnished him.'
"Isaac Constant and family continued to live in the log cabin until he built a large and commodious frame house south of but not far from the old home. The new residence faced the county road leading through the valley from north to south. It contained five bedrooms, parlor, living room and kitchen, a large pantry and several closets. It had a large front and rear porch, and underneath the house was built a large stone-walled. The rear porch during hot weather was used as a dining room. "He also caused to be built a large and commodious barn, a smoke house and granary. This splendid home and farm was his home, his place of abode until the angels called him to his heavenly home, to live forever in the land beyond the grave. Isaac Constant died January 31, 1890 at the age of 80 years, 9 months and 16 days. Lucinda M. Constant, his life partner, soon joined her loving husband, waiting for her in that promised mansion, forever in the Heavens. Lucinda died March 7, 1890, at the age of 77 years, 26 days. They were two of the best people in the world, always kind, generous, considerate and lovable. Their goodness was transmitted to their children, a worthy and splendid inheritance... The End
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