WILLIAM PORTER'S 1848 TRAIL DIARY

The original diary is in the possession of Kenneth Porter, great grandson of William Porter. It is a small (4" x 6") book with a leather cover. Although slightly discolored with age, the writing is very legible. There are forty-four pages.

Copies of the diary were graciously donated by William Porter at mebilo@uswest.net, who verified the copies of diary against the original.

The Porter party started from Detroit, (Pike County) Illinois. After crossing the Mississippi River at Louisiana, Missouri they headed west by northwest to St. Joseph, Missouri.

Apr 7th. Stayed at Mr. Stanley's 8 miles west of Pittsfield and Holmes paid the bill of two dollars and fifty cents.

8th. Arrived at the river opposite Louisiana. Crossed four wagons and teams. William Porter paid $7.85 for his and Blackerby's teams and Stephen and Holmes' horses vis. three dollars for Blackerby and 25 cents for Stephen and Holmes 12 1/2 for each.

9th. After crossing the river we traveled 12 miles and camped at old John McCune's, and on the following morning Stephen Porter paid the bill of $3.25.

10th. Traveled over very rough road and at noon Holmes, Stephen and myself bought three bushels of oats at one shilling per bushel. William Porter paid the bill for the oats. Traveled 17 miles and stopped at Mr. Ely's.

11th. Holmes paid $1.50 for hay and house room and William Porter paid 12 1/2 cents for horses. Traveled 20 miles and passed Florida one mile.

12th. Blackerby paid $1.90 for hay and I paid 6 1/4 cents for Holmes. We traveled 18 miles.

13th. William Porter paid $3.15 for oats and 15 cents for horses. Traveled 15 miles passing through Madison and Milton, the former in Monroe and the latter in Randolph County.

14th. William Porter paid the bill of $1.80 for the company. Traveled 15 miles and camped in a prairie.

15th. Each man paid his own bill, except William Porter paid 75 cents for oats for his own team, Stephens and 1/2 of Blackerby's. Traveled 20 miles and camped.

16th. Each man paid his own bill-traveled 6 miles and crossed Grande River at its mouth and Stephen paid $8.00 ferriage-traveled 10 miles further, passing Dewitt and camped.

17th. William Porter paid $1.72 for hay for the company and we left the stage route and started for Far West. Traveled 22 miles.

18th. William Porter paid $2.00 for the company and ten cents for three horses-traveled 16 miles.

19th. William Porter paid $2.12 1/2 for the company and 12 1/2 for three horses. Traveled 20 miles and camped.

20th. William Porter paid $2.50 for the company-traveled about 12 miles and camped.

21st. Stephen Porter paid $2.25 for the company and 10 cents for his and my mare. Traveled 16 miles and camped.

22nd. Blackerby paid $1.50 for the company and William Porter paid 25 cents for the three horses.

23rd. Holmes paid $1.50 for the company and five cents for the three horses. Arrived at St. Joseph early in the morning. On the 23rd fed 8 oats at $1.00.

24th. Fed seven bushels of corn to oxen in the morning and ten doz. oats in the evening.

25th. Fed 7 bushels corn in the morning and ten doz. oats in the evening.

26th. Fed 8 3/4 bushels corn in the morning and 7 bushels in the evening.

27th. Moved our cattle five miles from camp.

28th. Went to town and laid in meal, etc. Samuel Tucker crossed the Missouri on the 20th of April. Holmes and Blackerby crossed on the 1st of May. Stephen and myself crossed on the 2nd of May and Hooker and Purvine crossed the 3rd and 4th of May. We all went out to Peters' Creek six miles from St. Joseph.

May 5th. Left Peters' Creek six miles from St. Joseph, and traveled 12 or 14 miles to a small creek and camped. Here is an Indian buried in a tree, good camping ground.

6th. Started with intention of going only 8 miles-we crossed a small stream about as large as Bay Creek on which are some Indians making some attempt to farm. Three miles further is what is called the agency, at which place, we arrived about noon, and not knowing the distance across the prairie we continued on till 11 o'clock in the night and then stopped without wood or water. You should leave this agency early in the morning. There is a farm at this agency which appears to be conducted poorly.

7th. Retraced 4 or 5 miles of our road for the purpose of getting to wood and water off the road to the left. Water, plenty, but wood scarce. Two of our company went back to the agency to get their wagons repaired, and we are lying by today. Start early in the morning from the mission and if you see no prospects for timber turn from the road to camp. Keep the plainest road which is very good at this time. We traveled 12 or 15 miles into the prairie today. Here are several branches to the road any of which will be right. Keep the best which lies on the dividing ridge. The roads from St. Joseph to the agency are very hilly and crooked.

7th and 8th. Lay by waiting for the return of part of our company from the agency.

9th. Traveled 15 or 16 miles and camped off the road about two miles to right.

10th. Traveled 20 miles and camped on Wolf River.

11th. Traveled 20 or 25 miles, passing many good camping places and camped on the road. It is poor land and poor camping.

12th. Traveled 12 or 14 miles and camped two miles off the road. Poor grass and water.

13th. Traveled 16 miles, and camped on a middling, large stream of water. this day Denton drove Charley's wagon against a stump, and broke the tongue, and in crossing the river, the wagon upset, and detained us some time with little other detriment. The boys caught some good fish at this place. Grass good.

14th. Traveled 15 or 16 miles and camped off the road to the right, poor grass. Saw three antelopes today.

15th. Traveled half the day through the rain, about nine miles. The grass is short and there has been but little rain this season in this region till now.

16th. Traveled 15 miles and camped off the road to the left. If you come to a rocky branch in the after part of the day, better not pass till next day. Poor grass.

17th. Traveled 20 miles and camped on a sandy creek where we had to dig for water, middling good grass.

18th. Traveled 18 miles and camped on Blue River, having crossed a barren sandy desert.

19th. Traveled 18 miles and camped on Blue, having gone up Blue all day.

20th. Traveled 15 miles and camped on Blue, having left about two miles on the 19th and six or seven on the 20th.

21st. Traveled 15 miles and stopped on the divide between Blue and Platte having left Blue about noon. We met a company from the mountains today loaded with robes. Stormed.

22nd. Traveled 22 miles five of which was up the Platte bottom, had to cross the river for wood and got poor wood then. Wood on this side where we first struck the river. Rained all night with very heavy wind. Wagon covers leaked middling badly.

23rd. Traveled seven miles and camped at eleven o'clock to dry clothes and sun our floor. Some of the corn meal injured.

24th. Traveled 15 miles today. Good grass but poor wood.

25th. Traveled 18 miles and camped in a place where Mr. Watt's company had buried a child the day before. (Note: Joseph Watt is returning to Oregon with a large flock of sheep.)

26th. Traveled 18 miles and camped. Grass very poor.

27th. Traveled 16 miles and camped. Wood and water plenty and grass good.

28th. Traveled 18 miles and camped. Wood and water middling. Saw two buffalo today.

29th. Traveled 18 miles. The road running on the side of the bluff, and camped near the forks of the river. We passed through a large dog town and saw forty or fifty buffalo. We were obliged to use buffalo chips for fuel.

30th. Traveled 16 miles up south fork and camped. Water but no wood, except the buffalo chips which are very plenty. saw plenty of buffalo today. the road is very sandy in many places.

31st. Traveled 15 miles today. Saw hundreds of buffalo and I killed one which is the first that has been killed in the company. It was a young cow and eats excellent.

June 1st. Traveled 14 miles and camped near the crossing. This has been a very cold and windy day. From St. Joseph 430.

June 2nd. Traveled three miles and crossed the South Fork without any serious accidents.

3rd. Traveled over to North Fork at Ash Hollow 20 miles.

4th. Oxen ran off and it was noon before we broke up camp, traveled eight miles, and nineteen teams ran away with their wagons-broke Mr. Ball's (note: refers to Isaac Ball) leg and crippled a number of oxen. Frightful sight.

5th. Traveled 16 miles over bad roads, passing through an Indian village of about 250 Indians. all came out for presents and to trade.

6th. Traveled 16 miles and camped within three miles of little creek opposite to Solitary tower. Passed through an Indian village and all the Indians came out to meet us. Hail storm.

7th. Traveled 18 miles and camped near chimney rock. rain and wind. Very cold.

8th. Traveled 15 miles and camped where the road leaves the river.

9th. Traveled 14 miles and camped three miles west of Scott's Spring.

10th. Traveled 12 miles and camped at Horse Creek. Good grass but no wood except drift wood on the river two miles from road.

11th. Traveled 16 miles and camped on the river. Wood plenty. Grass not so good.

12th. Traveled 12 miles to Laramie. Grass very poor. To Laramie 580.

13th. Traveled 12 miles to Big Spring. No grass.

14th. Traveled 10 miles to bitter cottonwood. Poor grass. Saw considerable elk sign today.

15th. Traveled 14 miles to Horseshoe Creek. Good camp. set two wagon tires. Jackson Purvine commenced driving Ball's team today.

16th. Traveled 16 miles to where the road leaves the river.

17th. Traveled 18 miles to Big Timber Creek.

18th. Traveled 18 miles to Meek's Head Creek. Poor grass. Some of our cattle got poisoned.

19th. Traveled 18 miles to Deer Creek.

20th. Traveled 17 miles and camped on the river. Poor camp, 756.

21st and 22nd. Lay by 8 miles below the ferry waiting for advance companies to cross the river.

23rd. Moved up to the ferry 8 miles and drove our cattle out to the front of the mountain for grass.

24,25,26 & 27. Cattle took a regular stampede every night losing more or less each time.

28th. Found cattle enough to move five miles from the ferry.

29th. Lay by for the purpose of hunting cattle.

30th. Traveled 28 miles and camped near Willow Spring.

July 1st. Samuel Tucker left one wagon, and much valuable property. Traveled fourteen miles and camped within 10 or 12 miles of Independence Rock.

2nd. Traveled 20 miles, 8 miles past Independence Rock-nooned at said rock.

July 3rd. Traveled 18 miles.

July 4th. Traveled 20 miles. Good grass.

July 5th. Traveled 24 miles.

6th. Traveled 20 miles.

7th. Traveled 9 miles and camped at the last camping on sweet water.

8th. Traveled 12 miles to Pacific Spring. We are now in Oregon.

9th. Traveled to Little Sandy 20 miles.

10th. Traveled 6 miles to Big Sandy.

11th and 12th. Traveled 40 miles to Green River and crossed.

13th. Traveled 10 miles to a creek called-Fork.

14th. Traveled 10 miles and camped on a spring branch.

15th. Traveled 20 miles and camped on a creek, Haines' Fork.

16th. Traveled 12 miles and came down the big hill.

17th. Traveled 15 miles and camped on Bear River. (Note: it was on Bear River on July 17, 1849 where William Porter's father, David, suffered a fatal stroke. He was enroute to Oregon to join his sons.)

18th. Traveled 24 miles and had a runaway scrape.

19th. Traveled 15 miles and camped at 3 o'clock.

20th. Traveled 21 miles to Soda Springs.

21st. Traveled 19 miles to running branch.

22nd. Traveled 10 miles to foot of the mountain and camped on Port Neuf (Portneuf) River 1099.

23rd. Traveled 15 miles and camped on a branch of Snake River.

24th. Traveled 15 miles to Springs on Snake River bottoms.

25th. Traveled 8 miles and camped on Port Neuf, 2 or 3 miles past Fort Hall.

26th. Traveled 16 miles to springs above American Falls.

27th. Traveled 22 miles to Falls Creek or Levy Creek.

28th. Traveled 10 miles to cassia or Cajeux Creek.

29th. Traveled 15 miles to big marsh.

30th. Traveled 15 miles to Goose Creek.

31st. Traveled 7 miles to the river.

August 1st. Traveled 12 miles to dry branch.

2nd. Traveled 10 miles to Rocky Creek. Good camp.

3rd. Traveled 12 miles to the crossing of Rocky Creek.

4th. Traveled 22 miles and camped on Snake River at the mouth of a small branch.

5th. Traveled 6 miles and camped two miles above Salmon Falls Creek.

6th. Traveled 5 miles and camped two miles above Salmon Creek.

7th. Traveled 18 miles and made a dry camp at which two of my oxen gave out and Stephen lost one, to-wit, Old Tom. (1307).

8th. Traveled 12 miles and crossed Snake River.

9th. Traveled 6 miles up to head of branch.

10th. Traveled 8 miles and camped on a small creek.

11th. Traveled 10 miles to a branch from the hot springs and three miles below them.

12th. Traveled 15 miles to rock creek or barrel camp creek.

13th. Traveled 13 miles to a small creek.

14th. Traveled 14 miles to a dry creek and dug some wells for water.

15th. Traveled 14 miles to Boise River.

16th. Traveled 18 miles.

17th. Traveled 14 miles and crossed Boise River.

18th. Traveled 17 miles and camped on Boise River.

19th. Traveled 3 miles and crossed the Snake River.

20th. Traveled 18 miles to the Aux Matthew River.

21st. Traveled 22 miles to Birch Creek.

22nd. Traveled 8 miles to Burnt River.

23rd. Traveled 12 miles up Burnt River. Hilly road.

24th. Traveled 13 miles and camped on a small branch near Burnt River.

25th. Traveled 14 miles.

26th. Traveled 22 miles to Powder River valley. (1560)

Aug. 27th. Traveled 7 miles to first fork of Powder River.

28th. Traveled 14 miles to a small branch and the last branch of Powder River.

29th. Traveled 14 miles and camped on the west side of Grande Round. (Grande Rhonde)

30th. Traveled 8 miles to Grand Round River.

31st. Traveled 14 miles and camped on the hill.

Sept. 1st., 1848. Traveled 12 miles to Lee's encampment.

2nd. Traveled 18 miles to Utilla River. (Umatilla River)

3rd. Traveled 10 miles down Utilla River.

4th. Lay by to recruit cattle.

5th. Traveled 18 miles and camped on the Utilla.

6th. Traveled 12 miles to Springs in Utilla bottom.

7th. Traveled 28 miles to Well Springs.

8th. Traveled 16 miles to Willow Creek.

9th. Lay by to recruit and left another wagon.

10th. Started at 2 o'clock p.m. and traveled 10 miles and made a dry camp.

11th. Traveled 14 miles to John Day's River.

12th. Traveled 12 miles down John Day's River.

13th. Traveled 24 miles to Columbia River.

14th. Traveled five miles to Deshutes River, crossed it and traveled five miles further to a small creek. (1801).

15th. Traveled 10 miles to a branch of Deshutes.

16th. Traveled 10 miles up said branch.

17th. Lay by to rest oxen.

18th. Traveled 16 miles to Village Creek.

19th. Traveled 3 miles going up the worst hill on the road.

20th. Traveled 12 miles to Barlow's Gate.

21st. Lay by to recruit cattle.

22nd. Traveled 16 miles to 4th crossing of Deshutes (note: was actually crossing the White River. The Deschutes was 12-15 miles east of his location at that time).

23rd. Traveled 12 miles to foot of Summit Hill.

24th. Traveled 10 miles to prairie near foot of Mount Hood.

25th. Traveled 19 miles to 3rd crossing of Zigzag.

26th. Traveled 12 miles to first crossing of Sandy.

27th. Traveled 15 miles to 2nd crossing of Sandy.

28th. Traveled 15 miles to 3rd house in the settlements.

29th. Traveled 12 miles to Mr. Richardson's.

30th. Lay be to recruit our cattle.

Oct. 1st. Traveled 10 miles passing through the City of Oregon and camped on a small creek near Mr. Armpriest.

2nd. Traveled 14 miles to Rock Creek.

3rd. Traveled 12 miles to Silver Creek.

4th. Traveled 4 miles to Mr. Shaw's. (2004)

5th. Lay by.

6th. Traveled 10 miles to Mr. William's claim.

7th. Lay by.

8th. Traveled 2 miles to Mr. Pringle's where we expect to live one year.

The remaining pages contain financial records regarding money owed and money paid. Names mentioned were Stephen Porter, W.G. Porter, N. Coffee, L. Wright, Harvey Rudolph, A.C. Keene, Benjamin Barney, G. Gibson, Tho. Clark, G.G. Gibson, John Andrew, Ford, Stuart, G.J. Coffey, D.D. Coffey.

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