Thursday, June 2, 2016
OREGON TRAIL DIARY - MARGARET TANNER
I haven’t read anything of late except books that I needed for research. I picked up a book in the library and thought it would be as dry as dust to read, but I was desperate for the information it might have contained. Well, what a surprise. I actually read the whole lot, not just the sections that I thought I would need. Normally, I would skim through the pages looking for information, but I actually read this book from cover to cover. It is called Days On the Road, Crossing the plains in 1865, and was the diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon. She was a 24 year old school teacher who left her native Missouri with her mother and brothers, to join a wagon train heading along the Oregon Trail. They were four months on the trail. She kept a diary and it made for a fascinating read.
The reason I was interested in this kind of information, is I have recently started writing Western Romance, and I wanted to get a better feel for the hardships people endured out on the plains. I am multi-published in historical romance set in Australia, and very familiar with our history, but American history, well, I can do with a little help.
I really enjoyed reading about Sarah and her mother straining milk into a butter churn that had a lid, and fixing it to the front of the wagon, where it was churned into butter by the motion of the wagon. How clever was that.
What I really found interesting (maybe it’s the romantic in me), was the fact that with so many single young men available, a couple of doctors and reasonably well to do gentleman who were interested in Sarah, she had no interest in any of them. She did eventually marry, but not in this story.
A few months after the family’s arrival in Virginia City, a school was started and Sarah became a teacher there, earning the princely sum of $125.00 per month. So, you can see this book was a goldmine of information on day to day living for someone like me.
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