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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MY WESTWARD TREK Chapter 14


Image Courtesy photobucket.com

Having dealt with some of the romance issues in our last chapter I will move on to the hardships of just traveling.

River crossing was a great danger not only was goods, and stock lost, there was also loss of lives.  Some were in a hurry to get the trip over with, and didn't always use good judgement.  

Captain John was under constant pressure to take chances, but he advised against being reckless, and then he was blamed when things went wrong.

There was a mixture of animals pulling the wagons. There were Oxen, Horses and Mules each of which had pluses and minuses. The bottom line was they had to be fed, watered and rested in order to keep going.   

To lessen the weight of the wagons the women and children who were fit walked along side the wagons.

There were also a few dogs that followed along. One was a cross breed dog that took a liking to Morgan, and went with him when he was hunting. For the most part he slept, ate and hunted with Morgan and Virgil; several times he warned them of a danger ahead.

The terrain was rough and walking was tiring. People walked in the ruts barefooted most of the time when it was only dirt underfoot. The sun bore down when they were out in the open and increased the need for water both for the people and animals.

The biggest concern for them was sanitation. Sometimes the water wasn't free of germs and sickness of many kinds was the result.

The need for expelling bodily waste was an issue of all it's own that was solved by many means.  As long as there were bushes available the problem was lessened, but out on the prairie everything was barren, and no place to hide.  Some carried a bucket in their wagon while the outriders would ride away some distance and get behind their horse. Once darkness came the camp was very busy, and the time for relief came.

The older pioneers were not suited for such harsh treatment, and several of the elderly never made it.  It caused Morgan to wonder why they would set out on such a difficult journey, perhaps they didn't understand what they were going to face.  Both the doctor and the parson were quite busy between the birthing, dying and the marrying.

Washing Up at the Creek
Courtesy photobucket
The trip was extremely difficult for the new mothers, and the new born babes. The women would try to clean themselves up using very little water but the men didn't worry about that and would only bathe when they came to a river or creek.

Since Morgan and Virgil were out hunting they ran into small springs or water seeping from rocks and were able to wash up more often than most of the others could.

All in all the wagon train wasn't the most pleasant smelling place to be but the travelers got used to it.  
 
To be continued

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