Monday, March 2, 2009

Mailbag Monday: John R. Shinn Journal, Vol. 6

August 1st-15th. John is in Utah throughout. While I find the journal interesting, I do wish he had at least commented on Salt Lake City and frankly, I'm a little puzzled why he didn't. Salt Lake City would have only been about three years old and the only thing close to a city in the vacinity, therefore, I would think it would get more of a mention. Oh well, though. As I re-read the journal, I'm beginning to think that John wrote it as a guide for his return trip. John would return to New Jersey after arriving in California in 1850 and then went back to California in 1853. I always had just assumed that he was unexpectedly forced to go back to New Jersey for that brief while, but now I think that his return was always the plan. The technical and geographical observations make me think this is a guide for other travelers west , like John, more than anything. A love poem at the end, written (I think) about John's future wife back east, is another reason why I think it was always his plan to return to New Jersey, albeit briefly. I THINK, but I'm not sure, that the mountains mentioned below are the Timpanogos. When I was in Salt Lake last summer we went on the "death hike" as we called it (because it was so gruelling) up to the Timpanogos Cave and it seemed like maybe those were the "mountains" mentioned. If I'm wrong, PLEASE correct me as I do not really know the Salt Lake area well (we were only there a few days). As a side note: Every genealogist's worst nightmare happened to me when we were in Salt Lake City. I FINALLY made it to Temple Square and the Family History Center but everyone in my group was anxious to get back to Idaho before dinner so I had to relegate myself to walking through the center hurredly. I could almost cry about that now...

"August 1st Traveled 19 miles. Camped in a ravine by a spring. Plenty of grass and water, some wood. Passed 1 grave. Weather fine with a quite a frost in the morning on Bear River.

August 2 Traveled 15 miles over a very rough road. Camped in Echo Canyon, good place to camp. Nothing particular occurred to attract the attention of the company except that we upset one wagon twice. Weather pleasant.

August 3 Traveled 8 miles. Camped 2 miles east of the junction of the old and new road, on the Wiber River, good place to camp. Weather pleasant.

August 4 Traveled 16 miles up Wiber River. Plenty of grass, wood and water. Passed 1 grave. Weather warm.

August 5 Traveled 15 miles over a rough country. Camped by a stream for good water. Plenty of grass, wood and water. Weather pleasant.

August 6 Traveled 16 miles over a rocky and mountainous road and through a deep canyon. Camped at the foot of the Great Salt Lake. Passed 1 grave. The mountains, each side of the canyon, are said to be 7 or 8 thousand feet high.

August 7 Stayed in camp at the above named place. Weather warm and showery.

August 8 Traveled 6 miles to the city of Salt Lake, thence 4 miles to the Jordan River and camped. Weather warm.

August 9 Stayed in camp getting cattle shod. Weather warm.

August 10 Still in camping shoing or getting cattle shod. Weather warm.

August 11 Still in camp at the above place. Weather very warm.

August 12 Still in camp on the Jordan. Weather warm.

August 13 Traveled 17 miles. Camped by a spring near the Salt Lake at the foot of the mountain. Water a little brackish[?]. Road good. Weather warm.

August 14 Traveled 23 miles camped on Willow Creek. Plenty of water, wood and grass. Weather warm.

August 15 Stayed by at the above camp cutting[?] and preparing for crossing the desert."

After this installment are the best entries in the journal, where John describes crossing the salt flats and desert and finally the mountains to reach California.

CORRECTION: I'm told that the mountains are probably the Wasatch which would make sense.

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