BACKGROUND OF DIARY
Catherine "Kate" Cruikshank was born
in Lee County, Iowa. In 1864, one month before her 27th birthday, Kate
married Samuel Dunlap, an Ohio native. Three months after their marriage,
the couple left Iowa for Bannack City, Montana Territory. This detailed
handwritten diary describes their overland journey by horse team. Entries
describe the geography of the route, food and camping conditions, encounters
with Indian tribes and trouble with thieves. They give a colorful view
of westward travel in the mid-19th century. The diary ends with a description
of conditions in Montana.
(The first entries from Kate Dunlap's journal)
May 15, 1864
The first emigrants
saw hard times on account of bad roads, no grass and the great scarsity
of hay. In the afternoon we drove on to Lewis, hoping to get hay but could
not get any except we would put up bag and baggage at a hotel. We stopped
at the Henderson House . I was relieved from cooking, it being the first
time I had eaten at a table for two weeks...
We started with our two horses...The roads are hilly...Just
two weeks ago this hour we ate our last dinner with our dear friends in
my dear old home. oh, my mind reverts to the scenes of my childhood and
in rapid succession the history of my past life comes up - and the last
parting tears are scarcely yet dryupon my cheeks. We are now camped for
the night on the Neshbotany river, 24 miles from Council Bluffs. It is
a nice place and the Emigrants are crowding in.
May 17th...This morning the boys were not ready to start leaving
some repairing to do. We drove on to Silver creek for dinner. This is
a narrow stream, winding its way like a silver thread among the green
hills. The water is as clear as a crystal
We arrived at Council Bluffs about 9 o'clock and
the boys about 12 o'clock. We cant get across the river for several days.
Hundreds of teams are waiting their turn, and frequently fights and confusion
ensue. A sad accident happened to day. A little girl was josteled out
of the wagon as it drove on to the ferry boat. was run over and killed.
They had started from this place; They returned to bury their child.
more about Kate Dunlap, view the actual page images of her diary and read the rest of the text.