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Kate Dunlap's Diary, 1864-1865

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877 Civil War and Reconstruction

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.
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(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...

May 16th… 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…

May 18th …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.

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