May 1: Journeying West with William John Clarke

The following is an excerpt of William John Clarke’s diary. This was day 36 of their journey, and they were traveling through Nebraska. They had left Council Bluffs, Iowa (at that time known as Kanesville) some ten days prior.

As usual rolled out and drove twenty-five miles of the most unpleasant road I ever saw. We had to wrap our handkerchiefs over our eyes. Johnathan Emes and me started on horseback after some antelopes at which time we lost our road and got into the sand mounds where we rode for six or seven hours without success. We first took a south west direction rode god knows how far and almost discouraged turned to the right and left but still our hope was blighted. After wandering about between hope and despair but still I did not like to give up the chase, rode up to the top of a sand hill and while there was as it were flung from one danger to another, for there I was surrounded by about eight or ten large wolves which seemed as though they would have liked to taste Irish blood. I was in a desert and depended altogether on my eyes and a rifle and only four bullets which I did not like to waste with wolves, as I had not yet got dinner and depended altogether on my eye and rifle which I knew if it ered it was the first time in my life. We at last took as it were, a north easterly direction which brought us to the Loup Fork of the Platt River which I knew as soon as I saw although it was twenty-five or thirty miles from our way which we left to our right and at four o’clock struck the road at which time our team was twenty miles ahead. We rode onto almost discouraged again. Johnathan was thoroughly fatigued and hungry, was for lying down on the road, but hope seemed to grow brighter with me for about six miles ahead I saw a light. I knew that in all it must be our camp. I encouraged Johnathan and whipped the horse until I arrived in camp.Our camp was all in consult what to do wheather to depart or go in search of us. Some of them was going to leave. One was James Gilmore of which I not expect it of his hand, but there are still some merciful men. Out of sixty-three men only three was willing to leave us. When we came to camp one of our men had killed a fine buffalo cow. Camped on Wood River. Made to on my race about eighty miles. Teams made about thirty four.

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