Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Pioneer Stories

Someone just related a delightful story that they read, about some of the events of the covered wagon people who came to Oregon from the east, in the 1800's. I don't know who the author is, as yet, or the name of the book.

As the terraine grew rougher, many of the Pioneers left valued posessions behind. Later, it was learned that scavenger sales people came along and retrieved a lot of it, then travelled further up the Trail, where they set up trading posts, met up with the wagon trains, and sold a lot of it back to the original owners, who were able to carry these posessions comfortably over more stable terrain for the duration of the trip.

One such family had three daughters. Before leaving their home, their father had made them each a wooden hope chest, carefully carved and painted with their names on it. When the oxen became weary, and they began to be concerned about whether or not these beasts would last for the rest of the trip, they unloaded one of the hope chests; that of the eldest daughter.

Each day, the covered wagons would rotate, so that no one wagon was always in front. The front wagon from the previous day, would travel last in line. This family was first in line that day. No doubt, the custom was arranged so that the same family wouldn't have the dust in their face all day long or face all the ruts or dangers every single day. Nonetheless, people didn't really like going to the end of the line, as it was more lonely to travel back there.

It so happened that a young preacher was at the end of the line that day, and his wagon had very little in it. He did not have to walk as much, because the weight was not as heavy. Other travellers were concerned about the weight their oxen had to pull, so they walked as much as possible. That day, the young minister came across the abandoned hope chest, and recognized the name of the girl, whom he was acquainted with from the general wagon train company when they stopped for meals or evening activities. Since his wagon was not as burdened as the others, he loaded up her trunk and covered it with a blanket.

Halfway to the west, he proposed to her. They were married during the trek out west. He invited her to his covered wagon, where he pointed to his wedding gift to her. She lifted the blanket and there was her hope chest.

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