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1865 McDannald Wagon Train Journal
Apr 25, 1865 (Mt Sterling, Illinois) - October 16, 1865 (Milton, Oregon)

PAGE 2 - Eddyville, Iowa

Friday, May 5 (continued)..The Canterbury family consisted of Dr. C.C.Canterbury, the father, his wife, son James and three daughters, whose ages ranged from 16 up. They had joined, or rather attached themselves to our caravan while we were in Mt Sterling.Dr Canterbury had made the trip into the Golden West two years ago, by way of the Isthmus of Panama on a sailing vessel. The doctor's traveling experience so far had been on sailing vessels and steamboats, he had never made the voyage coast to coast in a "Dutch" rigged prairie schooner, through the badly infested country, hostile with red men. For if he had, then he would have known better than to counsel a city born, bred and domesticated lady, with four frail offspring's to embark on such a cruise, with so few armaments of defense.

1865 Phaeton

As I recall this incident, I can see the Canterbury equipment, consisting of one light wagon, drawn by four "light" mules, and one real, down-right, honest-to-goodness Phaeton, of that day's most recent and up-to-date vintage. And this vehicular contraption had for it's propelling agency a span of such undersized ponies that they were often mistaken for "colts", when placed beside the heavy draft horses of our party. Out on this long march, through mud and sand, over long steel hills, with the scarcity of grass, this was too great for their endurance.

When this outfit was arrayed beside the awkward looking linch pin wagons of ours, built after the pattern of the old wooden axle tree wagons that were used to navigate the lime turnpike along the Delaware, it looked about as incongruous and out of keeping with its surroundings as possible. The first Canterbury disaster to befall their frail equipage happened while we were doing our darndest to navigate an unusually bad stretch of road not far from Ottumwa, Iowa. With two of the women folk seated on the front seat doing the steering, and the other two on the afterdeck the load was over burdensome, and the ponies began to show signs of open rebellion.

Now "persuasion" is one method employed to get a head set horse to do his duty, and a strong buggy whip properly applied is another, but these city bred brutes much out of place, flatly refused to be either coaxed, cajoled or persuaded, and there the carriage stood, right in the midst of the thickest of that gumbo, while the four benighted females cooped up there beneath the canvas cover, implored his "Imperial Majesty", the "Captain" of the train for aid. My father trudged back with our two yoke of oxen, and actually dug the mud bedraggled Chariot out of the mire of despondency and delivered it upon solid ground. The tugging of those strong oxen, to get the wheels through that obstinate entanglement of mud, strained some of the Phaeton's ligaments and the hind wheels refused to follow the tracks made by those going before. It required the efforts of two of the swarthy sons of the "Emerald Isles" (Irish) nearly half a day, while we were camped at Eddyville to get those degenerate hind wheels back into alignment.

After getting the Canterbury's out of the mud, we camped for dinner, then during the afternoon we camped close to the Des Moines River, about two miles before we got to Ottumwa, Iowa. During the evening the Municipal Band of Ottumwa headed by several prominent business men, together with their families, came out to our camp, and gave us music, and words of encouragement to cheer up those whose spirits were getting weak. A lot of the younger set, clad in their city best, wandered around the camp, peered in the tents, and leered at our homemade and homespun serviceable garments, and a few could not keep from smiling at what they deemed a poor sight. But, as I recall, this was the only occasion where we received the least sign of any uncivil treatment from those of our own race.

Saturday, May 6th. We were up early this morning, in spite of the fact that the evening before was spent with celebrations and excitement. We passed through Ottumwa quite early in the morning, and traveled good roads most all the way into Eddyville, Iowa.

We never were very far away from the Des Moines River all day and before night we had passed through Eddyville and on over the Des Moines River onto its south bank where we were to make camp for several days. Eddyville was a dapper little city located on the north side of the river. And since it was then the western end of the railroad, it boasted a population of some 4,000 inhabitants. It being located halfway between Keokuk and Plattsmouth, made it a resting point for the Western Caravans.

The city authorities of Eddyville had just completed a new wooden bridge across the river and it was with great pride that we were allowed to "sit in" on its dedication. The mayor escorted us across the bridge to a lovely grove, located in a large pasture not far from the south banks of the river. Late that evening, father came rolling in from Mount Sterling, with the freight load of supplies that he had gone back after, but not until it was too late to unload them and transfer them to the emigrant wagons. This was bad, for the next day is Sunday. This brought up the subject of "Sabbath" breaking, that almost ended in a family row. It was John A. Linn who insisted on getting the train in motion without further delay. Father agreed with him, but John's brother Bill, with his religious beliefs, could not be moved from the idea that such an act of desecrating the Holy Sabbath, no matter how grave or urgent the case, was sufficient cause to damn a man's soul. However, when Father had a final vote from the entire train, it showed in favor of immediate action.

Since John Linn had a team of four fine Percheron horses just freshly shod, with brand new harness, and a Peter Schutler wagon right from the Chicago factory, he volunteered to do the hauling. ( Origin and History of the Percheron Horse). After emptying the wagon of its camp equipage, John drove the wagon across the new bridge to the freight terminal, where willing hands soon had the wagon piled high with bacon, flour, corn meal, sugar, coffee, and many other kitchen condiments to be used on the long overland journey. Everything went lovely for the first two trips and not a few insinuations were cast at Bill Linn's predictions of disaster. But someone in the long, long ago, expressed this bright epigram, "He who laughs last, laughs best". On the third and last trip, in order to move all the freight with this load, an extra amount was heaped on the wagon, and just as it crossed the crown of the bridge, and began the descent towards the other side, the front wheels veered to one side of the stringers, the planks groaned, creaked and then with a sound that echoed back through the quiet streets of the town, the wheels crashed through the planks, letting the axle of the wagon rest on the cross ties of the bridge. And with the load piled unusually high, the sudden jar caused a dozen sacks of flour to slide from their loft perch on the hurricane deck of the prairie schooner and go hurtling down to the bottom of the Des Moines River where they rested in ten fathoms of water. And then it was, that Bill Linn had his say as to the fulfillment of his prophesies of the breaking of the Sabbath.

Sunday, May 7th. Spent all day resting and fishing.

Monday, May 8th. The men folks had to repair the bridge they had broken through the day before, so we laid over in camp again today. Caught lots of fish.

Tuesday, May 9th. Everything was so upset, with the dividing up of the provisions that Father had brought from Mount Sterling, and Ben Shankland returning home, we didn't get started today until four o'clock in the afternoon, and then only went three miles until we camped. But, at least we got started on our way again and that was something. Upon leaving we must cross a high divide and while we are climbing the crooked and tortuous road leading away from the Des Moines River, it is a wonderful sight, as we look back down on the domes, spires, and minarets of the beautiful little city of Eddyville.

Libertyville, Iowa to Eddyville........44 miles...3 days 1865 wagon train...1 hour drive 2008

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