1851 Mansucript Map and Journal Entry of Pioneers on the Oregon Trail

[Oregon Trail Manuscript]

1851 Mansucript Map and Journal Entry of Pioneers on the Oregon Trail


Original mansucript trail map and journal describing the hardships of the Oregon Trail.

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[Oregon Trail Manuscript]
  1851 (undated)    6 x 10.25 in (15.24 x 26.035 cm)


A unique historical document, this is a c. 1848 map and journal page written by pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail. The crudely drawn map covers from the conflux of the Missouri and Mississippi River at St. Louis to the Platte River in Nebraska, roughly covering modern day Missouri and Nebraska, as well as adjacent parts of Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. It records the course encampments of a wagon train as it roughly followed the Missouri river to the northwest, towards the Rocky Mountains. The wagon train seems to have abandoned the river somewhat to take a 'shortcut across the plains' despite the fact that 'all water aways form river is bad.' A note in the upper right corner mentions that several chests of 'possessions' were left behind. The Souix and Arikara tribes are identified.

The verso contains a journal entry that, although challenging to read, offers additional insight into the tribulations of this particular group of Oregon Trail Pioneers:
…appear in all directions. O'dell and M. Martin [or Master?] were nearly killed 2 seasons back in this manner.

We leave tomorrow, away from here as all the provisions train with their herds have consumed all grass around.

We are happy that all of the people in B. Nelson's wagons are much improved and anxious to proceed. No Indians seen except at a distance.
The letter names several specific pioneers, O'Dell, M. Martin (or Master), and B. Nelson. There is no way to definitively identify these individuals but in 1851, there was a wagon train led by John O'Dell (1799 – 1869). In the same year there are references to several Martin and Nelson families. In general, unfortunately these references are vague and it is unclear if these are the same individuals.

Regardless this is a unique piece of history, recording one of the most dynamic and exciting chapters of American history.


Average. Soiling. Minor tears and abrasions.