Our Overland Route to Kansas 1878

From Warrenton, Warren Co. Missouri


Addie Cynthia Reeder

Sept 30, 1878 Monday

Started for Kansas this morning between 10 and 11 o'clock, several friends with whom we hated to part came to see us off, perhaps we will never never meet again.

We dined at Jonesburg after which we traveled on without incident, except that while passing through High Hill a man handed us a map (guess the object of which was to advertise the Rockport Ferry), we also met three covered wagons going east, and tonite we are camped at the western edge of Danville having traveled about 23 miles.  A party having 3 wagons a plenty of crying children (but I cannot blame the children) are camped just across the road they are bound for southern Kansas, and so ends our first days experience as one of the many homeless wanderers who are wending their way westward to seek a home.

Oct 1 Tuesday

We left Danville about sunup after having spent an almost sleepless night.  Our situation was so novel and our beds so uncomfortable, we made 14 miles before dinnertime and stopped 2 miles west of Williamsburg where we had our dinner.  

The most of the road between Danville and Williamsburg was very rocky and hilly, met several wagons coming from Kansas, said they didn't like the country AT ALL, not very encouraging, camped tonight 10.5 miles west of Williamsburg, 22-1/2 miles for the day, we are now 45 miles from the place that was our home for 13 years.  Encamped in a lovely place by a large country church where we get excellent water from a well in the church yard.  I don't think I would like to live in Calloway Co.

Oct 2 Wednesday

Started this morning just a little after sunup, it was a most lively morning just cool enough for wraps, traveled 12 miles and stopped for dinner 7 miles west of McCreedie.  A gentleman and little boy that live near came to camp and stayed until we left, he was a great talker, traveled 9 miles after dinner, and we are now camped in Boon County 5 miles east of Columbia.

During all the day we have been passing through beautiful country that has redeemed Calloway County in my estimation and I think if I was only the happy possessor of one of the beautiful homes we passed today, I should be content to live and die in Calloway Co., but this evening we are camped in a gloomy and desolate place and we have hears since camping that the neighborhood does not have a good reputation.  I don't think any of us will sleep much tonight, one of the family besides our selves are camped here and we fear him as much as the reported horse thieves.

Oct 3 Thursday

I passed the night very well but the boys slept very little, got quite an early start this morning, one mile east of Columbia we struck the gravel road where we had to pay .80 cents to ride in our two wagons over the roughest road I ever traveled, we stopped for dinner 7 miles west of Columbia, after dinner we traveled on to Rockport on the Missouri River bottoms of Cooper County, where we have plenty of wood and water traveled 24 miles today.

Oct 4 Friday

Arrived at Boonville about 12 m. stopped there long enough to have a horse shod and where I was for the first time amused since we have been on the road.  The town is very picturesque and seems to be a lively business place, I noticed the handsome monuments in the cemetery, also two extensive earthenware factories.  WE traveled 19 miles and camped just after crossing the Lamine Bridge.

The first rain we have had since we started began, while we are getting supper with a prospect for an all night rain, but one good thing our wagons are perfectly waterproof.

Oct 5 Saturday

A wet damp morning did not get away from our camp on the Lamine River until quite late, just before starting a family by name Higgins came to our camp to get acquainted, they were going to nearly the same place in Kansas as ourselves.  Was not very much prepossessed with their appearance.  We passed through Arrow Rock a little after dinner, owing to the many bad hills we have traveled only about 20 miles today.  We are now camped 8 miles east of Marshall and 7 miles from Arrow Rock in a very pretty country.  Saline is a very different from Cooper County, this is a very beautiful moonlight night.

Oct 6 Sunday

A beautiful Lord's Day but not a day of rest for us, for owing to the heavy expense we are on for feed and the lateness of the season we have concluded that we cannot afford to stop, we have today been traveling through the most beautiful country I have ever seen I would never wish to see a lovelier country than that between Marshall and Malta Bend.  We have traveled today 27 miles if not more, the roads were splendid and we made a better time then we have since leaving.  We camped tonight 2 miles west of Malta Bend on the road side.  

To the north of us is a large swamp where we have the benefit of a spring, there has been a bad drouth here this spring but never the less the crops are splendid.

Oct 7 Monday

Another damp foggy muddy morning rained most of the night, left our camp about an hour by sun, after going 9 miles passed Waverely and 11 miles farther on we passed thru the small town of Dover.  Today we are traveling over the roughest and most hilly we have had as yet, the road runs on the edge of a bluff country being at all times within 2 miles of the river so of course we cannot judge Lafayette Co. by the part we have seen, not withstanding the mud and the hills we have traveled today 23 1/2 miles and have camped tonight on the banks of a large creek 7 1/2 east of Lexington, the county seat of Lafayette Co.

Oct 8 Tuesday

We had a terrible storm of wind hail and rain last night and with all that thieves were prowling around, so all in all we passed a very uncomfortable night.  We got a very late start this morning passed thru Wellington and are now camped 4 or 5 miles from Jackson Co. line, there have been several depradations committed of late by horse thieves and emigrants are considerably frightened and very cautious tonight.  We are camped tonight with three other families and will keep watch all night.  Only traveled about 20 miles today.  Are traveling along the Kansas City and Eastern RR.  This eve is very windy and would not be surprised if we had another storm tonite.  The folks we are camped with tonight are by name Cunningham and Drake.

Oct 9 Wednesday

We started very early this morning and soon after passed thru the small town of Napoleon and also several small RR stations of which I didn't get the name of, had very good roads most of the time and during this day our wagon wheels have revolved over a distance of 25 miles and have camped tonite in the suberbs of Independence Jackson Co. Mo.  This is a large camping ground and a great many emigrants have camped here tonite.  I have written 2 letters on to Nora and one to Morris will mail them at Kansas City in the a.m.  One of the mules is sick tonight.

Oct 10 Thursday

About ten thirty a.m. we arrived in K.C. where I mailed my letters, this seems to be a great place for business and a good market, the streets were so blocked we were w/ a long time getting through, crossed the Kansas River on a bridge, the Kansas is a very narrow stream, but the water looks as clear as crystal where it mingles with that of the Missouri, where we crossed the line and stopped at Wyandotte Kans for dinner our first repast on Kansas soil and a terrible wind arose to greet us as we entered the state where our future home will be, this afternoon we had a hard road to travel among the hills of Wyandotte Co. as soon we reached the summit of we go down the other side and then up on the other and they are really tremendous.  We have traveled today between 25 and 30 miles and have camped tonight south of the main road in a grove where there is a spring, I think we are about 2 miles east of White Church.  As soon as we reached camp the rain that has been threatening for some time commenced falling and we could not get our supper until very late.

Oct 11 Friday

The rain last night was of short duration, we got an earlier start then usual, but oh, such roads regular mountains.  We all had to get out of the wagons and walk up hills.  We traveled 25 miles today passed by White Church and thru Tonganoxie and we are now camped about one mile west of the last name place by a school house where the road turns north toward Diamon City.  This evening we bought hay at .20 ct a cwt and corn for .20 ct. bu.  We have been paying .30 and .50.  What I have seen of Kansas I like splendid, it is a beautiful country and this is a lovely night.

Oct 12 Saturday

After a 12 mile drive this a.m. we arrived at the small town of Dimon, where we were told we had taken the wrong road that if we had taken the river road we would have escaped all those terrible hills.  We thought never too late to do better and are now on our way to the river road.  If we have good luck will pass Topeka tomorrow.  Fell in with a family by name Skank who live at Silver Lake 11 miles west of Topeka, they came to Kansas last spring from Ind.  Are camped about 20 miles east of Topeka on an open prairie, have traveled 25 miles today.

Oct 13 Sunday

Another Sunday passed on the road traveled all day arrived at the river long before noon ferried across the Kansas at Grantville, passed thru Topeka the capital of the state about an hour by sun, crossed the Kansas again on a bridge where I was very much pleased with the scenery liked the appearance of the city and populace very much except that are too many niggers.

One mile west of Topeka we camped for the night, heard today that the Indians are playing hobb in the west, but heard later that the trouble didn't amount to much, hope not.

Oct 14 Monday

Left our camp near Topeka this a.m. and made a drive of 15 or 16 miles before dinner passing thru Silver Lake and Kingsville.  The Kaw Valley is a beautiful country and such corn field I have never seen in my life before.  I think they will average 75 bu to the acre.

This afternoon we passed thru Rossville and St. Mary's Mission, the latter a Catholic town the convent is a very nice building, I saw no churches in the place but what were Catholic.  I saw one Indian there, the Indian reservation is not far from there.  We camped tonight 3 miles west of St. Mary's near the K.P.R.R. a little school house is upon the hill to the west of us.  Lost our wash pan this eve, think we have traveled about 26 miles today do not feel very well satisfied with our camping place, do not feel very safe will try to reach Manhattan tomorrow evening.

Oct 15 Tuesday

The wind blew so terrible that we had to take our canvas off in order to travel at all, we are all quite sick of Kansas.  The clay hills of little Warren Co. are preferable to this, traveled about 26 miles thru Pottowatomie Co. and I hope the lost souls may not be more punished than we were by wind and sand.  Oh, how tired I am of this life.  Have camped tonite on the outskirts of Manhattan in a draw about 50 ft from the Big Blue River.  Sixteen other wagons besides ourselves are camped here.  Passed thru the towns of St. George and Louisville.  Have a good prospect of a hard storm of wind ad rain tonight.

Oct 16 Wednesday

Began our days journey by crossing the Big Blue.  We had a hard hard storm of wind and rain last night and the roads this morning were very slippery making the traveling very hard on the horses, traveled about 20 mi today which is about half way to Clay Center.  Manhattan is built mostly of stone and is a very nice looking town.  Have camped tonite one mile west of Riley Centre on Wild Cat Creek, today has been very cold and windy, the first cold day we have had.

Oct 17 Thursday

Oh, how cold, we had to be wrapped in bed quilts all day, got somewhat out of our way today and traveled a mile or so to no purpose.  Arrived at Clay Center (which I renamed Shanty town) about 3:30 p.m. had a shoe put on one of the mules and drove about 5 miles this side of Clay Center.  Passed where Republican City was, all that is left of the town is an old store and a church.  We crossed the Republican River on a bridge at Clay Center, we have been traveling thru a country destitute of fences, since noon, traveled 25 miles today.

Oct 18 Friday

We traveled from sunup till sun down in all about 30 miles, and from the time we started till we camped we did not so much as see a tree we asked what they used for fuel and they replied CORN, such is Cloud Co.  Most of the habitations are dugouts and sod houses we are camped tonight 5 1/2 miles from Meridth in company wit five other wagons got off of the right road again today which is getting to be an almost daily occurrence, very hard traveling here especially for broad tired wagons, the roads are like the country very much contracted, the fither I go in Kansas the less I like it.

Oct 19 Saturday

Commenced our daily journey today but soon parted company with our comrads of last night some stopping to visit acquaintances others taking a more southerly route ourselves taking the course to Beloit stopping to dine on a creek where we found a few trees, not far east of the Solomon River, the country we passed through today in Cloud County is far superior to that of yesterday, the improvements are of a better class and more thickly settled, we passed this morning through the small town of Meridth and this eve through Glascoe and have camped this eve in Mitchell Co. on the Solomon River, twelve miles from here is Beloit.  Traveled today 25 miles.

Oct 20 Sunday

Another Sunday and we are still traveling have been traveling all day in Mitchell Co., like the looks of the country very much have seen several people today from Rooks Co., they say it is a fine county.  Arrived at Beloit about noon it is a very thriving lively business place.  I was very much impressed with the place have had splendid roads all day, traveled about 25 miles and have camped for the night about 7 miles east of Waconda Springs where we will cross the north fork of the Solomon River, the wind has been blowing very strong all day and is still blowing.

Oct 21 Monday

Left our camp this morning near Glen Elder arrived at Waconda Springs at noon where we stopped for dinner, the roads were splendid all day the wind has been blowing very cold and piercing all day and tonight is freezing cold we are camped one mile west of Osborn City which is a very handsome little town, it has a beautiful site and the buildings are all neat and nice looking.  We expect to arrive at our destination day after tomorrow before noon, traveled 29 miles today.

Oct 22 Tuesday

Left camp very early this morning passed through the small town of Tilden and Bull City at which place we took dinner and camped tonight 6 miles east of Stockton at the Reno crossing of the South Fork traveled 31 miles.

Oct 23 Wednesday

Arrived at Stockton at nine o'clock, after making some purchases and viewing the town which we liked very well we took the Elm Creek Road and arrived at Tom's at 11 o'clock in good time for dinner, found all well and felt ourselves as though we were weary and would like to rest, so ends the terrible trip.

Addie C. Reeder