A Smoky Mountain family raises Morgan horses and mules for use by all settling of the West activities, including Santa Fe traders, pioneer settlers, soldiers, and miners. The story starts in Tennessee in 1840, with three strong young men, cousins, starting West with horses and mules, immediately being victims of an attempted robbery, which leaves one robber dead and the boys with a reputation and part of an international dispute. The story follows their escapades and increasing tough reputations to the Ohio River and as they travel by barge to the Santa Fe trail and on to Santa Fe, where they trade successfully, narrowly avoiding the Mexican army. They return, much wiser, to several surprises. The story involves a number of women and some tragic happenings and some joyful occasions and a display of faith in God and humanity.
For nineteenth-century travelers, the Santa Fe Trail was an indispensable route stretching from Missouri to New Mexico and beyond, and the section called “The Missouri Trail”—from St. Louis to Westport—offered migrating Americans their first sense of the West with its promise of adventure. The truth was, any easterner who wanted to reach Santa Fe had to first travel the width of Missouri. This book offers an easy-to-read introduction to Missouri’s chunk of Santa Fe Trail, providing an account of the trail’s historical and cultural significance. Mary Collins Barile tells how the route evolved, stitched together from Indian paths, trappers’ traces, and wagon roads, and how the experience of traveling the Santa Fe Trail varied even within Missouri. The book highlights the origin and development of the trail, telling how nearly a dozen Missouri towns claimed the trail: originally Franklin, from which the first wagon trains set out in 1821, then others as the trailhead moved west. It also offers a brief description of what travelers could expect to find in frontier Missouri, where cooks could choose from a variety of meats, including hogs fed on forest acorns and game such as deer, squirrels, bear, and possum, and reminds readers of the risks of western travel. Injury or illness could be fatal; getting a doctor might take hours or even days. Here, too, are portraits of early Franklin, which was surprisingly well supplied with manufactured “boughten” goods, and Boonslick, then the near edge of the Far West. Entertainment took the form of music, practical jokes, and fighting, the last of which was said to be as common as the ague and a great deal more fun—at least from the fighters’ point of view. Readers will also encounter some of the major people associated with the trail, such as William Becknell, Mike Fink, and Hanna Cole, with quotes that bring the era to life. A glossary provides useful information about contemporary trail vocabulary, and illustrations relating to the period enliven the text. The book is easy and informative reading for general readers interested in westward expansion. It incorporates history and folklore in a way that makes these resources accessible to all Missourians and anyone visiting historic sites along the trail.
"Samuel W. Woodhouse, physician and naturalist with the 1851 Sitgreaves expedition to explore the southwestern territories won in the war with Mexico, kept a journal of the expedition from San Antonio to San Diego, describing the people, topography, plant
The Santa Fe Trail was one of the two great overland highways originating in Missouri in the nineteenth century. Several decades before settlers streamed over the Oregon Trail, traders were heading southwest. The caravans carried the wares of Yankee commerce; they returned loaded with buffalo robes and beaver pelts and the rich metals of Mexican mines. The thousand-mile journey “was a perilous cruise across a boundless sea of grass, over forbidding mountains, among wild beasts and wilder men, ending in an exotic city offering quick riches, friendly foreign women, and a moral holiday,” writes Stanley Vestal. Vestal begins where the trail does. He describes outfitting for the trip, the society formed for survival, the hunt for meat, landmarks, and the dangers. He evokes the history and legends surrounding the trail at every point, including figures like Kit Carson, Jedediah Smith, the Bent brothers, and Uncle Dick Wooton.
Travelers and traders taking the Santa Fe Trail’s routes from Missouri to New Mexico wrote vivid eyewitness accounts of the diverse and abundant wildlife encountered as they crossed arid plains, high desert, and rugged mountains. Most astonishing to these observers were the incredible numbers of animals, many they had not seen before—buffalo, antelope (pronghorn), prairie dogs, roadrunners, mustangs, grizzlies, and others. They also wrote about the domesticated animals they brought with them, including oxen, mules, horses, and dogs. Their letters, diaries, and memoirs open a window onto an animal world on the plains seen by few people other than the Plains Indians who had lived there for thousands of years. Phyllis S. Morgan has gleaned accounts from numerous primary sources and assembled them into a delightfully informative narrative. She has also explored the lives of the various species, and in this book tells about their behaviors and characteristics, the social relations within and between species, their relationships with humans, and their contributions to the environment and humankind. With skillful prose and a keen eye for a priceless tale, Morgan reanimates the story of life on the Santa Fe Trail’s well-worn routes, and its sometimes violent intersection with human life. She provides a stirring view of the land and of the animals visible “as far as the eye could reach,” as more than one memoirist described. She also champions the many contributions animals made to the Trail’s success and to the opening of the American West.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the author of Ghost Soldiers comes a magnificent history of the American conquest of the West—"a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy" (The New York Times Book Review). In the summer of 1846, the Army of the West marched through Santa Fe, en route to invade and occupy the Western territories claimed by Mexico. Fueled by the new ideology of “Manifest Destiny,” this land grab would lead to a decades-long battle between the United States and the Navajos, the fiercely resistant rulers of a huge swath of mountainous desert wilderness. At the center of this sweeping tale is Kit Carson, the trapper, scout, and soldier whose adventures made him a legend. Sides shows us how this illiterate mountain man understood and respected the Western tribes better than any other American, yet willingly followed orders that would ultimately devastate the Navajo nation. Rich in detail and spanning more than three decades, this is an essential addition to our understanding of how the West was really won.