Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865, the Diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon


Sarah Raymond was an unmarried woman of twenty-four who in May 1865—barely a month after the end of the Civil War—mounted her beloved pony and headed west alongside the wagon carrying her mother and two younger brothers. They traveled by wagon train over the Great Plains toward the Rocky Mountains, with no certain idea of where they would settle themselves but a strong desire to leave war-torn Missouri behind and start a new life.
Days on the Road is the story of this remarkable...

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Sarah Raymond was an unmarried woman of twenty-four who in May 1865—barely a month after the end of the Civil War—mounted her beloved pony and headed west alongside the wagon carrying her mother and two younger brothers. They traveled by wagon train over the Great Plains toward the Rocky Mountains, with no certain idea of where they would settle themselves but a strong desire to leave war-torn Missouri behind and start a new life.
Days on the Road is the story of this remarkable journey and of the young woman who made it. Written on the trail and originally published in 1902, it is a tribute to all of the emigrants who made their way west and the tale of a truly extraordinary woman.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762725816
  • Publisher: TwoDot
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 978,280
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Raymond Herndon left her home in Missouri in May 1865 and traveled west in the company of her mother, younger brothers, and fellow emigrants, finally arriving in Virginia City, Montana Territory, at the height of the Gold Rush boom in that rough frontier town. She spent the rest of her life in Montana, and published the story of her western journey in 1900.

Mary Barmeyer O'Brien is the author of Heart of the Trail, Into the Western Winds, Toward the Setting Sun, and Bright Star in the Big Sky, a biography of Montana's Jeannette Rankin. She lives in Polson, Montana.

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Read an Excerpt

Our First Camp
As we were provided with fresh bread, cake, cold chicken, boiled ham, pickles, preserves, etc., supper was quickly prepared for our small family of four, and we enjoyed it immensely. Then comes my time to write, as I have promised friends that I will keep a journal on this trip. Mr. Kerfoot thinks the Government is going to smash and greenbacks will not be worth one cent on the dollar, so he has turned all his money into gold coin, and stowed it into a small leather satchel—it seems quite heavy to lift or carry.
As Mrs. Kerfoot was sitting on a camp-chair near our wagons, Mr. Kerfoot came toward her, saying, "Here, mother, I want you to take care of this satchel, it is all we will ask you to do, the girls will cook and wash dishes, the boys take care of the stock, and I will oversee things generally, and we will do nicely." She accepted the responsibility without a word, and as he walked away she turned to me, and said, "I wish it was in some good bank, I expect nothing else but that it will be stolen, and then what will become of us?"
While I have been writing Neelie (Cornelia) and Sittie (Henrietta) have been getting supper for a family of twelve, no small undertaking for them, as they have been used to servants and know very little about cooking.
When everything was ready, Neelie came to her mother exclaiming, "Come, mamma, to supper, the first ever prepared by your own little girl, but not the last I hope, see how nicely the table looks, Emma and Delia picked those wild flowers for you, how brightly the new tinware shines, let its imagine it is silver and it will answer the same purpose as if it were."
Her mother smiles cheerfully, as she takes her arm, Cash sneers at Neelie's nonsense—as she calls it. Mr. Kerfoot nods approval, as Neelie escorts her mother to the table. When all are seated Mr. Kerfoot bows his head and asks God's blessing on the meal.
Every one seems to enjoy this picnic style of taking supper out of doors and linger so long at the table, that Neelie has to hint that other work will have to be done before dark.
When at last the table is cleared, she says to Emma and Delia, "Don't you want to help me wash these nice, bright dishes and put them away?"
They are always ready to help Neelie, and the work is soon done. Amid laughter and fun they hardly realize they have been at work. Mr. Kerfoot insists that we women and the children must sleep in houses as long as there are houses to sleep in. Mother and I would greatly prefer sleeping in our spring-wagon, to making a bed on the floor in a room with so many, but as he has hired the room we do not want to seem contrary, so have offered no objection. The boys have carried the mattresses and bedding into the house, and Neelie has come for me to go with her to arrange our sleeping-room. So good-night.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Preface to the 1902 Edition xviii
We Start 1
Our First Camp 2
Through Memphis 4
I Meet an Acquaintance 4
An Addition to Our Party 6
Bloomfield, Iowa 8
Beautiful Apples 9
Miss Milburn's Love Story 11
A Letter to Brother Mac 13
The Icarian Community 15
A Swing among the Trees 16
A Fatal Accident 18
Bereavement 19
A Funeral 21
On the Banks of the Big Muddy 23
Our Last Day with Miss Milburn 24
We Have Our Pictures Taken 25
A Yankee Homestead 27
We Meet a Friend 29
On the Banks of the Platte 30
The Order of Our Going 32
Fort Kearney 34
Eleven Graves 35
A Narrow Escape 36
Beaux 38
We Decide to Go to Montana 40
Prairie Dogs 42
Preaching Services 44
Music in Camp 45
The Mountains in Sight 48
A Town of Tents and Wagons 50
We Worship in the Wilderness 51
We Celebrate the Fourth 53
The Black Hills 54
We Visit a Beautiful Spring 55
We Cut Our Names in Stone 57
Laramie Plains 59
In the Rain 60
Indians 62
We Climb Elk Mountain 64
We Cross the North Platte 65
Neelie Is Sick 67
The Summit of the Rocky Mountains 68
Sim Buford Sick 70
Our Train Divided 71
We Overtake the California Train 73
On Bitter Creek 75
Delayed Another Day 77
A Fatal Shooting 78
Tried for Murder 80
We Leave the Train 82
Wild Currants Galore 84
Mr. Curry's Horses Stolen 86
Anxiously Waiting at Ham's Fork 87
The Wanderers' Return 89
Sim's Story of Their Wanderings 90
Bear River Mountain 92
We Meet Captain Hardinbrooke's Brother 94
Mormon Towns in Idaho 96
We Meet Men Returning to the States 98
Mother and I Save Joe's Life 99
Dick Is Sold. Oh, Dear 101
Mother's Birthday 103
Sweet Water Canon 104
The End of Our Journey 106
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 1, 2009

    enjoyable book

    I enjoy reading personal accounts of history much more than I do the second hand reports of historians or the embellished tales of fiction writers so this is my type of book. The author did have a very cheerful attitude and seemed to make the trip west much more enjoyable than it may have been in reality but it was her personal take on it and we shouldn't second guess or be critical of that. She was there and it is her account and we have to accept it as that.

    One note however. There is a introduction written to the book that is quite long and about 1/3 of the way through it I realized it was more of a summary than an intro. It would have been better placed at the back of the book. I stopped reading it because I didn't want to be told what the book was about before I read it. I suggest others do likewise. They should have included a spoiler alert. After I finished the book I returned to the introduction and enjoyed the recap.

    The book does leave you wanting to know a bit more about the rest of the authors life but I guess that is what we have imaginations for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2012

    Very good book in diary form. I also agree that the prologue sho

    Very good book in diary form. I also agree that the prologue should have
    been put at the end of the book,because it tells too much of what is
    happening. But what is helpful of about it is to tell the names and
    relationships of the people. It was interesting to me also to find out
    that Sarah was age 24 when they left Missouri, and not married. It does
    not mention why not. Because most young women were married early back in
    those days (1860s). Afterwards she did marry in Montana. I learned
    several tidbits. One what that logs were carried beneaith the wagons to
    use as firewood. Good thing, because on the plains, there are not many
    trees at all.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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