Come along. We’re planning to leave our home near St.
Louis it’s the early 1800s pushing the
frontier westward. It’s called Upper Louisiana, honoring
Louis XIV, and has been bought from France for $15 million.
President Thomas Jefferson recently 1804 sent two
former army officers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and a
crew of 46 up the Missouri River to explore this unknown
territory and report on everything. They encountered only
friendly Indians. Would your man consider going too?
Daniel Boone and his followers passed through here a few years
ago; they came on horseback, on foot and some came by tree trunk
canoes about 800 miles from Kentucky. This
scruffy-looking bunch built dirt-floor cabins near where the
Femme Osage Creek empties into the Missouri River. The hunting
and fishing are really good there. Soil is fertile, and
there’s lush grass for cattle.
How will we find our way on this imaginary adventure? Daniel
Boone’s boys have left tracks more than a hundred miles
west, north of the river, to a salt spring. They’re boiling
salty water till nothing remains but salt; they ship it by
keelboat, down stream, to the market here in St. Louis. We may be
using the Boones’ salt now.
In the wilderness, we’ll need salt for tanning deerskins,
for preserving venison and for making jerky like the Indians do,
to keep meat till summer. We’ll take garden seeds and hope
to raise cabbage next year; we’ll need salt for kraut as
well as pickles and meat. Hunters trade furs for salt.
Our wagons will follow the wandering tracks of Nathan and
Daniel Morgan Boone. In dry times, they’ll be the shorter
routes, but we’ll switch to high ridges and rocky trails
when it’s muddy. We’ll be crossing creeks and rivers
using our wagon beds for boats; that’s why we built the
"prairie schooner" wagon instead of the heavy
Conestoga, which has huge wheels too big for making tight turns.
For crossings, the wagon wheels will go on the schooner, and the
seven oxen will swim across. You ask why seven oxen?
Mules or horses are faster, but an ox is sure-footed and
better on rough terrain. There’ll be creek beds and steep
hills to cross with those wagons, and we’ll be walking a
lot. Six oxen will pull, the seventh, a female with baby, will be
used in emergencies such as injury to one of the team. Also,
she’ll provide milk for our young’ns if worst comes to
You’re wondering where we’ll sleep? In the wagon,
for women and children, and under the stars for men and older
boys. We’ll take necessities only the Bible, of
course. There’ll be a compartment under the wagon bed for a
few pieces of take-apart furniture: a folding rocking chair with
a cloth sling seat, a walnut wardrobe, a spinning wheel and a few
other things we won’t need till we decide to stop and build
We’ll drive some sheep and poultry along as we go. I plan
to spin and knit wool caps, socks and mittens before winter. On
the way, we’ll cook pokeweed sprouts, dandelion greens, wild
game of all kinds whatever we find. We’ll dig
sassafras roots for tea it’s good for thinning the
blood. We’ll find mushrooms, berries, nuts, papaws
Would you like to come along?
Folk art sculptures of such an adventure are on display in
Boone Hospital’s main lobby and at the Boone County
Historical Society. Old-timers said, "Cowards never left
home, only lunatics made this trip."