A Pioneer Ancestor?
By Christine Muschamp
This article was originally published in the April 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
In June last year, along with my husband Michael and parents Rod and Olive Saul, we travelled to America to have a holiday touring between Salt Lake City and Denver.
Over 18 days, our travels took us just under 3000 miles and into seven states. We spent three days in Yellowstone National Park and visited the site of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. A lot of our journey was punctuated by the history of the west. We visited Fort Phil Kearney and the better-known Fort Laramie, where a foot soldier explained his kit and how it was used out in the field. These forts and the soldiers who manned them were vital to the more than 350,000 pioneers who travelled west between 1841 and 1869 in search of land, riches and a better life.
Many of these people followed the Oregon Trail to reach their goal. We saw this trail in several places, most notably just south of the town of Guernsey, Wyoming, where the land begins to rise, marking the end of the prairies and the start of the foothills to the Rocky Mountains. We walked up onto a rocky plateau where the ruts from the wagon wheels are still visible, in some places the rock was worn away to make a metre deep trench, a testament to the scale of the migration. These were hardy people it is little known that for most of the journey they walked alongside the wagons so as to save the energy of the animals that pulled them.
A couple of miles away, on the banks of the Laramie River, was a place where the travellers would rest before tackling the climb into the mountains. Behind them lay the flat prairies, in front an arduous journey over the Rockies. Here was grass for the stock, wood for fuel and the river for water. This place became known as Register Cliff, as many of the migrants carved their names in a sandstone escarpment nearby.
It was fascinating reading all the names and dates carved in the rock. Then, one with no date just what appears to read C Saul. I wonder what that person was like? Did they make it to their destination, unlike those who were buried nearby? Little did they know another C Saul would photograph their graffiti over a century later!
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