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Title: The Western Emigration
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Westward the course of empire takes its flight.

Westward, Ho, Westward has been the cry from the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock until this day.

Two things in human nature have had to do with the western trend of emigration: one, the desire to better and make easier the conditions of life for posterity; the other, adventure. And so the settler, buoyant with hope to better the condition of his children, joined hands with the venturesome spirit and together they have slowly wended their way across the continent.

The entire story of America from the Cavalier of the South and the Pilgrim of New England had been one continuous story of the life of the pioneer. As this stream of emigration has poured slowly across the continent it has driven before it had stolid red man. In the Eastern Middle States is has hewn from the forest the prosperous and beautiful farms and builded towns and cities; it has broken the sod of prairies of the Middle West and made them blossom and bloom as the rose and has wrenched from the miserly grasp of rick in the mountains of the West the rich deposits of ore. Those pioneers who lef the Wabash Valley to make their future home on the Pacific coast have added their mite to the building of an empire.

What a delightful task our fathers have performed! What a magnificent empire they ahve builded! What a splendid heritage they have left to posterity! Most of them have finished their journey on earth, and gone the way of all the world and we now reap the fruits of their labor.

The turning spindles and flying shuttles in the factories sing Labor's sweet song, hwile the earth answers in abundance to those who till the soil or herd the cattle on a thousand hills. Even the tropical fruits of the sunny South, the forests in all their pristine beauty, and the broad wheatfields of the western plains and great Northwest area ll, all of them but answering notes of the labor of the generations that have preceded us.

From 1842 to 1849 there was a great influx of emigration from the eastern state into Indiana and Illinois, the emigrants coming in from almost every direction, and in all kinds of conveyances used in that day. Many came up the river or down the river and later many came over the national road, leaving it to go further north. Many of their descendents, having the pioneer spirit, crowded into the states of Iowa and Missouri. When gold was discovered in California in 1847 this furnished the opportunity for the venturesome spirits that had come early into the Wabash Valley and many of them, like Judge Samuel Clark, fitted out ox wagons and started for the gold mining districts on the Pacific coast. There was only one colony of about twenty wagons that left Attica and Williamsport go to overland to California. This colony was taken thru by a man named Davis. John L. Foster,, the father of George and Daniel Foster, went into this colony when quite a boy with some two or three neighbors from Shawnee township. Many of those who started early on the long, long journy across the plains the the Pacific coast died on the road and a very small percent of them ever returned. Hundreds of familites left the Wabash Valley to cross the plains in search of gold and it may be said that the majority of them that reached the Promised Land prospered.

In 1850 to 1852 a great many went to Oregan over the Oregan trail. A Mr. Waymire, of Independence, left Independence with about five hundred men, women and children to go to Oregan. When his colony reached the Platt river not a great distance from Ft. Kearney, they became afflicted with cholera and many of them died. The rest of the colony became so discouraged that they returned to Missouri, only two wagons and five people of the five hundred that started ever reaching Oregan. A few years later Mr. Longmyer started from near where Frank Martin now lives in Logan township, with a colony of about three hundred persons; this colony went thru without any mishaps. Longmyer himself settled at the foot of Mt. Rainier and his family still live there and run a hotel at what is known as Longmyer Springs, at the foot of the mountain. Those that came back and told this story of the plains saw the possibilities of what was then called the Great American Desert, and many colonies were made up to go to Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska in the fifties. There was a large emigration form Davis township to Nebraska. The emigrants met in a schoolhouse near the mouth of Grindstone creek and started from that point after which this schoolhouse, and sometimes also the creek, was called Nebraska. When the Wabash railroad a few years later was built thru there it made the siding near the school which was called Nebraska Switch. All the horses, cattle and hogs shipt east were fed at this point. Following this emigration started to Kansas and Colorado and for many years there was hardly a day during the spring that one could not see a covered wagon on the road with emigrants on their way West. The majority of those people who left the Wabash Valley and the eastern states to make their home in the West fared very well in later years, altho many of them suffered all the hardships of the pioneer.

Within the past twenty-five years travel has become so cheap and convenient on the railroads that the covered wagons pulled by horses with emigrants bound for the west have entirely disappeared.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001102
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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