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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

National Historic Oregon
Trail Interpretive Center

Kids Diaries

Some kids kept diaries and wrote letters while they were traveling. The letters could be sent from military posts along the trail, and given to someone traveling eastward to be mailed. Other people wrote about their time on the trail after they had grown-up. Here are a few writings from kids who traveled the Oregon Trail:

Martha Gay Masterson (13 years old when she traveled west):
"One pleasant evening some Indian boys wanted to display their skill with bow and arrow. When we gave them a biscuit they would set it up, step off some distance and pierce it with an arrow. Father got a pan of biscuits and he would measure off a distance, set up one and tell them to shoot at it. The one who struck it first got it for his own. They had considerable sport over the biscuits."
"We never needed to stop the wagon to let us in or out. The teams were very gentle, and we could get out and walk a while, then get into the wagon again and not trouble the teamster."
Jesse Applegate (7 years old when he made the trip):
"I remember one afternoon, when the teams were tired and some of the oxen limping with sore feet, I was looking far away in the direction we were traveling, across a dreary sage plain, to all appearances extending to the end of the earth, and I got to wondering where we were trying to get to, and asked the question, when someone said, 'To Oregon'."
Emeline Trimble (13 years old when she traveled west):
"...most of us wore for convenience the costume called Bloomers and did not have many changes."
Sallie Hester (14 years old):
"When we camp at night, we form a corral with our wagons and pitch our tents on the outside, and inside of this corral we drive our cattle, with guards stationed on the outside of tents. We have a cooking stove made of sheet iron, a portable table, tin plates and cups, cheap knives and forks, camp stools, etc. ...We live on bacon, ham, rice, dried fruits, molasses, packed butter, bread, coffee, tea and milk as we have our own cows."
"Passed Independence Rock. This rock is covered with names. With great difficulty I found a place to cut mine."