submitted by Carol Campodonico Ferrari - May 31, 2000

Joseph Bigler/Bürkbüchler and Margaret Castor/Kester

My great-great grandparents, Joseph Bigler/Bürkbüchler and Margaret
Castor/Kester, came from Missouri in 1854 with their two young daughters,
Elizabeth and Margaret.

Traveling with them were Margaret's brother John Castor/Kester and his family.
What follows below is typed exactly as it was written, letting the handwritten
chronicle of their trip and observations tell their story. I believe the writer
was Elizabeth Bigler-Campodonico, daughter of Joseph and Margaret.

Page 1

The Trip To California

In 1849 three men left Missouri horseback for the Gold field of California. was here two years and there was no rain and people could do no placer mining so returned to Missouri but was not satisfied Uncle Castor being a wagon maker made some wagons and trained oxen to draw the wagons. so a party of 40 grown people and children with about 1500 head of cattle packed their belongings and started for the Gold fields. They left Missouri the middle of April 1854. arrived in California in October 1854. During the first three months feed and game were plentiful grouse, quail and wild turkey abundant. Trading posts were about 10 miles apart and one could obtain buffalo meat and groceries in return for shell money. The Indians were plentiful but never annoyed our party except one time when they drove a herd of buffalo among our cattle and caused them to stampede. we had quite a time getting the cattle together again. one buffalo was pierced with a great number of arrows. the animal would run until exhausted from loss of blood then the Indians would cut it's throat. The Indians massacred people in front of our party and behind us, but we always treated them kindly. they were very anxious to get bread so we gave them a small piece of bread for a pair of moccasins and they would be delighted one day the Indians were dancing around a tree and

Page 2

having a great pow wow and upon in inquiring. we were told they were burning up a man. We forded the river Platte a great many times during the trip, the first time we crossed the river being high the water nearly took our Father Mother Elizabeth and Margaret down the stream. Mother got up on the seat and held one child in each arm. and the oxen swam the river with their heads just abve the wather. the other wagons faired a little better, as this was a deep crossing and the others went up higher and fared better but all reached the other side safely. It rained nearly every day. and when we saw the clouds gathering we stopped and prepared for the rain by gathering buffalo chips for our fires. When we came to the Rocky mountains we found a natural pass. the mountain seemed cut in two and made a wonderful pass. upon going through we found springs of hot and cold water. after crossing through the pass the first night we were visited by a very large bear which caused quite a commotion in camp The men were afraid to shoot for fear of not killing him directly. so they built fires and went around with lit torches and brwn soon left After leaving the springs we crossed a desert and

Page 3

and the cattle and horses had no water for two days but ahead of us was Salt Lake, and we were warned not to let our stock drink the water, as it was alkali and would of kill them. but the poor animals were frantic and almost ran over every one in their path in order to get to the water, so we lost nearly all our stock and were without oxen to pull the wagons and had to hitch up unbroken animals with the remaining broken ones. a few miles from the Salt Lake was pure water. so some of the stock was driven there. We had to throw away bedding and so much of our household goods as we had only one wagon to sleep in the rest of the party faring as badly as we did. From Salt Lake we crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains and finally reached Hang Town. The party separated there selling wagons horses and what few head of cattle we had. Our family and Uncles Castors' went directly to Mariposa County and still there was no rain and it was nearly four years before there was a good winter

Page 4

rain. There was plenty of gold in the ground but no water to wash it in the rockers. there was a very small stream of water running down a creek and people damed it up and people used it to wash a few pans of dirt in the rockers every day Mother had to go to the dam very early every morning to get a little water before the men came to do the gold washing in the rockers. The pioneers certainly had hard times.

updated Jan 2001
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November 22, 2002