Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

The Fourth of July

Within two days after leaving Fort Laramie, we killed three elks and four deer. It was necessary to halt another day in order to cure the meat, after which we pushed on at our best speed until the Fourth of July, when all the company, John Mitchell's following as well as that party of emigrants who joined us at Ash Hollow, remained in camp during a full day to celebrate properly the winning of our independence.

There was nothing we could do, save follow the example of the savages, when they want to show signs of rejoicing, and that was to make a great feast.

I had the good fortune to shoot an elk and an antelope shortly after daybreak that morning, and much to my surprise John Mitchell and one of the men brought in a small bear.

During the feast those men who believed they excelled in speech making showed their skill at great length. The chief part of what was said concerned the Oregon country and the possibility that the Government at Washington would stretch out its arms over the land to which we were traveling, showing the English people that we claimed it as our own, and intended to hold it against all comers.

This halting for the celebration was of advantage to the cattle, whose feet were vet sore, for they needed rest quite as much as did the women of the company.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Then, when we set off once more, it was with greater cheerfulness and increased hope, for the way could not have been improved nor made more pleasant. There was timber in abundance, so we were not put to it for fuel, and as for game, a good hunter might go out at almost any hour in the day two or three miles from our wagon train, and bring back deer, buffaloes, antelopes, or even bears.