Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

We Leave St. Louis

In order that one may the better understand how much of a journey it is from the Missouri River to the Oregon country, I set down here the fact that at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, on the twenty-fifth day of April, in the year 1845, We, meaning John Mitchell's company, my mother, and I, set off on that long march. The real journey would not begin until we had passed that settlement on the Missouri known as Independence, which is the point of departure for those who count on traversing the Oregon or the Santa he trail.

Therefore concerning this portion of our march I shall content myself simply with saying that we arrived at Independence on the morning of May 6th, and made camp two miles beyond, on the bank of a small creek, where there was plenty of grass for the cattle.

It must be understood that up to this time we had been traveling through one settlement and another in a portion of the country where were to be found as many people as lived, mayhap, in the neighborhood from which John Mitchell had come. Yet so awkward were the men and boys, that while we were traversing beaten roads they found it exceedingly difficult to keep the cows from straying or the oxen from stampeding even while they were yoked and hitched to the heavy wagons.

I do not claim to have had any experience at driving oxen or herding cattle, and therefore I held myself aloof, saying it were better these people form Indiana should learn their lesson when there were but few difficulties in the way and no dangers, so that after we should come where the real labor began, they might at least have some slight idea of what was expected of them.