Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Great American Plains

This is a vast area stretching westward from the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here you can experience St. Louis, Missouri’s birth as a trading post in the wilderness. From there you can travel up the Missouri River with Lewis and Clark as well as other explorers.

Before Zebulon Pike, Manuel Lisa, and later John Charles Fremont with Kit Carson at his side began to discover and record the wonders of this bountiful and lonely land it was far from empty. Here was the home of the buffalo, the wolf, and prairie dog. They lived in a harmony of survival with their brothers the Wichita, Pawnee, Kansa, and the Osage people who were later joined by the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Comanches. Some of the first white men on the plains were missionaries who, like all creatures, brought both good and bad to the plains.

Homesteaders built sod houses and raised their crops and children in this wind-blown, wildflower scented world where prairie fires killed, grasshoppers devoured, and crops grew taller and more abundant than could ever be dreamed.

Here, from the earth of the prairie, grew broad expanses of grasses that fed the buffalo until hide hunters nearly depleted them. Then those same grasses fattened longhorns being driven northward from Texas to the wild and lawless cow towns and railheads in Kansas and Missouri. These towns drew not only cowboys but gamblers, outlaws with lawmen on their trails, and “soiled doves” to the rows of saloons that lined the streets in such places as Abilene, Dodge City, and Sedalia.

Prairie Dog Town

On May 20, 1804 Captain Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal that he was on his way. He was referring to the Lewis and...

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, part 8

By Monday, June 13, 1836, if Eliza Spalding could have viewed St. Louis again she might not have considered it such a moldy and...

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, part 4

Narcissa Prentiss remained at home, waiting to see what the future would bring. Shed had her chance. Perhaps she could have married Henry Spalding...

Thank You, Mr. Bonaparte

Thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, and other historical notables, our birthplaces might be determined by when we were born. The way I see it, Bonaparte started...

Earthquake in the Year 1811

If they didn’t hurry away from New Madrid, Missouri the ground was going to eat them alive! This was how people felt after the...

Mary Fields

Mary Fields had at one time been a slave. But now, about 1894, she packed a gun and did not avoid a good ole...

Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, part 9

Over the prairie they came roaring. Their weapons were held aloft in clutched fists above their shaggy heads. Their war whoops filled the alkali...

Forts of the West

Until the mid-1840s about the only protection for westward bound travelers was Fort Leavenworth in present-day Kansas. Leavenworth’s major function, at that time, was...

Joe Meek Becomes a Mountain Man

Joe Meek was born in 1810 in Virginia not far from the Cumberland Gap which was, at that time, the gateway to the west....

The Lone Prairie

Lone? You mean, as in “Lonely?” Come and I’ll show you that the prairie is anything but lonely. No, we are not going to...