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Title Diary of the Overland Trail 1849 and letters 1849-1850 of Captain David Dewolf: typescript [1924]
Author Dewolf, David (1822-1862)
Document Type Diary; Travel Journal; Correspondence
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Typescript copy from 1924 by Edwin E. Cox, of Ukiah, Calif., of portions of the diary account by his grandfather, David Dewolf, of a journey across the Plains to the gold mines of California, and letters Dewolf wrote to his wife, Matilda Allen Greenwood Dewolf, between April 12 1849 and Nov. 5, 1850. The typescript begins with the entry for May 2, 1849, where the travellers have stopped in Lexington, Mo. to bury Andrew Moodie who has died of cholera. By mid-June, they have started up the Platte River Valley in Nebraska, and by July 7, have reached Fort Laramie and Fort John in Wyoming. Their ascent up the ridges of the Sierra Nevada on Oct. 13-14, 1849 is icy and difficult, but from the top they have a fine view of the Sacramento Valley. Typescript of diary entries ends on Oct. 16, due to illegibility of remaining pages. Interspersed with diary entries are typescripts of ten letters written by Dewolf between April 12, 1849 and Nov. 5, 1850 to his wife Matilda, who remained at home in Springfield, Ill. with their three year-old daughter "Little Sis." In both diary entries and letters, Dewolf describes the hardships of travel; bouts of sickness, especially the ongoing cholera epidemics; encounters with Shawnee, Pawnee, and Shoshone Indians; the Western landscape in its desolation and its beauty; and the gold-mining towns of Weaverville and Sacramento.
Names Dewolf, Matilda Allen Greenwood (d.1905); Cox, Edwin E.
Places Cincinnati, Ohio, Missouri, Fort Kearney, Nebraska, Platt Valley, Colorado, Great Plains, San Francisco, Sierra Nevada, California, United States
Keywords travel, travelogue, overland trail, gold rush, gold, prospecting, cholera, death, gunfight, horse stealing, frontier
Theme Military Encounters: Conflicts, Rebellions and Alliances; Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Great Plains, Great Basin
Additional Information

Includes a brief biography and photograph of Dewolf, compiled by his grandson, Edwin E. Cox; and a photostatic copy of a portion of Dewolf’s letter to Matilda of Jan. 20, 1850, leaves [2]-[3].

For additional information, cf. William R. Sandham’s "Captain David Dewolf: a California gold seeker in 1849, and an officer from Illinois in the Civil War", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society XVII, no. 4 (Jan. 1925): 724-727.

Published in: Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the year 1925: 183-222.

Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference Ayer MS 237
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue