Friday, May 29, 2009

From Rail to Trail, May 25, 1859

"Upon arrival of this young family at Florence, Nebraska a delay was necessary before they could leave for the west. The journal of James Kirkham states how they played in the area with wild flowers, great rivers and other things of interest to small boys who had spent their childhood in the great city of London."
This from E. Kay Kirkham's book, noting that the Kirkham family arrived in Florence 25 May 1859. Kay writes that it is regrettable that the father George did not keep a personal journal of the trip so that we have it from the 'adult view'. But what a benefit to read of this journey through the eyes of the children! Could buffalo herds be any greater? Thunderstorms or stampedes more fearsome? Would you truly prefer the adult to the child view of snake eyes watching you from between the clay walls of their pioneer home?
All the same, Kirkhams, we hit the ground of America one hundred and fifty years ago. Alvin W Kirkham says of the trek, drawing from journals and biographies of George Kirkham and Mary Astington Kirkham: they hiked some 1300 miles from the Missouri River to the Jordan River. "The twins rode most of the way in a Pioneer Two-High-Wheeled-Kirkham-Cart! All other members of the Kirkham Tribe took turns 'pushing or pulling the Desert Cart."
Remember that this was not a modern move wherein the household was packed and loaded onto a van which would arrive well in advance and have all in ready. Their 'all' was what they were carrying, what was going to fit into the desert cart. This also needed to account for food stuff to last from May 25 to September 18. Three months' provisions and then what there was room for of the most basic needs. An iron pot, a frying pan, a baking kettle. Woolen blankets. A few change of clothing. Does anyone have an exact description of their cart? Could we demonstrate what this transport looked like? We can be aware that they had it better in many ways than the handcart pioneers, but know too that this was not luxury. How would we fare? (I just shuddered even to write the question!)
A catchy phrase used at the FamilySearch Center goes something like this: Genealogy: Where Generations Meet. Consider that thought over the next three months, and the meeting of Kirkhams of 1859 and of 2009. What can you bring reflecting The Heritage and The Legacy- OUR Heritage, OUR Legacy?

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