"Ash Creek Crossing"
The picture above of the cutdown at Ash Creek Crossing was taken before the landowner filled in the crossing for more farm ground.
This took place around 1947.
"Susan Shelby Magoffin's Journal Entry at Ash Creek"
While accompanying her husband on a trading expedition into the Southwest and Mexico, Susan Shelby Magoffin found amusement and companionship in her journal. Their somewhat primitive mode of travel, over the plains, into the mountains, and across the rivers, was hardly conducive to great literary effort or style in composition. Nevertheless, there is a peculiar charm in the narrative. Her journal has a distinct value in respect to the amount of detail contained in the discriptions of scenes and events, so often lacking in other journals of the same period.
This is a short part of this journal of what happened at Ash Creek Crossing on the Santa Fe Trail in Pawnee County Kansas.
We traveled on till 12 o'clock and stoped near the "Pawnee Rock" a high mound with one side of sand stone. I derives its name from a battle once fought there between some company and a band of Pawnee Indians. It has rather an awing name, since this tribe are the most treacherous and troublesome to the traders.
July 4th 1846. Pawnee Fork, Saturday.
What a disasterous celebration I have today. It is certainly the greatest miracle that I have my head on my shoulders. I thnk I can never forget it if I live to be as old as my grandmother.
The wagons left Pawnee Rock some time before us. For I was anxious to see this wonderful curiosity. We went up and while mi alma with his gun and pistols kept watch, for the wily Indian may always be apprehended here, it is a good lurking place and they are ever ready to fall upon any unfortunate trader behind his company and it is necessary to be careful, so while mi alma watched on the rock above and Jane stood by to watch if any should come up on the front side of me, I cut my name, among the many hundreds inscribed on the rock and many of whom I knew, It was not done well, for fear of Indians made me tremble all over and I hurried it over in any way. This I remarked would be quite an adventure to celebrate the 4th! but woe betide I have yet another to relate.
The wagons being some distance ahead we rode on quite briskly to overtake them. In an hour's time we had driven some six miles, and at Ash creek we came up with them. No water in the creek and the crossing pretty good only a tolerable steep bank on the first side of it, all but two had passed over, and as these were not up we drove on ahead of them to cross first. The bank though a little steep was smooth and there could be no difficulty in riding down it. However, we had made up our minds always to walk down such places in case of accident, and before we got to it mi alma hallowed "woe" as he always does when he wishes to stop, but as there was no motion made by the driver to that effect, he repeated it several times and with much vehemence. We had now reached the very verge of the cliff and seeing it a good way and apparently less dangerous than jumping out as we were he said "go on." The word was scarcely from his lips, ere we were whirled completely over with a perfect crash. One to see the wreck of that carriage now with the top and sides entirely broken to pieces, could never believe that people had come out of it alive. But strange, wonderful to say, we are almost entirely unhurt! I was considerably stunned at first and could not stand on my feet. Mi alma forgetting hmself and entirely enlisted for my safety carried me in his arms to the shade tree, almost entirely without my knowledge, and rubing my face and hands with whiskey soon brought me entire to myself. My back and side are a little hurt, but is very small compared with what it might have been. Mi alma has his left hip and arm on which he fell both bruised and strained, but not seriously. Dear creature 'twas for me he received this, for had he not caught me in his arms as we fell he could have saved himself entirely. And then I should perhaps have been killed or much crushed for the top fell over me, and it was only his hands that kept it off of me. It is better as it is, for we can sympathise more fully with each other.
It was a perfect mess that; of people, books, bottles, one of which broke, and on my head to I believe, guns, pistols, baskets, bags, boxes and the dear knows what else. I was insensible to it all except when something gave me a hard knock and brought me to myself. We now sought refuge in June's carriage for our own could only acknowledge its incapability.
By 12 o'clock we reached this place six miles, when we found all the companies which have come on before us, having been stoped by an order of Government.
I am rather better of my bruises today. It is only for a little while though, I fear; such knocks seldom hurt so much for a day or two. I am yet to suffer for it.
We are still at "The Pawnee Fork." The traders are all stoped here by an order of Government, to wait the arrival of more troops thatn those already ahead of us, for our protection to Santa Fe.
More from this journal can be read in the book,
"Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico"
The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin 1846-1847
Edited by Stella M. Drumm
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.