Ernestine Franke Huning
Santa Fe Trail Diary Excerpts
St. Louis to Las Vegas, New Mexico

     April 4 The fourth of April we left St. Louis, Mo., went by boat to Hannibal, from there by rail to St. Joseph, then to Weston, and there took the boat again as far as Leavenworth. There we had to wait six days before going out to camp.

     April 15 The beans and ham taste very good out in the open, the air giving us all a good appetite. Yesterday we had goose breast and truffles, but do not think they tasted better than our regular fare.

     April 19 Our cook, a colored woman, entertains us sometimes by telling our fortunes.

     April 23 We passed through the prettiest part of Kansas. We have plenty of company and enjoy ourselves. Mr. Funke, Mr. Fringen, and an American, Mr. Louis, sing for us sometimes, so we are always merry. We are getting used to our way of living, and have as many comforts as possible. We have china dishes, camp chairs, and a table, so we dine quite will.

     April 25 Our ten canaries, which we brought from St. Louis, sing a good deal, travelling seems to agree with them. We had rather a disagreeable experience later. We were still sitting around talking, when it was noticed that the animals were restless, and someone reported having seen two men on horseback. All the men went for their guns to reconnoiter. However, no riders were seen, but two mules were missing.

     April 26 From Wilmington several men went back to look for the mules; as they were branded they thought the thieves would let them go, and sure enough they got back with them about noon.

     April 29 Getting an early start we went as far as Council Grove, where we saw the first Indians, three men and two women. These are supposed to be of the better class, but they act like children. They lie down on the ground on their stomachs, both men and women, and dress almost alike. When we were through we gave them food, but they hardly could use a spoon.

     May 6 We meet Indians very often now, some have their faces painted. They are tall, well built. They always beg, but are satisfied if they get food, and then go away. We have seen no buffaloes alive, but many dead along the road.

     May 12 The weather is lovely, and for hours we drove along the Arkansas River and we had green vegetables for dinner, raised right there. Toward evening we had to ford the Arkansas River, and although I am not easily frightened, I must confess that I did not feel very comfortable when we were in the middle, but we got through without trouble.

     May 12 We see lots of antelope without being able to shoot one. We are near Sand Creek, and the view is beautiful; clouds throw shadows on green meadows, making a striking contrast, and we can imagine ourselves in a park, though the refreshments are lacking. We can eat some oranges and drink a glass of wine, but the cake we have to imagine.

     May 18 It is just as if we were driving through an immense flower garden, the wild flowers are so thick and lovely.

     May 21 We came to a lovely spring called Upper Semer on Casa Depallo. We bought a lamb from some Mexicans. It is a beautiful spot, the cliffs look as if they had been hewn into all sorts of artistic shapes. I picked some wild gooseberries, which were pretty good when cooked. Another spring is called Cold Springs.

     May 22 We passed five wagons, but saw no people and no mules. But about two miles farther we saw a wagon train, and they explained that the day before 20 to 25 Indians had attacked a train, and besides $10,000 in gold and fifty mules, had taken what else they could use. Fortunately it belonged to a very rich man, who will not miss it. No one was killed, as the wagon master had gone to buy sheep and the men were with him.
In the afternoon we met a man who had been with the attacked train. He had acted as interpreter because he was an American and the guerillas did not understand Spanish. This is a bad night for us; we wish we were six days further along, as we don npt feel safe at all.

     May 29 Nice weather. Wooded hills make the scenery attractive; the stream coming down between the rocks rushes like a river. This afternoon we have a wonderful view in front of us. As far as we can see are snowcovered mountains reaching into the white clouds, and lower down forests all along the base.

     May 30; Weather fine. We stopped about five miles from Las Vegas and went to the Hot Springs.

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